how to increase traffic to your blog

How to Get Traffic to Your Blog and Find Readers for Your Content

OK, so you’ve followed all of the instructions in my post on how to start a blog, and your shiny new website is finally up and running. Now all you need are readers, right?

Well, not quite: what you really need first is content. Too many new bloggers seem to obsess over finding readers, and gaining followers, when there’s nothing there for people to read or follow. I mentioned this in my last post, but before you even think about driving traffic to your new blog, you have to first of all make sure there’s something for all those visitors to actually see. You don’t have to write several month’s worth of posts before you start promoting, but I’d definitely recommend having a few at least: if people arrive at your blog and find tumbleweed, they’re not going to stick around, and they’re definitely not going to follow you.

Assuming you have the content ready, though, where do you find readers for it? How do you drive traffic to a brand new blog (or even an existing one, for that matter)?

how to get traffic to your blog

My best advice here is this:

Look for readers in the places they’re looking for you.

There are already plenty of people out there looking for good content to read. They may not be specifically looking for blogs to read (although some of them definitely will be), but they’re out there looking for information, advice, inspiration, entertainment – all of the things you’re able to provide as a blogger. In order to persuade those potential readers to come to your blog, rather than any of the other millions of websites out there, you need to know:

a) What they’re looking for – sometimes before they even know themselves

and

b) Where they’re looking for it.

Simple, right? Well, no, not really: if it was, we’d all be internet millionaires, and I’d be on the beach with a cocktail in my hand, right now. To simplify things, though, I’ve identified four places blog traffic typically comes from, and how you can increase your chances of finding readers in those places. These aren’t the only places to find readers for your blog, obviously, but they’ll hopefully be good starting points for new bloggers.

Where to find readers for your blog

where to find readers for your new blog - blog tips and advice from www.ForeverAmber.co.uk

01. Search engines

Search engines like Google are one of the most obvious sources of traffic to blogs, but it’s far from a quick or easy way to gain readers, and it can take a long time to start seeing results. You get traffic to your blog from search engines any time someone types a search query into them, and lands on your site as a result. Search engine optimisation isn’t a subject I can sum up in a short paragraph, but in very simple terms, in order to make sure your blog shows up on Google when someone types in a particular phrase, you need to make sure that phrase appears on your blog.

That means writing the type of content people are searching for, for one thing. If your post is a recap of your weekend, for instance, it’ll be unlikely to gain much in the way of search engine traffic, because people don’t tend to hit up search engines and type “recaps of people’s weekends” into the search box. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write that post, however – it could be valuable to your blog in other ways, and might attract visitors from another source. What it does mean, though, is that if you want to gain traffic from search engines, you’ll have to consider also writing some of the type of content that people will be searching for.

I find the type of posts that tend to do well on search engines are the “how to” type posts: tutorials, reviews, that kind of thing – anything that helps people or answers a question. If you have a news-type blog, current events, or posts relating to celebrities can also be successful, whereas things like Instagram roundups, or “here’s what I’ve been up to lately” posts won’t fare as well.

where-to-find-readers-for-your-blog

02. Social media

In recent years, social media has become a HUGE source of traffic to blogs – in fact, there are some sites which owe much of their traffic to their success on sites like Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. The difference between social media and search engines (in blog terms, at least) is that people aren’t normally searching social media for specific types of content: most of the time they’ll just follow people they find interesting, and when something comes up on their feed that they like the look of, they’ll click on it.

This makes it an ideal platform to find readers for the type of content that doesn’t do so well in search engines. That weekend recap, for instance, may not get thousands of visitors from Google, but it may get clicks from the people who follow you on Twitter or Facebook, who’re more likely to be curious about what you’ve been getting up to lately.

Again, successful use of social media is something people have written entire books about, and all networks are different, so what works for one, may not work for another. At the very least, however, I recommend:

  • Signing up to the main social networks – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, Instagram. Use your blog name as your user name if you can, to help build your brand.
  • Use the same profile picture or logo on all of them, so you’re instantly recognisable to readers.
  • Make sure you put your blog URL in your bio, so people who follow you can click through and visit your blog.
  • Add prominent links to each network to your blog, so readers can find and follow you.
  • Promote your posts on each network by tweeting links, adding a link to each new post to your Facebook page, pinning photos, etc. I know a lot of bloggers who say they’re embarrassed to promote their own posts, but if you want people to read your blog, you need to tell them about it – it’s as simple as that. HOWEVER…
  • Don’t OVER-promote: people will very quickly get sick of someone who’s just posting links to their own blog, so be sure to share other content too, and engage with the people you follow.
  • Write headlines that are likely to pique people’s curiosity and encourage them to click – that might mean writing a different headline for your post on social media, rather than just using the same one from the blog itself.

how to increase the traffic to your blog or website

03. Other blogs and websites

One of the biggest sources of traffic to my blogs is other websites who’ve written posts about me, or linked to something I’ve written. If the site that links to you is a popular one, it can send you TONS of traffic – and, whats’ more, it can KEEP sending you it, sometimes for years. Of course, getting other bloggers to link to you isn’t easy, and sometimes it’s a matter of pure luck (as it has been in my case). I’d say the best way to do this is by building relationships with other bloggers, but doing it in a genuine kind of way. Some things to try include:

  • COMMENTING

I constantly read blog tips articles which advise people to comment on other blogs in order to get traffic to their own, but I’d advise you to use extreme caution if you’re doing this. I talked about blog promotion through comments in detail  here, but to summarize, I think it’s a really bad idea to start leaving comments JUST to get traffic.

By all means, leave comments when you genuinely have something to contribute: bloggers LOVE getting comments, and they’re a great way to start building relationships… which may well lead to them linking to you, or tweeting about you, at some point down the line. It’s really obvious, however, when someone has left a comment purely to try and promote their own blog: I get this all the time, and I NEVER click on the links those people leave – I actually find it really rude, which doesn’t make me want to read more from the person. (In my post on blogging and perception this week, I had a couple of comments which were clearly just promotion, which was particularly disheartening given that it was a fairly heartfelt post, which generated some really thoughtful responses, but which some people obviously just viewed as an advertising opportunity…)

A better way to get readers from other websites is to build genuine relationships with the bloggers in question: leave useful or thoughtful comments (I ALWAYS click on the links on those), don’t over-promote your blog in them (type the URL into the space for it: there’s no need to add it to your comment, too), and avoid saying things like “Follow me and I’ll follow you back!” or “Check out my giveaway!”

how to find readers for your blog

  • GUEST POSTS

Another way to get traffic from other blogs is to write guest posts for them. I don’t do this myself because I just don’t have enough time, but I have occasionally accepted guest posts on my other sites (I accept shoe-related posts on ShoeperWoman.com, for instance) and have had good feedback from the authors of those posts, who’ve gained some new readers from the links in the posts. They key to guest posting is to make sure your post is a good fit for the site you’re submitting it to, is original (i.e. you can’t just copy and paste one of your existing blog posts), and doesn’t read like an advert, or the other blogger won’t want to publish it.

  • BLOG ADVERTISING 

Many bloggers sell advertising in their sidebars: this obviously isn’t a free way to promote your blog (although sites like Passionfruit Ads do allow bloggers to swap ads, rather than paying for them), but if you’re willing to invest some money in your blog, advertising could be one way to do it. Try to pick blogs which cover similar topics to your own – their readers are more likely to be interested in what you have to say.

  • LINKY POSTS

Some bloggers publish weekly posts which they invite other bloggers to “link up” to: this normally means that a link to your post will appear at the bottom of their post, and you’ll be expected to link back to them in turn. There’s a directory of linkups which you can join here: again, try to pick ones that are a good fit for your content!

blogging tips and advice

04. Bloglovin’

Bloglovin is essentially a feed reader, much like Feedly, and the now-defunct Google Reader. The difference with Bloglovin’, however, and the main reason I’m including it as a source of traffic, rather than just another way people can follow you, is that, in addition to allowing readers to subscribe to the RSS feeds of their favourite blogs, Bloglovin’ also sorts blogs into different categories, provides suggestions for bloggers you might like to follow, and ranks posts according to popularity, so you can log onto it, and look through tons of different posts. In other words, it makes it really easy for readers to find blogs to read – and one of those could be yours.

In order for that to happen, however, you have to add your blog to the site, which you can do here. There are lots of other RSS readers out there, and plenty of other sites that are similar to Bloglovin’ itself, but if you have a fashion, beauty or lifestyle blog, I’d really advise you to make sure people can follow you there, as it’s particularly popular amongst people interested in those topics.

(Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Bloglovin’, you can follow me here!)

COMMENTS
  • Thanks a lot for this post 🙂 I’ve seen people suggest leaving comments with URLs just so that search engines give them a higher ranking which I think is a little rude.

    February 8, 2015
  • Suze

    REPLY

    Great post, thanks! I know that I’ve definitely found almost all of the blogs that I follow by the means you’ve mentioned. I’m not that active on social media (although when I start my own blog that’s obviously something I’ll change immediately!) so I’m just wondering about that side of things. Do you think that it’s necessary to post unique content on each social media channel or is it ok to use those various channels purely as a tool for directing readers back to your blog, without really having to offer anything extra/new/exclusive on Facebook, Twitter etc? If you haven’t done so already, I’d love to see a post about social media, with tips on how bloggers can make the most out of it (please!)
    And on the subject of commenting on other peoples’ blogs, what do you think about blog designs which display the title of a person’s last blog post, with a link to that post, underneath their comments? One of my favourite blogs has this feature and I’ve discovered quite a few new blogs by clicking through to articles which sound interesting (and subsequently are!) To me this seems a lovely ‘caring sharing’ way of bloggers helping to promote other bloggers, but obviously encouraging your readers to click through to someone else’s blog (especially when they haven’t paid you for the privilege) seems a bit daft. When does a blogger benefit from directing their readers away to other blogs? What do you reckon?

    February 8, 2015
      • Oh, I have the a similar problem with social media – not that I don’t have time to update it, it’s just that I have my pre-blogging accounts that I don’t want to mix with the blogging ones, and logging in/out is annoying, so I just neglect them -, and was about to ask you for help too!
        If I figure it out, I’ll let you know! 😉

        February 8, 2015
  • I agree about commenting being rude when it’s shameless self promotion. I even added a blurb asking people to please NOT leave a comment that is, in my opinion, spam. Sometimes I spend a lot of time on a post as I know you do too and it’s really disheartening to know someone didn’t bother to read but want me to read theirs…

    That said, thank you for this post. I’m currently trying to be better about social media. My biggest problem is I want to be an old lady with technology and never learn anything new. Gotta kick that habit!

    February 8, 2015
  • Really great post and helpful tips! I need to start promoting my blog posts on social media more. I’m still torn between keeping my blog posts on my personal instagram/twitter accounts or if I should make new accounts just for blog stuff.

    lauren / lipstick & lacquer

    February 8, 2015
  • First of all – you have Tetris post-it notes… Tetris!!

    Now that’s out of the way, agree with all of these tips here and I’d add on the ‘don’t be afraid to promote your own posts’ thing that the *way* you do this shouldn’t ever be apologetic, unless it’s tongue-in-cheek. I always think of what would make me click through on e.g. Twitter and try to do similar things – it’s all about making people want to read what you have to say, after all. If you’re writing it, you should be no more embarrassed about promoting it or why do it in the first place?!

    But then again, I work in marketing and promote things through social media for a living, so perhaps that has something to do with my attitude – I’m always boring people online 😉

    February 8, 2015
  • Maite

    REPLY

    A good idea could be to find other new bloggers and support each other- I’ve seen it done on Youtube. You’re basically helping another blogger get more trafficking while getting more yourself, and usually also making a new friend. It sounds like a good idea and a very win-win situation

    February 8, 2015
  • Your series of posts about blogging have been so helpful & great to read, thank you 🙂 Em x

    February 8, 2015
  • The comments that are obviously people trying to get traffic are the worst! You can tell when it’s something that they just copy and paste into every blog, especially when they comment you on a “cute outfit! Follow me at …..” when it wasn’t even an outfit post, do they really think I’m going to look at their blog, let alone follow it, if they can’t even take 5 seconds to notice what they’re commenting on?!
    But great post, love your post it notes too!

    February 9, 2015
  • Great post with very helpful tips, thanks for sharing.

    http://alittlelesscomplicated.net/

    February 9, 2015
  • I find it really difficult when people just comment for the sake of commenting. I want to start conversations with them and engage, but they just don’t give anything to engage with!

    February 9, 2015
  • Thank you for this post Amber. I am gaining a steady stream of followers, but hardly ever get comments. this is what I am trying to tackle at the moment, is there any way you can make the comment section more prominent?. some people have emailed me saying they cant comment. I am not sure where to start with this
    Laurie x

    February 9, 2015
  • I find this post so helpful. I have read so many that talk about trying to get more traffic to a blog, and what you have said is so true. I am by no means a blogger that everyone knows and reads, but I know that writing posts that please you, and sharing your posts on social media helps. I share mine on my platforms, and that’s about it. I only comment on posts that I like or connect with. Your post definitely has given me some thought in to how to widen my audience without being one of the those people who does follow for a follow.

    Thank you for writing an amazing post.

    xo

    February 9, 2015
  • I can not thank you enough for your insight and knowledge. I look up to your blog and you sharing information like this makes me happy and excited at what the future may hold.

    Thank you again

    Holly
    x

    February 10, 2015
  • I love this post. I think the main thing new bloggers should do is not get down about numbers and stay true to themselves. I am a new blogger and I admit sometimes it can be hard to spend so much time writing a post I am personally proud of and find I got only 30 views for the day. I have joined a few social media platforms…mainly just Twitter because I already had Pinterest and Facebook. While I know social media marketing is key, I am not going to let it run my life. I use WordPress and they have plugins to automatically Post to Twitter and Facebook so it makes it easy for me.

    Now if I could just stop spending hours on end looking for new blogs to read, I might get stuff done! 🙂

    February 10, 2015
  • This was such a helpful post, thank you. I’ve just got back in to my blog again and have found it quit hard to get my readers back. I use blogger and Twitter to try and promote my blog so hopefully I will gain a new flow of readers soon (fingers crossed) xxx

    February 11, 2015
  • Thank you for these excellent suggestions!
    http://www.fash365.com

    February 13, 2015
  • I would just like to say that I felt an insane sense of validation to learn that there is someone else out there who makes a point of not clicking any links left clearly just as clickbait to try and get traffic. Even on other peoples’ blogs, even if the blog title is interesting and I would have clicked had they left a good comment, I will refuse to click on principle.

    Generally good advice! I’ve been following this blogging series of posts pretty closely. I’m trying to decide whether or not to bookmark just basically all of them.

    February 14, 2015
  • Thanks for sharing your tips. I agree about Bloglovin, I have found so many new blogs to read and I seem to get suggestion emails as soon as I follow someone. I’m a newbie blogger and it can be disheartening at times to only get 10 views or whatnot, but I’m doing it for myself rather than anyone else, so as long as I enjoy it I’ll keep going.

    I tend to just use Twitter and Instagram and I use my personal accounts. I find joining Twitter chats like #lblogger are a good way of interacting with other bloggers and to join in the community feel. I’ve found a few people follow me after that and then might see my content when I tweet it out.

    I find it funny how you have some comments with the generic great post + link above, they obviously didn’t read your post!

    February 16, 2015
  • Really guest post helps a lot to bring targeted traffic. I like this job. thanks for your nice article

    February 18, 2015
  • These posts for blogging are so useful! Thanks very much for sharing and thanks for the follow on instagram so I was able to find you! I will be taking another read through to get my new blog up and running.

    🙂

    April 17, 2015
  • Hi Amber, I’ve just read through this but I need you to simplify something for me if you wouldn’t mind? It’ll sound really dim but here goes….I’ve set up a facebook account that required a personal page to link to my blog page (the only reason I did it) & now everyone I’ve ever met pops up asking to be friends. I’m not sure if I should be friending people to promote my blog page. I’m not too keen on the news feed aspect if I’m honest & don’t really want all that detritus flowing through my computer or phone (which is why I no longer had an account in the first place having experienced the onslaught when fb added that aspect) Having said all that, of course I’ll send out a million friend requests if that’s what it takes I just don’t want to do it unnecessarily. Also I’ve found a mozilla add on that kills fb news feed but it doesn’t work on my phone…. Apologies for long winded question x

    June 25, 2015
  • So…I’ve been absolutely devouring your website the last few days, and I’ve decided that it’s Mecca for bloggers. And not just fashion bloggers. So many of your posts, this one included, can be applied to any type of blog. I just want to say thank you so much for such eloquent, insightful posts like this one. I can’t tell you how much they mean to people (like me) just getting into fashion blogging.

    July 8, 2015
  • This was so helpful! I really agree with what you said about it taking time! I think a lot of people expect their blog to just boom quite quickly when in fact it can take quite a long time to get readership going beyond that of people that of people you know! Also the type of posts that you mentioned sort of ‘update’ posts are probably more common on lifestyle blogs-does this mean they might be harder to get traffic for than a very niche blog? Also if a lifestyle blog is one of those blogs that has a really large variety of content-just anything you’re interested in really- is that helpful in gaining a regular readership? There is more content that can pop up on search engines and that people could be interested in but also it is rare to find somebody who shares all your interests so can readers lose interest if their is too much variety of content or if they like some parts of the blog will they generally stick with it? That was long sorry! x

    July 20, 2015
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