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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. John Winkle says:

    Great stuff! Thanks for the Yoast reco, just switched and you are right. Great plugin.

  2. Jennifer says:

    You have an excellent point about being where others aren’t and not ignoring under-used social media tools. I love the idea that’s it’s easier to stand out there. I’m curious, you mention specifically Google+ and Pinterest, do you follow any practices about when to post or when to pin things on these sites to gain the most exposure?

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Gosh, no I don’t – although I know I need to look into it more! I’ve no doubt that using it strategically would be beneficial.

  3. Eyram says:

    Stacey, you’ve done a great job. If I understood your post, you increased traffic by building relationships and getting seen. Building real human relationships is the future. Isn’t it?

  4. Aaron says:

    Stacey, congrats on your success- you’ve found a great niche and your approach is very smart: define a niche, produce compelling content on your own and influencers’ sites, syndicate that content where your audience hangs out and join meaningful discussions revolving around your topic.

    Very well described and executed Stacey. Thanks for writing this! — Aaron

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      ooh I like your very succinct description. It seems like an easy formula though, doesn’t it?!

  5. Samuel says:

    Congrats on your results and the hard work in doubling your amount of traffic coming into your website.

    It takes a huge amount of hard work and consistency in order to have success in driving traffic.

    I myself have been working on creating the best content that has the best chances of going viral.

    Through your content are you going to increase your subscribers and reputation.

    That’s why I think ultimate content production is the most underrated traffic driving technique.

    I made sure to include that point in my free ultimate traffic guide.

    I also tested and learned from the best that list posts that contain actionable text are going to bring you the best results.

    Pinterest is such a great social media site to engage on and drive traffic back to the website. I need to hire someone to take care of that. :)

    Stacey, this article is the example that all content must follow.

    The best! Great job.

    - Samuel

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Oh Pinterest is so fun! Definitely get moving over there if you can. And you’re right – hard work really does pay off.

  6. Galen says:

    Great post Stacey! I love your point about social networks like G+ and Vine. I look at some of the early adopters of G+ and wish I had jumped on the bandwagon sooner. It’s so important to strategically choose the social networks you want to invest your time in.

  7. Great article Stacey. I’ve been working on ways to bring more people to my blog and these tips really add to those. I really like the one about being where others aren’t. I’ve been a member of Google+ for a while but haven’t done much with it. I’m going to start being more active due to your advice. Thanks!

  8. Maciej Fita says:

    I really the idea of guest blog posting. It is not easy to establish a solid guest post campaign at times but if you tweak and adjust your strategy you can eventually identify some really great sources of referring traffic.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Oh yes, I’ve seen that recommended a lot! I never really got to guest post on other blogs, but writing for websites really helped. Maybe 2014 should be The Year of the Guest Post for me!

  9. Ted Parry says:

    As a full time digital marketer some of this advice is spot on. The only point I would pull out was he fact she said don’t underestimate Pinterest. Personally I agree but think that due to the nature of her blog Pinterest is going to work better, Pinterest is definitely more effective in different niches. However I paid a visit to her website and can certainly say that most of her traffic gains will be due to her constant publishing of quality content.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      You’re absolutely right – Pinterest is far more useful for some niches than others.

  10. Abhishek says:

    Thanks a ton for sharing these thoughts and I am gonna apply these for my blog too as its a new blog. Keep sharing such thoughts.

  11. Walter Mason says:

    What a fantastic post – genuinely helpful. I came here looking for ways to promote an upcoming event, and this one article has given me a whole list of things to do.
    Can I just add that I have been using Linkedin increasingly, and have found I have reached a very different kind of audience that way – providing links to my events, mentioning the things that I am doing etc.
    Like you say, Stacey – using different social networks at different times puts you in front of different (and often new) people.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Ah yes, I was just looking at my LinkedIn yesterday – I really need to use that way more effectively! Thanks for the reminder.

  12. How many unique visitors do you get from Facebook each month? Or is it more of a way just to get your name out there? I have found that posting useful comments on blogs brings me pretty good traffic each month. Great post!

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      I don’t know the specific number, but it is consistently my biggest traffic referrer. It’s really just a way to connect with readers. I find they’re on Facebook more than they are on blogs, so I go where they are for conversations and to share. Commenting on other blogs is such a good way of bringing traffic – I need to remember to do it more!

  13. Dan says:

    Great post Stacey, I absolutely love how you emphasized the relevance of Pinterest. In my experience it is one of the absolute best means for promoting a picture based site (much like http://www.outpostmagazine.com).

    Cheers, and thanks again for this wonderful post!

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Oh yes, pictures work very well on Pinterest. But it’s a bit of a minefield copyright-wise :-/

  14. Thanks for these. Especially the yoast seo plugging tips.

    Am not currently using pin interest, I think I will try it out.

    Thanks once again.

  15. Great tips Stacey. Haven’t looked a vine in months. Adding it to my to-do list!

  16. We have been sharing 1 minute healthy cake recipes to our facebook page which have been really popular! We think it’s due to the fact that we’re sharing the recipe within the post. Now this doesn’t straight away create traffic to our blog, but most recently the one we posted was shared over 360 times! We saw an increase in Facebook likes and now we have some new faces that we can share our blog posts with! :) Thanks for sharing this post, definitely love the ideas of getting onto social media platforms that aren’t so crazy busy… :)

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Ah, the magic of sharing! That’s an amazing number, well done :)

  17. I agree about the content bit! Content really is king… Some bloggers argue that ‘content shock’ might make your content not as interesting however, in my experience, if you keep giving someone the kind of information they desire, they will keep coming back for more of it. Without good content writing – search engines and the blogosphere would be ghost towns.

    I like the idea of getting out where others are not. That would be a good idea to enhance your niche authority a lot quicker since the competition might not be present. A lot of new social networks pop up each day, that would probably be a great place to start for this sort of thing.

    As for what I do to increase visitors and unique visitors is all of the above PLUS I end my posts always asking for reader support for me writing the post. I ask them to tell other bloggers about it and to share the article on social media. It works! I also recommend looking into actually developing an online community for your niche as well, that can help you get more recognition. I have done this with my Blogging Friends forum.

    Great post! :)

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      I’ve always wondered if that works! It seems very specific, but I have found myself sharing when people have asked me to. You make an excellent point about being where your competition isn’t.

  18. Good tips, but I question Pinterest as a site for qualified traffic for a lot of companies. It seems to work well for yours, especially with the recipe component. But what about a B2B or professional services company?And even if it does push traffic to a site, how many convert?

    I’d love to become a Pinterest believer, I’m just not there yet.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      For those of us for whom it does work, it’s amazing. But it’s not for everyone, that’s for sure.

  19. Naomi says:

    Great advice Stacey :) love your work!

  20. Kalen says:

    Great feedback Stacey. I am following a similar model for diversification, especially with my marketing and monetization efforts.

    Guest blogging has been a great way to promote my site over the past year, but I am trying to focus on other things too. Some have actually done better than guest blogging for various projects. You are right that you have to try different things and it seems to be paying off. Thanks for the post!

  21. Rizvan Ullah says:

    Awesome post!

    Quick question will these same strategies work when you are first starting out. My blog is still very young so I have been focusing on content so my blog does not look empty. Any words of advice for starters?

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Oh yes, definitely. Be seen in the most places you can. once you get your content sorted, then spread out on social media and start engaging!

  22. Tribes rock Stacey. I dig each tip too….communities are the places to be.

    Share. Give. Promote others. Your visitors will jump quickly as people promote you in return.

    A simple, easy way to expand your presence. Give freely to receive easily.

    Thanks!

  23. Chantelle says:

    Lots of great gems. Love this Stacey, and congrats on the growth! x

  24. Sanjay says:

    Most of the time we have heard from top blogger that any blog post need to be valuable at some point. The truth is truth, I landed to this page from Search Engine Journal FB update.

    While I scanned through this article, yes, the points are to be followed for blogging successfully and the thing that only matters is a blogger’s dedication and time management for his/her blog.

  25. Zanni Louise says:

    Great post Stacey! Thanks for sharing your tips :)

  26. Interesting advice with your suggestion of going outside your niche. I still think it’s important to be within the same general “parent” niche though. For example, if you are an SEO – it’s ok to go to SEM or content marketing communities, but you probably would want to stay away from fashion…

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Haha yes, I agree! I think it’s a bit easier for personal bloggers.

  27. Bo says:

    Good stuff to keep in mind an use on my next site.

    Thanks
    Bo

  28. Sunday says:

    Hi Stacey,
    The foundation of unique and returning visits to any blog is quality content. Yes, content is still king because a quality content helps to solve immediate problems for the audience or readers.

    The techniques employed to increase unique visitors as discussed in this post are clear – provide value through content, social media, and blog community.

    It would be worth the effort if these can be replicated!

    Thanks for your contribution!

    I have left this comment also in kingged.com – the social bookmarking and content syndication website for Internet marketers where this post was shared.

    Sunday – kingged.com contributor

    http://kingged.com/how-i-doubled-my-unique-visitors-in-six-months-and-tripled-them-in-a-year/

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Providing value is always going to be the best foundation!

  29. Jitesh says:

    I really like your writing. you said it correct the most important “The Content is King”.
    Thanks you helped me again as many times before.

  30. Juan Sanchez says:

    Thanks for the tips. I have a Pinterest account that I wasn’t really using but after reading that most of your web traffic comes from this source, I will start being more active with Pinterest.

    I am also using Google+ to promote my blog and I am starting to see some good traffic.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Yes, Google+ is great! But Pinterest (for some people) just can’t be beat as a traffic referrer. I’ve found it’s really time well spent.

  31. Pinterest is my second highest referrer, too. At first I resisted Pinterest because I thought it was self-serving in a time suck way. Now that I’m really into it, it’s helping me craft better content, notice trends and connect with more people.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Isn’t it funny how we assume things? I was a bit the same with other media sites. But I think Pinterest is awesome, both from a professional perspective, and a personal one. I never fail to find something useful or interesting on it!

  32. Jeremy says:

    Awesome article Stacey, and very well timed!

    I’m a new blogger and I knew that I needed to learn about SEO eventually, but it was on the back burner since I have a lot of other things to learn about. Anyways, I came over to problogger to look for something else, saw this article, and when you mentioned Yoast I stopped everything and ran back to my site to install it.

    I came back this morning to finish reading and to bookmark this page. It’s worth a few more read throughs.

    Thank you!

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      You’re very welcome! I too found SEO to be something I would think about “one day”, but once I installed that plugin and saw how easy it was, I was kicking myself that I hadn’t done it sooner. I even SEO’d some of my earlier posts that had always done well traffic-wise and it made all the difference. Glad to hear it’s working for you too!

  33. Jake Parent says:

    Be an interesting, social human being and people will want to hang around you more. How novel (but seriously, how often forgotten)! :)

    Great post.

  34. Hey Stacey,

    Just curious, do you feel migrating over to wordpress from blogger by itself increased your overall visitors? And if so, would you share what steps you took to migrate, such as hosting, etc..

    Thanks,

    Christopher Pontine

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Hi Christopher,

      I think it did increase, yes. I wasn’t sure how, but I think SEO had a lot to do with it. I migrated myself, but there are people you can hire to do it for you. I asked around for hosting recommendations and then followed the instructions on their site. This eBook http://www.howtomovefrombloggertowordpress.com/ is really useful, and I know others use it too. But mostly I just Googled every question I had! It’s really quite simple.

  35. Sifet says:

    I think Pinterest is now also considered as one of the most important source of traffic. We should not relay on only on Facebook, Twitter and Google.

  36. Annie Logue says:

    This is a good reminder, because it really is basic: I just have to do it!

  37. I think its true that we need to be everywhere. And bonding with in and out of your niche is great! You meet so many new people and that way you don’t end up preaching to the choir all the time.My problem has always been I don’t know what the new places are! So I have no idea where to find them.Where do I go? Also I think Pinterest is up and rising I get a lot of traffic from there but I have no idea how to harness it or control it. I am one the few still on blogger and I know I need to switch but frankly the process confuses me and I have no idea how.Great Advice

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      I’m the same, the internet moves so fast I have trouble catching up and knowing where all the new places are!

  38. It is heartening to read about blogging success stories, particularly Australian ones. Well done.

    I agree that Yoast’s SEO plug-in is a wonder. Much of the (modest) traffic that The Tunnel gets to our satire blog is because of our ridiculously prominent placement on Google searches.

    Will have to play with Pinterest some more too – if only in the spirit of bloggerly doodling and procrastination!

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Oh thank you! Very nice of you to say.

      You can get anywhere on the internet with bloggerly doodling, and I hear even the most genius internet wonders procrastinate. That’s what I tell myself, anyway!

      PS I love the blog! Satire is my middle name…

  39. Oh yeah!! I think this is article very great and I will recommended it .Thanks for share

  40. Donna says:

    Hey Stacey – great post and glad to hear your blog is going so well (I presumed it was anyway!). Thanks for mentioning my site – and thanks for the tips! Pinterest rocks – I just checked my stats and it is now in my 1-2 highest referrers…. consistently!

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Ah Pinterest – such a great, free resource to send people to our blogs! What would we do without you. I also love your tips, as you know. You’re the cleverest x

  41. Phuong Le says:

    To be quite honest, I really dont care just about driving more traffic to my website. I bet it sounds contradictory, but its not. I want to double my website traffic, but I want it to be quality traffic.

  42. zimmy says:

    Some excellent points on how you doubled your website traffic in a short amount of time. I have been having some trouble getting over that traffic hump on my blog but we are slowly building higher daily traffic baselines. Hopefully, we will have gone from about 200 hits a day to between 750 – 1000 by the end of 2014.

  43. Loulou says:

    Wow, I’m going to get some of my crochet patterns up on Ravelry ’cause I see by taking a peek at your profile that aside from posting your 7 patterns, it has taken hardly any activity on your part at all to result in your most viewed posts coming from that site! And you only need to manage relationships with 9 friends there. Amazing. That is the kind of social networking success I’m looking for … little work involved in keeping it up to date but still reaping excellent rewards in the form of blog visits!

    The keeping up with the social networking part has been the hardest aspect of blogging for me, I say with my head hung down in shame at the fact that I don’t even have a Twitter count yet, and just began on Pinterest last year!

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Yes, I’m ashamed to say I’ve done hardly anything on Ravelry (I had two babies very close together, no time to do much else besides!) and they’ve been such a wonderful referrer. I only had three patterns on there until a month ago, so it was those three patterns that sent so much traffic. I think they got linked to aggregated sites of free pattern roundups, which helps when people google a certain pattern.

      Keeping up with social networking always needs a bit of effort, but the rewards are great. Say hi sometime if you see me on Twitter, once you get an account!

  44. ahsan says:

    i am really impressed by reading your success story.It encouraged me a lot. thanks a lot for sharing your great experience.I will also try to follow these golden principles

  45. Mark says:

    I really like the look of your blog. Did you design it yourself or use a theme? Thanks for sharing your tips.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Hi Mark! Thanks for your kind words. I commissioned an artist to create the header image. The rest of the site is a bit of a hodge-podge of things on the Lifestyle Child Theme on Genesis. Hope that helps!

  46. Ally says:

    I’ve been shunning a few social networks because they aren’t as popular but you have a point. I guess it will atleast make for less competition in that field!

  47. Wow this is just what I needed. Thanks Stacey. I still find SEO a bit of a mine field but am determined to crack it this year. I’m still on blogger and have been too scared to move to WP but I think that needs to go on my to do list for 2014 too. Xxx

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      don’t be scared! Once you do, SEO will be a cinch. You won’t need to know a thing :)

  48. Demetria says:

    Absolutely agree. Expanding your reach beyond your blog is a great way to go. Looks like freelancing paid off for you. In fact, that’s one of my proposed strategies for 2014. As for Pinterest, I’m really beginning to see the value of it even for biz-related site (a large percentage of my traffic comes from Pinterest). Honestly, I still need help with Facebook, but I’m counting on the other strategies to be most valuable for me.
    Thanks for this post.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Good luck this year! Have you tried reading Amy Porterfield’s site for Facebook help? It’s amazing.

  49. Brian Manon says:

    Great post. I agree 100% on the Pinterest part. Also note that Pinterest is not just for women many men are using Pinterest as well

  50. Steve Faber says:

    Stacey,

    Nice post!

    I’ve found building (and keeping it, hope to shout!) traffic boils down to 4 things

    Knowing your readers, what they want, and why, then over-delivering what they value
    Building real relationships – With your readers, other bloggers, advertisers, and customers
    Being Interesting – no explanation needed
    Consistency – Your readers want someone they can depend on

    Ace these, and you’ll do well.

    Oh, one more thing BACK EVERYTHING UP REGULARILY!!!

    I learned that lesson the hard way, when I lost my hard earned traffic to a blog implosion back in ’08. Don’t want that to happen to anyone else.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Yep, I agree – and I have a plugin for that too! If only we could get a plugin that makes us interesting, haha