According to Hubspot, marketers who prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to see a positive return on investment. But, you already know blogging is valuable, which is why you already have one.
But, if no one visits your blog article, how are you going to generate those links, or even more traffic or sales?
Don’t kill your blog yet. Instead, give it some resuscitation.
If you want reliable and qualified search traffic but don’t know where to begin, this post is going to be your best resource. Read it religiously and act on the pearls that you find.
You may already know some of the strategies, but I’m going to approach them from an entirely unique angle so you can learn how to increase your blog traffic.
Specifically, you’ll learn 7 proven strategies that I used to triple my blog’s traffic. Here’s what I’m going to teach you:
- Kindle Select 90-Day Traffic Plan
- How to create viral content
- How to create evergreen list posts
- Long-tail keyword domination
- Email traffic generation
- Twisted guest blogging
- Restructure your posts
Learn how I grew my search traffic by 51% in 3 months by implementing these exact tactics on NeilPatel.com.
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 search traffic to their blog.
I won’t discuss Kindle publishing in detail here (read JerichoWriters 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 in the “Kindle Direct Publishing Select Program.”
That makes your book exclusive to the Kindle Store for 90 days and includes it in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, where thousands of targeted readers can borrow it for free. You can even run a free promotion for a paid e-book for 5 of those 90 days.
There are two simple ways to use your Kindle book to drive traffic to your blog or landing page:
- Link directly to your website inside the book.
- Use a free giveaway.
Let’s first go over how you can get search engine traffic by linking directly to your blog article site.
The screenshot above shows how you can link directly to your blog article or website inside your book before you enroll it in the Kindle Direct Publishing Program.
This strategy alone typically sends up to 200 extra visitors to your site within 30 days. With the right call-to-action, a top-100 ranked e-book can send you anywhere from 300 to 3,700 visitors a month.
But linking directly to your website isn’t enough to make you stand out. To get even more traffic, use your e-book 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 e-books 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 very effective technique.
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 e-book (the last page in the preview) and link this back to your landing page or blog. Every 30 previews should send about 10 visitors to a blog post.
If your book is free, expect 1,000+ visitors to your blog in about 7 days or close to 6,500 visitors per month. Free downloads make your e-book rank higher and attract the attention of your target audience in search traffic.
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 and day out. If they did, they would learn three secrets of viral content creation to increase blog traffic.
This isn’t a new concept. In fact, it’s really old (like 1927-old).
Check out this ad from the roaring 20s.
What happened? WHAT happened when he started to play?
It’s the perfect example of grabbing the reader’s attention with a little bit of storytelling. It connects with the audience — they’ve been there. They know what it’s like to be teased. They feel for the guy.
Then he starts to play and amazes the crowd. And now the reader is hooked to find out how he got so good and how they can learn just like him.
And the best part? The ad is for a free book! It’s a 1927 lead magnet.
Now, these people are more than willing to hand over their information to get the freebie and learn how to play.
This and other types of clickbait, if they are done right, play with several of your emotions: fear, greed, envy, lust.
Want to take the headlines one step further?
One study found that headlines perform the best when they are polarizing. These divide opinions. You either love it or hate it—and there’s nothing in between.
I know, I know. “Clickbait” is a bit of a dirty word. We are living in the time of “fake news.” No one wants to be swindled or tricked into clicking on something that ends up being snake oil.
But a good headline that draws readers in and encourages them to click through should be followed up by quality, truthful content. The headline may have baited you, sure. However, the product and the copy backed it up.
Like this one for Phoenix Mutual in 1929. The headline was pretty enticing, but once readers got into the nitty-gritty of the ad, they were met with real facts and figures on how they could retire on the cheap.
The next tip is to get the length right.
Shareable posts are over 1,000 words. Longer content (try 2,500 to 3,000 words!) attracts more shares than short posts. In fact, more words means more opportunities for SEO. This means a higher conversion rate.
But people have short attention spans, you say. Just trust me on this one. Your posts need to be north of 3,000 words.
- People still haven’t caught on and are doing 500-word posts. Your beefed up blogs will stand out.
- Longer posts are good for backlinks and organic leads, giving you lots of evergreen content.
- You become the go-to on the topic. You did the digging and the research. Your reader can find every single thing they need to know from your post, and they don’t have to go elsewhere to supplement the info.
- Did I mention evergreen? These posts have staying power and can be repurposed over and over again.
And, the third is to have a killer idea that is sure to go viral in social media. Here’s how you do that:
- Understand your audience
- Use a topic generator to generate content ideas
- Use Ubersuggest to generate content ideas
- Generate ideas from useful comments
- Generate ideas from reviews
- Generate ideas from Answer The Public
- Content curation for ideas
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. I get a better idea of long tail keyword phrases to help build user intent in my blog article.
Once I have a better grip on my audience and what they want, I can segment them on where they are in the sales funnel.
Because let’s face it. Only a teeny tiny portion of your site’s visitors are actually ready to buy or even make the next move. Like, less than 4% teeny tiny.
So how do you attract that staggering 96% while also nurturing the 4% at the bottom of the funnel?
You need to give each group exactly what they are looking for, based on where they are in the buying cycle.
That ice-cold, doesn’t know anything about you traffic isn’t going to sign up for a high-priced service right off the bat. You have to ease them into it. Offer them something that doesn’t require so much commitment.
Someone who has been receiving your newsletter for half a year? It’s not out of line or too soon to ask them for a little more info. Someone who just happened on your site from a paid ad? Start a little slower. Buy ‘em dinner first.
Here’s how people are typically grouped in their buyer’s journey:
Awareness: They don’t even know why they need you. Here, it’s important to fill them in on what you’ve got, get their attention, and prime them a bit to reach back out.
Consideration: Now they know they need something, and they’re looking for where to find it. Luckily you’ve already planted the seed and can follow up to try and turn them into a lead.
Decision: Now they’re a lead and will be interested in the specifics: pricing, trials, etc.
Here’s an excellent example from For Entrepreneurs:
Let’s go back to those leads for a second.
Remember that 1927 lead magnet? That works here.
- Offer an e-book
- Provide a webinar on some relevant topic
- Turn your content into an email course
- Give a checklist, etc.
Then, once you’ve assigned some offers to match the stages of the journey, make it easier for people to get from one point to the next. Take a look at how users typically travel through your site. Then, optimize those popular paths; from the landing page, to the thank you page, to the confirmation email.
You can check out Behavior Flow inside Google Analytics (or Universal Analytics).
Step #2: Use a topic generator to generate content ideas
If you want to engineer a viral post, you need to find out what makes other posts successful. HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator is a great tool for this. Plug in your primary search engine keyword and search.
You’ll get a week’s worth of free topic ideas, and you can unlock a year’s worth by signing up.
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.
Leave the default settings and just click “suggest.” Ubersuggest searches the entire web for related words and phrases you can use in a blog article.
Here are some examples of Ubersuggest results:
Which phrases appeal to you from the examples above? Your readers will probably like them, too. If they do, there is a good chance social media will too.
Pick a phrase and click the plus sign to see even more phrases – and get more ideas that you can research and write.
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 gotten 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 that help with future blog article content.
The best way to find them is to visit authority blogs. Seek out expert advice to include in your posts.
For example, check out the comments 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 Upworthy. Upworthy has grown rapidly, especially in its first couple of years with a whopping 88 million visitors. That’s more than Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and even Business Insider.
Many of Upworthy’s posts are viral, and there are three reasons for their success:
- Curiosity-driven headlines
- Fewer sharing buttons
- 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.
You can do this, too. Here are some typical headline templates that you can use to create magnetic, clickable, and shareable headlines designed for social media. 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 media sharing buttons you have, the lower your conversion rate. Compare the screenshots below. Which would make you click?
Upworthy successfully uses limited choices to drive engagement with a blog article and improve search traffic.
Finally, they tend to include emotional videos, which is an excellent way to motivate readers to get involved with your blog post topic.
Case study: Back in 2012, Michael Dubin, co-founder of Dollarshaveclub.com, created a video. He knew his audience (men) and delivered his message in an interesting and 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 5,000 email subscribers to their list. To date, the video has over 26 million views on YouTube.
The lesson? Include video to make your content even more compelling.
Step #5: Generate Ideas From Reviews
What about getting ideas from your customers on what they are looking for and what content they are seeking out? Don’t have a ton of customers for this? I like to mine reviews to find out what users of similar products and services are saying.
Joanna Wiebe used this approach while working on copy for a rehab center. The topics were sensitive, and it wasn’t as easy as finding a client to ask about their story and feelings.
So, she took to Amazon to research the reviews of books that dealt with addiction and similar issues. She started pulling out key words and phrases that she saw most often and placed them into these three categories:
She took the intel and created a new landing page for the center with a headline “If You Think You Need Rehab, You Do.” She tested this against the control headline “Your Addiction Ends Here.” The page saw a 400% jump in click-throughs and 20% more lead generation forms filled out.
Going through reviews is great for finding what’s important for your customers. You can gain a better understanding of the language they use and their pain points.
Sifting through reviews requires a smart strategy, though, and you should consider these key questions, according to Wiebe:
- Who is my target audience?
- What solutions do I believe they want from us? What are their goals?
- What solutions might they be using today to achieve those goals?
- If those solutions are online, where are they?
Step #6: Generate Ideas from Answer The Public
If consumers like your content, they are going to share it and it will attract more traffic. Plain and simple.
But like I’ve already said, that content has to be relevant to the consumer. It needs to answer a question they have and give them something they need.
What do they need? Enter Answer The Public.
Much like Google’s autocomplete function in search, Answer The Public is an automated autocomplete tool that will populate tons of relevant topics based on your search.
Now that you know what people are asking, it’s time to check who is already answering them.
A quick Google search will let you know how much the topic is being discussed. If it’s a popular one with a lot of hits, move on. Your goal here is to stand out among the rest.
You can also take that question and search it again on Answer the Public, which will give you some variations on the topic that might not have been covered.
What does this tell you? Now you know what people are looking for and where the holes of information are. This is a great tool to produce content that is wanted but not readily available.
Step #7: Content Curation for Ideas
Take the best of the best content to share to come up with ideas. Here, you don’t have to start from scratch — you can search out what’s already out there and give it to your readers.
Create a weekly blog with content from all over the web and publish for your readers. You’ve now taken the heavy lifting away from the reader — everything they need is right there and linked from your site.
Your blogs are up against four million new ones every single day. You can stay up day and night, tirelessly creating new content, or you can grab what’s good and reuse it.
“Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme,” according to nonprofit blogger Beth Kanter.
“The work involves sifting, sorting, arranging, and publishing information. A content curator cherry picks the best content that is important and relevant to share with their community.”
Why is it good for you? It’s faster. Duh. There are only so many hours in the day, and while you should be creating content, too, you can’t do it ALL the time.
Also, it works in all the same ways by building trust with the customer, promotes you as an opinion leader, and boosts your traffic.
Just make sure your content (curated or not) is sharable. If no one’s sharing it, there are probably a few mistakes you are making.
Now that you know some of the best tips, here are a few common mistakes to watch out for.
Mistake #1: You’re trading clarity for clever and cutesy
Sometimes good, well-performing content doesn’t come from the wackiest idea or concept. Chip and Dan Heath mentioned this in their 2007 book, Made to Stick.
In 1999, an Israeli research team assembled a group of 200 highly regarded ads — ads that were finalists and award winners in the top advertising competitions. They found that 89 percent of the award-winning ads could be classified into six basic categories, or templates.
The researchers also tried to classify 200 other ads — from the same publications for the same types of products — that had not received awards – and they were only able to classify 2%.
In short? Stuff that performs well follows a simple structure. It doesn’t have to break the mold. Stick with what works.
Or a straightforward message:
Mistake #2: You’re aren’t personalizing enough
Users want to think content and ads are just for them. This is why retargeting, automation emails, and recommendations on ecommerce stores works so well.
A good way to do that? Polarizing content. Putting something out there that people are either going to love or hate is a good way to attract the people who were going to love it in the first place.
Subtly Vegan is good at this with content that resonates with other animal advocates. A cute dog and a “please don’t eat me” tagline will attract their target audience.
You can create even more appeal by showing the user how the product or service will fit into their lives. A good use case will hook a customer on the fence.
Like this one from GearBest that shows you how to be a do-it-yourself plumber.
Mistakes # 3: You’re selling the product, not the outcome
Ever look at a Lowe’s hardware store ad? You’re not seeing drills and hammers and nails. You’re seeing what you can do with them. Look at the beautiful holiday charm you can add to your house! Check out the wreath that you so perfectly hung on the wall (with the hammer and the nails — shh!).
They know that to sell the stuff, they have to sell the end result.
Or Zipcar. They’re selling the experience — no taxes, convenience, freedom.
And maybe my favorite of them all — this ad for Virgin Airlines. Their customers are buying plane tickets from them. But instead, their customers get the vision of the destination. Ahhhh, Hawaii.
But then you need a solid content strategy for all that viral content. Here’s where to start.
1. Figure out your customer/client’s pain points
The PAS marketing formula (problem, agitate, solve) works for a reason. They’ve got a problem; you’ve got a solution.
Once you identify their problem, you can show them the value add of your product or service. Give them the goods on what’s in it for them.
Where do you find out this information? Your customer. Create a survey for them so they can tell you what they want. Then, talk with specific customers to learn even more.
2. Identify your product/services benefits
If someone signs up for your consulting services, it’s because they are looking for a specific outcome that the service can provide. Step into their shoes for a minute to brainstorm what they’ll get from your product or service.
But then, go a step further. Studies show that people are extremely loss-averse. You need to identify what they will be losing if they don’t go with you.
Customers will be motivated by a variety of different factors, so get specific on all the ways the product is a benefit. By pointing out these benefits (and the loss that comes with the customer not taking the next step), you are setting yourself apart from others doing even similar work.
3. Find your messaging, categories, and structure
Your message and voice should be an extension of your brand. Mailchimp gets this — they’ve even got a dedicated website for the sole purpose of training writers on their Voice and Tone. Each person in charge of any kind of content, from emails to web copy, knows their guidelines and style.
Sometimes, that tone is that of a slightly-inebriated monkey.
You can use your newly formed intel on pain points and benefits to inform your message. That message and each of its categories will work with the product/service benefits, and will also position you as the opinion leader in the field.
Then, make sure to give the message and its categories a format and style to uphold. Make content evergreen, prioritize flashy/splashy pieces over been-there-done-that basic ones, and create content with goals in mind.
Be sure to integrate social media into this strategy, and make the message consistent and coordinated on all channels. On Facebook, this often looks like:
- Live, manual posts at timed intervals
- Opportunities for engagement and interactions
- Monthly or quarterly promotion
4. Manage the creation process
Now you need to execute to results. The whole team has to be on board and ready to carry out the strategy, and you should focus on setting up some systems to make this work.
At a minimum, you need to keep track of potential topics, assignments, and timelines.
5. Make a content template that’s uniform
Creating a standardized template will help you do two things:
- Consistently produce high-quality work
- Create each article faster
Your content will be better, and your process will be more efficient — just with this one little tip!
Here’s a great outline to follow:
- Headline: Grab the reader’s attention using some of the headline tips above
- Hook/Lead: Get them interested and build anticipation with an attractive angle
- Problem/Context: Fill readers in on the problem and what issues it can cause
- Solution: Give a solution (save the day!) to fix the problem
- Conclusion/Wrap-Up: Summarize the key points; add a call-to-action if necessary
And although we already talked about length (long!), make sure to keep the formatting primed for distracted readers. Make the content snappy, and don’t make paragraphs too big. Informal works well, and no need for big $10 words.
Through all this scheming and strategizing, you’re not alone. Marketing leaders have trudged and trotted through it all to find best practices and tricks to make everything a little easier and more successful.
Traffic Strategy #3: How to create evergreen list posts
Evergreen list posts are another proven strategy for increasing blog search traffic. A Moz case study defines evergreen posts as “content having a continued and sustained success” and also 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:
So, how do you decide whether a topic has evergreen potential? There are two ways.
First, ensure that there is at least one magazine or publication on the topic/subject that you want to write a list blog 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 43 marketing magazines:
Second, assess previous list posts with evergreen potential that enjoyed social media 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 blog article readers.
Use this information to get creative about creating your own evergreen posts. Remember, people will only click your headline if it’s inviting. Here’s how you could make the examples above even better.
- 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.
- 73 Cool Ways To Write Content For Targeted Traffic
Your unique headline:
- 73 Smart Ways To Write Traffic-Sucking Blog Posts
- 73 Simple Tricks To Write Content That Magnetically Attract 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 search traffic competition. Google’s search engine is still the #1 driver of leads and sales. That’s why you have to make sure that 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.
Follow the processes outlined here, and you will always have evergreen list blog article ideas.
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.
- Research – Read relevant magazines, blogs, newsletters, white papers, e-books, and copy to get the answers to those challenging questions so that you can easily create your own evergreen blog article.
- Promote – Once you publish your evergreen list post, alert your email subscribers, share it 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 and improve your search traffic.
For more platforms to promote your evergreen list-posts, see: 32 Ways To Make Your Blog Post Go Viral.
If you’re thinking about needing to create evergreen content but still stuck on that four million number of new blog posts every day, it’s fine. There are ways to manage your time a little more efficiently and some hacks to turn you into a copywriting machine.
First of all, never write from scratch. As Wiebe says, only rookies do that. And you’re an old pro — everyone knows that.
There are many copywriting formulas out there to make your job easier and help you piece together your content.
- Attention: get the reader to take notice
- Interest: engage them in an enticing way
- Desire: toy with their emotions (in the nicest possible way!) so they can’t resist what you are offering
- Action: get them to take the next step
Check out this Moz lead generator that has the AIDA game down pat:
Or the trusty PAS that I was talking about earlier.
This one gets people interested because it paints a picture of how bad life would be, and how much worse it could get, without your solution (product/service/etc). Sounds a bit dramatic, but it works.
FAB is good, too. People want to know about the bells and whistles and why your product is better than the rest. You can do that here.
- Features: what does the product do?
- Advantages: how does it help?
- Benefits: what does the product do for YOU?
Here’s an example of FAB:
Or, start swiping. The best of the best are using swipes to pull from what works and make it new and fresh again.
Generate ideas and learn from what types of structure, keywords, and whatever else made it an effective piece. Create a swipe file, which is essentially a scrapbook of all the best marketing emails/headlines/ads you’ve come across and would like to use someday.
You can find awesome examples, both new and really old, here from Swipe-Worthy:
Or Kopywriting Kourse. Bet this envelope headline gets your attention.
Once you’ve got the formulas and the idea repository down, it’s time to get a process going.
We know that blog posts have to be longer (because I keep telling you).
Sometimes what works best is trusting the process to help you create quality (read: stuff people will want to read and share) content in less time.
Digital Marketer’s Ad Grid is good for this. It breaks down writing into little pieces so you aren’t freaking out over looking at the process as a whole. You can use it to create taglines and hooks for each customer or client persona.
Once you’re ready to get going, make sure you are well aware of these three things for the project: knowledge, time, and enthusiasm.
Rachel Aaron figured this out when she wasn’t meeting her daily word goals. She did a little scientific testing (see, even writers can be science-y!) to find out what the problem was.
She quickly realized she could optimizing her writing output by focusing on these three things.
- First, knowledge. Don’t walk into any piece blind. Have an idea of what you’ll be writing; an outline is a good way to start this. Use those formulas and swipe files we talked about. Prep your sources and your images.
- Then, get your time straightened up. Rachel used a spreadsheet to monitor her productivity at different times of the day and different writing locations. Then, she started writing more in the most productive times.
- Finally, find your enthusiasm. No, not every piece is going to be riveting, can’t stop my fingers from typing stuff. But search for a new or fresh angle. Tell a story. Grab attention.
Traffic Strategy #4: Long-tail keyword domination
Create a spreadsheet when you first start doing keyword research.
In one column, add the URL. In another, add the key phrase that associates with it.
You’ll be good to go on volume and competition, but don’t forget about creating some context. This is where long-tail keywords come in handy. It’s good for those users who are more toward the middle and bottom of the funnel that are on their way to converting.
For example, “furniture” is popular, no doubt. But it’s also too generic and vague. There are almost too many people searching for it, most of whom have zero interest in buying what you’ve got.
Now compare that to “antique love seat.” It only gets a fraction of the overall searches. But the people who search for it are much more likely to buy.
And look at the Cost Per Click in the image below. It’s also a much cheaper key phrase, too!
You can pinpoint your specific industry’s typical customer path using Think with Google’s digital marketing toolbox. It will show you what channels are your top performers at each stage of the journey.
Remember before when we were talking about the need for personalization? It works here, too.
Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) are built by browsing history. This means keyword rankings matter less, while preferences, searcher location, and intent matter more.
For instance, Google doesn’t think you are researching the history of ramen when you search for it. It knows you’re likely looking for a local spot. It can basically read your mind and knows what you mean with just a simple search.
How? Contextual data. Then, Google will take everything else it knows about you (and it knows everything), and use it to personalize the search even more. Like, who are your friends, who you follow on social, and what are you liking and sharing.
Google probably knows what you want before you do. It uses the power of prediction. And that’s good for you — Google spits out exactly what the user is looking for (hopefully you), makes them happy with how simple and easy the process was, and gets them to come to you.
Even before Google first rolled out their Panda update in 2011, long-tail keyword phrases 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.
Way back in 2009, Search Engine Journal recorded a 78% increase in organic traffic after optimizing naturally for long-tail keywords.
The question is: How do you identify long-tail keyword phrases with minimal or low competition? Is it even possible to find long-tail keywords that virtually no one is targeting for search traffic?
Yes, it is!
But, you need to research extensively and create lengthy, useful content with long-tail keywords front and center.
Do that and you will not only funnel targeted traffic to your blog article but also build a sustainable, enduring community around your ideas — in other words, an evergreen audience.
What do long-tail keywords show you? A long-tail keyword is great because:
- They reveal searcher intent. If someone types “buy golf bag online,” you know what they are looking for.
- 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.
- They help you meet a specific need.
There are 3 steps to dominating Google’s top 10 with long-tail keywords.
- Step #1: Google Autocomplete
- Step #2: Google Keyword Planner
- Step #3: Write
Step #1: Google Autocomplete
Go to Google and start typing the primary keyword that you want to rank highly for in the SERPs. Carefully look through the automatically suggested search queries for organic long-tail keyword ideas to increase blog traffic.
Here’s an example of the competitive “fat burning supplements” niche:
In this example, there were over 2.7 million web pages that wanted 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.
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 long-tail keyword ideas and rank for them quickly in a search engine.
Step #2: 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 that you can use.
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.”
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.
Use this method, and within 20 minutes you will find several long-tail keywords that you can rank for — 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 2,500 words that is well-optimized for the target long-tail keyword, 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 in every long-tail keyword niche.
Now that you’re good on the long-tail keywords, use them in your long-form posts.
You know what you need to start with: the best headline ever. These headlines need to give readers a reason to click through to your blog instead of all the others.
Get their attention with a little primal motivation, and really pull them in on what you’re selling.
Except, you’re not selling at all. You’re storytelling. Remember that Lowe’s ad? You’re storytelling about the end result that the reader gets from what you’re selling. OK, you’re kind of selling.
There are some proven ways to get this attention.
First, go negative. What you’re giving readers is protection from what’s bad out there, and they’ll want to know more.
Or, try an emotional appeal. Give the reader something they care about, and they’ll pay attention. Get them to empathize, to sympathize, and to want to read more. Like this one from Smart Blogger’s Jon Morrow.
Another tip? Stir the pot.
Once again, we can benefit from the PAS formula. Agitate the problem for the reader, and then be there to solve it.
First, ID the problem. Fill the reader in on the situation. Get them to understand and relate. Make them want to read more to solve it.
Then, remind them of the problem. Illustrate how the problem makes their life worse. Get them to start thinking that they need to seek out a solution.
What’s that? A solution, you say? I’ve got one of those right here! Give them specific steps to solve their woes (and how you can help them do it).
Then, finish it off with an objective. At the end of the post, it’s time to summarize all the points into a nice little package. But don’t forget to give them something that keeps them interested. An actionable tip, for instance.
Or turn the call to action into a way for the reader to learn even more. If you did your job on the blog itself, they’ll want to see what else is out there. Finished reading the tips? Now watch the webinar.
They’ll bite on this, of course, if they actually read your post.
Oh, people aren’t reading it? Here’s why.
There’s no hook: Don’t bury the lead. Get your reader into it right from the start. Pique their interest with a good headline and then continue to pull them in.
You aren’t using anecdotes: Say it with me again. Four million blog posts a day. You need something to grab attention, and that can be done by storytelling. Add a pop culture reference. Include a story they can shake their head in agreement with.
Like Jon Morrow’s On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas. He tells a pretty emotional tale about his physical condition that means he’ll be bound to a wheelchair his whole life. It sucks you in with the moment Jon’s mother learns this from the doctor. And then you can’t stop reading.
The Challenge Plot: Think Rocky Balboa (or the latest excellent installment, Creed). Someone — often a reluctant hero — has to rise up in the face of adversity and slay their real or imagined dragons.
The Connection Plot: Think Romeo & Juliet. “Love conquers” and all that mushy stuff. Somehow, someway, two opposing forces are brought together from the unlikeliest places.
The Creativity Plot: Think “Da Vinci Code.” A crazy (outlandish) puzzle solved with ingenuity in unexpected ways.
You don’t start on the opposite side of the post: In that same Morrow example, he beautifully takes readers on a journey but leaves them in a place no one expected. This kind of misdirection grabs your attention by catching you off guard.
Traffic Strategy #5: Email traffic generation
Oberlo revealed that there are over 3.7 billion email accounts worldwide and that more than 269 billion 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 $32 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.
Sounds great, but don’t get too excited, because most email lists are dead and yield no search traffic results.
How can you make yours come alive?
Simple. Build a specialized or “elite” list and nurture your subscribers so that they always open and act on your emails.
Why do you want a list for a privileged minority? Because to succeed, you don’t need everyone on your list.
In fact, do all that you can to weed out those who don’t want or need what you have to offer — you ONLY need the right people.
Let’s first talk about 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 1,000+ elite subscribers.
- Your email subscribers will be your #1 source of qualified traffic for relevant offers.
Now that you know the benefits, here are the steps that you need to take to build an elite list through your blog article portfolio:
- Define your main goal.
- Create a special landing page.
- Guest blog on targeted, A-list blogs only.
- 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 that you’ll take afterward will be in line with your ONE goal.
Here’s an example. Maybe you 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, popular websites with lots of search traffic.
What about you?
Do you know how to 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 that 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.
Take the example of Kabbage. They created a landing page to communicate with people who wanted to sign up for small business funding as quickly as possible.
Find your own area of expertise and build an email list focused on that area alone. That’s what I call an elite email list to define search traffic.
But don’t get ahead of yourself. Sending people to a specific landing page means that the landing page needs to be on point. Don’t get people to your page just to leave them angry and agitated by its problems and (lack of) usability.
Make sure your page is fast because low page loading times are one of the main reasons for bounces.
According to Google’s most recent industry benchmark report, “The probability of someone bouncing from your site increases by 113 percent if it takes seven seconds to load.”
Too many visuals and images can really slow down loading time, too. Try to host big files (like videos) externally. Make sure your images are resized before the upload happens. Compressor.io is good for that.
Last but not least, clean up your cluttered design.
A good landing page, without the clutter and so streamlined it doesn’t need navigation, will perform 100% better than messy alternatives. Make your page well-organized and user-friendly. Take out the guesswork of where to find what.
Hubspot has made their Academy page easy to read. No confusion here. Organized content. Click the link to get certified. Done.
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 that you pitch and guest blog for.
For example, if you want to build an elite list comprised of people who want to learn penny stock trading, a list of targeted blogs that you can pitch your ideas to are:
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 search traffic to your 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 the best results.
To find your core audience, click “create ads” on your Facebook page. Follow the steps (they are pretty easy) and, within one 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.
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 that you get is 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 of the time.
Facebook also lends an assist with its Custom Audiences. Creating custom audiences will help you enhance your ad targeting. Good, target custom audience ads get the Facebook stamp of approval with a higher Relevance Score. A better relevance score means better click-through rates and a lower cost per click.
Traffic Strategy #6: Twisted guest blogging
I talked about guest blogging 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 when his guest posts were featured on high-traffic and relevant blogs.
Did he target a select group of keywords with specific long-tail keyword phrases? 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 on Moz.com:
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:
- Research blogs with social influence.
- Check the top ranking sites.
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 over 5,000 Facebook followers) should bring at least 1,000 visitors to your blog in two weeks.
Step #2: Check the top ranking sites
Another strategy to ensure that 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 keyword as though you want to search for ideas.
For example, 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.
The top results have ranked highly for a similar topic to the one that you intend to write about with long-tail keyword ideas you can ‘borrow.’
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.
You can also get more mileage out of your content with a little content repurposing. You can still get fresh traffic and new leads with old material. Just freshen it up a bit.
Want to get that content out there even more? Cross-promote with complementary companies that can connect with you to do co-branded contests or even set up revenue shares.
Sharing the work and doubling the audience? Score!
Moz Pro used to do this for their subscribers. They gave discounts to partners that their customers likely use.
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 blog 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 blog traffic to your website.
Understand your audience: The first step to a competitive edge is to understand your audience’s behavior. Alexa is a great search engine tool for this. When you arrive at Alexa’s homepage, type in your blog address and click “Find.”
Scroll down to find your current level of engagement. There are multiple metrics displayed at once, including keyword opportunities, similar sites by audience overlap, traffic sources, and more. One of the metrics you should look at is bounce rate.
Bounce rate: The bounce rate shows the percentage of website visitors who viewed one page and then navigated away. In this case, only 28.8% 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 with all devices, your bounce rate will drop.
- 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 improving your load time, people will be more likely to stick around.
Daily pageviews per visitor: This is another important metric to watch. Pageviews per visitor is 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:
- Cross-link within your content – By adding links throughout your content, you’ll quickly increase your pageviews per visitor, as links within text typically get clicked more than navigational menu links.
- Related content – At the end of each of your blog posts, you should add a “related articles section” where you link to other relevant posts.
Daily time on site: Finally, look at Daily Time on Site. This indicates the quality and value that you deliver with 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 that I used to increase my time on site by 62.5%:
- By using more headings, bullets, blockquotes and lists, you can increase your time on site by 17.8%.
- Writing long content doesn’t necessarily mean more people will read it. Try and keep your content to around 2,500 words. Remember, quality is key.
- Use pictures to help increase readability. But, when your posts are under 2,500 words, try to limit the amount of pictures you use.
- By using the words “you” and “I” within your blog, you’ll create a conversation. This will help encourage people to read your blog posts.
- 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 improve the three search traffic metrics that I 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:
From the audience demographics above, it’s clear that most of Kissmetrics’ audience are female graduates. Around 76% of the audience usually read the content at work.
These metrics can guide you in creating posts that are relevant to your core audience.
Brian Dean used the Skyscraper Technique to double his site’s organic search traffic in just two weeks. In just one post, more than 300,000 referral visitors came to the site.
But what is the technique? It’s just three basic steps:
- Find link-worthy content
- Make something even better
- Reach out to the right people
And why does Dean think it works so well?
“Have you ever walked by a really tall building and said to yourself: ‘Wow, that’s amazing! I wonder how big the 8th tallest building in the world is?’ Of course not. It’s human nature to be attracted to the best.
And what you’re doing here is finding the tallest “skyscraper” in your space … and slapping 20 stories to the top of it. All of a sudden you have the content that everyone wants to talk about (and link to).”
Dean is also a fan of a good content relaunch, a strategy that helped him up his organic traffic by 260.7% in two weeks.
Hubspot does this quite a bit with similar success — taking an old post, updating it, and reposting. It’s led to a 106% increase in traffic for them.
Once again, this trick comes with three steps.
- Identify under-performing content
- Improve and update that content
- Republish your post
Why does this work? New readers see the post. And you just put some time into making it even better than before. It’s a win-win.
One final thing. 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.
One thing that I can’t stress enough is that quality is key when it comes to content marketing.
Yes, I am an advocate of long-form articles. Heck, I talk about it all the time.
But you can’t just jot down 3,000 words of drivel thinking that it will rank just because it has a high word count.
Quality is more important than quantity. However, if you mix the two you will dominate the content game.
Did I leave out any traffic strategies that have worked well for you?
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