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Get Your Blog Noticed!

Last August I began a serious effort to try to increase the traffic to my blog, after switching from Radio (where it had been for three years) to WordPress.  Since then, I've gone from an average of 216 visitors per day, to 3400.  March was the first month I had more than 100,000 visits, and over a half million hits.  At Barcamp Ottawa, on Saturday, several people asked about this, and I promised to put together a "How to" post.  I have to give credit where credit is due. Many of these I learned from the king of blog optimization, Randy Morin, at KbCafe.  His Besting Adwords blog is excellent, and while it is mostly about how to increase your ad revenues, a good chunk of it is about how to drive traffic to your site. The majority of my traffic comes from Google.  I optimize my site for Google searchability: Text Link Ads

  1. Optimize your page count.  Google ranks sites with lots of pages as having more authority than sites with few pages.  Use WordPress, or another blogging tool, which exposes all of your posts as individual pages to the Google crawler bots.  You can find out how many pages Google sees on your blog using the "site:" query.  site:saunderslog.com says I have around 40,000 pages indexed.  Note: I have not got 40,000 posts, but because of the way that WordPress works, one post can appear as a result of many different search queries by the bot.
  2. Use a Google Sitemap.  Again, this is easy to do with WordPress.  Arne Brachhold has written a great little plugin which re-constructs your sitemap each and every time you post. 
  3. Make sure every post has a title.  I used to write like Dave Winer, and Doc Searls — the stream of consciousness approach. No title, just thoughts as they come to me. Unfortunately, Google looks at the title of the page for information about the post.  No title, no info.  At Randy's suggestion, I also changed the format of the title.  By default, WordPress titles posts "blogname > title".  I reversed the order to "title — blogname", reasoning that it might be more important to have the actual topic of the post come first.
  4. Make the titles eye-catching!  Newspaper editors learned long ago that a catchy headline caused people to read the article.  The same is true of bloggers.
  5. Link and trackback to others.  The point of blogging is to have a conversation.  Make sure you're having conversations, then.  Others will link to you if you participate in the conversation and link to them.  Since Google ranks sites with more links more highly than sites with few links, this increases your importance to the search engine.  You can find out how many pages link to your site with the Google "link:" query.  link:saunderslog.com says I have 721 inbound links.
  6. Make sure you have a top level domain.  Buying http://saunderslog.com/ increased my traffic dramatically over being http://radio.weblogs.com/0111520.  URL redirection, which is a common strategy to use a top level domain, defeats the benefit.  Google indexes the host domain itself, and not all the redirected URLs. 

Be a blogger.

  1. Write frequently.  My friend Andy Abramson says that you need to post at least three times daily.  If you have enough content that you can write three times a day, do it.  If it's just once a day, then do that.  But make sure it's regular.  From personal experience, my traffic drops dramatically on days when I don't post.
  2. Participate in the conversation the blogosphere is having.  I am not suggesting that you artificially write about stuff you don't care about.  I am suggesting that you find out where the conversation you do care about is happening, and then comment and write.  For me, that means tech.memeorandum.com, and pulverati.com.
  3. Write meaty posts.  I had an interesting conversation with Gabe Rivera, the creator of Memeorandum, some time ago.  I asked how Memeorandum did it's magic — picking the good stuff from the other stuff.  One of the things he told me is that it looks at the length of the post.  It's biased toward posts that provide a lot of information, just like a human being would find value in a post with lots of information.  Writing meaty posts is good practice, and not just to get noticed by Memeorandum.
  4. When you write something really good, send an email to your favorite bloggers and point it out to them. Many will have something to say, or will want to comment on what you've written.  They may not see it for a day or two unless you point it out.
  5. Comment on other's blogs.  It gets you known, and gets you onto the radar of other bloggers.  Some blogs, like mine, also provide a link back to your blog when you comment.  It's an added incentive for you to comment.  Write a comment, get a link. WordPress, by default, turns this off in order to fight comment spam, but I use a plugin called Follow URL to turn it back on. 
  6. When you update your blog, ping.  That lets the other engines and indexes in the blogosphere know you have new stuff.  WordPress makes this easy, by automatically pinging whichever ping engine you care about.  I personally use Pingoat.  http://pingoat.com/goat/RPC2.
  7. Keep a blogroll.  I know, blogrolls are passe today.  But every blog on your blogroll is a link to someone else that you're passing the love to, and helping to increase their rank in Google.  I had my blogroll turned off for a while.  When I turned it back on, I saw an immediate jump in the number of inbound links I had, as people responded in kind.

Tag every post. 

  1. Technorati, and De.licio.us have made tagging one of the most important tools in the bloggers kitbag.  Tag every post, and then ping technorati to let others know you have updated.  Scan technorati to find out what other bloggers are using as tags, and use the same tags.
  2. Get the most from your tags by modifying your template to better leverage them.  I use a WordPress Plugin called Jeromes Keywords.  I have it set up to automatically create technorati keywords and send them to technorati wh
    en I create a post.  It also automatically creates keyword headers for every post I write, and a master keyword header for my main page with all the keywords for that page.  Now, many search engines ignore keywords today, but this is a freebie as a result of using Jeromes Keywords.

Questions?  Feel free to drop me an email. Text Link Ads

{ 58 comments… add one }

  • Matt Roberts April 24, 2006, 5:02 am

    What about Trackbacks? I think they are an excellent way to bring in new traffic. Though I'm not in the 3000 category :-)

  • Alec April 24, 2006, 5:07 am

    I agree! See point number 5 under optimizing for searchability.

  • /pd April 24, 2006, 6:47 am

    Question(s) here.

    How does Tags actually give relevancy and ranking to Posts/ Web Pages ?? The SERP's of all Engines dont actually take this into considertation. That is the current state /design of the GYM engines. so how does it play a part of the SEO stategy (if any?). OR am I wrong in this stream of thought ??

  • wendy kennedy April 24, 2006, 6:50 am

    hey Alec,

    thanks for this…true to your own advice…another rich "meaty" post. Thanks for sharing this.

    Wendy

  • Randy Charles Morin April 24, 2006, 6:57 am

    Thanks Alec for the kind words.

  • matthew April 24, 2006, 7:13 am

    and submit to Megite, a blog aggregator.

  • Alec April 24, 2006, 7:29 am

    Hey /pd,

    I don't think tags do give any ranking. The technorati and de.licio.us folksonomies, though, are an alternate search tool that has a huge audience.

  • Alec April 24, 2006, 7:33 am

    How do I do that matthew? I didn't see any obvious directions on your page.

  • Bruce Stewart April 24, 2006, 7:49 am

    Great post Alec, thanks a lot for this! I was aware of many of these ideas, but it was really helpful to me see them all in one place and to find a few new ones.

  • /pd April 24, 2006, 9:14 am

    I dugg the article here<a>

    Happy Digging

  • Easton Ellsworth April 24, 2006, 9:29 am

    Thanks, Alec – these tips have provided me with some great thoughts for a new project I'm working on.

  • Carl Galloway April 24, 2006, 10:31 am

    Alec this advice is great, thanks, I'm sure this will help me with my own blog.

  • Anthony April 24, 2006, 11:52 am

    good job! thanks for taking the time to write this.

  • Anthony April 24, 2006, 11:56 am

    Alec, sorry about that url in my last reply. i was emailing that link to a friend and it was on my clipboard. 'doh

  • Erik Werlau April 24, 2006, 2:05 pm

    This is great I'm already following all the steps of this post… My blog was just started a few weeks ago and is still being constructed but I want to have it listed when I get it ready for large amounts of visitors

    Thanks again,
    Erik

  • Andre April 24, 2006, 4:10 pm

    I found that the link command on google does not give you all inbound links. Generally just the top X.
    I find this tool to be much more useful for determining inbound links: http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/
    It also helps to evaluate your competition πŸ˜‰

  • Toptraveller April 24, 2006, 4:12 pm

    Just be careful reporting about digg: http://www.sitepoint.com/blogs/2006/04/05/digg-an

  • Alec April 24, 2006, 4:29 pm

    Wow, Andre. That's a huge difference.

    Toptraveller, I don't advocate gaming any engine, Digg or otherwise.

  • Robyn Tippins April 24, 2006, 5:58 pm

    Great post Alec. And, great way to get noticed! You've a great blog :)

  • Guru Panguji April 24, 2006, 9:08 pm

    First of all!! Great post! I was looking for something like this, before starting to write about one of these. I am glad that my ideas were right, mostly!! :-D!

    I have a paltry traffic of about a 100 a day @ Wordpress.com :-D!

    Anyhoo, I wanted to get some more clarification on some things!

    -> I read over at one of the blogs in Wordpress, if I remember rite, it was Scobleizer that if you increase the number of tags you use, the traffic will automatically increase. Is it true?

    -> You might find that some of the tags that you use, may not be all that common, in fact, might be even unique, yet you find it pertinent to put it, as you think it's more suitable than mundane tags you find everywhere. Is it a good practice?

    -> How often do the tag feed readers aggregate their posts? Do they have their own rating of the blogs?

    It'll be helpful if you could get back to me on this Alec! Thanks a ton again for some very interesting points. Will be trying it out! Danke!!

  • Raman April 25, 2006, 12:29 am

    Thanks very much indeed for giving so much info :-)

  • Alec April 25, 2006, 2:15 am

    Guru,

    I think the key with tagging is to make sure that the tags are discoverable, and intuitive. I do two things:

    1. I try, with varying degrees of success to be consistent, and reuse the same tags. You can see the heatmap I've created with my tags here: http://saunderslog.com/general/heat-map/. Some of those tags end up being repeated (upper / lower case, or plural / singular), and periodically I just go clean them up. But by being consistent, others can find posts by me more easily, and if others use the same tags, they can find similar posts more easily.

    2. I try to use tags that others are using as well. That means if I am writing about something which someone else has linked, I use some (or all) of the same tags. If I am wondering what to tag a post, I go to technorati, and search for similar kinds of posts and use the same tags.

    I don't think it hurts to have more tags as opposed to fewer tags, but I am not sure how much it helps.

    On your last question, I don't know how often various readers aggregate posts. The one I use is bloglines, and it seems up to date enough for me.

  • Serge Lescouarnec April 25, 2006, 7:26 am

    Alec

    Thanks for the detailed post.

    Found out about it on 'Naked Conversations'

    I have been writing 'Serge the Concierge' for over a year now.

    I rarely write long posts.

    I practice a number of the things you recommend.

    Have a good day

    Biz: http://www.njconcierges.com
    Blog: http://www.sergetheconcierge.com

  • Sterling Camden April 25, 2006, 11:26 am

    Good information! homemade trackback: http://www.chipstips.com/microblog/index.php/post

  • Tracy Sheridan April 25, 2006, 2:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Great information!

  • Chris Nolan.ca April 26, 2006, 4:19 pm

    Alec, good advise.

    Regarding doing the link: and site: stuff manually… you may want to check out the Eh List (shamless plug) which does that for you and gives you a graph daily in your RSS reader.

  • Alec April 26, 2006, 4:41 pm

    Actually, Chris, I use the Eh List. I should have thought of that!

  • Kevin Baggs April 28, 2006, 11:16 am

    As a blogger 'noobee' this sort of post really helps. I see a manifesto in the making

  • Daniel Egan May 6, 2006, 12:37 am

    ALEC,

    This is a great post!! Thanks for all of the tips. It really helps to have them all in one place. πŸ˜‰

    Daniel N. Egan The Pattern Man http://www.ThePatternMan.com

  • Curtis May 31, 2006, 10:33 am

    Great post, thanks for the advice. I've read a lot of other pages on how to increase traffic but yours is one of the best.

  • Alec May 31, 2006, 3:11 pm

    Thanks Curtis

  • PJ June 5, 2006, 2:59 pm

    can anyone recomend me a good tagging plug-in for wordpress?
    i'd love to play around with it

  • Alec June 6, 2006, 2:14 am

    I use Jerome's Keywords, PJ, mentioned in this piece earlier.

  • Grant June 6, 2006, 2:44 pm

    Great post. I personally use Ultimate Tag Warrior for tags, you can create some cool tag clouds with it.

  • Francis July 3, 2006, 9:39 am

    I enjoyed your article. I am very new to blogging and so quite a bit of it went over my head for the time being.

    I use a free blog site. You seem to be recommending I buy my own domain. If I did that, what would I have to do to all my present stuff? Can it be transfered over opr do I ahve to start again? And if I did, would I be able to get a template from somewhere?

    Is there a site you can recommned that takes you through the whole process (or can you recommend a book?).

    Best wishes,

    Francis

  • Alec July 3, 2006, 11:52 am

    Francis – it really depends on the software you choose for your new site, and the software your old site runs on. Wordpress has many many templates available, and makes it easy to import content from your previous site, as an example. Other systems might not make it that easy, though.

    I don't have a site to point you at, although if you choose to use wordpress, the Wordpress Codex has a lot of material in it.

  • Laura November 20, 2006, 7:53 am

    Hey Alec – what a helpful post! I've had a personal blog for years (which I didn't want to publicize), but I've recently been assigned the task of looking into creating a blog for work.

    Right now I'm trying to figure out the hosting thing… how much of a difference does it make, ranking-wise, where you host your blog? I've heard that if you host it for free on WordPress or Moveable Type, then people linking to your blog don't count as links to YOUR BLOG – they count as links to Moveable Type or WordPress. So when Google determines how important you are by how many people link to you, you're out of luck. Is that true? I need to be able to explain to the money-handlers why we need to pay for hosting.

    Thanks again – I've bookmarked this page & will definitely use it and recommend it!

  • Alec November 20, 2006, 8:45 am

    That's correct Laura. The top level domain is the owner of the links as far as Google is concerned. Of course, you can get a reference count to individual pages, but it's still better to have a top level domain of your own.

  • Dorian November 30, 2006, 8:33 am

    Interesting post. I am going to try out some of those ideas, and see if that helps with my own blog.

    Thanks!

  • Dogfrog January 8, 2007, 8:22 am

    Thanks Alec, some really helpful things here. Happy New Year!

    df

  • Matt March 3, 2007, 7:57 pm

    I just switched over to a Wordpress blog and I find a lot of the tips very helpful! I in no ways get the traffic you do, but I understand you logic and give it a shot. Great post!

  • Leonid Shalimov April 30, 2007, 12:06 pm

    Great article. Some really insightful tools, thanks for the Technocrati plugin link! That really helped me out. Thanks again!

    Leon

  • John Mathias February 7, 2008, 12:13 pm

    Thanks for the good ideas on getting a blog noticed. I am new to blogging, so I can use all the help I can get.

  • Richard March 19, 2008, 10:54 am

    Alec, great article.

    I just published an article called Building Blog Traffic: A Measured Approach talking about taking a methodical approach to building traffic.

    After reading your article, I will take many of these steps.

    Thanks,
    Richard

  • Troy McCarty March 19, 2008, 5:29 pm

    Wow — lots of great info— Thanks!

  • Robb Sutton March 21, 2008, 5:16 am

    Great list. Thanks for taking the time to put it up. Also refreshing to know that I am on the right track.

  • Regular Guy April 16, 2008, 12:48 pm

    Written 2 years ago and still very applicable today… I will start implementing these ideas immediately. (Starting with this comment :-)).

    Thanks,

    Regular Guy

  • Kayla Dubchansky July 12, 2008, 4:23 pm

    What if you don't have Wordpress? I created a blog a few months ago and I'm still not quite sure how it's supposed to work. I have a google blog and I'm just not sure how to get my name out there. You said start conversations with other, is that just random people? Sorry if I sound silly, I just don't quite get it.

  • Alec July 22, 2008, 1:39 am

    Hi Kayla,

    When I say start conversations, what I mean is find other people writing about the same kinds of things that you're writing about, or writing about things that interest you. Then comment. That's how the conversation starts. You appear to write about sports, and specifically baseball. Cool! I'd imagine that a lot of people would find that interesting, and that there are plenty of other bloggers writing about similar topics for you to interact with.

    WordPress? Well, I think it's the best. You're using blogger from Google. It's pretty good too. My wife writes a blog using it.

    A

  • Paul Morales February 5, 2009, 4:03 pm

    Great tips, I'm going to implement a few on my blog too πŸ˜‰ thanks!

  • Yanic A. April 7, 2009, 1:56 am

    Being new to blogging I found this very interesting and useful.
    Thank you again for taking the time and I look forward to reading more of your post.

  • blog ping September 14, 2009, 2:49 am

    great tips, another would be to ping any new bookmarks that link to your site's content. That will get them indexed by search engines faster, leading to your site being more exposed to the public (which hopefully means more people will find it).

    One of the newer sites out there that can ping multiple services for you is PingNinja. It's similar to other multi-site pingers like pingler and pingomatic, just 3x faster and doesn't have any ads.

  • Lee October 2, 2009, 6:31 am

    Hi.
    Thinking of setting up a blog to complement an existing website. Is there any advantage to using a third party service to host the blog as opposed to attaching it to the current website? The site has about 155 pages, 2,000 incoming links and a Google page rank of 5.
    Any thoughts?

    • Alec October 2, 2009, 10:37 am

      It’s actually a disadvantage to set it up on a third party site, IMO. You’re better to put it on your own site. It will add page count, and increase the number of incoming links.

  • Lee October 5, 2009, 9:53 am

    Thanks for feedback.
    L.

  • Tony Snow November 9, 2009, 9:00 am

    Thanks for the tips. I only been blogging for a few weeks. I was wondering what your thoughts are on registering with all of those free blog directories. I have done so on my blog. I have gotten a few hits that I think may have come from them but do not know how much its helped.

  • izzo February 11, 2010, 2:53 pm

    hey i have a question, you posted this up above:

    "By default, Wordpress titles posts "blogname > title". I reversed the order to "title — blogname", reasoning that it might be more important to have the actual topic of the post come first.

    how do i do that in wordpress? i cant figure it out.

    thanks a lot.

    Izzo

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