In order to increase traffic to your new blog, people need to know you exist. And for people to know you exist, you need to find a way to stand out among the vast sea of bloggers out there.
At times, it can feel impossible to grow a new blog (and that asshole inner critic doesn’t make it easier). But it’s not as hard as you might think, and with the right system in place, you can start attracting new readers and subscribers quickly.
In this post, I’ll share several tips for getting traffic to your new blog so you can start growing your blog quickly.
Step 1: Submit a sitemap to the search engines
A sitemap is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a map of all the pages on your site. When you submit your sitemap to the search engines, you give them a quick and easy way to navigate your site. Just like a map!
This tells them what your site is about, which helps them know how and where to rank you. Once you create your sitemap, it will update automatically as you add or remove content.
You can create a sitemap manually, or you can use a 3rd party tool.
If you’re using WordPress, there are plenty of plugins to make it easy to create a sitemap. My favorite is Yoast SEO. Since I already use Yoast for other SEO related tasks, it’s a no-brainer. (The fewer plugins you have, the faster your site will be.) If you don’t use Yoast, I recommend the Google XML Sitemaps plugin.
Once you create your sitemap, you’ll need to submit it to the search engines.
Submitting to Google
Before submitting your sitemap, you’ll need your sitemap URL — you can get that from the service you used to create it.
- If you used Yoast, your URL will be: http://mydomain.com/sitemap_index.xml
- If you used Google XML Sitemaps, your URL will likely be: http://www.mydomain.com/sitemap.xml
Now that you have your sitemap URL, there are two main ways you can submit your sitemap to Google. Here’s a brief rundown of both.
Method #1: Direct browser submission (easiest)
- Visit this URL Encoder site and enter the following: http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ping?sitemap=http://www.mydomain.com/sitemap.xml (replace the bold part of the URL with your sitemap url)
- Select the ENCODE button. This will format the URL into a way that Google can easily read it
- Copy the new URL, then paste it into your Google browser bar and hit enter (you should see a confirmation)
Method #2: Submit through Google Search Console
Even though Method #1 is quicker, I usually submit mine in Google Search Console, a free service that provides a lot of data on your website.
To submit this way:
- Sign in to Google Search Console (or set up an account if you don’t already have one)
- On the Search Console home page, select your website.
- In the left sidebar, click Crawl and then Sitemaps.
- If you have any outdated or invalid sitemaps, remove them.
- Click the Add/Test Sitemap button in the top right.
- Enter your sitemap URL into the box that appears.
- Click Submit.
Step 2: Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of optimizing your blog to rank it higher in the search engine result pages.
SEO can feel really intimidating, but think of it like this. A search engine’s only job is to show the most relevant and best results for the topic someone is searching for.
When you write really great content and use keywords that help the search engine know that you’ve got this really great content and what it’s about, it makes its job easier. The search engine then rewards you by moving your blog post up in the search engine results.
So how do you know what keywords to use? Well, there are a lot of ways to do extensive keyword research, but when you’re getting started, just try to imagine what people might search for to get to your blog post.
You can then incorporate those keyword phrases into your writing. This helps you show up in the results when someone searches those phrases (or similar ones).
For instance, if you have a blog that teaches people the fundamentals of music theory, you might imagine that someone in your target audience might search for “how to read music”. You could write a blog post called “How to Read Music Like a Pro.”
Then, in a few places throughout your content, you could add those keywords. In your opening paragraph, you could say, “Have you ever wanted to learn how to read music, but gave up because it seemed too hard? Well, today, I’m going to show you my top secrets for learning how to read music quickly and easily.”
A few paragraphs down, you could say, “When I first learned how to read music, this was the one tip that really helped it stick in my brain.”
At the end, you could conclude your post by saying, “Learning how to read music can be challenging, but when you take the steps outlined above and put them into practice, you could be reading music in no time.”
When you use your keywords in important places like your headline, your opening paragraph, and throughout your post, this helps bump you higher in the search results.
The imporant thing is to use keywords in a natural way. You can’t just stuff a bunch of keywords in your post and expect it to work. That used to be the case, but Google’s a lot smarter now, and blatant keyword stuffing can actually penalize you in the results. Write naturally and inject your keywords where it makes sense.
In the example above, I was able to use the keyword phrase 5 times, and none of them seemed forced or unnatural. And when the rest of the post has really excellent content, your chances of ranking higher will increase significantly.
Step 3: Have a good headline
Even if you show up in the search results, it won’t do you any good if your headline doesn’t make them want to click.
In fact, your headline may be the most important thing you write. Because it won’t matter how amazing your post is if they don’t even make it there to read it. So don’t skimp on the headline.
I like to come up with at least 5 headline ideas for every single blog post I write. Sometimes I write 10 or 12. That’s how important the headline is.
After you come up with several ideas, plug them into the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Headline Analyzer. This will analyze your headline for maximum impact. It gives you a score of 1% to 100%. The higher the number, the better the score. (Hint: I’ve never seen 100%, and the best I’ve seen personally is 70%. Usually I’m somewhere between 40% and 60%.)
For instance, the headline of this post, I played around with several versions and got their headline score:
- 7 Tips For Getting More Traffic to Your Blog – 11%
- 7 Ways to Increase Your Blog Traffic For Free – 33%
- 7 Steps to Getting More Blog Traffic For Free – 22%
- 7 Ways to Grow Your Blog Traffic For Free – 22%
- 7 Free Ways to Increase Traffic to Your New Blog – 50%
- 7 Free Ways to Substantially Increase Traffic to Your New Blog – 54%
The winner was obvious. If I spent a lot more time on it, I could get it a little higher, but anything over 50%, I’m happy with.
Play around with different words. In this case, a thesaurus can be your best friend. But don’t get too clever. You want the headline to be easy to read.
A good headline helps people instantly understand what your post is about. If they have to think too hard about it, you’ve already lost them.
Step 4: SEO your images
You want to be sure that you’re using images in your posts because they make your content more interesting. They also help break up the text visually, making your post easier on the eyes.
But did you know that images can also play a big part in your search engine ranking, too? I’ve had sites that didn’t rank high for their content, but that ranked #1 in the image search, which still drove a lot of traffic to my site. This is especially useful for ecommerce sites.
How did I do that? By optimizing my images for SEO. And the process is pretty simple.
First, you want to include your keyword(s) in your image filename. So if you’re writing a post called How to Adopt a Healthy Morning Routine, your image filename might be healthy-morning-routine-img1. Image 2 would be healthy-morning-routine-img2.
Your structure doesn’t have to be exactly like the above example, but you do want to make sure that your main keywords are in the image title.
Next, you want to be sure that you include an alt tag with your keywords on every image on your blog.
An alt tag is an “alternate” description which tells Google what’s on the image. By adding a good alt description containing your keywords, you’ll increase your chances of ranking higher. That way, when someone goes to Google and types in your keywords, then clicks on the images tab, you might show up.
Step 5: Write blog posts that get shared
Don’t rely on the search engines to send traffic your way. Why not get free traffic with the help of your readers? Write posts that people want to comment on and share. And believe me, just because you write a really great post doesn’t mean they will.
Here, it helps to understand a little psychology. When someone shares a blog post, it’s often because that blog post helps do one of the following:
- Answers a burning question
- Solves a problem
- Helps someone achieve a desired result
There are other reasons people might share – for example, if your post is controversial or incites a great deal of emotion (why do you think political posts get shared so widely?), but we’re going to focus on everyday type of content.
So knowing the above reasons, here are a few types of blog posts that tend to get shared:
- How to posts
- List posts
- Q&A posts
The more helpful you are, the better the chances that people will want to share your content.
Step 6: Make it easy for people to share your blog posts
So you wrote this killer blog post, you’re showing up on Google, and your headline is so mouthwatering that people are clicking. Amazing – you’ve hit the blogger lottery.
But what if someone reads your post and wants to share it with their friends, but you don’t have a way to share it?
You’d be surprised at how many blogs I see that don’t have sharing buttons. These buttons are different than the “social follow” buttons that are typically in the sidebar or footer of your blog.
You can use a plugin to add share buttons to your posts, and some will even let you modify the look and feel of them to match your blog’s colors or branding.
My favorite social sharing plugin is Social Warfare. They have the best looking buttons in my opinion, and you can customize them a number of ways (over 5,000 possible combinations!).
They also give you custom social images and descriptions, so you can ensure that when your blog posts do get shared, they look exactly like you want.
But don’t just assume that people will share, so at the end of your post, leave a call to action asking them to share. That give them a little nudge and will improve your share stats.
Step 7: Comment on other blogs
This one might seem weird, but is actually a strategy that’s not only good for driving some traffic back to your site, but it’s also good for relationship-building.
You want to make sure you’re focusing on blogs that your ideal reader most likely reads or follows. So if you’re a yoga blogger, you might check out other yoga bloggers or even blogs about health, mindfulness, or meditation.
When you comment on other blogs, it usually gives you the option of putting your name and your website. If you enter a website, it turns your display name into a link that goes back to your site.
The key is to leave comments that are insightful or helpful in some way. Don’t just say, “love this post!” or “great stuff!” Leave thoughtful comments. The hope is that someone will read your comment and think, “Wow, she’s got great insights – who is she?” They click on your link and visit your site and become your next raving fan.
If a blogger sees that you comment on their site fairly regularly, they’ll take notice and likely click over to your blog, too. If they like what they see, maybe they’ll reach out for a joint project together. Plus, it just builds good blog karma to support other bloggers.
Step 8: Guest post
My last tip is one of my favorite ways to increase traffic to your new blog. Guest posting is where you write a post for someone else to publish on their blog or website.
“Why would I want to do that? Why not publish on my own blog?” you might be asking. And it’s a valid question. There are a few benefits.
For instance, most blogs allow you to add 1 or 2 links back to your site, whether in the body of your post or in your “byline” (a short description at the bottom that tells about you and what you do.)
This helps you with SEO by giving you a “backlink.” It also gives people a way to visit your site. Plus, guest posting on bigger blogs has the ability to propel you forward much faster because it gets so many new eyes on your blog at once.
The important thing is to focus on high-quality blogs that will make it worth your while to write a really awesome post for them.
To find blogs that accept guest posts, you can simply google [your niche] + “guest post”. Make a list of blogs that are bigger than you, and start reaching out.
When you land a guest post, write a really great, quality post that you’d be just as proud to put on your own blog. You want to make a stellar impression here.
If your post is great, and you’ve targeted the right blog, chances are, you could see a lot of new traffic coming your way soon.
So there you have it! In this post, we talked about several free ways to substantially increase traffic to your new blog.
Before you implement any of these tips, take a look at your Google Analytics and make a note of your average site views. Then check back weekly to see how these methods increase your blog traffic over time.
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