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How to increase WordPress blog traffic

WordPress is by far the most used content management system on the planet. An incredible 76.5 million blogs are hosted on the site, with 50,000 added every single day.

Setting up a WordPress blog is the easy part; establishing yourself as an authoritative voice and attracting visitors to your site requires dedication, know-how and, most of all, patience. In this post, I’m going to outline five ways you can increase traffic to your WordPress blog, starting with organic traffic.

Optimise your posts for SEO

There are a number of ways you can optimise your blog posts so they perform as well in the SERPs as possible. As a bare minimum, Pauline Cabrera of TwelveSkip recommends:

• Including a ‘short, unique and relevant’ meta title and description to convey to your audience what your post is all about.
• Setting up Google Authorship so your audience can put a credible face to your name.
• Using a plugin such as YARPP to display relevant content; ideally, you want visitors to stay on your site for as long as possible.
• Making use of the category and tag functions in WordPress – use appropriate tags so those searching for the terms you use in your content can find you more easily.

WordPress is renowned for its selection of free plugins, and there are several you can use to optimise your posts so they’re easier to find. We use Yoast SEO, a particularly handy tool, which allows you to check how search engine friendly your content is, before you actually post it.  The plugin incorporates a traffic light rating system  when analysing your content for things like placement of keywords, number of outbound links and difficulty of reading, and also allows you to easily customise your title and meta description. The more green lights you get, the better optimised your post is.

Content analysis via the Yoast plugin
Content analysis via the Yoast plugin

Regularly share on social media

Social media is vital in showcasing your content to a wider readership. A couple of weeks back we shared 10 ways you can use social media to build your blog audience – tailoring content for specific platforms, using share buttons to allow users to disseminate your posts and automating updates are the key take aways.

Again, there are a number of plugins that can help with this, including Simple Share and Digg Digg.

Don’t just share content once. As Matt Lindley of Verve Search highlights, “companies aren’t sharing their blog content nearly as much as they ought to.” Think about it: you’ve just spent a couple of hours writing content, formatting it in WordPress and tweaking it for SEO. Are you really going to tweet a link to it once at midday and then leave it at that? What about people who aren’t online at that time?

Consider incorporating Derek Halpern’s 80/20 rule. Halpern says “it’s smarter to find another 10,000 people to consume what you’ve already created as opposed to creating more”, so broaden your reach as much as you can by scheduling tweets to appear at different times of the day and finding snippets you can share across LinkedIn and other sites. Garrett Moon of Kissmetrics provides this handy social sharing schedule as a starting point.

Explore guest posting opportunities

This is an effective way of increasing traffic to your blog, and it works both ways: actively search for guest posting opportunities on relevant authority sites and also invite influencers and thought leaders in your industry to write posts for your own blog.

Kristi Hines of Kissmetrics suggests that “there are three main goals for guest blogging.” You want to position yourself as an authoritative figure in your industry, hence the importance of finding a relevant site to post to; you want the readers of the site you’re guesting for to come back to yours for more and you want to get backlinks to your site so Google realises you know what you’re talking about.

Make it clear you accept guest posts from bloggers on your own site by including an open invitation ‘write for us’ page somewhere in your layout. Building relationships with other bloggers allows you to tap into their (hopefully sizeable) social media following, and benefit from a fresh perspective on your blog subject.

Ensure your site is fast and mobile-friendly

This might sound obvious, but that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels. As Megan Marrs points out, “visitors aren’t going to wait around for your blog to load”; they’ll simply go elsewhere. Similarly, if they’re browsing via mobile, as 80% of web users do, they’ll want a site that reads easily on a smaller screen and doesn’t take ages to load images and videos.

These issues are easily remedied: use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to get an idea of how well your site is performing in terms of speed and install the Jetpack plugin to help create a mobile version of your blog.

Interact with your audience

Whether you’re responding to comments on a post on your own blog, offering your insight on another blogger’s piece or replying to a tweet, people like to know that their voice is being heard and their opinion addressed. Actively invite comments at the end of your posts and follow Moz’s tips on ‘comment marketing.’ As this post suggests, “participation can yield awareness and branding to the blog’s audience”, while “comments with links, especially those that are well-written and enticing will result in visits.” You should also participate on online question and answer sites, such as Quora and StackExchange: again, well-written answers to users’ questions will, at the very least, introduce your name to a new audience, but hopefully users will appreciate the insight you give and will click on to your blog for more.

Increasing traffic to your WordPress blog isn’t an exact science, and your level of success will largely depend on your industry and the level of competition. Keep coming up with quality, relevant content, apply the tips above and you should start to see results improve sooner rather than later.

Image courtesy of Cristian Labarca.

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How often should I update my blog?

A good company blog has many benefits, from increasing traffic to building your site’s authority in your field. The general consensus is that the more often a company posts, the more traffic they gain, but is there such a thing as blogging too often? Do the rules change for different companies of varying sizes? Here are seven things to bear in mind when considering how often you should update your company’s blog.

1. Think about what the aim of the blog is

First and foremost, think about what you want to achieve with your blog. You may be a small start-up looking to attract your first customers, or a more established SME looking to cement yourself as an industry thought leader. Clearly outlining the purpose for creating a blog will help to determine how often you should update it.

2. It’s simple; blogging more means more traffic

The results gained from HubSpot’s well-known and often referenced blogging frequency report on how often companies should blog are difficult to ignore; generally, companies that blogged more enjoyed more traffic, whether they were a fledgling start-up, a mid-weight SME or a global business.

Not only do regular updates keep you at the forefront of your target audience’s minds, old content can continue to generate leads, and creates more opportunities for you to be found online.

3. Know when enough is enough

It’s important to know when to stop blogging. Although lots of fresh content is good, too much may actually discourage audience engagement, or switch them off when they tire of being bombarded with content.

Think about the size of your company, and use this to decide how often you should post. Larger companies tend to blog more often, at a minimum of once a day. This is because they have a much larger audience, so if one post doesn’t appeal to one reader then another one will; there will always be someone reading every post. However, smaller companies don’t always have such a large audience, so this approach may not work for them.

Update your blog regularly, but if you don’t feel like your company needs to post on a daily basis, perhaps post once or twice a week instead.

4. Get into a routine that you can maintain

In order to reap the rewards of having a blog, commitment is needed to update it regularly. This begins by getting into a routine, which will help you to set aside specific time to work on the blog without allowing other company commitments to take over.

Observe your analytics to find out when your site receives the most engagement, and time your posts around that. Then realistically consider how often you can post new content, and start as you mean to go on. Don’t set a target you know you will find difficult to achieve, as this will make blogging feel like a burden.

When you have chosen the most suitable time to update your blog, make sure to keep posting at that time as readers will come to expect the delivery of new content. Ensure your blog remains updated, otherwise regular readers may be discouraged from returning to your site.

 

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5. Keep up the hard work

Results don’t happen overnight, so don’t make the mistake of expecting too much straightaway. It could take weeks, maybe months of regular blogging before the level of traffic on your site increases, but it will be worth the extra effort.

6. Quality and quantity

Even though you should post regularly, you should only update your blog when you have quality content to publish. A lack of insightful posts could drive readers away in search of something more meaningful elsewhere.

Make sure to spend time researching your subject matter, and checking the content multiple times. Something as simple as spelling mistakes or a few misplaced commas will make your blog seem less professional and tarnishing your image.

7. Review and improve

Always refer back to analytics after posting so you know whether your strategy is working. You may find that you’re experiencing less engagement or less traction than desired, so you may want to scale back your number of posts. Or, you may find that lots more people are reading your blog than expected, so it therefore makes sense to produce more content to keep up with demand. Tailor future posts in accordance with the data to maximise traction and engagement. Striking the right balance is essential.

Takeouts:

– Always have a clear idea about what you want your blog to achieve, and maintain a steady routine when posting.
– Think about the size of your company and use this to decide how often you should post; larger companies tend to produce more content to keep up with a higher demand.
– Whatever happens, always ensure your content is of the highest quality, and offers something genuinely insightful that your audience can use.
– Persevere if improvement in traction and engagement levels is gradual rather than instant.
– Always pay attention to your metrics, as these provide all the information you will need to know when to post, and how often.

By following these steps, you will be well on the way to increasing traffic, encouraging customer engagement and building your site’s authority.

photo credit: mac image via photopin (license)

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10 ways to use social media to build your blog audience

Many bloggers make the mistake of believing that simply writing blog posts is enough to engage their audience. Without promoting them to a captive audience on social media, however, you are missing out on a world of opportunity.

In this post, I’m going to show you 10 easy ways that you can utilise various social media platforms in order to drive traffic to your blog and grow the size of your audience.

1. Learn which social media platform works best for you

Different audiences hang out on different social media platforms. A mature, B2B audience for example, is likely to spend time on LinkedIn, while teenagers are more likely to follow Instagram and Facebook.

Tip: Try sharing your posts on different platforms and measure engagement rates then double down on the platforms that are driving traffic and engagements.



2. Link social media pages directly to your blog, and vice-versa

It might seem logical to link your social media pages to your main website, after all, this is what is most likely to drive leads and conversions. Linking to your blog, however, is a great way to drive people to content they are more likely to share and engage with. Similarly, it makes sense to ensure that people can find your social media pages from your blog.

Tip: Having links to social media right on your blog will allow visitors to find your social media pages easily, so that those already engaged on your blog can also follow you on other platforms.


3. Make content shareable

By making sure that people have the ability to quickly and easily post a link to your blog posts on their social media platforms, you will ensure that they get the maximum amount on traction.



Tip: Make sure that sharing links for all your social media sites are enabled on posts, there are several WordPress widgets for this.




4. Share multiple times

One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is simply sharing posts on social media once. According to this post from Kiss Metrics, sharing posts several times is a great way to ensure that you get the maximum social value out of your blog content.

Tip: To avoid spamming, and losing followers as a result, ensure that each social media update has an entirely different message. You can also experiment with sharing at different times of the day and using Hashtags to appeal to different audiences.

5. Make content tailored to each social media platform

Your blog probably has its own style of content, but that style might not be suited to every social media platform. For example, if you want to promote your blog on Instagram you can only use pictures, for Twitter, only up to 140 characters and images to drive click through. Different platforms also just fit a different styles of content.

Tip: Take a snippet from some of the most compelling copy from your blog post and use this as the copy for Tweets and Facebook updates. Through monitoring click through rates you should be able to determine which types of updates are most likely to get a reaction from your audience.

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Sharing multiple times is the key to success

6. Automate updates

Finding the time to write blog posts is for most people difficult enough, without having to update a number of social media profiles as well. Don’t worry, because there are services such as Hootsuite and Buffer that can help you to queue up updates for sharing across platforms.

Tip: Test and learn by sharing updates at different times of the day, using different copy each time.

7. Mention influencers

If you have referenced a source in your blog post, be sure to mention them in your social media updates. This will both increase the credibility of your updates and if you are lucky, lead to them sharing with their followers so your post will gain extra traction.

Tip: Use Followerwonk to find influential Twitter accounts and include an @ mention to them in your updates.

8. See what people are sharing

By looking at the type of content people are already sharing on social media you can gain insights into what will work for you.

Obviously, simply copying other people’s content is unlikely to be successful, however, you can usually see patterns and trends in the words and phrases that have been used in titles and you can use this insight to shape your own content and guarantee the best possible chance of exposure.

Tip: Enter a keyword or competitor site info Buzzsumo to see the most shared content in your sector.


9. Use Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to get your content noticed, so consider adding terms that are relevant to your content. This post, for example, might benefit from Hashtags such as #blogging #socialmediastrategy.

A word of caution, however, it can look unprofessional to overstuff posts with hashtags – and some sites, like Tumblr, only track the first five Hashtags anyway.

Tip: Check hashtags before you use them. The best thing to do is to look through each platform’s trending tags (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all have sections where you can find these), and then try to tailor a few posts to fit those tags.

10. Be consistent, and don’t give up!

The key to success with both blogging and social media is to consistently produce insightful and informative content. Success won’t happen overnight, it takes patience and dedication, but if you follow the tips above you should be off to a great start!

Tip: Put in place a content calendar to help you keep your content production and promotion organised.

Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee

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How to create a content marketing strategy plan

The thought of starting to create content, if you haven’t already, can be daunting. It’s such a large undertaking and it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. However, if you break it down and create a comprehensive content marketing strategy plan, you can make production manageable. The following tips should help you get started.

Outline your aim and goals

Before anything else, you need to decide what the overall aim of your content marketing efforts is. Think about your company mission and consider how content could help you work towards it. Then, break this down using the SMART framework: you want to identify goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. For example, an aim could be “to be seen as a thought leader in technology-driven pet accessories”. SMART goals for this could be “to appear on the first page of Google for the search term ‘automated dog feeder’ by 1st August 2016” and “to grow an email list of 1,000 subscribers by 1st July 2016”. With clear goals, you’ll have tangible targets to work towards and easily be able to measure your successes.

Identify your buyer personas

Now you know what you’re aiming for, it’s time to look at your target audience. To see results, you need to identify who you’re creating content for, this will determine the kind of content you produce and your tone of voice. You should have about three to five detailed buyer personas. You can get started with buyer personas with this beginner’s guide or by using Hubspot’s template and guide. Typically, you’ll want to find out more about your existing customers by speaking with them, doing surveys and looking at your site’s traffic.

Research where your personas go

In order for your content marketing activities to be effective, you need to know where your prospects go online. This will require some research. In a similar way to your initial persona research, it’s a good idea to speak with existing customers. Ask about their online habits – what sites they visit most often, their favourite blogs, the social media platforms they use and more. This will help you decide where you need to concentrate your efforts in terms of the kind of content you create and how you promote and distribute it. For example, a seller of keyboards for developers may find that many of their potential customers spend time on Reddit, so it could be worth growing a presence there.

Evaluate existing content

Next, take a look at any existing content you have. You’ll want to do a content audit to see areas you’ve done well with so far, and areas that have been lacking. How in-depth you need to go will depend how much you’ve produced so far. Basically, you want to list all your content, how much traffic it has produced, how many leads and sales it has generated, the keywords you used and engagement generated. See which pieces of content have worked well for you so you can create content on similar topics, or utilising the same keywords.

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CMI’s template for content strategy statement

Note the kinds of content you want to focus on

So you know what you’re trying to achieve, who you’re creating content for and what areas you’ve been successful with so far – you can use this knowledge to decide what kind of content you want to focus on going forward. You can choose from a world of options, including blog posts, infographics, videos and reviews. Think about your personas, what they’d like, and how different content could help you achieve your goals. For example, say you’re aiming to sell tractor attachments and your buyer persona is Tom, a young farmer who uses the internet to help his dad make the best purchasing choices for their farm. You could create a series of blog posts that review the latest bale spikes in detail and honestly.

Take a look at your team and their capacities

For a content marketing strategy to be effective, you need to understand your capabilities. Consider who will be working on your content, whether it’s just yourself or an entire dedicated content team. You’ll need to be realistic about what you’re able to do, so think about what you know, your strengths (e.g. would you be better at writing informative blog posts or creating an image using Photoshop?) and your other responsibilities. This will give you an idea of how much content you’ll be able to produce on a weekly or monthly basis, without over-stretching yourself. If your time is limited and you have the resources, you could outsource most of your content marketing.

Make an editorial calendar

By now, you should have a good idea of what you’re going to do, so it’s time to create an editorial calendar. Ideally this should be a spreadsheet with columns for the content type, title, goal, creator, deadline, distribution/promotion channel and any other important details. You can use an existing template to make things easier. Then get creating!

Once you’ve started publishing, you’ll need to promote your content through various channels. It’s a good idea to have a promotion workflow, which will ensure this important step is never missed. When a piece of content is published, you could email coworkers about it, share it on social media, forward it to your email subscribers and contact influencers in the hope they’ll share it.

Monitor and tweak

So you’re writing, publishing and sharing content on a regular basis, but it doesn’t stop there. You need to monitor how your content is doing and make changes to your plan if necessary. Analytics tools are essential for this. At the very least, ensure you have Google Analytics set up and configured properly so you can see important data about visitors to your site. Keep your eye on how content is performing and try to spot any trends; you can then tweak your plan to reflect content that has done well.

Useful templates

To make planning easier, there are many templates available. Buffer offers one of the most comprehensive, along with detailed steps you can follow. You’ll also find a straightforward, fast, one-page plan by Uncommon.ly here and an excellent content marketing strategy package for B2B companies by Velocity here.

Don’t put off writing your content marketing strategy plan any longer – get started today!

Image courtesy of Pieter Schouten

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