Let it be known: free blog traffic does not mean easy blog traffic.
Just because you’re not paying in dollar bills for your website’s traffic, doesn’t mean you’re not paying.
Getting “free” traffic to your site still requires time and energy. And, if you are just starting out, time and energy may be in short supply. But knowing how to increase blog traffic is the name of the game.
That’s why I wrote this guide for you.
The goal of this guide is to walk you through each and every avenue there is for getting free traffic to your site.
When you’re done, you will know how to increase blog traffic by:
- Click-through rate and on-page optimization
- Social media
- Niche-relevant activity and
- Your email list
By the end of this post you will have the tools you need to harness all the free blog traffic across the internet and funnel it right to your blog.
It will take time and effort, but it will be worth it! You ready?
First up: how to increase blog traffic straight off of search engine result pages (SERPs) by maximizing your click-through rate and on page SEO.
The best kind of traffic is traffic that is relevant to you. Which is why we do keyword research. Keyword research allows you to specifically target potential customers in your niche.
I wrote a whole post about how to do really thorough keyword research, but this guide will walk you through exactly where to use those keywords.
Where do keywords go?
Keywords need to appear in the following places:
- Meta description
- Header tags
What I am not saying is that you need to stuff keywords into those spots haphazardly. In fact, stuffing keywords will have the exact opposite effect you want.
Your meta description, header tags, and permalinks should have well-crafted text that includes your keywords.
Meta description: The meta description is the little description of a web page that appears on search engines. The goal of the meta description is to entice readers to click your link (thus maximizing your click-through rate).
When you create a new post or page, text will automatically be pulled from the content to create a meta description. However, it’s better to take full control of the situation by writing a meta description yourself for each and every page on your site.
Once you download Yoast, optimizing your meta description is super easy.
When you are done writing your post (or building a web page) scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Click “Edit snippet”, and this will happen:
Now you can edit your meta description (making sure to drop in that page’s keywords). The bar beneath the text will turn red, yellow, or green based on how Yoast feels about what you’re writing (which is handy). If you’re in the green, you’re good to go.
Close the snippet editor, and you’re done.
Header tags: Header tags emphasize important text on a page. They’re like little tour guides that walk Google and your readers through your webpage’s content.
An h1 tag looks like this:
<h1> KEYWORDS AND STUFF HERE </h1>
H1 tags are for your post’s title. (I create images for my titles, so I wrap those images in h1 tags–you don’t have to do that. Just wrap your regular headline in the h1 tag.)
H2 tags are for the subheadings within your content.
H3-H6 tags can be used for sub-subheadings (or other text you want to emphasize) but honestly, don’t worry about them. I would just stick with h1 and h2.
Here’s how you do it:
When you open up a new post in WordPress, you are creating the whole thing in a “Visual” format. To add header tags, click over to the “Text” format, which you can do in the right hand corner of the content box.
(This is the “Visual” view)
(This is the “Text” view)
At the beginning of the post’s title, type <h1>
At the end, to wrap it up, type </h1>
Check out this example:
H2 tags work the exact same way:
Type <h2> at the beginning of the subhead, and </h2> at the end to wrap it up.
Here’s how the h2 tag looks on the “Visual” page:
Permalink: This is the fancy word for your page’s URL. On WordPress, you can change the permalink text on a blog post right under the title. Make sure that the permalink has that post’s keywords in it.
Changing the permalink for a page works the same way.
Congrats. Now you’re a click-through and on-page optimization wizard.
Social media is the most important free blog traffic strategy and it can work wonders–if you take time to build engaged communities across multiple platforms.
What platforms should I use?
Generally, the best platforms for bloggers are:
Do your research. Know who your target audience is, and where they like to hang out on social media.
You don’t need to be on every single social media platform in existence. Some social platforms don’t have the audience you’re trying to attract and no one can keep up with all that anyway, ya know?
Pick one or two platforms that your target audience is actively using. It might be Facebook and Twitter, or Instagram and Pinterest. The social media platforms you choose to use are your call (but should be based on your research. Duh). Pick a couple, then keep them updated regularly, using automated content sharing.
Automated content sharing
There are a plethora of plugins and apps you can use to automatically share your content across social media platforms. Automating your posts will also help you stay on a schedule, which is super important.
Jetpack is a WordPress plugin that connects to multiple platforms and lets you share your posts automatically when you publish them.
Buffer is an app that helps your share your content at the best times, without you having to think about it. You simply add your content to the queue, and Buffer will post it to social media at the best times during the day.
Dlvr.it is a plugin that lets you automatically share content on your social profiles. The free plan should do you just fine if you’re just starting out.
Pro-tip: Set your plugins and apps to share posts to your social media accounts between 5-10 times a day. That way, you won’t fall through the cracks and risk people missing your content (especially on days you share a new blog post).
What should I post?
Your social media accounts should not be one big advertisement. No one will follow you if all you do is post about yourself.
It’s important to have a mix of promotional, personal, and helpful social media content.
- New blog content
After you publish new content, set it to be shared on social media during peak traffic times, using one of the plugins or apps mentioned above.
- Old blog content
Got old content that didn’t get a lot of views the first time? Or maybe it did, but it’s been a long time and you think it’s worth another share? Post it! (Look at you, being a good citizen by recycling.)
If the original headline was stellar, use it. Otherwise, revamp your post with a new headline then set it share with one of your automated apps.
- Content from other blogs
Does this seem counterintuitive to you? It’s not! Sharing content from other people is a great way to network. (If you share their content, they might share yours). Also, you will have more to post if you pull from other sources. Your followers will appreciate the mix of content.
- Interesting tidbits
If you come across a stat or quote or other niche-relevant tidbits on the Internet, line them up in your queue! You might find something that isn’t worthy of it’s whole on blog post, but you can totally tweet it, or make a Facebook status about it.
- Post the same content multiple times with different headlines
Post the same blog content to your socials multiple times, but with different headlines. The perks are twofold: more people will see your content, and you will be able to test which headlines are the most effective.
- Cool pictures
If you’re using Instagram, post brand-relevant pictures that are engaging and interesting. (Need tips? I wrote a whole post about Instagram content.)
Start a conversation
Social media platforms work so well because they are just that…social. Don’t forget that you’re building a community of actual people across those platforms!
- Like, retweet, or repost relevant, interesting content from your followers.
- Comment on things your followers post.
- Create a Facebook group (different than a business page). A group lets you interact with your followers directly and start real conversations.
Making yourself a known presence within your niche will help you attract traffic from all corners of the Internet. You want to be the super nice, whip-smart guy who pops up…everywhere. Here’s how to do that.
Participate in forums
Participate in forums that are related to your niche. But here’s the number one rule: Do not try to sell anything. Your only goal in these forums is to present yourself as a helpful, authoritative, personable presence in your niche.
Ask helpful questions and give helpful answers to gain respect from others in the forums. If you choose to share links, share a mix of links from other bloggers and a few of your own.
Comment on blogs
Like with forum activity, only comment on a blog post if you have something helpful or interesting to say.
If you link to a post on your own blog, make sure it is 100% relevant and on-topic and adds to the conversation. Otherwise plugging your own stuff looks spammy and sales-y.
Add value to the conversation before you try to self-promote.
Once you gain some authority in your niche (or, heck, even before), host interviews with other authority figures in your niche.
- Live stream interview
Plan a live stream interview. You can host one on a site like DaCast.com.
DaCast lets you pay by event, or with a monthly subscription, depending on how often you will use the service.
Make sure you promote this interview pretty heavily so people show up. Post about it on social media at least two weeks out, and consistently in those two weeks leading up to the event.
Have the person you are interviewing guest post on your blog the week before the interview, and ask that person to promote the event on their blog and social media platforms as well.
- YouTube video
Pre-record an interview and post it to YouTube. You can do it the quick-and-dirty way with a laptop camera, or (my suggestion) find a nice camera and a tripod.
The perk of a YouTube video is that you can use the video over again. It can be a blog post for you and the person you are interviewing and (if it’s a good video) it will continue to pull traffic from YouTube to your blog.
- Interview transcript
Record a phone interview, then type up a transcript of the conversation and make it into a blog post. Like those interview articles in magazines.
Post clever YouTube Videos
Expanding on the YouTube interview idea, what other videos can you make?
- Instructional how-to videos
Walk through the steps of how to do something. One of the most helpful videos I’ve ever watched was a guy walking me through how to setup a MailChimp email campaign. Sometimes you just need that visual, you know?
- Promo video
Got a new product to launch? Think about making a promo video. Nashville songwriter Dave Barnes knows how to kill it with this tactic, as you can see in this video. The video is hilarious by itself, but it’s also awesome promotion for his album.
Pro-tip: if you’re camera shy, don’t do this. Find someone who can ham it up and actually perform for the camera. Give them five dollars and ask them to act in your video for you.
I wrote a very (very) extensive post about the importance of email lists already, but for the sake of this guide I’ll go over it again.
Your email list can be more important than SEO and social media if you use it right.
When you focus on perfecting your email list, you’re setting yourself up for long-term success.
If you build up an email list of, say, 1,000 people who trust you and care about what you have to say–you never have to worry about getting your posts seen. Those people are almost always going to read your content.
And if you’re writing really good blog posts for an already captive audience, that audience won’t be able to not share you with their friends.
A hefty email list is your most solid strategy for free traffic.
So there you have it…go seize your free blog traffic
Knowing how to get free blog traffic obviously doesn’t cost money, but it will definitely cost you time.
I want you to make the most of the time you spend gathering all that free traffic by implementing everything I’ve told you here!
Once you put all this information to good use…
Boom. Free blog traffic.
It’s going to be awesome.
P.S. More questions? Still asking how you can increase your blog traffic? What other free blog traffic strategies have worked for you? I would love to hear about them! Comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.