You can have the best blog content in the world. But if nobody sees it, it’s a waste of time.
Truth is: it’s never been harder to get more visitors to your blog. The world is overrun with content; as many as five million blog posts are published on WordPress each day. Yours needs to stand out to make content creation worth your while.
The good news? It’s not impossible to grow blog traffic. You just need the right knowledge.
This post will teach you how to increase traffic to your blog using a two-pronged approach. We’ll cover how to get a sustainable flow of traffic to every new post you publish, and how to breathe new life into your existing content.
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The Basic Principles of Driving More Blog Traffic
Before we dive into the details, there are some basic principles you’ll need to know about content marketing—specifically when it comes to blog posts.
The CoSchedule Blog, for example, has grown to more than one million page views per month following these processes.
So, what are those principles? They’re simple. Your content needs to be:
- The most useful content on your topic. Teach a reader something new; cover something in greater depth. Whatever type of content you’re creating for your blog, don’t publish it unless it’s genuinely the most useful content for your target audience.
- Easy to find. Whether that’s tons of social shares or position #1 for a keyword, remove as many barriers as possible for a target reader to find your content.
Understand Your Blog Traffic Sources
Checked both of those criteria off your blog checklist? It’s also worth spending some time inside your website analytics to see where you’re starting from.
Use Google Analytics’ Traffic Acquisition report to spot where your existing blog traffic comes from. (We’ll build on these later.)
People search Google for hundreds of things every day. On page one, search engine algorithms pull a list of 10 URLs they think are best-suited to a searcher’s query.
The ability to find new content is the reason why 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine. But remember: there’s more to search engines than Google. You can also search for videos on YouTube, for presentations on SlideShare, for photos on Unsplash, for tweets on Twitter… the list goes on.
If you want to get search traffic from all these platforms, you just need to put your content there and make sure it’s optimized for the keywords that people might use to find it.
Well, actually it’s a little bit more complicated than that. But just by publishing quality content on all these sites, you really win half of the battle.
Ask anyone where they hang out online and I’ll bet that social networks form the bulk of their internet time.
Daily active users on sites like TikTok, LinkedIn, and Facebook Groups are growing at an astounding rate. It’s why 82% of the US population are actively using at least one social media platform.
Dig into your Google Analytics and see which social media platforms are already driving the most blog traffic.
You might find that each time you’ve promoted content in a Facebook Group, you get a 5-day surge in page views. Or when an influencer reshares your blog post with their audience, page views for the day are 30% above average.
The email inbox is a sacred space for many people.
More than half of consumers head to their email inbox first thing in the morning. It’s where they communicate with brands they love, reply to work emails—and in some cases, discover new content.
If you have a mailing list, figure out how many new readers you’re driving to your blog through each campaign. Find the average open rate for blog-related emails: the percentage of people who saw your email and clicked a link in it.
(If you don’t have a newsletter, there’s no better time than now to create one.)
That’s the kind of traffic you get when your audience—and people coming from “search”—share your content with their friends.
They might tweet your article, share it on Facebook, link to it from their own blog, or send the URL to someone via Skype. Either way, blog readers who come directly to your website are usually doing so off the back of referrals from family and friends.
Increasing blog traffic is hard work. Sometimes, cash can be the fuel you need to get the engine going.
Paid traffic is the people you’re driving to your blog who’ve found you through a paid advertisement. This could be anything from Facebook and Twitter ads, right the way through to sponsored influencer content and submissions to content distribution sites like Zest.
More New Content ≠ More Blog Traffic
Now we know the different sources you can use to drive people to your blog, you might be left with one question:
Can’t I just publish more new blog posts to get more traffic?
Maybe. But it also might not be worth your effort.
We put this to the test at CoSchedule and upped our posting schedule from 2 to 3 posts a week. When you compare the data before and after the experiment:
- Social shares decreased by an average of 236 per post. That’s a grand total of 1,950 which was 294 less than the previous average of 2,244. Yikes.
- Comments decreased by 4 per post. So that’s 17 compared to the previous 26.
- Page views increased by 317.5 per post. Yes, that is an increase. It makes a total of 26,204 page views compared to 24,299. That’s an increase of only 1,905 page views to publish 2 more blog posts in a 2-week period.
Technically, we did increase our blog traffic. But it’s not worth publishing two more posts to get fewer than a thousand page views per post.
How to Increase Blog Traffic in 9 Easy Steps
Now we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s move onto the fun part: creating a strategy that’ll bring a steady stream of new visitors to your blog.
Follow this step-by-step guide to increase blog traffic.
Step 1: Start With Strong Topical Research
Too often, content marketers fall into the trap of writing things they think their audience is interested in. Then they question why blog traffic is stagnant (or worse: non-existent).
You can’t expect to drive traffic to your blog if you’re writing about topics your audience isn’t interested in.
It’s like building a house in Europe when your visitors are partying in Mexico. Why would they come to your home in a city they’re not bothered about? Take some time to make sure you’re laying the groundwork in the right place.
Do some research to figure out what your target reader is looking for using these tactics:
- Research content online. Dig into Google search results, on Reddit, on social media, on forums, on Quora… wherever you can find people talking about this topic.
- Talk to subject matter experts. What trends are influencers in your space noticing? What questions are they asked the most? For which topics do they struggle to point people in the right direction?
- Look for customer patterns. Sales teams are a wealth of information for content marketers. Ask them what questions a lead asks before they convert. Use that to inform high-traffic blog content.
Step 2: Conduct Thorough Keyword Research
We’ve briefly touched on the fact that search engines are a superb driver of traffic to blogs.
Once you’ve decided on a topic your audience is genuinely interested in, use keyword research tools to gather a keyword set. These are the phrases you want to appear on the first page for. (For this post you’re reading, that’s “how to increase blog traffic”.)
Using Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer as an example, you’ll see a list of related long-tail keywords that people are also searching for.
Those people would love this guide. 😉
Next, understand the search intent behind those keywords. Why are they searching what they’re searching?
Google breaks these down into micro-moments:
- I want to know
- I want to do
- I want to buy
- I want to go
Put your list of long-tail keywords into one of those buckets. Use the intent to inform the structure and content of your blog post.
For example: “how to ride a bike” is an “I want to know” keyword. In that case, a tutorial or list-based blog post would suit that query.
On the other hand, “best bikes for kids” is an “I want to buy” query. A roundup of products, or a review, would be the format of your blog post.
Search intent matters—especially when you’re optimizing your blog content for organic traffic. Google analyzes the intent of a query to pull search results. Matching that gives you the best chance of success at driving organic traffic to your blog.
Once you’ve got your list, incorporate them thoughtfully in your content. (More on this later.)
Step 3: Start Every Piece With an Outline or Creative Brief
Writing any blog post without direction is like sailing a boat without a map. Your end destination is a city off the coast; a town with your ideal readers who’re waiting to read what you have to say.
An outline or brief is the map you’ll use to create content that gets you there.
Resist the temptation to start writing instantly and create a content brief for every blog post you’re publishing. It should include:
- The audience for the post
- Their key pain point (or what will make this post most interesting to them)
- The angle the blog post must take
- Keywords you’re trying to rank for
- Every main point and subhead the blog post should have
- Any content upgrades you’re using
Having this information upfront helps the writer use the insights you’ve collected throughout the research stage. That way, you can craft content your audience wants to read—and therefore, attract more blog traffic.
Step 4: Make Your Post Unique and More Complete Than Competitors
Earlier, we touched on the fact that each blog post you’re publishing needs to meet two strict criteria:
- The most useful content on your topic.
- Easy to find.
The first one is arguably the most important. When writing your blog post, include all the information your reader needs. The goal? Give them the information they need so they won’t need to read any other piece about the topic.
Make sure your angle stands out by reading existing content on the topic. Determine what’s missing. That could be:
Finally, add statistics, research, and links to reputable sources. Backing up your points and opinions with concrete data is a surefire way to build trust with your readers—and keep ‘em coming back for more.
Step 5: Add Quality Visual Content
Did you know that 79% of people always scan through any new page that they come across? Just 16% read it word for word. People can make a snap judgement whether your article is worthy of a share just by skimming through it.
Format long-form content so that it’s easy to share. That could mean:
- Write an introductory paragraph that will briefly tell people what’s in there.
- Use meaningful subheadings (not “clever” ones).
- Use bulleted lists.
- Create infographics to explain statistics, tutorials, or listicles.
- Upload videos to explain a point in a visual format.
- Create a slide deck to walk people through your content as a slideshow.
Visual content—such as infographics, videos, and slide decks—are often bypassed because they take up time in the content creation process. But that time investment pays dividends.
You capture people whose learning style isn’t text. You also have the chance to increase blog traffic by repurposing your content on other platforms. For example, you can get more visitors to your blog by uploading:
- Infographic to Pinterest to reach its 459 million monthly active users.
- Video to YouTube to capture your slice of the billion hours people watch every day.
- Slide decks to Slideshare to claim some of their 159 million monthly pageviews.
Pro Tip: Optimize your image’s alt text. Since search engines can’t interpret images, they use this copy to determine what an image looks like. It’ll help you drive more traffic through image-based search engines like Pinterest or Google Image Search.
Step 6: Write an Awesome Headline
The headline of your blog post is its hook. When potential readers see the headline, they make an immediate decision to click it or not.
In simple terms: a blog post’s headline can make or break your attempts to increase traffic.
There is tons of advice on how to write irresistible headlines. The most important:
- Include your target keyword. It tells Google and potential readers that your blog post is well-suited to their query.
- Pull an emotional lever. It’s proven that positive headlines encourage social shares. A negative headline using words like “stop” or “avoid” does a similar thing.
- Uses a number. Listicles are amongst the most popular types of content. Show your blog post’s comprehensiveness by adding more points than competitors. (If the standard “how to drive blog traffic” post has 5 points, include 8 in yours.)
Come up with at least 5 headlines for each blog post you’re writing. The more, the better.
Then, play with CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. It’ll take those factors into account and grade your headline options. Pick the highest-scoring one for your blog post. It has the highest chances of driving blog traffic.
Step 7: Optimize Every Post for Search Engines
There are a variety of ranking factors that help search engines determine where a post should rank in search results.
We can break these down into two groups: on-page and off-page optimization.
Optimization under this bucket relates to content on the page itself. Most often, they’re things under your control and happen on a page-by-page basis.
To optimize a blog post for more organic traffic, focus on these things:
- Include the primary keyword in URL slug, image file name, introduction
- Include secondary keywords throughout your content, including heading tags
- Write a strong title tag and meta description
- Upload alt text for images in your blog posts
- Internally link to other relevant blog posts on your website
Off-page optimization is anything outside of your control, happening on another website.
Search engines use off-site ranking factors as an unbiased way to rank content. All on-page factors being equal, a site with 50 backlinks from other high-quality websites is surely more authoritative than one with two measly links.
While it might sound counterintuitive to focus on off-page SEO, there are a few link-building tactics you can use to optimize your blog for more website traffic:
- Publish guest posts on other websites in your niche with a link back to your blog.
- Contribute quotes to other people’s blog posts with a link to your site as credit.
- Appear as a guest on someone’s podcast and add a link to your blog in the show notes.
Step 8: Make it Easy to Join Your Email List
Social media platforms—especially Facebook—are limiting the organic reach that a Page’s content gets. Now, you’ll reach just 5.2% of your built audience when sharing a post from your Facebook Page.
Work around that by nudging existing visitors to join your email list.
Once they join your email list, you’ll have the chance to reach them in the most sacred place of all: their inbox. It’s the only direct route you have to communicate with them, making it a great potential source of direct blog traffic.
The key is to make it easy for visitors to turn into subscribers. You could:
- Embed an email signup form in each post.
- Offer content upgrades or lead magnets (such as checklists) in return for an email address.
- Add an exit intent popup with a lead magnet that appears when someone shows an intent to leave the page.
Step 9: Invest in Promoting Every New Piece of Content
Though the steps we’ve gone through so far are designed to help readers find your content naturally, the sad truth is that not all good content gets found.
Build distribution into your content creation process so it does.
Here’s a quick checklist you can use to promote your blog posts for free:
- Share it on social media
- Share it with your email list
- Send it to every source and author you linked to or cited
- Repurpose assets on other platforms and link back to it
- Turn it into video scripts
- Turn it into webinar themes
- Turn it into slide decks
- Turn it into Twitter threads
- Submit it to content upvoting communities
- Do manual outreach for influencers to share your content
Fine-tune your organic distribution strategy by collecting data on your audience across each channel. You might find that certain content types perform better than others.
Wanna replace time with cash? Consider putting some marketing budget behind content promotion with sites like Quuu Promote and social media ads. Depending on the bidding options you choose, you’ll only pay for traffic you drive. You’ll also have greater control over the volume and types of people you’ll reach.
Bonus Tips for Increasing Blog Traffic
The process we’ve just walked you through will set you up to start experiencing uplifts in traffic.
Want to take it a step further? Here are three bonus tips to make increasing blog traffic easier, quicker, and simpler.
Update Your Existing Content
If you’ve been producing content for a while, you’ll have a huge backlog of evergreen posts on your website. That’s the perfect place to turn to to find quick traffic wins (or you’ve exhausted all other topics).
Both search engines and readers prefer new content. Let’s face it: if you did a Google search and saw a blog post from 2014, would you click it? Probably not.
Dive into your Google Analytics account and look at the Landing Pages report. Or, use a tool like Revive to compare organic traffic year-over-year. You’ll see that some blog posts have naturally decreased in organic traffic since they were last touched.
Make a note of those with the biggest drops. Prioritize them for a refresh—during which, you should:
- Update the meta title and description
- Cover any topics or subheadings that people now search for, but didn’t before
- Include new keywords with increasing popularity
- Update any old statistics, data, or case studies
- Add new product features launched since the last update
Add More Internal Links Between Existing Content
Internal links connect two pages inside a website. Here’s an example of one pointing to our guide to writing case studies.
They help search engines navigate around a website, and encourage readers to stick around for longer. This improves dwell time, pages per session, and bounce rate—all of which are Google ranking factors.
That means you can get higher rankings, more traffic, and more pageviews with internal links.
Whenever you’re posting new content (or updating existing blog posts):
- Link to other content in your backlog.
- Go back to your old content and add internal links to your new stuff. This gives you a quick win: Google’s crawlers have a way to pick-up and index new content.
Pro Tip: Do a site search for the topic you want to link to. If we’re internally linking to a guide on content management, for example, we’d search “site:coschedule.com + content management”:
Keep Your Content Organized on an Editorial Calendar
Are you flying by the seat of your pants when publishing new blog posts?
Ditch the pen and paper (or worse, mental notes) by keeping your content organized on an editorial calendar. By planning content strategically and working more efficiently, you can create more and better content that attracts more and better traffic.
Though we may sound biased, we manage our entire editorial calendar using CoSchedule.
We’re able to color-code different types of content, automatically promote content using ReQueue, and create task checklists inside each blog post.
Start Increasing Blog Traffic Today
As you can see, there are various tactics you can use to drive traffic to your blog.
But remember: the most important thing is that you have high-quality content to create. Promotion is 10x easier when you have something incredible to share.
Set yourself up for success by spending time in the trenches. Use topical research to inform the types of blog posts you should create. Make your post more comprehensive than anything else on the topic. Write an awesome headline that attracts attention.
You’ll soon start to see those incremental gains in traffic you’ve been aiming for.
September 8, 2021