7 Proven Strategies to Increase Your Blog’s Traffic by 206%

Written by Neil Patel on September 30, 2014

traffic growth

According to Hubspot, companies that blog have 97% more inbound links. But you already know blogging is valuable, which is why you already have one.

But if no one visits your blog, how are you going to generate those links, or even more traffic, or sales?

If you want reliable and qualified traffic, but don’t know where to begin, this post is going to be your best resource. Read it religiously and act on the nuggets. Some of the strategies you know already, but I’m going to approach them from an entirely unique angle.

Specifically, you’ll learn 7 proven strategies I used to triple my blog’s traffic. Here’s what I’m going to teach you:

  1. Kindle Select 90-Day Traffic Plan
  2. How to create viral content
  3. How to create evergreen list posts
  4. Long-tail keyword domination
  5. Email traffic generation
  6. Twisted guest blogging
  7. Restructure your posts

Download this traffic strategy cheat sheet that you can use today to improve your blog’s traffic.

Traffic Strategy #1: Kindle Select 90-Day Traffic Plan

Did you know that self-published books now represent 31% of e-book sales in the Amazon Kindle Store?

You used to need thousands of dollars and a contract with a large publishing house to get published. That’s changed. Anyone with an idea worth sharing can be a published author within a week and, more importantly, drive a lot of traffic to their blog.

I won’t discuss Kindle publishing in detail here (read Copyblogger’s excellent guide instead), but I will show you how to drive targeted traffic and reach thousands of people for free when you publish via Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

Here’s how it works, when you publish your Kindle book, you can enroll your book into the “Kindle Direct Publishing Select Program”. That makes your book exclusive to the Kindle Store for 90 days and includes it in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, where thousands of targeted readers can borrow it for free. You can even run a free promotion for a paid ebook for 5 of those 90 days.

kindle dashboard

There are two simple ways to use your Kindle book to drive traffic to your blog or landing page:

  1. Link directly to your website inside the book
  2. Use a free giveaway

Lets first go over how you can get traffic by linking directly to your site.

Author Link

The screenshot above shows how you can link directly to your blog or website inside your book before you enroll it in Kindle Direct Publishing Program. This strategy alone sends up to 200 extra visitors to your site within 30 days. Chris Guthrie peaked at #119 in the Kindle Store when he got about 2000 free downloads. With the right call to action a top 100 ranked ebook can send you anywhere from 300 to 3700 visitors a month.

But linking directly to your website isn’t enough to make you stand out. To get even more traffic, use your ebook as a traffic magnet by including a free giveaway… which gets us into our second method of leveraging KDP.

Steve Scott has published more than a dozen Kindle ebooks and has built a huge list of targeted subscribers. His technique? Giving a freebie to book buyers. When they buy, they see a “free gift” message, with two links to the author’s landing page. This is a simple and hugely effective technique.

Free Offer

But that’s not all. Use Amazon’s “Look Inside” and “Download a Sample” features to give readers a free report. Add a call to action on page 4 of your ebook (the last page in the preview) and link this back to your landing page or blog. Every 30 previews send about 10 visitors to your blog .

If your book is free, expect 1000+ visitors to your blog in about 7 days or close to 6500 visitors per month. Free downloads make your ebook rank higher and attract the attention of your target audience. Chris Guthrie’s book “How to Make Money as an Amazon Affiliate” got 3,500 free downloads in 48 hours, and climbed to #1 in its category.

Traffic Strategy #2: How to Create Viral Content

Everyone wants to create viral content, but most people fail. That’s because they don’t pay attention to the sites that successfully create viral posts, day in, day out. If they did, they would learn three secrets of viral content creation.

The first secret, which isn’t really a secret, is to write great headlines. 8 out of 10 people will click to read your content if you get it right.

The second is to get the length right. Viral content publisher Buzzsumo found that its most shared posts ranged from 3,000-10,000 words.

image007

And the third is to have a killer idea that is sure to go viral. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Understand your audience
  2. Use Buzzsumo to generate content ideas
  3. Use Ubersuggest to generate content ideas
  4. Generate ideas from useful comments

Step #1: Understand your audience

What does your audience want? I sometimes use Quora to figure out what my audience is passionate about. All I do is type my primary keyword into the search box and hit enter to get a list of people’s most pressing questions and concerns.

Quora

Step #2: Use Buzzsumo to generate content ideas 

If you want to engineer a viral post, you need to find out what makes other posts successful. Buzzsumo is a great tool for this. Plug in your primary keyword (I’m using “conversion optimization” in this example) and search.

buzzsumo 1

You can see the number of social media shares for the top posts related to your keyword. The top post in this example has 1,364 tweets and 2,601 shares. Check out the top headlines too. In this example you can see that conversion optimization tutorials are very popular. Use this technique to find the most popular topics in your niche.

Step #3: Use Ubersuggest to generate content ideas 

Ubersuggest is a unique keyword suggestion tool that also helps you generate blog post ideas. Type your primary keyword into the homepage search box. For this test, I typed blogging.

ubersuggest blogging

Leave the default settings and just click “suggest”. Ubersuggest searches the entire web for related words and phrases.

Here are some examples of Ubersuggest results:

ubersuggest sites that pay

Which phrases appeal to you from the examples above? Your readers will like them too.

Pick a phrase and click the plus sign to see even more phrases – and get more ideas that you can research and write.

ubersuggest paying site dropdown

Step #4: Generate ideas from useful comments

I love to read blog comments. Not only is it great to connect with readers, but I’ve got a lot of useful content ideas from comments over the years. You can too, but you need to find comments from people who really know their stuff.

comment

The best way to find them is to visit authority blogs to find expert advice to include in your posts. For example, check out the commenters on blogs like the Moz blog shown in the example above. Commenters on those sites are usually seasoned entrepreneurs, SEOs and content marketers whose comments provide great ideas.

A good example of a blog that is creating viral content on a consistent basis is Upwrothy. Upworthy has grown rapidly since its launch two years ago, with a whopping 88 million visitors. That’s more than Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and even Business Insider.

image021

Many of Upworthy’s posts are viral and there are three reasons for their success:

  1. Curiosity-driven headlines
  2. Fewer sharing buttons
  3. A short emotional video

Look at the headline below. Does it make you want to read? Each Upworthy headline makes readers curious enough to click and read more.

upworthy

You can do this too. Here are some typical headline templates you can use to create magnetic, clickable, shareable headlines. Just fill in the blanks with your primary keyword or goal.

This 3-Minute Video Will Show You How To ______________

How a 5-Minute Video Generated ____________ Visitors In ______ Days

The Only Proven _______________ Technique That Works

10 Weird Tricks To Get More ________________ in Just 15 Days

_____ Ways To Work Less Than 2-hours Daily And Still Earn $_____

Example: if your niche is blogging, you could write:

This 3-Minute Video Will Show You How To Install WordPress
The Only Proven Blogging Strategy That Works
 

In addition to using curious headlines, Upworthy knows that the more social sharing buttons you have, the lower your conversion rate. Compare the screenshot above with the one below: which would make you click? Upworthy successfully uses limited choices to drive engagement.

Before:
share button many up

After:

share button upworthy

Lastly, they tend to include emotional videos, which is an excellent way to motivate readers to get involved with your topic.

Case study: In 2012, Michael Dubin, co-founder of Dollarshaveclub.com, created a video. He knew his audience (men) and delivered his message in an interesting manly way, including a story and a clear way for customers to get a better shave for just $1.

Within 24 hours, that video went viral, generating thousands of paying customers, and adding over 5000 email subscribers to their list. To date, the video has over 16 million views on YouTube.

The lesson? Include video to make your content even more compelling.

upworthy video

Traffic Strategy #3: How to Create Evergreen List Posts

Evergreen list posts are another proven strategy for increasing blog traffic. A Moz case study defines evergreen posts as “content having a continued and sustained success” and shows that evergreen posts can generate traffic years after their original publication.

60 Second Marketer sums up the dos and don’ts of creating evergreen content in this slide:

evergreen content

So how do you decide whether a topic has evergreen potential? There are two ways.

First, ensure there is at least one magazine or publication on the topic/subject you want to write a list post on (this reveals how popular your topic/idea is).

Go to magazines.com and type your primary keyword into the search box. I typed “marketing” and found more than 50 marketing magazines:

magazines

Second, assess previous list posts with evergreen potential that enjoyed social success. Examples include:

These evergreen list posts succeeded because:

  • Each of them makes a specific promise
  • The posts are useful and address that specific promise

Note that with list posts, the higher the number in the title, the better. If everything else is the same, readers will be more motivated to read and share ‘35 Blogging Tips’ than“15 Blogging tips”. And odd numbers are more popular with readers.

Use this information to get creative about creating your own evergreen posts. Remember, 80% of people will only click your headline if it’s inviting. Here’s how you could make the examples above even better.

Original:

35 Blogging Tips To Woo Readers and Win Business
 

Your fresh headline:

37 Fresh Blogging Tips To Woo Your Readers Right Now
Top 35 Blogging Tips Your Readers Need To Know This Week
 

Let’s rewrite the second headline.

Original:

73 Cool Ways To Write Content For Targeted Traffic
 

Your unique headline:

70 Smart Ways To Write Traffic-Sucking Blog Posts
70 Simple Tricks To Write Content That Magnetizes Visitors
 

Note: Don’t copy someone else’s headline. Use it as inspiration to create a better one that speaks directly to your audience.

The cool part about this strategy is that you can also use Google to eliminate the competition. Google’s search engine is still the #1 driver of leads and sales. That’s why you have to make sure your killer idea isn’t already listed in Google’s index.

  • Step #1: Visit Google.com
  • Step #2: Plug your headline into the search box (in double quotes for an exact match).
  • Step #3: Check the results. If there are no results there is no competition and a huge opportunity to rank well in the SERPs.

Google headline zero

Follow the processes outlined here and you will always have ideas for evergreen list posts.

Other methods to try to create timeless posts that consistently generate organic traffic include:

  • Brainstorming – What problems have you been struggling with for a long time?
  • Hang out & listen – Search for relevant forums and discussion boards (Type “your niche + forums” into the search box). Register, read the threads and look out for issues that keep popping up. Write down your findings then …
  • Research – Read relevant magazines, blogs, newsletters, white papers, e-books and copy to get the answers to those challenging questions so you can easily create your own evergreen list post.
  • Promote – Once you publish your evergreen list post, alert your email subscribers, share on Facebook and send outreach emails to your network of friends/business partners. If the post is really helpful, even industry experts will gladly share it with their networks.

For more platforms to promote your evergreen list-posts, see: 32 Ways To Make Your Blog Post Go Viral.

Traffic Strategy #4. Long-tail Keyword Domination

Even before Google first rolled out their Panda update in 2011, long tail keywords were a major traffic driver. Since then, it’s been even easier to dominate Google, drive organic traffic to your blog and build a profitable business.

Search Engine Journal recorded a 78% increase in organic traffic after optimizing naturally for long-tail keywords.

Long tail traffic

The question is: how do you identify long tail key phrases with minimal or low competition? Is it even possible to find long-tail keywords that virtually no one is targeting?

Yes it is!

But you need to research extensively and create lengthy, useful content with our long-tail keywords front and center. Do that and you will not only funnel targeted traffic to your blog, but also build a sustainable, enduring community around your ideas – in other words, an evergreen audience. :)

What do long-tail keywords show you? Long tail keywords are great because:

  1. They reveal searcher intent. If someone types “buy golf bag online” you know what they are looking for.
  2. They tell you how to structure your content so that it can solve the searcher’s problem. If someone isn’t interested in buying, there’s nothing in it for you. If they are, you can focus on product features and benefits in your content to deliver what they want.
  3. They help you meet a specific need.

There are 3 steps to dominating Google’s top 10 with long tail keywords.

  • Step #1: Google Autosuggest
  • Step #2: Google Keyword Planner
  • Step #3: Write

Step #1: Google Autosuggest

Go to Google and start typing the primary keyword you want to rank highly in the SERPs. Carefully look through the auto suggested search queries.

Here’s an example for the competitive “fat burning supplements” niche:

autosuggest google

In this example, there were over 2.4 million web pages that want to rank for and profit from that keyword. But the auto suggested search queries included “fat burning supplements for women”. When I clicked, the number of competing web pages dropped by almost half.

autosuggest longtail

Since the number was still too high, I moved to the next step.

Note: for this example, it’s almost impossible to rank for the seed keywords, but with my strategy, you can generate buyer keywords and rank for them quickly.

Step #2: Google Keyword Planner

Go to Google Keyword Planner

Copy the long tail keyword you selected above into the keywords search box and click “get ideas.” You will get a list of related long tail keyword phrases you could use.

longtail keywords

Pick one of these phrases and return to Google to search for the new phrase. Use quotes around the phrase for an exact-match search result. Here’s what I got when I searched for “weight loss pills for women that work.”

target keyword

The top three results do not target the exact long-tail keyword phrase. There are also fewer than 50,000 competing web pages. That’s my rule of thumb for considering a topic.

next keyword

Use this method and within 20 minutes, you will find several long-tail keywords you can rank – and you won’t need to build hundreds of backlinks to the content page. Here are some examples:

“weight loss pills for women that work”
“best fat burning supplement for men”
“supplements that help with weight loss”
“best fat burning supplements for men”
“best diet supplements for weight loss”
“best thermogenic fat burners”
“weight loss supplements that actually work”
 

Step #3: Write

The next step is to research and write a rich, valuable, interesting, data-driven post of at least 1,500 words that is well-optimized for the target key phrase, making sure to include plenty of data, images and links to authority sites in the niche.

Rinse and repeat this 3-step approach for SERPs domination for every niche.

Traffic Strategy #5: Email Traffic Generation

In 2013, Redicati revealed that there are over 3.6 billion email accounts worldwide, and more than 247 million emails are sent every day. Email experts also claim that on average, for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you’re going to make up to $42 back.

If you don’t believe me, just look at Quick Sprout. One simple email blast helped generate $43,036 in income in less than 24 hours.

income

Sounds great, but don’t get too excited, because most email lists are completely dead.

How can you make yours come alive?

Simple, build a specialized or ‘elite’ list and nurture your subscribers so they always open and act on your emails.

Why do you want a list for a “privileged minority”? Because you don’t need everyone on your list if you want to succeed.

In fact, do all you can to weed out those who don’t want or need what you have to offer – you ONLY need the right people.

Lets first get into the benefits of building an elite email list:

  • You’re collecting only targeted leads
  • When you send newsletters, the open rates will be high.
  • The click-through rate will blow your mind.
  • You’ll get huge word of mouth referrals.
  • You can build a profitable business with less than 1000+ elite subscribers.
  • Your email subscribers will be your #1 source of qualified traffic to relevant offers.

Now that you know the benefits, here are the steps you need to take to build an elite list through your blog:

  1. Define your main goal
  2. Create a special landing page
  3. Guest blog on targeted A-list blogs only
  4. Use Facebook precise targeting

Step #1: Define your main goal

What do you intend to achieve by having a specific group of people on your email list? That goal has to be specific, realistic and achievable. Because the steps you’ll take afterwards will be in line with your ONE goal.

Here’s an example, you may have an internet marketing blog where you share useful posts on how to build a successful online business. But that’s really too generic.

Every business owner truly wants to build a business to be proud of, but how easy is it? What does that business owner really need to know – and can you provide it?

In order to build an elite list, you must identify the area or areas where you are the expert. One of my areas of expertise as a content marketer is developing multimillion dollar companies with accompanying high ranking and popular websites.

What about you? Do you know how to increase increase email open and click-through rates? What about boosting landing page conversion? It could be negotiating a business deal for the first time – any special knowledge you have can be shared with a specific group of people who are struggling to get results in that area.

Step #2: Create a special landing page

I know that you already have landing pages where you collect email leads. But this one is different.

fasttrack

Take the example of real estate company fasttrack who created a separate landing page to communicate intimately with people who wanted to sell a house as quickly as possible. That’s a separate audience from those who signed up to receive email updates on new property listings and real estate news. Get it?

Find your own area of specialty, and build an email list focused on that area alone. That’s what I call an elite email list.

Step #3: Guest Blog on Targeted A-list Blogs Only

To build your elite email list you also have to take a different approach to guest blogging and choose the blogs you pitch and guest blog for.

For instance, if you want to build an elite list comprising people who want to learn penny stock trading, a list of targeted blogs you can pitch your ideas to are:

http://www.timothysykes.com/
http://www.investortrip.com/write-for-us/
http://www.moneycrashers.com/write-for-us/
http://www.stockmarketopedia.com/write-for-us.html
http://www.comparebroker.com/write-personal-finance-guest-post/
http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/write-paid-contributor-nerdwallet-financial-markets-blog/
 

For other authority blogs in your niche, go to Google and search for:

Your primary keyword + submit guest post
Your keyword + write for us
Your keyword phrase + guest post guidelines
 

That will give you a list of the right places to guest blog and promote the landing page for your email list.

Step #4. Use Facebook Precise Targeting

If you have a marketing budget, you can use Facebook to drive the right audience and build an elite email list. Instead of sending your Facebook ad to everyone, use precise targeting based on interests, pages, groups, age and location for best results.

To find your core audience, click “create ads” on your Facebook page. Follow the steps (they are pretty easy) and within 1 minute your ad campaign will be ready to go live (once approved). Only those who match the profile you want for your elite email list will see your ad.

precise-interests

Important Point: It will be a while before you start seeing huge traffic spikes from your elite email list. That’s because you need to nurture your members, educate them and show how helpful your subsequent emails will be.

Just keep going. When it comes to elite email marketing, the quality of leads you get is 98% better than the quantity. In other words, what you need most are a few people who value you, want to read your newsletters and participate in your events – they take action almost all the time.

Traffic Strategy #6. Twisted Guest Blogging

I talked about guest blogging above as a proven way to increase traffic to your landing page and build your list. Here’s a unique approach to guest blogging (that’s why it’s “twisted”.)

One blogger recorded a 203% increase in traffic growth in 2013 when his guest posts were featured at high-traffic and relevant blogs.

Did he target a select group of keywords? Yes he did.

Did he build backlinks in order to improve rankings? No he didn’t.

And take a look at the traffic stats for Moosa Hemani, who guest posted at Moz:

Moosa Hemani

Within 4 months, he generated 3,016 targeted visitors from a single guest post. If you’re wondering how you can copy what Moosa did and get thousands of people to read your guest posts and visit your blog every month, follow this 3-step process:

  1. Research blogs with social influence
  2. Check the top ranking sites
  3. Pitch

Step #1: Research blogs with social influence

Google loves authority blogs – active blogs with a lot of social media followers. To get more traffic, focus your guest blogging efforts on these sites.

Before you pitch a post to a blog, check its social influence to assess how much traffic you can expect to generate from social media if your post gets featured.

Most of these A-list blogs don’t publicly display their social statistics, so check out their Facebook page or Twitter handle. The more followers they have, the more traffic you will get. In this example, a post shared by Darren Rowse (who has 66,000 Facebook followers) should bring at least 1000 visitors to your blog in two weeks.

social influence

Step #2: Check the top ranking sites

Another strategy to ensure your guest post is ranked in Google and drives traffic back to your blog is to research the top sites that are already ranked. Just go to Google and input your long-tail key phrase as though you want to search for ideas.

For instance: I want to write a guest post titled, “9 Simple Ways To Monetize a New Blog” but I don’t know which authority blog to pitch my idea to.

So I go to Google and plug my headline into the search box.

Google headline zero

The top results have ranked highly for a similar topic to the one you intend to write about.

Focus on these SEO-friendly blogs and you’ll drive organic traffic to your blog in the long term.

The reason is obvious – your idea has already brought these blogs organic traffic and perhaps some income. So when you pitch a similar guest post, you have a great chance of getting a YES, if you can show how the post will add value to the blog. That’s where your pitch comes in.

Step #3: Pitch

Once you have identified suitable targets, write a pitch. Check out my previous advice on pitching in How to Find the Best Places to Guest Blog and see the LInk Builder’s Guide to Email Outreach for even more tips.

This twisted method of guest blogging is guaranteed to produce organic traffic and social shares and help you to build your elite email list.

Traffic Strategy #7: Restructure Your Posts

To round off this post, I’d like to walk you through the process of restructuring your posts to suit your target audience. You may not even realize that your readers haven’t totally bought into your content. Check the comments. If no-one is commenting or can’t be bothered to say anything other than “nice post”, then your post didn’t get their attention.

In both cases, your post needs to be restructured. If you can successfully speak the language of your core audience, they will gladly promote, cite and share your post and advocate for you on their own networks – thus increasing qualified traffic to your blog.

Understand your audience: The first step to a competitive edge is to understand your audience’s behavior. Alexa’s a great tool for this. When you arrive at Alexa’s homepage, type in your blog address and click “GO”.

alexa

Scroll down to find your current level of engagement. There are three metrics you need to care about.

audience demographics

Bounce rate: The bounce rate shows the percentage of website visitors who viewed one page and then navigated away. In this case, only 42% of visitors actually clicked and viewed/read another post.

Here are some tweaks that have helped me decrease my bounce rate by 29%:

  • Responsive layout – by making your website compatible for all devices, you’re bounce rate will drop. Robert Greiner was able to decrease his bounce rate from 86% to 1.5% in 2 days by implementing this on his website.
  • Readable text – One of the main reasons users bounce away from your blog is because your text isn’t readable. By picking a font type that is easy on the eyes and by making your text large enough, people are more likely to stay on your website.
  • Speed up your site – By improve your load time people will be more likely to stick around.

Daily pageviews per visitor: The average number of pages viewed by visitors during the time frame. This shows how interested they are in your content.

There are two simple ways you can increase your pageviews per visitor:

  1. Cross link within your content – By adding links throughout your content, you’ll quickly increase your pageviews per visitor as links within text is typically get clicked on more than navigational menu links.
  2. Related content – At the end of each of your blog posts you should add a “related articles section” in which you link to other relevant posts.

Daily time on site: Daily time on site indicates the quality and value you deliver through your content. If your content is truly helpful or a bit controversial, people will read and get engaged without even realizing it.

Here are 5 simple tactics I used to increase my time on site by 62.5%:

  1. By using more headings, bullets, block quotes and lists, you can increase your time on site by 17.8%.
  2. Writing long content doesn’t mean more people will read it. Try and keep your content under 1500 words.
  3. Use pictures to help increase readability. But when your posts are under 1500 words, try and limit the amount of pictures you use to 3.
  4. By using the words “you” and “I” within your blog post you’ll create a conversation. This will help encourage people to read your blog posts.
  5. By writing a conclusion and clearly labeling it, you’ll get more people to scroll to the bottom of your blog post. It will increase your scroll-ability by 10%.

Another way to the three metrics described above is to know exactly who you are writing for. Alexa can help with audience demographics, identifying age brackets, gender and educational level.

Scroll down and you’ll find this:

Kissmetrics visitors Alexa

From the audience demographics above, it’s clear that most of KISSmetrics’ audience are females who are graduates. Around 76% of the audience usually read the content at work.

These metrics can guide you in creating posts which are relevant to your core audience.

Conclusion

One final word, consistency is the key here. All of these traffic strategies are proven, but I can’t promise you overnight results. Stick to them and you will eventually get fresh visitors to your blog, increase your email subscribers, boost your conversion rate and build a sustainable business.

Did I leave out any traffic strategies that have worked well for you?

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