This post is part of my series based on the Christian bloggers survey and the top 4 struggles you identified in that survey. The number one struggle was increasing traffic on your blog, which I started to address in Part 1 of this post. So let’s just pick up from there and keep filling in our Reference Table
|Build Relationships||Build Your Home Base||Build Your Authority|
|Step 1||Link-ups||Make your content shareable||Leverage the contacts you have|
|Step 2||Developing a social media strategy||Create foundational content||Guest posts|
|Step 3||Creative collaborations||Keep readers on your site||Basic SEO|
Build your home base
Your blog is your home base. It’s where people find you, hang out with you, and connect with your message. They should feel comfortable, welcome, and benefit so much from your content that they want to share it with everyone they know. Here are a few tips to build your home base.
Step 1: Make your content shareable
When I visit your blog, I want to share your content. Really I do! I want to help you out, and I think what you’re doing is amazing. So I get really frustrated when you make it hard for me to share. I can’t find a tiny little button down at the bottom of your post, hidden between your Comment section, ads, Related Posts and all the other stuff. Help me help you by doing these things:
Explore the settings in your social sharing. Whether you are using some kind of social sharing plug-in, the Jetpack Publicize plug-in, or social sharing tools that come with your theme, explore your options and be sure you have it set up. The options available to you will be different depending on what you are using but you should at least be able to have the blog post title or a sticky statement from your post, along with the link. If I click on your button and all it has a bare link to the post, I’m not going to share it. Social Warfare is a very cost-effective yet powerful tool to make your posts more shareable.
Add a clickable tweet box. This is one of the easiest ways to encourage sharing. When I see a tweet box, I almost always use it to share your content. I use the Tweet This plugin, but Click to Tweet has just released a brand new version of their plugin so I’m anxious to try that, and this is also one of the functions included in Social Warfare.
Step 2: Create foundational content
Foundational content is the core of your blog. It is a small collection (3 – 5) of your best, most valuable, most creative posts … the ones that truly define your message and show what you are all about. If your foundational content is:
- something you are truly passionate about
- solves a problem for your audience
- establishes your authority on the topic
then it will
- create positive emotion (hope, relief, confidence, acceptance ….)
- inspire loyalty and connection
- bring people to your blog in droves
(Sorry … sometimes my left-brain takes over and goes to logical if-then relationships!)
If foundational content is going to do all that work for us, it deserves some special attention. Make sure it has a catchy, clickable headline, an attractive pinnable image and free download or other takeaway that will remind the reader where they found it. In the Resource Table, I’ve linked a post from Helene in Between with more tips on creating foundational content.
Step 3: Keep your readers on your site
Getting more people to your site is one way to increase traffic. Keeping them there is another. And the longer readers stay on your site, the more they “get” you … the more they understand the unique message you are sharing and the more opportunity they have to connect with that message.
Linking to your own content not only exposes it to more people, but it shows that you really believe in what you are writing. If it was true and valuable six months ago, it is true and valuable today. Some ways to keep folks clicking include:
- Create a landing page for a series and link all posts in the series back to that page (See how Rachel Britton does that here)
- Use a Related Posts plugin to show other posts your readers may be interested in
- Put your most popular posts in your sidebar or footer (I love how Samantha from Momma Wants Java does this!)
- Include links to your foundational content on your About page
Build Your Authority
Don’t feel like an authority? Well, guess what? You are! God chose you to deliver an important message and he is even now equipping you to deliver it. He thinks you are an expert, and anyone who is at least one step behind you in the journey will think you are, too. Establishing yourself as an authority is an important part of drawing people to your site.
Step 1: Leverage the contacts you have
In theory, your blog is about something you have been or are walking yourself. Who has been on that journey with you? Is there someone with a bigger platform or one step ahead who knows and trusts you? You can bet they want to see you succeed. Don’t let false humility, pride or fear keep you from asking for their help.
People outside the blogging world can help, too. Anyone can share your posts, write a testimonial or tweet about your product or services.
Step 2: Guest posts
Some people will tell you that guest posting is dead. Those are probably the same people who think Elvis is still in the building. Guest posting is actually a great way to build connections with other audiences and establish your expertise.
The key to landing great guest post opportunities is writing content that your host needs. Is there something their audience needs to hear that you can say in a unique way? Do you have a different perspective or experience that answers a question they’ve been asking? Doing a little research before pitching a guest post will help you offer something truly valuable and irresistable.
No one has grown their blog through guest posting like Jeff Goins and in the Reference Table, I’ve linked one of his many articles about guest posting.
Step 3: SEO
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could just write an amazing post and the next day, it is on the first page of Google?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Search Engine Optimization is something I am just beginning to understand and use to my advantage. Much of what I read seems confusing and often outdated. “Free” tools are no longer free. The information provided doesn’t make sense. This is a murky world that is always shifting and changing.
But every once in a while, you hit SEO gold. My post “65 Christian Blog Post Ideas” and it’s companion “35 More Christian Blog Post Ideas” are the first two results if you do a Google search on “Christian blog post ideas” and I get traffic on these two posts every day, from both Google and Pinterest.
One thing I do know, and I think confuses people. The Yoast SEO plugin is a great tool for ensuring your post is set up and easy to be crawled by the search engines. But it is not actually doing anything to bring traffic to you. Yoast is not sending any signals to Google saying, “Hey, Google! Come over here and look at this great post!!” It is really just a good checklist to know you have followed good SEO practices in your post.
In the Resource Table, I’ve linked an article with some good basic tips on SEO for bloggers.
Like I said at the beginning of Part 1, for most of us, there is not magic bullet to skyrocket your blog traffic. It’s the combination of valuable, quality content and smart, consistent effort over time that will build sustainable traffic.
What are your most dependable traffic building tips? Is there something specific that took your blog to the next level?