Many small business owners start a blog because they think it will help boost sales, but very quickly give up when those sales don’t materialize. Multiple elements go into a successful blog strategy, but the one that has most impact on sales is blog traffic.
Blog traffic doesn’t just happen: You have to work at it. Content needs to be refined so that it appeals to the reader. Opportunities must be created in order to share the blog with a wider audience. And stickiness needs to be fashioned so that the reader is encouraged to explore other areas of your site, respond to calls to action, and keep coming back.
Here are seven tips, tricks, and tools for doing just that without breaking the bank.
1. Create a Killer Headline
For me, this is blog success 101—your blog headline is your only chance to catch the reader’s attention and get a click. In fact, 80% of readers never make it past the headline. To optimize your clicks:
Avoid cryptic headlines (be explicit about the takeaways you’re providing), but don’t give it all away.
Think of your headline as a way to pique curiosity.
Avoid 2–3 word headlines; instead, aim for between 40–55 characters.
Come up with a few options and test them to see which performs best.
2. Get More Above the Fold
“Above the fold” is an old publishing term for any content that appeared in the upper half of a folded newspaper. Today it’s used to refer to the portion of a web page that is visible in a browser window without needing to scroll down. Studies show that on desktop browsers, readers interact with this area of a page more than any other (the 80/20 rule applies to the top of the page versus the rest).
It’s important to organize and design your blog pages so that content you want to emphasize is above the fold, such as the headline, excerpts, social share icons, and a featured image. You could also use real estate on the right-hand side of your blog homepage to spotlight related blogs or marketing calls to action.
Take a look at the example below from the Fundbox blog:
The focus on “above the fold” content doesn’t mean you should neglect “below the fold”. Mobile devices actually make it easier to scroll and swipe, so consider using a different, yet related call to action at the end of your post.
3. Publish Helpful, In-depth “How-To” Articles
Now, I’m not advocating this approach for each blog, but ensuring a good smattering of in-depth blogs (1,000–2,000 words) in your content strategy will not only boost your Google rankings (articles over 2,000 words do better) but will also increase your social shares—affecting your overall blog traffic. Why? Longer blogs give you the opportunity to write about a real challenge that your customers face and offer a “how-to” approach to fixing it (without being a full-on sales push). You could also talk about industry trends and how they impact your customers. In a nutshell, it helps demonstrate thought leadership and builds trust.
4. Share Content on Social Media, Wash, Repeat
Sharing your blogs on social media shouldn’t be a one-off thing, especially on Twitter where tweets come and go in the blink of an eye. Give it a go and change up the message to see which gets the most traction over a 24-hour period. If your blog isn’t time-sensitive, plan on posting about it on social media multiple times over the coming months to help drive more blog traffic via views and shares. You can automate this with tools like Hootsuite and Facebook’s scheduling tools.
5. Send an Email Each Time You Post New Content
Extremely effective, yet often overlooked, make a point of sending out an email to your list each time a new blog article is posted—these people chose to hear from you because they’re interested in what you have to say! Just make sure you’re not emailing those who’ve already subscribed to your blog updates. The same is true if you post a new ebook or white paper.
6. Use Tools to Boost Engagement and Blog Traffic
There are lots of tools that help you manage and grow your blog traffic organically.
For example, in addition to your social share icons, take a look at CoSchedule, a nifty tool that takes the “Click to Tweet” concept to the next level (see below and used to effect in this blog).
Adding images also drives engagement and prompts viewers to click through to other areas of your site. Flickr is a popular source of free images, but other options include PEXELS, Pixabay, and Unsplash. You can also create infographics or incorporate your own product or personal photos using free tools like Canva, PicMonkey, easel.ly, Infogr.am, and Piktochart.
There are many free tools that can help you fine-tune your copy and headlines without a hefty SEO investment. Read 20 Tools that Will Take your Blog to the Next Level for more insights.
7. Amplify Your Content as a Guest Blogger
A great way to amplify your knowledge and drive blog traffic for your business is to put effort into becoming a guest blogger on other sites. It’s actually easier than it sounds.
Start by identifying a shortlist of blogs or online communities that are complementary to your business, such as blogs written by your partners/vendors, industry influencers, and even the media. Chances are they’ll have a different and larger reader base than your blog. which will potentially increase your exposure. You don’t even need to create new content, just tweak articles that you’ve already written and see if they’ll accept you into their guest program (most will have guest blogger rules that you’ll need to comply with). Don’t forget to share the love by opening your blog up to other guest blogging opportunities.