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How I Overlooked a 1000 Visitor a Day Source of Traffic [And What I Did to Grow it to 3000 Visits a Day]

Last week I was digging around in my Google Analytics stats and drilling down to look particularly at sources of traffic to my photography tips site.

I noticed a new source of readers that has been creeping up in terms of how much traffic it sends. Here’s the chart from the last few months.

new-traffic-source.png

It started as a trickle, but as you can see, in the last month there have been days on which traffic from this source has spiked up to over 2000 unique visitors. Even on an average day we’re up over 1000.

While it’s not the biggest source of traffic to the site by any means, it was a bit of a surprise and made me realize that I’ve not been as diligent in checking referral traffic sources as I once was.

Referrers are key

Before I reveal the source I want to emphasize my point: keep a watch on your referral stats. The source of this traffic doesn’t really relate to many of you who are operating in different niches, but the principle does. Be diligent in watching where traffic is coming from because there are almost always ways of growing traffic from these unexpected sources.

  • If the source is another blog, you can build the relationship with the other blogger.
  • If the source is a social network, you can get more active in that network, consider putting sharing buttons on your site, and educate your current readers about how to use it.
  • If the source is a search engine, you can look at what you’re doing right on that post SEO-wise and try to replicate it. You can also tweak the posts getting the traffic to make them rank even higher.
  • Whatever the source, you can look at the content that’s working out and produce more of it.

There are any number of ways of exponentially increasing growing sources of traffic, but if you don’t know about them, you will never be able to take action!

So what was the source of the traffic?

I know some of you skipped down here without reading the above section. You really should go back and read over it … but I’ll tell you now if you promise you will!

The traffic is coming from Pinterest.

Pinterest is a growing social bookmarking/network site (they call themselves a Virtual Pin Board) that is particularly popular in some niches like home decoration, weddings, craft, fashion, food, and more.

The traffic has literally arrived without me doing anything at all. I didn’t have an active account on Pinterest until the last week or so when I set up an account (connect with me here). I haven’t promoted the site there, or used their buttons (until this last week when I put it on a few of our hotter articles). The growth has been purely organic. I guess photography is one of those niches that Pinterest users are interested in!

Since finding out about Pinterest I’ve begun to participate there a little more myself, and have added a few share buttons to some pages that have been doing well for us. I’m taking my time as I don’t want to do anything spammy, but even since I’ve known about it and participated on this low level, I’ve seen traffic rise from a spike of 2000 or so visits in a day to over 3000—lucky I checked my stats!

As I say, this isn’t about Pinterest (although I’m sure some of you will find it fun and useful)—it’s about being diligent about your metrics, always being on the lookout for what’s growing, and working out how you can position yourself to be able to leverage that.

What Is Your Blog’s URL Structure?

Earlier today I had conversations with two bloggers about URL structures on their WordPress blogs, and I thought it might make an interesting community discussion.

What is your blog’s URL structure?

Here on ProBlogger, I use one that has a combination of the date and post title by default: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/02/17/5-sales-email-myths-that-are-costing-you-money/

While on my photography blog I’ve chosen to use just the post title (without dates):

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/shooting-with-available-light-lifestyle-portraiture

My reasoning for these choices was pretty simple. For starters, I wanted words in the URLs because it was good for search engine optimization, and because word-heavy URLs tends to make more sense for readers when they’re looking at them—more sense, anyway, than the WordPress default, which is just numbers. Also:

  • ProBlogger information does date reasonably quickly. Some of the technology and tools I was talking about back in 2006 aren’t really relevant for today, so I figured having dates on posts and signaling that in URLs made sense.
  • dPS information is a little more timeless, as we talk more about principles of photography rather than specific gear (although that has changed a little since we started). I also update and repost old posts from time to time with a current date, so having the date in the URL was complicated and confusing.

So what about you? What’s your URL structure? Do you include dates, keywords, or perhaps leave it on the WordPress default?

What Do You Do with Posts When You Change Your Opinion?

A few days ago, personal development blogger Alex Shalman sent me a question that I thought might be a good discussion starter. He asked:

I feel like after many years of blogging that my opinions have changed. That’s natural, and in most cases it’s okay to have that archive of articles as a track record.

On the other hand, now that I’m in dental school, I don’t necessarily want readers to arrive at an old post and think “this is advice from a doctor,” because I wasn’t at the time.

So here’s the question: what do you do with posts in your archives that you’ve changed your opinion on?

  • Do you go back and update posts with your new opinion?
  • Do you simply delete them?
  • Do you write new posts with your new opinions and link to them from the old posts?
  • Do you simply let them sit there as a record of what you used to think, unedited?

Interested to hear your thoughts on this one!

Premium WordPress Plugins – What are Your Favourites?

Yesterday I asked readers to suggest their favourite free WordPress plugins. The response was great and I’ll pull together a compilation of the most mentioned ones in the coming weeks.

However I’d also love to get your suggestions on the most useful Premium WordPress Plugins.

Over the last few years we’ve seen more and more premium (or paid) WordPress plugins released. At first many bloggers were skeptical about paying for plugins but of late I’ve noticed a bit of a shift and more and more bloggers are willing to pay for quality premium plugins.

If you’re a blogger who has forked out a few dollars for a premium WordPress plugin – I’d love to get your feedback on which ones you’ve found most useful.

So which are your favourite Premium WordPress Plugins – and Why?

Free WordPress Plugins – What are Your Favourites?

It has been a while since we had a survey on the topic of WordPress plugins so today I’d like to kick one off. What are your favourite FREE WordPress Plugins?

Try to keep it to your top 5 so that things don’t get out of hand – but please share which free WordPress plugins are most useful to you in comments below.

If you have some premium/paid ones that you want to suggest – please hold off on sharing those as I’ll run a post later in the week asking for your feedback on those.

So – what are you favourite free WordPress Plugins – and Why? Over to you!

What Was Your Biggest Traffic Day?

I’m preparing a presentation on ‘Finding Readers for your Blog’ which I’ll be giving at the Melbourne Blog Training Day next Tuesday.

It’s got me thinking back to some of the bigger days of traffic that I’ve had on my own blogs over the years and I thought I’d open up some discussion on the topic to see if we can identify any trends.

What was your biggest day of Traffic (or ‘days’ if you can think of more than one) and what happened to make them occur?

I asked this on Twitter yesterday and it was interesting to see the responses. Some of the reasons giving included:

  • controversial posts
  • creative posts
  • random links from bigger sites
  • social bookmarking events (getting popular on Digg or Delicious)
  • ranking high for terms in Google around big news events
  • breaking a scoop news story

I’m sure we’ll see some of these themes in your experiences but know that there will be other themes too.

For me there have been many bigger than normal days over the last 8 years. Two that spring to mind include:

  • My Six Figure Blogging Moment – I had been blogging for a while and suddenly realised that I was on track for over $100,000 in a year earnings from my blogs. The first time I mentioned it was in an interview that I did. I didn’t really think about the implications of talking about it at the time but that interview went viral – as did my followup post. What kicked it all off was a mention on Slashdot (which at the time was equivalent to getting on the front page of Digg).
  • Front page of Yahoo (sort of) – then there was the day that a post on my photography blog was featured by one of Yahoo’s tech blogs. That in itself didn’t sent much traffic but when that particular Yahoo blog’s post was featured on the front page of Yahoo for 4-5 hours one day I saw traffic hit my blog like I’ve never seen traffic before or since. I don’t remember the exact numbers but I saw more traffic from that 4-5 hours than I’d normally see in a week of traffic.

So now it’s over to you. What Was Your Biggest Traffic Day and Why did it Happen?

What Metric or Statistic do You most Watch on your Blog?

I tweeted this question a few days back and the variation in responses was quite interesting:

What metric or statistic do you most watch on your blog?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this:

  • for some it’ll be mainly about traffic – for some it is visitor numbers, for others it will be page views.
  • other bloggers are more interested in subscriber numbers – against there is variation here, RSS and/or Email subscribers.
  • some bloggers are more regularly checking the bottom line – earnings. This might be affiliate earnings, advertising earnings or even the sales of their own products.
  • another group of bloggers are more interested in reader engagement – so comment numbers, ReTweet counts or Facebook ‘likes’ might grab their attention
  • some bloggers are more focused upon the social media space and are monitoring Twitter or Facebook follower/friend numbers or how often they are replied to or interacted with.
  • other bloggers get more into the more detailed stats – looking at things like bounce rate, time on site, page views per visit, referrals (where traffic is arriving from) or looking at what the most popular posts are doing in terms of traffic.
  • further still, other bloggers are more into SEO and are always analyzing how many links are coming into their blog, how their blog ranks for certain keywords etc.

Of course there are more things to watch – but for you, what’s the #1 metric that you tend to be drawn to throughout your day or week? And why?

For me it varies a little depending upon what I’m focusing upon.

For example – during a product launch I’m obviously looking more at sales of eBooks, conversion numbers and at testing sales pages.

On a normal day I’m probably checking traffic numbers and watching for spikes in traffic so that I can take quick action to leverage them. I tend to check income streams a little less often (once a day) during a ‘normal’ day.

Further Reading: 17 Statistics to Monitor on Your Blog

Do You Plan Your Blog Posts?

Time for a little reader discussion – this one inspired by a Tweet by @JessVanDen who asked:

“do you have a regular posting structure, or just post things as you think of them/find them. i.e. regular features or not?”

I’d like to widen the topic slightly and see if readers do any kind of planning of blog posts ahead of time – or whether they just blog as they sit down each day to blog?

My Answer – I try to do a bit of both each week – I look at the week ahead most Mondays and put together a bit of a plan of attack for the week – but I also tend to swap things around during the week as inspiration hits. Sometimes I’ll add extra posts into the schedule and on other occasions I might swap the plan around and post things in a different order.

What about you – do you plan your blog posts ahead of time?

29% of ProBlogger Readers Outsource Part of Their Blogging

Earlier in the year I asked readers whether they outsourced any part of their blogging in a poll. By outsourcing I was talking about ‘paying‘ someone else to do something on your blog.

Here are the results after 2195 responses.

outsource-blogging.png

I was actually a little surprised that the number was so small because in the introduction to the poll I included things like ‘blog design’ in what could be included in outsourcing.

Here are the types of things that those who said ‘yes’ said that they outsourced:

  • tech/managing the backend (updates, plugins etc)
  • product creation/design
  • writing of posts – staff writers
  • writing of posts – ghost writing
  • blog/logo design
  • marketing
  • comment moderation
  • SEO
  • administrative tasks
  • editing/proofing posts
  • selling advertising