After nearly 20 years of running websites (I started long before WordPress was even a thing), I’ve learned what it takes to completely explode your blog traffic because I’ve tried nearly every trick in the book. In this post, I'm revealing everything I’ve learned for you in one place and provide fresh insight for blogging in 2019.
So, grab some popcorn and settle in!
A quick note: Many bloggers are aware of the Google algorithm update that went live in August of 2018. It affected medical, health, and finance websites the most and Google maintains that there's nothing that bloggers need to do to “fix” their pages.
When it comes to digital marketing, it's the long-game that wins the race.
20 Unique Strategies to Explode Blog Traffic
- Write something interesting: This is the #1 tip because, regardless of how well-designed your blog is, if the content isn't interesting, people won't re-visit your site. Seriously. If you’re writing about something that you’d find on any other blog in your industry, you’re killing your chances of separating your blog from the huge pack of others. Remember, everybody is a “blogger”. What makes people want to read YOUR blog? Interesting topics help, big time!
- Be unique: The more unique (read: different) your website is, the more people will want to follow your style of writing. It works the same way with authors, movie directors or creative businesses. The more unique your site, the better.
- Publish something controversial: Depending on the nature of your blog, writing about controversial topics can increase the flow of traffic to your site. Be aware, though, that controversial topics might encourage hateful comments from your readers, so be prepared if you do go this route. Don’t alienate your audience. Instead, use controversy to encourage thought and discussion.
- Challenge yourself: Give yourself traffic goals to reach, and prioritize reaching those goals over anything else in your life (within reason, of course). If you want 100 new email subscribers by the end of next week, officially challenge yourself and do it. Don’t half-ass your challenges or you’ll never actually accomplish them.
- Use a custom domain name: Instead of yourblog.wordpress.com, register yourblog.com. Custom domain names provide credibility to your blog and also give you the flexibility to switch web hosting providers any time you like without your readers (or search engines) knowing about it.
- Start an email list: An email list holds precious cargo for us bloggers: our readers! If you don’t have an email list, start one! I like ConvertKit. Then, use that email list to keep your most loyal readers coming back for more and sharing your content with their friends and family.
- Use your email list: Too many bloggers are afraid to email their list out of fear that their subscribers might get upset and unsubscribe. But, I have news for you: You’ll never prevent people from unsubscribing if they truly want to, and when they do, who cares? People signed up for your list because they want to be emailed. They want to stay up to date with whatever it is that you’re doing. Certainly, don’t spam them with useless junk every day. But, don’t hesitate to actually email your email list.
- Don’t include entire posts in an email: Many of us like to send an email to our email list every time we publish a new post. While this is an excellent strategy, don’t include the whole post in the email. Instead, include the first few paragraphs (an excerpt) and put a link at the very bottom to encourage a click to read the rest of the post on your site. Including the entire post gives them a reason to never visit your site, and that's probably not why you're blogging.
- Offer something for free: People love free stuff. Admit it. We all do, don’t we? Offering something for free (an ebook, a course, etc) can significantly increase the traffic inbound to your blog. My free 7-day email course on How To Start Your Own Money Blog sent a huge amount of traffic in my direction. It also nearly doubled my email list overnight because I integrated the course in with my ConvertKit email list.
- Design viral content: Every once in a while, blow out a 3,000-word post. A “definitive guide”. A huge listicle (like this one!) Something that you want your blog to be known for and that provides more value, detail, and education than any other source out there. Spend days or weeks on these posts if you have to. Remember, there is no need to crank out these posts every week. Occasionally, publish one. How can you create viral content? OkDork.com has you covered.
- Use headings properly: Believe it or not, this one isn't a given. Every page should have a single H1 tag. The H1 tag tells Google what content is most important on your page. Then, use any number of H2 -> H6 tags to further denote a hierarchy of keywords to search engines. Typically, the title of each blog post will take the H1 heading and all sub-headings will follow.
- Make your evergreen content sustainable: Evergreen content is like viral content, but it’s designed to remain a huge source of traffic for your blog for months (or years). As such, Evergreen content should be written on topics that will never die. Evergreen content isn’t time-sensitive. It needs to live on forever.
- Revise and Republish: This is an excellent strategy that I use to recycle content and add value to past blog posts. The idea is to take an article – especially one that you worked hard to write, and republish that article after adding more value to it. Update facts and figures. Re-write elements that may have been confusing (use the comments to help with this). Change anything that might be out of date. Then, republish that sucker to send it to the top of your RSS feed and encourage Google to index it again. Remember – you’re not creating a NEW article with this strategy. You’re republishing an existing article. The URL should never change (unless you include the date in your URLs – which I generally do not recommend)
- Use HTTPS when possible: Google is increasingly prioritizing the presence of HTTPS to rank websites in search results. The earlier that you can transition your website over to HTTPS, the better. If you are unsure how to enable HTTPS for your blog, contact your web hosting provider. It might be as easy as a few clicks of a button.
- Write longer posts: Google is increasingly prioritizing longer content over shorter content. Google is getting smarter. It is getting better and knowing what content is genuinely helpful and what content isn’t. Longer, well-designed content will tend to perform better in 2018 and beyond. In fact, the average first-page result on Google these days is nearly 1,900 words!
- Know when to post to social media: There are a ton of studies and research out there about timing your posts on social media most effectively. CoSchedule.com put together a wicked blog post that consolidates a lot of this data for easy, beautiful (and colorful!) consumption.
- Setup at least two, maybe three, social media accounts: For most blogs, the two most important social media accounts are Twitter and Facebook. At the very least, set up accounts at those two social media websites for your blog – and, use them! However, Pinterest may also provide traffic potential for an increasing number of blogs as well. It’s also a whole different type of animal. It’s not a social media network at all. Instead, it is more like a visual search engine. Here are 35 tips to master your Pinterest account.
- Use TailWind to help schedule pins: Tailwind is one of the best web applications I’ve ever used to help me schedule pins to the Pinterest account that I created for ThinkSaveRetire. It’s incredibly capable and easy to use and makes your job at consistent pinning much easier.
- Engage on Twitter: Twitter was built for engagement, not just links to blog posts. The more you engage, the more followers that you’ll get. In three years, I managed to get more than 9,500 followers – and I didn’t buy a single one! No tricks. No tomfoolery. Just engagement. And, strategic use of Buffer.
- Ask for retweets: I’ve run experiments and found that you’re much more likely to be retweeted when you ask for a retweet within the tweet. Try it. However, don’t abuse this. If you ask for retweets on every tweet, you’ll just make your followers angry. Only ask for a retweet on your most important tweets! For the record, I’ve been on Twitter for about five years and have asked for a retweet probably three or four times, total.
Steve Adcock is an early retiree who writes about mental toughness, financial independence and how to get the most out of your life and career. As a regular contributor to The Ladders, CBS MarketWatch and CNBC, Adcock maintains a rare and exclusive voice as a career expert, consistently offering actionable counseling to thousands of readers who want to level-up their lives, careers, and freedom. Adcock's main areas of coverage include money, personal finance, lifestyle, and digital nomad advice. Steve lives in a 100% off-grid solar home in the middle of the Arizona desert and writes on his own website at SteveAdcock.us.