How To Get Your First Blog Visitors

This is a guest post by Sam who is a blogger and a contributing writer for Quick Sprout. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

Every new blogger starts out at the same place: with a website, a dream and no traffic. Most blog failures occur before a single visitor views the website, so although this can be a time of experimentation, it’s also a time of urgency. Getting over that most difficult hump and drawing in your first visitors through Google can take months, but you can build your readership much more quickly by taking things into your own hands and spreading the word yourself.

Focus on Quality


When you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to publish a hundred different posts on bland, keyword-targeted subjects meant to bring in search engine traffic. Unfortunately, if your website is new you are probably doing yourself more harm than good. Google places a certain priority on the age of a website, meaning you’re unlikely to rank highly for any keyword for at least a month. In the meantime, you’ll have a blog that’s dry, boring and clearly commercialized.

Because of this, the first few weeks after a blog goes live should be spent attracting visitors by word of mouth. Many readers hesitate to subscribe to a new blog because so many shut down a month or two after starting up. In order to combat this, your blog needs to be jam-packed with exciting, fresh content that will have others dying to share it. Post regularly, but not so often that you burn yourself out. As time goes on, you’ll settle into the blogging schedule and voice that works for you.

What is good content? Nobody wants to read an encyclopedia entry on every little topic in your niche. If they did, they’d read an encyclopedia. Blogging is a platform for expressing yourself and helping others. Even a business blog will have a personal style and tone to it. Write like you care about the subject, which you should, and are personally interested in it, and readers will pick up on your enthusiasm.

Get Involved in the Community

Once your blog has several good posts ready to share, it’s time to find some readers! The best place to start is on blogs similar to your own. These blogs have readers that are interested in your niche, and bloggers generally encourage discussion and sharing in their comment sections. Leaving your name and URL in a comment will alert readers to your blog’s presence, and you’re sure to get a few curious clicks.

Remember, it’s a lot easier to pick up a bad reputation than it is to earn a good one. Always leave full, relevant responses to blog posts, and take the time to read others. Planting a link is only one benefit of interacting with the community, and getting involved in discussions can help you establish yourself as a dedicated and knowledgeable blogger.

There are other ways to get your blog out there, most notably social media websites. Services such as StumbleUpon can bring sharp spikes of traffic, but are usually poor for driving in a dedicated readership. Twitter, on the other hand, can be a valuable tool if used properly. You may want to start a new account for the blog, or share it on an established Twitter account. Don’t just tweet a URL to your latest posts; instead, spend time responding to tweets and following others. Facebook automatically shares blog updates to interested friends and family, who can in turn share it with their circle of contacts. However, you should focus most of your efforts on targeted readers, which can be difficult to accomplish on a social website like Facebook.

If you write quality content and successfully draw in a small group of returning readers, your blog will be well on its way to success. You can’t expect to have 500 blog visitors in your first month, but with patience and dedication there’s no limit to what you can achieve with nothing more than the internet, a computer and your own wits.

About the author: Sam is a blogger and a contributing writer for Quick Sprout, one of the leading marketing agencies. He takes a particular interest in topics pertaining to social media trends and SEO techniques.

How To Generate More Traffic To Your Site, For Free

In everyday life, the last thing we want on the roads is more traffic. It slows up the commuter journey, leaving us frustrated and tetchy before even arriving at work. It causes road rage, overcrowding of freeways, and stops us from getting to where we need to be on time. Online, however, traffic becomes something incredibly positive and essential for the health of our business.

As business bloggers, traffic is the ultimate goal through which we measure the success of our online venture. Without traffic, our blogs are relegated to the lonely ether of the uninhabited World Wide Web, hiding sulkily in an unseen corner. Traffic means visitors. Visitors mean sales. Sales mean revenue. It’s safe to say that the more traffic we get online, the happier and more successful we will be with what we do. When it comes to generating the maximum amount of traffic, it’s impossible to have too much footfall through your site.

With so many sites available online for every single industry, it’s getting increasingly difficult to attract a consistent audience. Blogging is one of the most competitive ways to make an income as everyone has interests and passions that translate well to this type of communication. From topiary to train spotting, aardvark grooming to zoology, there is a blog out there that is focused upon gaining a wide readership through the regular posting of articles. That’s not to say it isn’t possible to get traffic to your site, it simply means that it is more challenging than it has ever been before to attract customers to your online presence, and then keep them there once they’ve arrived.

A secondary factor reducing traffic to sites is our expectations of instant gratification. The longer the World Wide Web is out there, the more we have increased our expectations of it. Customers no longer want to patiently wade through reams of information in the same way as they would approach a newspaper or magazine. When they browse online they want their requests answered instantly, their queries resolved in seconds, and the ability to navigate through a site quickly and efficiently. We have less patience as the Web has become more streamlined, and cumbersome navigation is a sure-fire way of deterring customers from visiting you again, and retaining the traffic that you generate.

There are loads of organizations out there who offer all kinds of deals to direct traffic to your site. While the benefits are pretty self-evident, it doesn’t do any harm to outline the rationale behind having a strategic approach to increasing visitor numbers. The law of averages dictates that the more people visiting your site, the more likely it is that you will make sales. Getting your products and services out there in front of as many people as possible gives you the best possible opportunities for selling.

The problem with signing up a company to “buy” you traffic is . . . it doesn’t work. You may get people who are conned into coming to your site through links, or adverts that mislead visitors into stopping by, but these are not potential customers. The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take to make sure that not only does your online traffic increase, but it is generated by real, viable customers who are coming to you because they are actively seeking the services or products that you provide.

Luckily, there are lots of different ways to encourage people to come and visit your site. One of the best ways to open up communication channels and spread the word about your products and services is to take up regular blogging. By writing keyword-rich articles, you can invite the principal search engines to enhance your ranking, thus attracting visitors who are searching for exactly what you provide. The more content you add to your site each day, the more opportunities you will have of being picked up by search engines.

A good RSS service such as FeedBurner provides a really good-looking feed for your readers if they’re into that, and has the added advantage of providing you with accurate subscriber statistics to enable you to track your progress. It also gives people the option to sign up to email updates when you post new content.

A software package such as Google Analytics lets you take a look at the keywords that people searched on before they arrived at your site. It also allows you to check out what are the most popular articles that people view on your site, helping you to fine tune your own content production strategy. When you start to get more people visiting your site, give them a reason to stay involved, such as offering a free product.

If you’re looking for ways to increase traffic through WordPress, try the Subscribe to Comments plugin; if someone leaves a comment, the plugin notifies them when another visitor comments on the same post. In addition, mobile plugins like WPtouch can make your site instantly mobile-friendly, enabling people to use their smartphone to view your site.

Finally, incorporating a range of social bookmarking icons for sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and others on your site, can help new users to find you and encourage them to share your content with other people. Sociable, ShareThis, and AddThis allow you to make the most of your traffic by establishing an ongoing relationship and generating new, targeted traffic to your site.

How To “Grow” Your Blog

How to prioritize your workload as a business blogger.

Admit it, it’s a bit mind-boggling to try and keep ahead of all the things you have to do when you first start blogging. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and working out how best to approach the daunting task of keeping up to date with everything. There are so many things to consider – designing your blog, keeping it current, adding plug-ins, commenting, and driving traffic to it from other areas.

I’ve had some ideas…

Think about running a successful blog in the same way as maintaining a garden. This might seem a weird analogy, but the principles are the same. The successful gardener doesn’t jump in and plant everything all at once – they step back and consider how to keep the space current all year round, and work accordingly. So, using this analogy, here’s how to prioritize your workload and keep your blog fresh and current…

Landscaping

You can save time and effort in the long run by planning the design of your blog carefully. Scope out what you want to achieve with it. Think about things like who your readers are likely to be, what they might want to see, and what will prove to be eye-catching and interesting to your potential audience. Just like a landscape designer, you need to keep the purpose of your blog in mind throughout the planning process. By establishing these simple elements from the outset, you can reduce time and effort later as your blog takes shape.

Planting seeds

Sprout

Just like gardening, blogging takes careful preparation. Ideas that you sow early on may take time to flourish and ‘take root’. Sowing seeds such as customer engagement, good communication and great service may seem fruitless initially, but these are the cornerstones of great blogging. The work you put in at the beginning will reap rewards in the end. Don’t forget these softer elements when it comes to running your blog.

Manage your time, manage your workload

Like a gardener has a diary, so you need a set routine to commit to blogging well. Think about the times of day you are most creative, and when you produce your best work. Keep this time separate, dedicated to your posts. From there, you can work out a schedule that suits you. For example, set down half an hour a day for posting comments to other sites, half an hour for networking and driving traffic to your blog, and half an hour for design and optimization. If you were working in a garden, you’d pick afternoons for easier tasks, and tackle the more onerous jobs first. Blogging is the same – you know your own work rhythm, and can work around this to make the most of your time.

Bring in the experts

The online world is full of brilliant people who know more than you do about specific parts of your new business. Just as a gardener outsources some elements of their work (such as bricklaying, design and architecture), so a blogger needn’t be afraid of leaning on other people.

If you’re not keen on writing, get a reputable person or company to undertake that part for you. If the thought of doing technical enhancements makes you run for cover, bring in an expert to do it for you. You’re not expected to be brilliant at everything in the blogging mix – so, be brilliant at delegating, instead!

Have you found anything that helps you to stay ahead of the competition, and use your time wisely? Let me know!