How to Build Blog Traffic - Intro
You spend hours, days, weeks, months writing, photographing, uploading, editing your blog. At the end of the day you hope that someone (or more than a few someones) takes the time to read it. One would think that it is pretty obvious the steps one must take to build an audience, or build traffic to one's blog; you have to have great content, right? But less obvious are the roles that community and technology play in increasing your blog audience.
In preparation for a workshop I'm leading at BlogHer '06 I'll be writing up a series of posts about all the different things you can do to increase traffic to your blog - content, site traffic - what it is and how to measure, the stats you should care about, how people find your site, Google, search engines, and SEO, site design, RSS, community, and tags. The three main themes that we'll see over and over again are content, community, and technology.
If you don't start with good content, you can pretty much ignore everything else. But what defines "good content"? Do you really have to post every day, or even several times a day? If you are just starting out, what should your blog be about?
The number one thing you can do to increase your audience, after producing brilliant content of course, is to engage the community of people who might possibly care about what you are writing. By the way, engaging a community doesn't mean asking for link exchanges. It does mean actively linking to, commenting on, and participating in events on the weblogs of others who share a common interest. This linking becomes even more important when we dive into technology and the role of search engines.
Your blog traffic consists of people who already know about your blog and have visited it before, and people who have found your blog somehow and are coming there for the first time. Understanding and properly using technologies such as RSS, SEO, and tags can greatly accelerate the number of people finding your blog for the first time. If they like what they see, they'll come back, especially if you make it easy for them. But they do need to find you in the first place, and using available web technologies appropriately can help this along.
Your blog needs to be about something that some people, somewhere, care about. And no one's going to give a hoot about your blog unless you care passionately about it first. If you have something to say, say it well, and concern yourself about not only the blog but the people reading it too, the strategies that will be reviewed in this series will help you grow your audience. Otherwise, who cares?
Links to other online articles on this subject:
Unsuspecting Secrets to Fast Blogging Success by eMoms at Home
ProBlogger.net - this whole site is filled with great advice.
Elise BlogHer presentations on Building Traffic to Your Blog
Contributing Editor Elise Bauer blogs at Simply Recipes, Learning Movable Type, and several other blogs as part of elise.com. This series on building blog traffic is cross-posted at Learning Movable Type.