If you’re a serious blogger, a constant question in the back of your mind is probably about how to increase blog traffic and grow your blog. After all, if a blog has no traffic, it has no readers.
Over the years, I’ve tried numerous ways to increase blog traffic from tiny content tweaks to SEO, and so on.
All these things contributed to moving the needle, but it wasn’t until I used these methods along with boosting the length of my posts to around 1,800 to 2,000 words that I started to notice improvements in multiple areas.
While the number of sessions during this period decreased slightly and the bounce rate increased by less than 1/4 of one percent, the other metrics grew… especially average session duration. That translates into:
- More users
- More new users
- Increased number of pages each user viewed
- Improved average session duration (time spent on my site/blog)
Let me take you through the processes I’ve implemented to grow my blog.
1. Blog SEO
Optimizing blog posts for SEO isn’t as hard as people think. In fact, once you get the hang of the process, you can go through the steps fairly quickly.
How To Find Blog Keywords
Years ago, I began using a set system for driving more traffic to my blog through SEO. And it has worked! It’s quite simple and I’ll share it with you in a moment.
But — as with most other things related to SEO — it depends on keywords
When researching blog keywords, this is the process I generally follow:
This allows me to see what other options pop up so I can expand or even alter my search. Often I find ideas I had not considered that lead me down a different path with my blog content.
For example, if I’m constructing a post about portable stoves, I’ll look at the initial blog keywords like “portable gas stoves” as well as more specific and relevant terms including “1 burner portable gas stoves.”
As I go through the entire list of blog keywords I found, my primary concern is balance.
The end result of all the data elements should be keywords that deliver qualified traffic in adequate quantities so they make a positive impact on your rankings.
In my opinion, relevance to your blog post topic is almost always the highest priority.
After I’ve evaluated the initial list and taken out any irrelevant phrases, I’m left with a list of possible blog keywords. Now we move on to selection.
With my list of relevant blog keywords, I look at the search counts and competition levels. The selection process from this point forward is a judgment call.
Because keyword research is highly tailored to each project, it wouldn’t be wise for me to give you suggestions like “Only use terms with more than 100 searches per month” or “If the competition is higher than 100, look for another term.”
These things will vary depending on the page of your blog that the term will be on, your business model, where in the buying process the terms will be used, and more.
Here’s a general guideline you can go by:
- Aim for the highest search count possible while taking relevance and competition into consideration. (EXCEPTION: niche marketing).
- Check for relevancy to your blog post topic, your business model, the type of post, the buying process.
Balance, balance, balance. Choosing blog keywords strictly by the highest search count will lead you astray almost every time. Give careful consideration to the metrics I mentioned and weigh them against the relevancy of the keywords.
Blogging SEO Tips
Once you have your blog keywords ready, it’s time to optimize your post.
Here’s a quick snapshot of how I do it:
- Choose 1 primary keyphrase and (depending on the length of your post) also choose 2 or 3 secondary keywords.
- Insert your primary keyphrase into your blog post title using an H1 tag.
- Enter the full keyphrase into the slug of the blog post URL using dashes to separate each word. (The slug is the portion of the page link after the .com.) For example, https://MarketingWords.com/enter-each-word-individually/
- Add your primary keyphrase in the first paragraph. Include secondary keywords if you have room.
- Include primary and/or secondary keyphrases in your sub-headlines using H2, H3, etc. tags. Whichever looks best.
- Create a strong call-to-action and insert a keyphrase there using an H2 or other H tag.
- Include links to other relevant posts on your blog.
- Include ALT image tags with keyphrases that describe the photo/graphic.
- Write a meta description tag that is engaging. You essentially want to create an ad for your post. The description will not help with search engine rankings, but it will help with clickthroughs.
- Ask for comments/shares.
2. Write Longer Blog Posts
How long should a blog post be? How long is a piece of string? I know that the answer “it depends” is sometimes frustrating, but in this instance, it truly does depend.
With a marketing blog like mine, posts should be longer if SEO is a major consideration factor (and for me, it is). Does this mean every blog post should be 2,000+ words? Absolutely not.
Most of the time, I believe you should opt for what your readers want, not what Google wants. Yes, you need traffic, but not if your methods will cause visitors to click away once they arrive.
Here are a couple of blog types I can think of immediately that I don’t believe should have extremely long posts:
- Recipe Sites — While some people like hearing the stories behind the recipes, many others just want the cooking instructions and ingredient list. When you start seeing memes on social media making fun of all the copy on recipe sites, you know things have gotten out of control.
Tell the story. Give helpful hints. That’s all OK. But trying to fill a recipe page with 2,000 words is overkill.
- Tech Help — Depending on the type of tech help, these posts should be kept short. For instance, searches such as “How do I change my browser text size” do not require 2,000+ words to answer.
Simple tech queries should have answers that outline the necessary steps, not a history of when the issues with this problem first occurred, the different types of browsers and their histories, etc. Making it hard to find the instructions your visitors need is frustrating, not helpful.
Why Longer Blog Posts?
Because Google says so 😊. Blatantly, in fact. Pandu Nayak, developer of Google’s Panda algorithm update, posted the following:
“Users often turn to Google to answer a quick question, but research suggests that up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic. That’s why today we’re introducing new search results to help users find in-depth articles.”
That 10% has grown over the years, so much so that Google now leans heavily toward posts with thousands of words instead of hundreds of words. Depending on who you ask, the most popular blog post lengths are:
- 1,500 Words (Medium.com)
- 1,500 Words (Buffer.com)
- 2,100 to 2,400 (HubSpot)
- It’s not about numbers (Search Engine Journal)
One stat I saw often in my research for this post was from serpIQ, which claimed they evaluated over 20,000 keywords and discovered the average content length of 2,000 words was found most often in the top 10 Google results. However, this study took place in 2012. Things have changed since then.
From the more recent info listed above, it appears the average preferred length is now around 1,700 to 1,800 words.
What To Include In Longer Blog Posts
Frequently, bloggers struggle to create posts that are thousands of words in length. When you need ideas for content to include, check these resources out:
- Other Blogs — What do other blog posts on this topic include? Better yet… what DON’T those posts include that you can add to your article?
- AnswerThePublic.com — A clever little site that lets you see what questions people are asking about any given topic.
- Quora.com — Discussions and questions here can help generate ideas.
- AlsoAsked.com — Similar to Answer The Public, AlsoAsked offers questions that people ask.
- Clarity.fm/questions (targeted to small business owners)
- Blog Post Shortcuts — My blog super-templates are way more helpful than just blank lines. These handy tools walk you through how to create numerous types of posts, offer title suggestions, research help, and more. Plus, they are 100% customizable to any niche — and reusable. Get one Blog Post Shortcut free today and see for yourself.
3. Cross-Link Blog Posts
I never want someone to visit my blog and only read one post. I want to create a pathway for that reader to find additional information that will help them reach their goals. Cross-linking accomplishes this.
By adding links within the body content of a post or at the end, those who stop by to read one article — about getting more affiliate sales, for example — will then find more information about the best affiliate marketing approach, and so on.
One post leads to another which leads to another and the reader is offered an entire library of helpful information on the same topic they originally clicked to see.
4. Insert Ads For Content Upgrades
Another ongoing goal is to retain the visitors who come to the Marketing Words Blog. By offering them special, targeted content when they opt into my list, I’m able to:
- Grow my subscriber base.
- Provide a quality freebie that offers useful information.
- Boost my affiliate income (sometimes) if I insert relevant affiliate links to helpful resources.
- Segment my list based on their desired type of content.
I create an ad with an opt-in box for the freebie I want to give visitors. (I use Thrive Leads for this.) Then, using a free plug-in called AdInserter, I set up categories on my blog for the ads to appear automatically.
AdInserter is cool because it can position your ads anywhere you want them to be. Top, midway through, bottom, sidebar… wherever.
Connect your ads to your email service and folks will be added to your list when they request your freebie!
If you choose to include links to relevant affiliate products or your own products in your freebie, you can earn passive income, too.
5. Allow Business Associates To Post
While a common way to increase blog traffic is booking posts on other blogs, I like to allow my business associates to publish posts on the Marketing Words Blog for a few reasons:
When you invite others to your blog, a few things happen.
- The author gets excited!
- The author feels important.
- After the post is published, the author wants to show their followers they were selected by you.
- Those followers click to your blog to read the article.
- Many of those followers will now become your followers because they instantly trust you.
This type of posting is definitely a two-way street, and you should seek to publish on other blogs. However, don’t neglect rolling out the welcome mat for others who want to share their thoughts with your readers.
As with most things in online business, increasing your blog traffic is about way more than using one approach. It takes a combination of efforts to get the best results. The next time you’re puzzled about how to grow your blog, check the balance of your strategy. Are you incorporating multiple elements to drive traffic from various sources? If not, feel free to add one of these five to the mix.
Have questions about how to grow your blog? Talk to me below!