So you've got your blog up and running, you're writing regular posts but you're still not getting as much traffic as you'd like? Attracting more readers to your blog is something that can prove difficult, especially when there are so many other people trying to achieve the same.
With so much noise, how do you rise above and get your blog noticed? And what can you do to ensure people keep coming back for more? Here are 20 top tips to make you a credible online resource that visitors return to again and again...
1. Write interesting stuff
It goes without saying, if you want more readers then you'll have to write interesting things that will draw them in. How do you find out what they want to hear? Do some research online. Find out what people are talking about and what people share the most. Write about things that people want to read. Use something like BuzzSumo to find trending topics.
2. Be topical
With the above in mind, keep your blog updated and publish topical posts that talk about things happening right now. Offer your opinion and analysis on the news. Share your thoughts and offer a helpful insight into any given topic. Encourage debate and interact with your readers.
3. Be timeless
Don't just write about topical things, try to offer some timeless articles as well – things that will stand the test of time and will just be as relevant in future as they are now.
4. Become an expert
So you're a marketing professional? Write about marketing! You're in to illustration? Write about drawing. People will keep coming back if your blog shows consistent expertise. They'll want to be inspired and learn from you, so become an expert in your field and share your wealth of knowledge.
5. Write lists
Search engines and humans love lists, so create lots of lists including everything from 'top tips' (such as this one) to things like the 'top freelance resources' you use. Lists are your friend, so use them liberally.
6. Be controversial
If you can get away with it, be controversial and voice your opinions on certain topics. People won't be able to help themselves but engage with you to voice their own thoughts. By being someone who isn't afraid to stick their neck out, you'll gain a following of new readers, keen to hear what you have to say next.
7. Comment elsewhere
Get commenting on other relevant blogs, similar to your own and write intelligent comments that will spark people's interest and get them to visit your blog. Avoid adding comments like 'Great article' or 'Thanks for this' – as you'll only be wasting your time.
8. Don't hard sell
Your blog will be part of your website and of course you'll want to highlight your own services but this will do you no favours. People don't want the 'hard sell' these days. They want to know more about you and what you think. Share your thoughts and opinions rather than use your blog as a selling tool.
9. Guest blog elsewhere
Offer your services to larger, more established blogs and guest write for them. Draft high quality articles that will attract the attention of new readers and drive them to your own blog. Tips and advice articles tend to work best, so share your expertise.
10. Chat in forums
Sign up to as many forums as possible and make sure you include a link to your blog in your post signature. Get chatting with like-minded individuals and be interesting, i.e. someone people will want to follow. If the opportunity naturally arises, share links back to any relevant blog posts.
11. Ping your blog
Every time you publish a new blog post, you should be telling the world about it. Get your blog listed on Ping-o-Matic!, a service that tells different search engines when your blog has been updated. It's also worth submitting your blog to Google, just to be sure your web pages are getting crawled.
12. Link up to social media
Get yourself on Twitter and Facebook, make friends, network and shout about your blog posts to your followers. To make life easier, you can set up an automated service using sites like Twitterfeed.com or some blogging platforms have ready-made widgets that do it automatically for you. Obviously, one tweet won't be very effective, so try to schedule tweets to run automatically throughout the day. You can use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck for this.
13. Mention other people's posts
When writing articles about any given subject, try to hyperlink relevant keywords relating back to similar blog posts elsewhere. This will attract the attention of influential bloggers you're trying to impress and hopefully encourage them to give you a mention in return.
14. Write valuable advice pieces
People don't just type in keywords to Google. They ask search engines questions, like 'how do I do this?' and 'how do I do that?'. Feed this insatiable hunger for knowledge by writing articles that provide solutions to people's problems. Think about what they might type into Google and write your post title. Make sure your Meta Title is the same and you'll be found by people searching for answers.
15. SEO is your priority
Before you do anything else, ensure your blog is SEO-friendly. What do I mean by this? Make sure your URLs, Meta Tags and content is all put together with search engines in mind. SEO includes the act of altering a website so that it performs better in the organic search engine results pages or SERPs. This basically relates to 'on-page SEO', i.e. the stuff that's actually on your blog. Check out some of the SEO video tutorials on Lynda.com if you want to learn more. Or Moz is definitely worth a try.
16. Add visual interest
Pictures can tell a thousand words and videos are something people love to watch. Add visual interest to your blog posts and you'll have people coming back for more. Make your blog posts easy to read and visually interesting and you'll also encourage people to share your content on social media.
17. Extra marketing
Wherever possible, add a web link to your blog on any marketing material you send out, including your own email signature. You want to make as many people aware of your blog as possible, so shout about it. Don't forget to include a web link on your social media profiles and use LinkedIn's own RSS feed widget on your LinkedIn profile.
18. Make everything easy to share
The internet is about sharing, so allow your readers to easily share your content. That's whether they want to print, email, Facebook or tweet your articles. Because if people can share, you'll be enabling them to market your blog for you, i.e. they'll recommend your articles to their own followers and thus bring further traffic to your site.
19. Consider online advertising
Advertising is a quick-fix no doubt about it – but there's no harm in paying for space on other websites, if you've got the budget to do so. Research what's out there and find relevant sites that will have the kind of target market you want to attract to your blog.
20. Share links
Make friends with other key bloggers and once you've built up a suitable friendship, request to share links. Obviously, there is little SEO benefit in reciprocal links these days but the human aspect still counts for something. Many blogs have a 'Blog Roll' or 'Blogs I Like' list. Seek them out, build relationships and politely ask to be added to those lists.