Dave Sifry on Making Your Blog Popular

David Sifry BigDave Sifry gives a few basic tips in next month’s Wired on how to get more traffic to your blog.

It’s pretty basic stuff but has a few good points (his headings are in bold – my thoughts after each with links to where you can read more on each):

  1. React quickly – IF your blog is news related or talking about current events or any other time specific topic this is key. I operate in a few product related niches and know if I can have a post out within hours of a product announcement that I stand a good chance of being linked to by other sites and being first to be indexed by Search Engines and other indexing sites. It also helps you get credibility and loyal readers who want to know the latest news and get Scoops.
  2. Make your posts easy to read – I had dinner with a reader last night and one of the things he told me that he likes about my blogging is that he finds it accessible. He said it was like sitting in a cafe with a coffee and chatting with me. I’m not saying that my style of writing is how everyone should write – but it’s always been my goal to write in an accessible style and I think it’s paid off. So write in a style that’s easy to read but also a form that is digestible (which includes thinking about things like scannable content, using lists etc)
  3. Link, link, link! – Dave’s right in what he says about this being somewhat counter intuitive. Many bloggers guard their outbound links and only do it when they have to in the hope that it’ll keep people on their blogs. While there are some circumstances where outbound links will be less appropriate than others – in general I think linking to others is a worthwhile way of participating in the wider conversation – which has the flow on benefit of traffic. Read more on the times when outbound links are and are not appropriate.
  4. Optimize for search engines – While you never want to lose site of the fact that you’re writing for humans, it’s also worth noting that most people find content online at one time or another via search engines. As a result to ignore basic SEO principles you’re limiting the potential to be found by those actively searching for it.
  5. Post, post, post! – There’s no need to go overboard and post just for the sake of it – but keep your posting level up to the highest rate that you can sustain without sacrificing on quality. The key is establishing regular frequency and keeping momentum going on your blog. Read more on whether Posting Frequency Matters.

Dave’s pointers are fairly entry level and are tips that most bloggers have heard before – but the reality is that it’s often the basics things that work best.

Also check out my post with 19 strategies for finding readers for your blog.

Effective Strategies for Driving Traffic to Your Website

SEOmoz Blog has a worthwhile read titled 10 Remarkably Effective Strategies for Driving Traffic which explores the following methods of traffic generation:

#10 – Targeting Unmonetized Searches
#9 – Creating Controversy
#8 – Maps & Mashups
#7 – Event Coverage
#6 – Top Ten Lists
#5 – Online Tools
#4- Graphic & Web Design
#3 – Leveraging Social Networks
#2 – Blogging & Blog Comments
#1 – Reporting Remarkable News
#0 – Offering Something Incredible

All good common sense tips. randfish gives the ingredients, process, results and examples of each in his article.

Effective Blog Architecture

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things for me as a professional blogger with decent depth in my archives – some really good content and some (perhaps more) not so great content – is figuring out the best way to present it. Blog architecture is a challenging topic since most blogs are structured pretty much identically.

Sometimes concepts are presented that just smack of “obvious”. Chris Pearson presented one such concept today. In his view, most of his readers (and I would venture most of my readers and most of Darren’s readers) consume blogs via RSS and RSS is reverse chronological by its nature. By default, most blogs are also ordered reverse chronologically.

Chris instead challenges his readers to think outside the box and avoid being redundant. If RSS is already reverse-chronological, why do the same thing on the web? Why not take a more nebulous approach to blog presentations – perhaps placing the “best of” on the home page or taking a Digg approach and letting entries with more comments migrate up to the front page.

The second approach is an idea that I had but would likely work best on a niche blog as opposed to personal blogs. The idea that mostly niche readers will read niche blogs suggests that a blogger would not get unrelated “junk entries” that garner a lot of comments on the front page.

I’m interested in hearing different ideas on presenting blog data in an alternate way. What are your thoughts?

The Ethics of Profile Peddling

Profile Peddling. I don’t know that it’s really a word but I don’t really honestly know what else to call it. It is the practice of opening up accounts at supporting services such as Flickr or MySpace in order to funnel traffic to a blog or website. It’s been a common practice of search engine optimizing firms for a long time.

SEOMoz writes on this topic today and raises an interesting ethical question: Is it unethical to use this kind of “profile peddling” to enhance a bloggers own profile? The question is further complicated when you think that an unhappy competitor could completely infiltrate your web presence with negative publicity by using profile peddling to funnel negative publicity your way.

What do you think?

Do you Advertise Your Blog

Do you advertise your blog?

I’ve noticed quite a few bloggers experimenting with advertising on AdWords, Adbrite (aff), BlogAds and Text Link Ads (aff) over the last few months.

Perhaps it’s a symptom of the massive increases in numbers of blogs out there competing for readers – or perhaps it’s a symptom of the increased focus on blogging with a commercial edge – or perhaps it’s a result of something else.

Whatever it is, it’s happens more and more and I’m interested to hear the experiences of those who are running ads in the hope of bring in traffic.

Here’s a few questions for you to answer (feel free to answer anonymously if you wish and to tackle one or all of them):

  • Why do you advertise your blog?
  • What ad programs do you use?
  • What impact has it had?
  • What tips would you give others wanting to do the same?

My own experience with advertising my blogs is reasonably limited.

I have experimented with using both AdWords and BlogAds – especially in the launch phase of new blogs – but have not had massive success with it to this point.

I’ll write a post in the coming days with a few tips that I’d advise bloggers wanting to advertise their blogs but would be interested to hear the experiences of those who’ve been doing it a little more seriously than I am.

How to Increase a Blog’s Page Views

There is often a lot of talk in ‘how to blog’ type articles on increasing visitors numbers to a blog there is another statistic that is important to some bloggers also – page views.

Most statistics packages measure both for you – ‘visitors’ (or unique visitors) measures the number of people, but ‘page views’ measures the number of pages on your blog that those visitors look at.

The number of page views per visitor varies quite significantly from blog to blog (based on many factors) but there are a number of reasons why bloggers might wish to increase this statistic including:

  • Stickiness – the more pages a reader views the increased chance of them coming back are.
  • Revenue – more and more of the ads that we are running on your blogs are impression based ads (ie the more times the ads are seen the more that is earned).

Whether you want to increase page views or not is something that different bloggers will place as a different priority, depending upon the goals of their blog, but if it is something you’d like to work on here are 14 tips on how to increase page views:

[Read more…]

54 Ways to Get Traffic to Your Blog

Seth writes 54 ways to get traffic to your blog.

What do you agree or disagree with? What would you add?

How to Find Traffic for a New Blog

Yaro’s put together a good post on How To Launch A Brand New Blog that will be of use to PreBloggers wanting to think through their first day or two of blogging. Here’s part of his great advice:

“One of the problems new bloggers of today face is the hype generated by established successful blogs. You read stories about bloggers earning thousands of dollars per day, with hundreds of thousands of visitors, huge exposure and big profits. Bloggers enter the blogosphere chasing big goals. Once their blog is set up and they have made their first few posts they stop and wonder why nothing is happening. The impatient bloggers head out looking for quick fixes – methods that promise huge amounts of traffic in a few days or weeks.

The reality is you have to pay your dues for success online just as much as you do in the real world. Nearly all big time bloggers have a history of hard and consistent work, only as a snapshot in time *after* something great has been built does it look easy.”

Solid Advice from Yaro there.

In my experience the only real way to fast track a launch is to leverage traffic from somewhere else.

Option 1 – This is a little easier if you already have a web presence and the ability to directly influence current readers (especially if your known in the area your new blog is about).

Option 2 – If you don’t already have such an influence your options are more limited and things might be a little slower to grow. One such option is to pay for traffic via some form of Advertising. You might try AdWords, BlogAds or direct ad buys from other relevant bloggers. If you’re smart with your ads you can actually do quite well from this – but of course it costs you – cold hard cash.

Option 3 – If you don’t have direct influence or you are not willing to pay for traffic another option is to leverage the traffic of others via the links they give you. This takes time as you build relationships with other bloggers and as a result of producing quality content gain traction for your blog from them linking to you. While a slower start, it’s this last option that probably has the bigger lasting impact as you not only bring new readers in but also have a little link love that continues to do it’s magic into the future in terms of helping your search engine presence.

Ultimately all three options are unlikely to bring you overnight success and will take sustained work. Each will not work if you don’t have quality content that meets a need of potential readers.

How to Grow Your Blog’s Readership

Guy Kawasaki has a useful post 10 lessons he’s learnt in How to Evangelize a Blog over his first 120 days of blogging. Here’s his list with a few of my own comments (his is the ‘bold’ (and he has more to say under each) mine is the rest):

1. Think ‘book’ not ‘diary’ – I like the analogy between book and diary. The crux of Guy’s argument is that books are meant to be read and diaries are more spontaneous, unplanned, unstructured writings. I’m a big believer in planning your blog on multiple fronts (ie not just planning your upcoming content but overall direction, marketing of it etc). While some diary style blogs can be quite successful (for what they are) most of the highly trafficked blogs have some element of focus and well defined niche. If you’re writing in a business or entrepreneurial style then you will want to think through strategy (more on this in my strategic blogging series).

2. Answer the little man – Guy’s seeing little people sitting on his shoulder critiquing what he writes (as you do) but his point is solid – be your own critic, don’t just write for the sake of it, produce content that matters. Each post you write has the potential to add or subtract value to your blog and it’s worth asking yourself which it is before hitting publish.

3. Collect email addresses – This is something I go on about from time to time and is something I’m seeing a lot of the top bloggers out there utilizing. There are many ways to do it ranging from starting an email newsletter (getting permission from readers to highlight your work) to using other email lists you might already have (be a little careful with this as it’s open to abuse).

4. Collect links for blog rolling – One of the aspects of blogging that has led to it’s viral like growth as a medium is it’s interconnectedness. Bloggers linking to other bloggers helps everyone and fast tracks you getting noticed by others. I’m not a big fan of the blogroll myself and these days my preference os to be a generous linker within individual posts. I find blogrolls can become difficult to manage, actually send limited amounts of traffic, can become somewhat political and at popularity content like. However linking within posts to other blogs seems a much more organic and natural way to link to others. I find it also has more impact in terms of the traffic you can send which has the potential to not only get attention but give your readers quality and relevant content.

5. Scoop stuff – Getting a scoop is another fast track to readership. Break a big story and have the right A-list blog link to you and you’ll find not only a lot of traffic come directly from them but indirectly from the many smaller blogs that will link up as a result. The other benefit of it beyond the initial traffic and inbound links is the respect and street credibility that can come from breaking a big story. I find that once you break one story you often get others broken directly to you by ‘sources’. Once this happen the snowball effect takes over and you can build a reputation for being someone in the know. More on Scoop Blogging.

6. Supplement other bloggers with a followup entries – Another aspect of blogging that I love is it’s conversational nature. Dialogue is at the heart of blogging on many levels including within comments on posts but also between blogs as they build upon each others ideas with posts. Take the work of another person and add your own spin on it either on their blog, via email with them or on your own blog and you enter the conversation. Once you’re a part of the conversation it’s amazing what can flow from it.

7. Acknowledge and respond to commenters – very important but a real challenge when your blog grows past a certain level. When someone goes out of their way to add something to the conversation you start by leaving an opinion, question, critique or suggestion it’s a powerful thing to acknowledge this in some way. This might mean leaving a comment in response but could also be a personal email response (I find this is incredibly effective) or even a visit to their blog with a comment on one of their posts (even more of an impact). As Guy says, this is not always easy once you’ve got a lot of traffic but is important to do at some level even after you’ve succeeded in growing an audience. If you don’t use your comments section, why would anyone else?

8. Ask for help – I discovered early in my own blogging that despite it’s reputation for snarkiness the blogging community can actually be an incredibly generous and supportive place. Ask for help and you could be amazed by what results. I find that people respond well to humility and to ask for help in some aspect of your blogging (from spreading the word, to helping with some technical problem you have, to helping you compile content etc) actually gives your readers a sense of ownership – something that has many benefits.

9. Be bold – Guy says to speak your mind as a blogger and not hold back from saying what you think. This is true and one aspect of ‘boldness’ that I’d encourage. Of course you want to consider what you say when you’re writing in what can be seen as an aggressive or attacking tone. My own approach to blogging is to attempt to find constructive things to say instead of just attacking others. Another aspect of boldness that is worth mentioning is that while humility is usually responded to well in blogging circles that there is often a need for a little self promotion. I’m not arguing that you need to aggressively sell yourself in a hype filled marketing blitz, but I’ve found that it can be occasionally beneficial to give readers a reason to read you by showing them your wares.

10. Make it easy to join up – Once again Guy’s on the money here by encouraging bloggers to use tools that help readers to stay connected. RSS feeds, email newsletters, RSS to email subscription services, encouraging readers to bookmark pages etc are all examples of this.

Found via an email from Dave