Generating traffic to your blog requires consistent action in a variety of ways. Traffic doesn't just come from one place or technique but from a culmination of many things. Here's a checklist of 52 actions you can do to get your blog traffic kick started. Try one or several a week to steadily grow your traffic.
1. Install Google Analytics. This will tell you where your traffic is coming from so you'll know what's working and what isn't.
2. Get your Alexa number which rates web sites by traffic. Get your number monthly and enjoy the progress your web site is making. "What gets measured gets done."
3. Use the Google Keyword Tool to find potential keywords to try and optimize for. Try to find questions that people want to know the answers to that aren't well answered yet.
Also use Google Insights, which will let you know how many people are searching for your keywords, in your local area.
4. Change your blog linking structure. By default, most blogs don't have SEO-friendly URL structures. Change it so your keywords are in there by default. In WordPress, go to Settings > Permalink Settings. I recommend creating a custom structure that includes the year, category & postname.
5. Find a world-class template to use. Make sure it has both great design, ease of navigation and easy-to-use SEO. I recommend WooThemes: http://bit.ly/WPWooThemes (affiliate link).
6. If you don't use WooThemes, install the plugin All-in-One-SEO. It's free and the best SEO plugin for WordPress.
To install it, in your WordPress Dashboard, go to Plugins > Add New and search for "All-in-one-SEO".
7. Create a posting schedule. It's more important that you post consistently than quickly. If you can have at least 1-2 posts scheduled at any given time, you're in good shape.
8. Start commenting on other blogs related to yours. Start getting known in your space.
Use Google Reader to subscribe to RSS feeds and keep track of the blogs you are following.
9. Start commenting and replying to people in your industry on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Again, start building a name for yourself in your space. When commenting on social media or their blogs, be respectful of their audience. Always add value when commenting and avoid being pushy or salesy, especially if you're promoting your own services or products.
10. Create controversial or provocative blog posts. Be bold with your opinions, vision & purpose. When you write in your voice and stand out as original, people will be drawn to your blog. If you play it safe and write just like everyone else, there's no reason to go to your blog in the first place.
11. Create an interactive experience that people would want to share with their friends. Quizzes, polls and games related to your industry are a great example of this.
12. Submit press releases to online PR sites. At worse this will result in a bunch of backlinks to your blog, at best you'll get picked up by a reputable website which would result in a lot of traffic as well as a high PR backlink. Prweb.com is the best paid site to use and there are numerous free sites as well.
13. Create a "Frequently Asked Questions" about your industry. If you answer questions nobody else is answering, you'll often get a lot of links back.
14. Create a glossary for your industry. Create the first page with every word and a short definition on one page.
Then create a new page for every word (each word will be a link) with a longer definition. If you can create a custom SEO title for each page, include the phrase "definition of [your word]".
15. Create an infographic from the latest study in your industry. This is a graphic with a ton of data about one topic. These tend to get passed around like wildfire.
16. Target Local News. Getting local attention will often result in a lot of exposure and backlinks.
17. Track your most popular posts and try to boost their rankings. For example, if you have a post getting a lot of traffic and its ranked #7 for a keyword, change other internal links in your blog to point to that post with relevant anchor text.
18. Get on the RSS feeds of the top 3 blogs in your industry. When something important happens in your industry, you want to know ASAP so you can know about it and respond.
19. Answer questions. When someone asks you a question, answer them by writing a blog post. If you can publicly answer a question if you believe more people would benefit by hearing the answer.
20. Create both a "For Experts" and a "For Beginners" section for your posts. Capture both savvy and beginner audiences.
21. Guest post. Offer other bloggers and website owners high quality articles and include your link in your bio at the end of the post.
22. Have guest posts on your blog. This gives your audience exposure to a wider range of topics and lines of thought. It also induces reciprocity -- other bloggers will more likely want to have you guest blog.
23. Always be targeting! You should know what keywords you want your overall blog to rank for as well as what you want your specific posts to rank for. Include keywords in your title. Don't compromise post quality for rankings; but optimize your blog to the best of your ability.
24. Create a YouTube video. Embed it in your blog and make sure the YouTube title has your main keywords in it. Also, list your blog link first in the video description .
25. Create an RSS feed so others with feed readers can track your blog.
26. Prominently post your RSS feed along with a button so people can subscribe easily.
27. Submit your site's highest quality and funniest posts to Digg and Reddit.
28. Submit your overall site to StumbleUpon.
29. Bookmark your site on Del.ico.us.
30. Nominate yourself for various blogging contests. Whether or not you win, you'll get backlinks and attention.
31. Check Google Trends for the most popular searches recently. Make posts about topics that are currently hot.
32. Consider buying an ad in the Radio Television Interview Report (RTIR). This is the report that newscasters and radio hosts use to find experts. It's expensive, but the exposure is often worth the price.
33. Contact the press directly if you believe you have a newsworthy story. Write personal emails to editors and journalists. Don't email blast.
34. Respond to comments! Authors who respond to comments generally get a lot more comments than those who ignore their commenters.
35. Find out who's linking to you by watching your logs. See if you can do a joint venture with people who already like your work.
36. Host your images on Flickr, the number one social media site for photos. You'll actually get traffic from your images!
37. Create a tag cloud in your widgets to help people find out what's popular on your site.
38. Consider buying traffic from Facebook or AdWords. Be sure to have a hot headline and offer.
39. Showcase your best articles. Make it visible from front page and make a killer first impression so people come back.
40. Install the related posts plugin. This helps people see more relevant blog posts. If they're interested in what you had originally written, they will continue to read more about that subject.
41. Host a contest! The winner gets a small prize like a $20 gift card or free products or services.
42. Be interviewed. Talk to others in your industry to see if they'd be interested in interviewing and featuring you on their site through a written, video or audio blog post.
43. Contact hosts of blogtalkradio with shows on your industry and ask them if they would be interested in interviewing you on their show. Also offer to be on their last-minute list in case a previously scheduled guest has to cancel.
44. Interview others in your industry. A great interview can generate a lot of traffic and backlinks.
45. Create a post talking about something that just happened in your industry, providing a unique perspective on what's going on. Message everyone who's also talking about the same topic for their opinions and to leave a comment on your blog.
46. Add your blog URL to your email signature. You won't get as much traffic as some of the other techniques, but people will see that you're committed and high-powered individuals with influence and reach will take notice.
47. Start podcasting. Get your audio in iTunes.
48. Start an internet radio show with a service like blogtalkradio. Interview industry experts and feature the interviews on your blog.
49. Include the first paragraph (or two) of your latest blog post in your email newsletter. Send out your newsletter monthly for the best results.
50. Hold a blogging challenge. Provide moral support for fellow bloggers to blog 7, 14 or even 30 days in a row. Give out prizes that are donated by businesses who want the exposure.
51. Blog about a product review or a product comparison. People search online for reviews before they decide to purchase. You will gain loyal readers when you are a reliable resource for product reviews in your industry.
52. Include a link to your blog on all printed marketing materials, including business cards, flyers, brochures, and letterhead.
There you have it! A list of 52 actions you can do to drive more traffic to your blog. Here are some final tips to implementing these steps:
- Pick one to focus on each week until it's complete.
- Remember the question isn't "How?", it's "Who?" If you need help completing a step, who in your network can you call on to help you? If it's not in your budget to hire someone, who can you trade with?
- If it's not a feasible action that you can complete in a week (either by yourself or with help), skip that action and move on to a different one.
- Check your Alexa ranking monthly and celebrate your success!