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How I doubled my unique visitors in six months (and tripled them in a year)

This post is from ProBlogger Team member Stacey Roberts.

Welcome to 2014, folks – a year we hope to bring you even more tips and advice to make your blog everything you want it to be! Let’s kick off with both feet in the direction of unique browsers, and how to get them to come to your website.

Diversify – it’s the advice you hear in all sorts of blogging situations. Diversify your income streams. Diversify your social media. Diversify your time. stats

When it comes to finding new readers, it’s also advice that works. Diversify the places you are seen, and it leads to fresh eyes on your blog. Of course, then you’ve gotta deliver the goods to keep them coming back, but you’re halfway there once you’ve found them in the first place.

If you’re looking to increase the monetization of your blog, then quite a few brands and advertisers are interested in unique visitor numbers. It is also the way most blogging talent agencies work out pay scales – so the more unique visitors that read your blog, the more money you can make.

Between March and September of 2012, I doubled the unique visitors to my blog, Veggie Mama. By March 2013, they had tripled. They doubled again in the following six months, and are on track to triple by March this year. How did I do it? Well grab a pen and paper, folks, I’m about to tell all…

How I doubled my unique visitors in six months:

Content is king

Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it a million times. Have useful, interesting, engaging content and the readers will come. But don’t be too quick to dismiss the advice – without this foundation, you won’t have much to work with. Create good blog posts that lure readers. Create good blog posts to keep them there. It’s the ultimate building block, and cannot be taken too lightly.

Be seen outside your niche

Expanding my freelance writing online was incredibly useful for having people click through to the blog. I wrote or was featured on blogs, news websites, parenting sites, recipe sites, business newsletters, and in newspapers and magazines. Some worked more than others (newspaper features weren’t great for converting readers, but parenting sites and other blogs were. So were magazines with a Gen Y/Digital Native readership), but all put me in front of people who had never seen or heard of me before.

 Don’t underestimate Pinterest

Pinterest is the second-highest referrer of traffic to my blog. And due to Pinterest’s nature, it’s often referring unique visitors. Not only have I made my site easily Pinnable (by adding intuitive “Pin it” buttons, and adding graphics to images/ensuring they are Pinterest-optimised), but I’m an enthusiastic Pinner. I pop on there most days and repin a few things, which keeps me in people’s feeds, and encourages them to follow me. It’s not “in the spirit of Pinterest” to Pin your own content, but as long as you’re not spamming everyone constantly, adding your own stuff from time to time is very useful. By making your site easy to Pin, then it doesn’t take much for your readers to add you to their boards. Then you show up in their follower’s feeds, and so on. “Ooh, that recipe/article/tutorial looks interesting,” they’ll say. “Let me click through to get the instructions”. And there you have a brand-new visitor.

Join online communities

This is especially useful with tutorial posts or niche posts. A lot of my traffic comes from including my crochet tutorials on Ravelry – a place for people to search for knit and crochet patterns, upload their projects, and chat with other crafty types. By including some of my posts (and ensuring they were optimised for maximum search results), it means that I have a constant stream of traffic on posts I wrote years ago, but are still very useful in certain situations. Apart from a few outliers, these free pattern tutorials are the still the most-viewed posts on my blog.

Be a good blog citizen

If you are friendly and engaging on social media, then it’s likely that you’ll show up in your readers’ feeds when they interact with you. I notice that when I have a popular Facebook status update that has generated a lot of interest, it comes with a bunch of new “likers” who have seen their friends engage with me, and have clicked over to check me out. Chat with your community regularly and not only are you looking after the readers you’ve got, but also being visible to new ones.

Be where others aren’t

You might have no clue about why Google Plus is still around, and you don’t understand why Vine is popular – but don’t let that deter you. New readers are everywhere, including underused social media platforms. I find it much easier to interact with superstar bloggers and influential people who are inundated with Tweets and Facebook comments, but are not so overwhelmed on Google Plus. It’s easier to stand out there, and you’ll certainly be noticed.

Switch to WordPress

This was probably the easiest and most fun way to increase readership. I moved from Blogger to WordPress when I realised how much simpler it is to optimise your site and posts for SEO than it was on Blogger. One plugin is all you need (I use Yoast), and you fill in a couple of boxes of descriptions and key words, and it’s done. It takes no more than a minute, and even gives you a rating of how SEO-friendly you’ve made your post (a green light means you’ve done all you can). Being SEO-friendly means you’re going to rank better in search engine results – and when someone is looking for a mushroom risotto recipe, well up pops your post, and you’ve got yourself a unique visitor. And how is SEO fun, you ask? Well, it’s not. But by moving to WordPress, I got a brand new design and all the changes and newness meant I was re-energised and motivated to play around and blog more effectively.

Collaborate with others

People with bigger readerships or social media networks than you aren’t to be feared or envied – they’re to be worked with! If you genuinely have a way to collaborate with a bigger blogger, or you partner with a brand authentically, then it’s a win-win-win situation for all – you, the brand or other blogger, and your collective readers. If someone they trust is recommending you, then their readers are likely to check you out. Word of mouth is still the best advertisement around!

You’ll notice that I haven’t addressed content sharing or virality, and that’s simply because none of that happened more than one or two shares every now and then. It’s definitely a way to get fresh eyes in the form of unique visitors to your blog, and I thoroughly encourage it (but don’t bo so strategic about it that you lose your authenticity and your connection with your readers), but it isn’t something that I ever tried.

There are, of course, plenty of ways to drive traffic to your site, but these are the ones that have worked for me to bring unique visitors to my blog. While I didn’t do much of it strategically at the beginning, I can see it has been the most useful to me over time. Here’s to the next six months!

What have you done that has driven unique browsers to your site? Any tips to share?

Stacey Roberts is the content ninja at ProBlogger.net, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. Can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

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Comments

  1. I was very high on the MyBlogGuest idea when I first started with them, but ultimately I found it was not as effective as working directly with trustworthy blogs.

    The biggest issues I have run into at MyBlogGuest have been articles not getting published at all, or being greatly altered by an unscrupulous publisher. It’s a real headache to have 10-15 bids on an article, accept one, and then wait 1-2 weeks only to find that the publisher never followed through. Then you have to start over and begin accepting bids again.

    Last week I received an alert at MBG that one of my articles had been altered. I checked into it and found that the publisher added a ton of links to the article, all going to his own websites. That destroys the value of my one link, and it makes the article (with my name on it) look incredibly spammy. Now there is a poor looking article on the web which mentions my company – not what I intended.

    Finding good blogs to work with requires a lot of leg work at the beginning, but once you find them it is quite easy thereafter. MyBlogGuest really didn’t add value for me like I had expected. I think you are better off working directly with high quality blogs that pass solid link value and are trustworthy.

    The best value of MyBlogGuest might be in finding a few new publishers to work with, and then working with them directly.

  2. dawwir says:

    Thank you so much :D , indeed

  3. John says:

    As if I need help getting your great piece, I was excited to see Raverly as a friend/colleague (whom I’ve never met) does weaving. I immediately stop reading and send her the link to the post :) turns out she’s a longtime member :) making the connections in such an awesome way thank you Stacey

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Oh that’s wonderful! The internet is wonderful for this sort of thing. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. metz says:

    Content is king – yes, that is right. Let me add something here. Even though famous bloggers are great, I think they still have this kind of feeling that the moment they finished writing a content for a new post, they feel like they aren’t contented or they are in doubt that they have created a valuable article.

    I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social bookmarking and networking site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  5. Awesome blog and nice idea. great job.

  6. Vidhi Verma says:

    One of the best comment for newbies. thanks to share

  7. Collaborating with other bloggers is a very good way to attract new readers to your own blog site

  8. Hello Stacey,

    Your tips are amazing and I love them.

    Your first point about content is king is so true. Once you have high quality contents on your blog then you will be surprised what will happen. Without quality content then your blog is dead.

    Also using WordPress a few years ago was a great move for me. Much easier CMS to work wit.

    I am going to apply these tips to my blog and see how well they work for me. Thanks again for the lovely post.

  9. Kid says:

    I found your blog through Alexa.com while doing research on a blog and seeing that they left a comment on your blog. Crazy web this internet thing is. I remembered I saw this blog about a year ago, but couldn’t remember what it was called! ha ha

    Content is king, it’s what will keep me revisiting your blog, Darren.

    Thank you for the advice, again!

  10. hi SR, is that backlinking, writing to other blogs etc – something that we need to do day in day out ?
    i mean spending a couple of hours – writing to others.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      I haven’t done it day in day out, that’s for sure. I never even did it strategically, I just took opportunities as they arose to post elsewhere. I haven’t really thought about spreading backlinks far and wide. I think it needs to be organic, and in keeping with the blog’s theme. I hope this helps!

  11. This is really a great post. I have always underestimated the power of Pinterest, but I will start using it…. But can you direct me to a very perfect guide of how to use Pinterest.

  12. Where do you stand on Matt Cutts recent statements regarding guest blogging and the recent revelation that Google’s algorithms no longer take social media indicators into consideration when factoring SERP’s?

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      That was such an interesting article, wasn’t it? I think he’s got a point, and people should really think carefully about guest posting and accepting guest posts. In my article here I mention being seen on other websites – but none of that was guest posting. I was either commissioned to write articles as a freelance writer, or I was the subject of interviews on someone else’s site. I’ve not really dabbled in the guest posting arena, so it’s not been a strategy I’ve used to grow my online presence. What do you think?

  13. Gary Judge says:

    Nice post. Google Plus Communities are a real gold mine of potential eyeballs to your site and is a place I’ve used to successfully promote content and engage with other bloggers.

    One of the nice side benefits of G+ is that links are given Page Rank so if you get a lot of shares it helps you to get noticed in organic searches.

  14. Spook SEO says:

    Very inspiring post. If you were able to make this possible then surely we can also make this happen. I can see that one of your secrets is that you were not afraid to try something new and adopting to the changes such as getting involved with online communities. And for me, my ultimate secret is that I write from the heart. You can never get wrong working with passion.

  15. Very interesting article for beginners. Thank you for sharing with us :)

  16. holly uttley says:

    Hi Stacey. Great info about how to double your traffic. Content still remains one of the biggest ways to generate new traffic… it is a reality that never seems to stop working. The importance though is having content that is not always spun and keeping it interesting. Content that is fresh and is stated outside of the box with experience behind it and fact is definitely what keeps people interested and coming back. Great efforts here on your conversation. getting unique visitors