Posted by: xeper | July 26, 2008

The True Voice of Your Blog (or How to Boost Traffic Permanently)

So how do you promote a blog and increase its traffic? To start, I wrote you a story-riddle about the importance and significance of getting more page hits and more visitors:

The Story of The Visitors of Mr. Neighbor. Once upon a modern fairy tale, a guy invited a friend over. Well, we should remember that Friend was so unpunctual that he didnt even bother promising when he would be there. But since Guy was so fond of Friend, he waited for him nevertheless. Some time went by and someone knocked the door. Guy opened the door and found a couple of people asking about Mr. Neighbor. Guy showed them Neighbor’s door and went back into his house. A few hours later, he opened the door to find a bunch of 5 kids asking about Neighbor Junior’s birthday party. Before Guy could answer, their friends from the neighbor’s house spotted them and called for them. A couple of days later, when Guy answered the door, he found Friend, with his usual wonderful smile, and a great gift. They couldn’t wait to start catching up, and a lot of catching up they had to do, for they had never met before ; )

This story is also a riddle: How many visitors did Guy have during the week? He had 2, then 5 kids, then 1 friend. Makes 8? H&!L NO! He only had 1 true visitor, no matter what the tracking software says. The others only came by accident, and they didn’t want to stay! You could also call this The Story of Defining What Really Counts.

You want your blog to grow, to BECOME. You want more traffic. As in the above story, I want you first to define who are the people you really want, and then target those. You will find many posts by experienced and more traffic-conscious bloggers linked to in this post. But this post focuses on sharing with you what I learned about how to be truly satisfied with your blogging, or self expression in general: a long-term exercise in defining oneself in term of words and in term of one’s readers, exploring oneself, and connecting and harmonizing with self and others for mutual development. Avery Xeperic definition, maybe, but we’re on Xeper, aren’t we? *smile* I am focusing here on increasing “true traffic”, or visitors who will come over and over again, thus giving you true growth in the number of your visitors; meaning a more permanent increase rather than an increase for one week after which you find your visitors decreasing again. I will attempt to highlight, in addition to links to traffic-increasing tips, the main issues you should consider in order to know which of those tips will serve your real purpose and which will not. Now, how to target your True Visitors:

Second: Know your true reader, aim to serve your reader. Who’s your true reader? Don’t tell me “anyone”. Why do people read you? When do they read you? What common interest bonds you to your readers? Though you may not immediately see it, even Reuters isn’t for “anyone”. Reuters is for the news seeker. You know why you can’t order pizza directly from their homepage? Because they’re not for everyone and don’t serve every occasion. Same with Google. Google isn’t for anyone. Google is for the general internet user when they’re looking for online resources. I and most of my readers are much less “addressing everybody” than do Reuters and Google, so please be more specific. You write for a reader in a specific mood, with specific requirements, what’s that mood? what are those requirements? Know them, and stick to them. For that, you should..

First: Know your blog, what your blog can offer, and what you want for your blog. Your blog is you, basically. For a company blog it is different, but for your personal blog it is you. A public you. What can you offer to people through your blog? Jokes? Technology updates? Something else? If you’re not sure, ask your readers. Know what it is that brings them back. If you still don’t have a few of those then I recommend dividing your time equally to reading other blogs and commenting on them for half your blogging time, and writing in your blog the other half. This will develop your sense of what people might appreciate in what you have to say, while advertising your blog. Only read and comment on blogs you are interested in. Another check here: can you continue providing people with what they need? If you are releasing tech updates, can you continue to do that for a year at the very least? If not, then don’t start to blog about it. Say it elsewhere, on your homepage on a social networking site, for instance.

Third: Invite your true potential readers. Your true potential readers come from many places, but do not be tempted to advertise your blog just anywhere, thinking it is for “anyone and everyone”. A good place to start advertising your blog is among people you already know. Put the blog address in your email signature. Add permalinks of specific posts on relevant pages on your chosen social networking site. I use an application that fetches my blog updates automatically and advertises my new posts to my network. Those are people I know and I might test readership among them. It is useful to imagine writing each post with a specific friend, while keeping the language general (no inside jokes, for instance). When I said one should only read and comment on blogs in which s/he is interested, it is because of two things at the same time: first, to know what others are talking about, and since it interests you it might give you more ideas, and second, your comments will draw readers to your blog to continue the discussion. Those are true potential readers since you met them on a blog that interests you both. Check out more traffic generating tips on DBT (I agree especially with #18 on the list that joining and/or building a community, though long term, is especially significant).

Fourth: Learn to use technology to your advantage. If you’ve been blogging for while or are technically oriented, check this post and this post. If not, continue the paragraph *smile*. Use tags. Use social bookmarking services such as Del.icio.us. Research how search engines work so you can organize your work in a way that shows better on search engines. Today, if you google “What humans have that animals don’t” or any search with the same meaning, you’ll find my article the very first suggestion. To me, that is the essence of philosophy, and to those whose first stop in research is google, I am their first stop. I am glad this happened. And this didn’t happen without research of my own. (I can write another post on search engine optimization (SEO) if enough people want it). A good trick is to exchange places with your reader: look for your blog like your reader who doesn’t yet know you would; search engines, search engines for the blogosphere such as IceRocket, from within WordPress or whatever platform you’re using, through electronic groups maybe, etc. Go everywhere anyone of your potential true readers might start their search and see how you can better reach them there. [an interesting post mentioning these]

Fifth: Show your personality. Be the blue cheese of your niche. I have read several articles about web traffic and blog promotion etc. How many of them have near the very top a story like mine? None. Is that good or bad? Well, I won’t suit the taste of many, those are Mr. Neighbor’s visitors. And I do have links for Mr. Neighbor’s place, but those who have been to Mr. Neighbor and found the info without the story, and wanted the story, those are my true visitors. Guess whose article they would seek first next time they want to ask about something? Blue cheese might not be everybody’s favorite, but it doesn’t get out of fashion, and its absence is missed, unlike cheeses with less presence. People come to your blog for your ideas and your style. For your originality. What do YOU think? Let this always be your question. [don’t write if you have nothing to say]

Sixth: Trendy blogs. I know I am no fashion. My readers read me because we share a lot in common, not because I am “in” this season. I have much lower traffic than trendy blogs. In five years, I would still have not peaked. In five years, my trendy neighbor blog would have peaked, and would have fell. Unless they can cope with a new fashion. Know which style suits you best and be prepared to pay the price: slow growth, or strong seasonal changes. If you’re not trendy, increase quality of your posts, also length; if trendy, make sure you follow up on changes in the interests and tastes of your readers and yourself, and focus on punctuality and frequence of your posts.

Seventh: Showcase your originality. Originality has to hit hard from the beginning. Showcase your originality in MasterPieces (or “Pillar articles”). These are long, high-quality articles, with a traffic-inviting title and full of keywords about you and about the blog, even if the article seems to be talking about something else. This is a very important part. Most advice you get tells you to have 5 or 10 or whatever number of important posts before you mass-advertise the blog. Noone tells you how to write it (though you can get more than a hint here). I give you the essence in the few lines above, so re-read this paragraph very attentively. If anyone requests more explanation about this important topic I will write you another post. To hit hard, remember that your show-cased originality should be bigger than the reader can digest in one or two visits. Three is a minimum. And after three, they would probably have developed a taste for blue cheese. *an evil marketing guy’s laugh*.

Eighth: Always learn about blogging, especially from successful bloggers writing about blogging.

And I admit, I do have a couple of tips I didn’t find anywhere else:

Bonus Tip 1: For new bloggers with less than 25 daily readers (one of them is the reason for this post, and this is her thank you for it). Timing of release. You might get slightly more readers depending on the timing you released your post. In WordPress, for instance, your article gets free advertising on wordpress homepage if it was tagged by one or more of the main tags you find on wordpress homepage. Many WordPress users often visit the first page and click through the tags on the right. If you tagged your article in one or more of those then you would show there, until newer articles push you down. This happens at different speeds at different times of the day. Visitors who come that way are perfect visitors: looking for your specific tag and are looking for something to read. Try different times of releasing your articles to see the effect this might have on your traffic. In my experience, releasing your article around 11 pm GMT got me many visitors this way.

Bonus Tip 2: Don’t obsess. If you check your traffic stats more than once a day, you’re on the border.. twice? you’re obsessed. And if checking traffic stats constitutes more than half of your admin activity (the sum of what you do for your blog other than writing), you’re dangerously obsessed. If you feel obsessive urges, review your old posts or read other blogs and start writing anew. You can view stats after every time you finish an article. This way your obsession won’t keep you from writing πŸ˜‰

Summary: Write more, write better, be there for your true readers and fill their needs; content-wise, accessibility-wise, style-wise, and even time-wise. Your true readers are the ones who need the true you.

For a more basic blogging strategy check this. Do you have other tips? Comments? Share with the rest..

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Responses

  1. I thank you, I thank you, I thank you.

  2. Most welcome πŸ™‚
    It would be nice if you shared your experience with us after you try those tips πŸ™‚
    Take good care.

  3. thanks!! great post!!

  4. Most welcome, Amarnath. You got a nice blog on the subject too.

  5. This is very true. But overwhelming. I am very lost and most likely missing your point. I don’t have a main thing to discuss. I go with what happens at the moment and during the day. The only typical things occurring are: Music, how to’s, astrology, education, psychology-type stuff, and relationship analysis. My “readers” – I have none because not many kids my age are really blogging…and it’s kind of weird to have teachers read your blog, even if you are good friends with them. I am not obsessed because I am used to not having ANY traffic. I am not trendy at all. I stand alone. What do I do then?

    Edits: The kids my age (high school) are NOT blogging.

  6. Teganor: Thank you for your comment. I have written you this post https://xeper.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/how-to-start-your-very-first-blog-using-wordpresscom/ which I think will clarify a lot and make the first steps less overwhelming. I am looking forward to getting your feedback on it.
    Treganor, I think the reason why you “go with what happens at the moment” is that you do not have enough interesting readings. This is why you should read more often, things that interest you very much, especially other bloggers. This way, your writing will belong to those who write and read. You can have a social life with your colleagues from school, but your blogging will be where blogging belongs.
    Are you http://introvertedwisdom.wordpress.com ? I like your writing, and I am sure many others will, too. Teens don’t read. Are you sharing your thoughts with everybody or with teens only? Because it is refreshing for many of us to read the thoughts of teens, discuss with us how you see life, how we see life. And do it while logged in. And yes, please do put your old posts on wordpress, and tag them, the tags indeed will spread the word for you.
    You think it is bad to standalone since youre a teen among older bloggers, look at it this way: WOW! You’re the ONLY teen among older bloggers! You represent the teenage point of view about anything you talk about!!
    See? competitive advantage without you doing anything about it. Just remember you need to change this focus a couple of years from now, in preparation of leaving your teen years, until then, enjoy them πŸ™‚

  7. You make an excellent point. By accident, one of my most popular incoming search terms is “Amish” or “Amish people.” I don’t know what search engine is sending this people my way, but I only incidentally wrote about Amish people, and people doing a search on this term are definitely not my target readership. (My target is people searching for terms like “credit union” and “marketing”.)

    A friend of mine who also blogs recently wrote a headline “sexy nude chicks” being funny. Now he gets hits on the word “nude” but again, those are good for stat-counters, but does nothing for his readership.

    All this is to say I agree with the premise of this post; it’s all about being true to yourself and your strategy/purpose for blogging, and certainly not about stat or traffic counters. Especially when the people behind these numbers are completely anonymous.

  8. Thank you Morriss for the note and your great writing. Keep it up πŸ™‚

    For everybody interested in blogging (or other technology) and promotion of your blog or product, I recommend you check Morriss’ blog http://everythingcu.wordpress.com . It promises a wealth of knowledge from someone who believes in having and pursuing a Purpose, and, better still, he is dedicated to these issues.

  9. […] I don’t know which search engine these hits are coming from (and I’ve checked the first 10 pages of Google, and looked at ask.com, live.com, and yahoo.com), so if you uncover it, let me know. I realize that these hits are not relevant to the purpose of this blog, so I take no pride in the 450 readers per month who find this blog that way. These hits are like strangers knocking on your front door who are really looking for a neighbor’s house. […]


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