Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Increasing Traffic to Your Blog: Part One: Setting the Stage

One of the most common questions asked by online writers and bloggers is “How do I increase traffic to my blog or article?” There are many people out there eager to sell you this information or to sell you a program claiming it will increase traffic with little effort on your part. Although effortlessly gaining blog traffic is every writer’s dream, it is just that—a dream.

Increasing traffic to your blog or articles requires work—at least if you want to maintain that traffic. We have all experienced the occasional boon of web traffic that disappears as soon as it appears. This is often the result of a random link placed on a popular site. Unfortunately, spur-of-the-moment links disappear and people move on quickly. Depending on that rogue link is a bit like playing the lottery. When you hit, you may hit big--but if you hold out hoping to hit the jackpot, you are likely to be disappointed.

Building traffic to your blog begins long before promoting your blog. It begins with your blog design and content.

Until you have designed an attractive and effective blog that contains valuable content for the reader, getting blog traffic really shouldn’t be your major concern. Sure, it feels great to know you have readers, but without good content to keep them coming back—it really doesn’t matter.

Let me walk you through the process of designing and building your blog so you will soon be in the position to focus your attention of gaining traffic to your blog.

I won’t pretend to be an expert in web design. I’m not. But, I do know a thing or two about what makes a blog look good. You do too, if you stop and think for a moment. For many bloggers failing to stop and think is their biggest obstacle. Instead of thinking like a reader, they get bogged down thinking about making money from adsense and end up with a blog that screams, “Click me! Click me!” but offers very little valuable information for the reader.

Determine the Focus of your Blog.
Ideally, the topic is something you feel passionate about and can write about comfortably on a regular basis. If you intend to monetize your blog, and I assume you do, the topic should have a good search volume, too. If readers do not search for the information you provide, there will be no traffic to worry about. For tips on using the Google Adwords Tool to determine search volume, see Finding Keywords.

Blog Layout and Templates
Choose a clean, professional template that complements the content of your blog. Although those darling puppies or cute fluttering butterflies may appeal to your senses, if you want to be taken seriously, lose the cute images. Readers form opinions about your blog before they begin to read the content. An attractive blog grabs the reader’s attention and directs them to the page.

Choose a layout for you blog that is easy for readers to navigate. Complicated blogs that require several clicks to access information often frustrate readers and send them elsewhere for the information they seek. Take advantage of page tabs and post archives to direct your reader to the appropriate information.

Color and Font
Select a color scheme that enhances your blog. Loud, bright colors may be your style, but softer colors that are easy on the eye often appeal to readers. Remember the focus of your blog is your content—not your creative flair--unless of course, that is the focus of your blog. Get feedback from other bloggers, view your blog on multiple browsers and take the time to view it objectively. How your blog looks is an important step in creating a blog that will draw traffic.

Before you begin to create content for your blog, jot down ideas for your blog posts. If you can’t come up with ten to 20 topics that pertain to the focus of your blog, consider whether you have chosen the right topic for your blog.

Create content with your reader in mind. Consider what your reader wants and needs and provide it. This is the time to use the best SEO practices, such as choosing the appropriate keywords for your article, creating titles and customizing your urls.

Although it may seem like using more ads will increase your chances of earning money from your blog, this is rarely the case. Two or three well-placed ads that provide a service to the read are more effective than a lot of ads your reader really isn’t interested in. If your blog looks like one big advertisement, readers will see you as out to make money, compromising your credibility.

Once you have set up an attractive blog, created a solid base of content and used the best SEO practices to make that content searchable, you are ready to begin the task of gaining traffic to your blog. Part two of this article will address ways to promote your blog and gain traffic. In the meantime, take the time to tweak your existing blogs, or design new blogs, with your readers in mind, so you will be in a position to promote your blog.

No comments: