A blogger’s nightmare is losing traffic. Starting a blog is easy, but getting consistent traffic to the blog is what every blogger is longing for. If you too are one of those bloggers who have a new blog & want to get traffic this post is for you. By the end of 2019, I had around 10 blogs of the different niches of which I was regularly operating 4 blogs.
I knew what I need to do but I had no time to write for those blogs. I looked for people who can write but when I checked their work, it wasn’t what I was looking for. All their work focussed on SEO and none of them really optimized for humans & hence the traffic.
That’s the problem.
Most of the people don’t focus on traffic, they focus on everything else other than that. If you hire an SEO, he/she will do some magic to make the page optimized for search engine.
On the flip side, some people focus only on traffic irrespective of the ways they’ve got that traffic. That’s a gamble, nothing optimized for traffic from humans.
With this post, I will share the fundamentals of gaining traffic to your blog & then share a bunch of tactics that can get you the traffic to your blog & retain it, of course without hurting the guidelines laid by search engines like Google.
Without further ado, let’s check this out.
Why should be monitoring the traffic on your website/blog?
The biggest problem that the digital marketing is solving is the ability to measure the efforts & money spent on advertising on traditional media such TV & newspapers.
There’s no other reason at the bottom of the intention to choose digital marketing over traditional marketing. Of course there are other reasons such as reach & cost effectiveness, but at the foundation level, there’s nothing other than ability of measure even the minutest of details.
That being said, here are a bunch of reasons why you should be measuring the traffic to your website/blog.
#1 You can flag trends & behavior of users based on the existing data
If you don’t have a ton of data, which I’m sure isn’t the case. No matter how small, there will be some amount of data. You can put that data to work & project trends & user-behavior so that you can direct time, money & effort in the required direction.
#2 Optimize the sources that are sending the referral traffic
I’m a big fan of making informed decisions and the data sitting in Google Analytics is what helps me do that. Go to your Google Analytics to find the source of traffic.
GA Dashboard > Acquisition > All traffic Channels to find the source of traffic as show in the image below:
As you can see, organic search is sending the highest to traffic to one the blogs. This blog doesn’t go heavy on social channels hence the referral traffic isn’t that great & considering the brand it is among it’s user, direct traffic is awesome.
Seeing this chart, I can easily make a decision that I need to strong arm my social media game in the future to build a loyal audience for the blog.
#3 Sneak peak on customer’s journey
If you’re a freelancer who’s managing an ecommerce site this one is very crucial for you. The most important KPI for a ecommerce site is sales. if a user is dropping after adding a product to the cart, it’s an abandoned sale. You’re the guy to fix this.
Checkout the behavior flow under behavior section in Google Analytics. This will show exactly where the users are coming from & dropping off. Once you have this data, you can fix it & improve sales.
#4 Make more sense of the data to arrive at the customer’s interest
When you take that, flip it around, wear a customer’s hat & look at the data again, you’ll start seeing a new look of it. Data from analytics can tell you what are the interests of your audience. The Big G isn’t only about knowing about you, it has a ton of data to offer.
Go to GA Dashboard > Audience > Interest & Overview to see a report that looks like the image below:
Now I not only get an eye to detail with such reports but I can also come up with content ideas to cater these categories.
#5 To define content & engagement plan
We’ve seen in the previous steps that what data can do. You can use that data to create a content plan (pretty much any piece of data will point towards the right direction of content creation) & based on the content you can expect the type of engagement from your audience.
You’re already one step ahead of them by orchestrating their response by serving what they need. It’s magic!
Best practices to read & understand the website traffic?
While you’re looking for the data in any analytics software such as Google Analytics, you should be clear of how you’re gonna make sense of the data. One problem with data is it isn’t fully accurate since it’s gathered from several third-party sources. So it is important for you to be accurate with your plan.
Here are some best practices to read & understand the traffic of your website:
#1 Decide what you’re looking for?
The first thing you should be clear of is knowing what you’re looking for. This is because you will waste a lot of time once you start digging the rabbit hole of data. Numbers are endless & useless if you don’t know what you’re looking for. If you’re aware of what you should be looking for, you’ll end up wasting hours together.
Begin with the outcome you want to achieve, for example, you can begin with the sales you’re generating organically ,i.e. by the traffic coming from search engines. Such specific things are perfect start for looking up the data.
#3 Double check on third party tools
I use Google Analytics & Search console to learn more about the traffic on my blogs (& my client’s) but recently I encountered an anomaly. One of blog had totally different website traffic data on Google Analytics & on search console.
The problem was in the configuration of my blog on search console. It wasn’t verified from the backend & hence the data in search console was almost always zero.
That’s when I realized to check the traffic data on third party tools to diagnose if there’s something wrong. Since the blog was pretty new, it was normal to have zero traffic & that’s exactly what created the confusion.
#4 Use Google Tag manager
Google Tag Manager is a convenient way of using multiple codes in one place (GTM) & connecting your website using only one code. That is, you can install only one code of GTM on your website & connect services like Google Analytics, Google Ads & third-party apps like Hotjar to send relevant data coming from the GTM tag installed on your website. This reduces the speed load time of your web pages since there are less fewer tags installed on your website.
Since you will be connecting various tracking software by adding their respective tags in your website, it’s always easier to use one tag of Google Tag manager on your website that delivers the data to individual scripts that you’ve connected in the backend of GTM. Instead of adding all the scripts on your website making it load slow.
#5 Don’t celebrate unique visitors
Okay, you can celebrate but don’t count on it. Unique visitors are the one who visit your page just once in their life time. You don’t want that. You need people visiting your pages several times increasing the chances of spending money on your product/service or an ad/affiliate if you’re a blogger.
Sure unique visitors is an important metric but I want you to check the traffic coming in as unique visitors & where are they dropping off. Optimize those pages for retaining them on your website. You can do that by internally linking relevant pages so that the visitors are retained.
You can also incorporate push notifications, email marketing and social posts to announce new posts or updated posts so that people keep visiting again & again.
How to diagnose a drop in website traffic?
Okay, now you’re armed with understanding that how to read your data & how to optimize it to multiply it. But still you’re losing traffic, what’s gone wrong? Here are some ways to diagnose the traffic to figure out the probable reasons of the drop in website traffic.
#1 Check for Google updates
Google makes over 700 major & minor updates every year, this means there are at least 2 changes every single day. One of the biggest reasons for a dip in traffic is a recent Google algorithm. Follow this account on Twitter where all the announcements are made every time the search algorithm is updated.
They even share a detailed blog post sharing an estimate of the percentage of sites that will be effected, how to recover if your site gets a dip & lot of content around it.
#2 Focus on your On-Page SEO
You can’t control off-page & to some extent technical SEO. But what you can 100% control is on page SEO. As part of on page SEO you can take care of meta tags, Image SEO, internal linking, bounce rate, keyword optimization & site speed to begin with.
It’s very easy to fail at on page SEO just stuffing keywords into your webpage to alert search engines that your webpage is not worth being ranked on the SERPs.
#3 Check the infrastructure of your web hosting company
When I started out my journey, I caught up in a poor web hosting company. Just when my subscription was about to expire, my site got hacked & I had to suffer the loss in terms of content that was rocking at #1 position.
The point I’m trying to make is you can fix a lot of things related to traffic just by ensuring that your web hosting company or your plan is adequate enough to withstand that traffic. So make sure you have industry standards of web hosting, if your pocket permits, go for premium web hosting like Kinsta or WP engine to never skip a beat in terms of traffic. After years of blogging, if there’s one thing that I have learned it is investing in good web hosting. It saves a lot of time, money & energy. It’s an investment, not an expense.
#4 Check the bounce rate
While creating quality content for your audience, many bloggers tend to forget that their average bounce is increasing. They’re usually blind sided by quantity over quality and that’s exactly what’s behind the increase in bounce rate.
Bounce rate is every time a user bounces off of your page soon after they land because they didn’t find what they were looking for in first glance. This is also called pogo sticking.
High bounce rate tells the algorithm that the page isn’t useful for the end user (they bouncing off is the proof of it) & hence the algorithm buries your webpage under pages that have less bounce rate (at least in this context) or better content quality (in terms of helpfulness) on the whole.
You can fix this by interlinking, creating quality posts that actually answer queries of your target audience & more.
#5 Check backlinks to your site
(Backlinks can be a reason of dip in traffic. Here’s why.)
There are two things that happen when you have backlinks. First, either you’ve built backlinks while living under a rock without realizing the real significance of it. You’ve built it because you think having backlinks will give you the traffic you’re looking for.
Second, you’ve not really focused on backlinks & some spammer has linked to either of your web pages only to get your blog to penalize for having spammy backlinks. (Yes! there’s a thing for real)
If you find out that your blog has a lot of backlinks from a spammy site, you can use this tool from Google to mark those links as spam & inform Google to not penalize your blog. If you have never used the tool check out this official guide from Google & other resources as well.
This leads to second most interesting part of this post. Tools.
Tools to track & understand your website traffic?
I’m not a big fan of tools, because I think the tools steal away my creativity if not used being self-aware or vigilant. However, I will share tools that don’t steal anything away from you but make your job easier.
#1 Google Analytics
A free that tells you pretty much everything about your website. There’s no competition to what Google Analytics provides. Just by adding a simple tracking code, Google Analytics will share a ton of data about every single user that lands of one of your webpages.
Everything that user does, the behavior, the time spent of pages etc. You will find every data that helps you make informed decision regarding planning content marketing efforts in GA. However, this is restricted to your own site. You can’t do competitor research on GA.
#2 Google Search Console
Another favourite tool that I use more than GA is GSC, formerly known as Google Webmaster tool. Google search console data shares the search engine’s data of your webpages.
The impressions your pages get on search engines so that you can optimize for & rank for those keywords as well. You can keep doing this to rank for more and more keywords increasing the odds of ranking at the top. This is never ending, especially if you regularly create content that keeps indexing.
This is the exact reason why SEO is never-ending process.
My goto tool for keyword research. I have a paid plan, but I have been using it since the tool was absolutely free & had all the features that paid plan has.
You can research for keywords, find top pages & keywords that your competition is ranking for, backlinks report to find opportunities for your pages. You can also find content ideas based on the seed keyword you put into the tool. One of my favourite feature of Ubersuggest is similar websites. You can put your competitor’s URL & find the similar sites so that keep an eye on their moves & content to keep up with the game.
Another tool that you can leverage is SEO analyzer. With this you can not only dig into your competitors but you can also find faults in your own website. You need to fix those faults to take the SEO of your blog to the next level.
Another tool that does way more than simple competitor research. There are 40+ tools you can use to do more for your blog. Backlinks gaps analysis, content optimization based on on-page SEO variables, paid keyword data, affiliate keywords optimization, to name a few.
Now the part which you’ve been waiting for, “How the heck should I increase traffic on my blog, Shubham?”
Let’s see those.
Increase website traffic without breaking the guidelines of Google (or any search engines)
Most underrated & equally effective way to get free traffic to your web pages. All you have to do is internally link relevant pages in the pages that are already getting traffic from search engines. This will ensure that the new pages are crawled by the web crawler & then get indexed. Before you start getting organic traffic to the newer pages from search engines, you will get traffic coming from the pages that are already getting traffic from the search engine.
Email is second most closest level you can get to your audience. It’s almost as if you’re right infront of them talking about your new posts. People might ignore the search results, they might ignore the push notifications, but chances of ignoring an email with the link to the new post is very low. Newsletters are one of the biggest source of referral traffic for many B2B companies, they’re doing it because it works.
#3 Social media
Social media is the first place I advise my clients to get active on. Pick any social media platform, you will have a audience ready to consume your content. You just have make sure you get in front of the right audience by engaging with the right people.
Since the platforms are already a bit noisy, you will have to strike the conversation in comments & DMs to get people talking. Once you start doing that, you will see engagement sky rocket. Social media is all about networking with real humans like you’d do offline. You get to know people & in return they will engagement with your content & this ripples to a huge audience eventually.
Ads aren’t for everyone, especially if you’re looking for traffic in the initial stage. However, if you want to try something wile, PPC ads on search & social is very helpful. You can target similar audience that of your competition to begin with, in case you don’t have any following right now.
If you even have 100-200 followers, you can target similar people like your existing audience. This will give you initial boost you need to get the ball rolling.
#5 Optimize for CTR
Search engine page results are changing every second. What you get as results for a keyword will not be same for me for that same keyword. The search algorithm is personalizing the results based on the information it has about the user & several other ranking factors (200 ranking factors + 50 variations of each of those ranking factors).
This means you will have to catch the attention of the users on the SERPs themselves. This can be done by optimizing for Click-through rate (CTR). If the #2 result on the SERP is getting more clicks than #1, what do you think the search algorithm is going to do next time when someone searches for the same keyword? Obviously, the results will be swapped, #2 will become #1, and vice versa.
#6 On-page SEO
Out of all types of SEO, on-page SEO is the one that you can control the most. As part of on-page SEO, you can optimize the pages for keywords by covering the topic and not just stuffing keywords. You can also implement structured data to help the search engine understand more about your web pages.
Structured data has been around for as long as I can remember, but I’m not aware of too many blogs that have structured data. It’s tedious & requires the help of developers to implement the structured data on your blog. Internal linking is yet another underrated thing that you can do as part of on-page SEO.
#7 Long-tail keywords
Unconventional & unorthodox way to get traffic is target long tail keywords. This comes with a downside of low search volume but the conversions are way too high. Furthermore, targeting long tail doesn’t mean your pages won’t be ranking for short-tail keywords.
Search engines will rank your pages for every possible query the page matches with. So there’s nothing to worry about losing the traffic by targeting the long tail keywords. The plus point of targeting long tail keywords is you get in front of very specific people who’re desperately looking for solution & are ready to pay if required. Basically, these are high converting prospects.
#8 Guest blogging
Al though guest blogging has lost it’s edge with rise of platforms like medium & Quora, but guest blogging is still very helpful to build authority. I want you to look at guest blogging as a source of building authority & not just as a source of traffic.
Let me tell you a logical reason. No publisher would want the traffic on their blog to go away just because a guest blogger decided to write a post that links back to their post. Would you allow this? I wouldn’t. I’d want the visitors to stay on my blog for as long as possible.
Almost all blogs that allow guest blogging don’t allow linking back to your site, i.e. all the links are nofollow so there’s no point. However, I’d use those platforms to get in front of people I want to target in the first place. Wouldn’t it be amazing if I can get people to know me by writing on various blogs. They’ll know me, know my work & look for me on the web? How cool is that?
Bottom line, use guest blogging to indirectly get traffic to your blog. With guest blogging, get recognized for your work & let people look for you.
#9 Invite contributors
Flip side of guest blogging is to invite contributors to write for your blog. This can be a monetary compensation or hire interns who can learn from you. Since I have used the word ‘contributors’, I’ll treat them as volunteers.
If you look up on the web, you can find people who are desperate to learn from the experts and are looking for opportunities to prove themselves. Finding them will not be easy but you have to begin from somewhere. Post on social media, talk about it in your posts on medium, quora & other writing platforms you’re active on.
Create a page for guest blogging & optimize for ranking in search engines since many people search for “guest blogging + niche” and it can rank on the web.
#10 LinkedIn articles
I don’t recommend doing it for the soul purpose of getting traffic, LinkedIn will drop the reach if you do that. Any social network wouldn’t want the traffic to leave unless it’s users have paid for it. You can create articles on LinkedIn linking back to your page.
Go to your LinkedIn home feed & find Write article button as shown below:
Add genuine value, while it’s okay to link back. However, I create a post summarizing my blog post & leave the link to my blog post in comments. This has saved time (writing article to promote another article is time consuming, especially if you’re just starting out) & got better reach.
#11 Structured data
Structured data is volunteering to teach search engines about your webpages. Search engine has a bunch of rich search results features like featured snippets, that expands the user experience of the end user.
You can’t get the traffic just because you’ve optimized your blog pages for structured data, but that can become the causation for the traffic you wish to have.
The sequence is simple, you optimize for the structured data (you help search engines understand more about your pages) you increase the odds of ranking higher on the SERPs. Since not many people are doing it, the chances of your pages ranking ahead of those that don’t have any kind of structured data increases. So indirectly structured data does help you get the traffic to your blog.
#13 Interview posts
People love to know the story of other people, especially success stories. It inspires & motivates them. If you have a podcast & invite people to your podcast, you can embed the podcast & create a post summarizing the podcast & share the keypoints for people who don’t have to listen to the whole podcast.
Foundr magazine does this perfectly. Check out this post to see what I mean in action. People will naturally link to such posts (just like I did) & you may not get the traffic from search engines but you’re surely gonna get referral traffic from backlinks. Such posts are shared on social media like wildfire.
#14 Mobile ready
Over 50% traffic to Google comes from Mobile, not to ignore the fact that Android OS is the undisputed king of Mobile so it’s obvious that the traffic coming to Google will be from Mobile.
But that’s not the point. The point is, people are searching on mobile more than they’re doing the same on laptop/desktop. Google has been focusing on Mobile first indexing since ages now. If your pages aren’t ready for mobile traffic, i.e. if the pages aren’t mobile friendly, you pages won’t rank for mobile search.
It’s a fair thing to say that searches made from a mobile phone are seen differently than those made from a laptop/desktop. So get your pages mobile-ready. If you’re on wordpress, install AMP plugins to make the pages on mobile load blazing fast.
Remember I said social media is the first advice I give to new bloggers. The idea is to build a community on social media around the niche you’re in. I’m building a community of bloggers & SEO on Instagram.
This makes it very easy for me to communicate my work directly to the interested audience. The biggest benefit of building your own community is that the people in your network are loyal to your work & they’re the ones who’ll engage first & get the ball rolling on social media. The more they engage, more people with similar likes & mindset will discover your content.
That’s how it works.
#16 Update on impressions
Google search console is a powerful tool to design a content marketing strategy for your blog. The biggest advantage of using GSC is you get the impression data. Impressions are every time your pages are getting from Google. Every time your page is indexed but people are not clicking on your page, that’s counted as one impression.
The trick is to keep updating your post based on the impressions data showed the Google search console. This way you will start ranking for more & more keywords.
#17 Traffic from YouTube
YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. It has over 2 billion users constantly looking for videos that solve their problems or teach about topics that they’re looking for.
YouTube’s organic reach is surprisingly pretty much intact even after such a wide user base. You can create quality content that really helps the end-users & get organic traffic from YouTube. If your videos get a good response from the first initial users, the algorithm will automatically reach the feeds of the audience interested in similar topics.
#18 Research your competition
Remember I shared tools to keep an eye on your competition? Yeah, you can use those tools to get an idea of what’s working for them. Don’t treat this as stealing their strategy, you will never be able to replicate their strategy. All you can do is get content ideas that’s already published not what they’re planning for future.
Try to learn from their past work & find gaps of what they’ve missed in their posts, create content around that and fill the gaps. This way you will not only create better user experience for your audience you will also respect the work of your competition.
This is actually a best practice that will teach you to create content that focuses on target audience’s need over competing with those who’re ahead of you. That’s not the point of this steps.
#20 Keyword research
I’ve made it a habit to do keyword research right before I write a post. This does two things, gets me in the flow of the topic I’m writing about & get me a quick overview of what people are looking for.
I keep it very simple, quick 15-20 minutes of pure keyword research. I look for long tail keywords in suggestions, people also asked section to find FAQs (I try to rank for FAQ schema in almost every post).
I used Ubersuggest to find related keywords, questions & other content ideas of the seed keyword I’m writing the post on.
Researching keywords will ensure that you create content around the topics that your audience is interested in. The traffic on your competitor’s pages is a proof of their interest.
I’m not an advocate of backlinks, at least not the way almost everyone is talking about. There’s just a correlation between backlinks and top ranking pages, it’s not the causation.
Just having backlinks won’t guarantee you top ranking & hence the traffic from search engines. If you pages aren’t helpful (people bouncing off your pages is an indication of this) then even a million backlinks wouldn’t do any good. It would simply mean that the backlinks you have gained are either from spammy source of aren’t legitimate.
Here are some ways I think are good to build links:
- Infographics of existing top pages & requesting the page linking to the top also to link to you page.
- Case studies are great source that people usually link to. I have a habit of finding case studies or surveys that can add value to my piece of writing. Everyone thinks like this, linking to a case study or survey add value to existing user experience. Works like a charm.
- Stats & numbers are awesome source to gain backlinks naturally. Initially you will have to outreach to link back but once you hit the page #1 of Google, it’s auto-pilot.
This is something I keep it for the last step, hence the last way in this list. Repurposing is a very important step as many fail here. Everything most people do is to get traffic from other sources to their blog, it has become nearly impossible to get dofollow backlinks from other sources, (Quora marks all links as nofollow pointing outside of the platform)
Sure, all the platforms have nofollow backlinks, but the pages that follow after aren’t backlinks. That is, the link remains a nofollow only for the first page. Page they browse after landing on your page aren’t nofollow, they’re dofollow, only if you’ve internally linked it in that way.
Never underestimate nofollow links from platforms like Quora, Medium reddit or any such platforms. Get as many links (but don’t overdo it) as you can & optimize the landing page with internal links so that the users checkout other pages as well.
Final thoughts (TL;DR)
I know this is overwhelming even if you’re experienced blogger because this requires doing real work for a very long time. You can hire someone to do that or team up with juniors who’re ready to learn from you. If you’re doing this for your clients (freelancing or permanent) you can incorporate these techniques to get traffic to their blog right away and deliver results.
Apart from the ways to get traffic to your blog, it is important to understand what is & what isn’t the right way to get traffic to your website.
I’m sure I have helped you get a clear mindset of gaining the traffic your blog deserves. If you’re aware of someone who’s looking for this information, I’d request you to share this post with them. Furthermore, if you have any other questions you’d like to get answered, get in touch via Twitter or LinkedIn for professional assistance.
I’ll see you around.