Debunking the Myths on how to Increase Blog Traffic - The Intrepid

Friday, November 14, 2008

Debunking the Myths on how to Increase Blog Traffic

If you have a blog, sooner or later you are going to google seven words: “How Can I increase my blog traffic?,” or a similar phrase. It seems like almost everyone with a blog has a recommendation on how to increase traffic. For the most part, these strategies are ineffective at increasing long-term, or even short-term traffic. Here are three of the worst offenders.

Write Great Articles: Quality content will catch the reader’s eye and keep them coming back for more. Don't copy and paste from other sources. Post intelligent content that expresses your unique ideas.

Quality, intelligent, and unique are not the words that I would use to describe the internet. Some of the most successful websites simply leech off other lowbrow sites. No, the key to success is not great writing, but sensationalism.

Readers assign a level of quality to an article based on where it comes from. While different readers assess different sites in different ways, known quantities are usually more respected. If the New York Times writes an article on Obama, it’s probably more trustworthy than something from A known quantity doesn’t have to immediately sell an article. People trust the opinions of reputable establishments. Bloggers, especially new ones, don’t have that luxury.

The average internet browser decides on whether something is worthwhile in seconds. If you can’t immediately grab the reader’s attention, no one is going to read your posts. If you want to increase traffic you need to embrace sensationalism.

Here’s an example of a terrible title: “Obama meets with Clinton to discuss possible role in Administration”. How dull. Here’s a better title: “SECRET MEETING between Obama and Clinton: Is Hillary still grasping at the reins power?” The capitalized letters suggest that the article is of the utmost importance and by calling the meeting secret, the meeting gains a sinister edge. Also, the question plays up the stereotype of a power hungry Hillary Clinton without actually saying that she’s power hungry.

Remember, when writing a blog, the more sensational the better.

Use Social Networks: Submitting your blog posts to social networks like Digg, Technorati, Yahoo Buzz, Reddit, and can help boost traffic.

If you don’t already have a popular site, this is a waste of time. The only articles that make it to front pages of these sites come from well established blogs.

Think about it. Hundreds if not thousands of articles are submitted to these networks on an hourly basis. If you’re lucky your article might enjoy a few minutes on the upcoming page. But, unless you have a large reader base to bump the article’s rating, it’s going to sink into oblivion within a matter of minutes. Within those minutes, you might get one or two hits, but that hardly seems worth the effort.

Social networks like Facebook or a community forum are a little more valuable. People you know are more likely to read something written by you, but unless you know 10,000 people, posting your article on Facebook probably won’t increase long-term traffic.

Comment on other Blogs: Commenting on related blogs will help drive traffic to your site. Don’t just write anything though. Well crafted ideas and arguments are more likely to convince readers to check out your blog.

How likely is it that a reader will be so intrigued by your post that they will just have to check out your blog? Not very.

Most users don’t bother with comments. For arguments sake, let’s be generous and estimate that 1 out of every 100 users takes the time to read the comments. (I’m sure for some sites that this ratio is much higher and for others it’s much lower.)

Essentially, your post is an advertisement. You’re using another site to advertise the quality of your opinions. According to Google Adsense, 1% is a decent click through rate for a large website. So on average smart comments will net approximately 1% of 1% of users. Wow! That’s 1 out of 10,000 users.

If you become a popular figure on a large website you might be able to drive traffic to your blog, but this is a long-term time consuming process. Becoming a respected commentator on a large site is a difficult task and it’s not guaranteed to pay off.

These aren’t the only myths on how to increase blog traffic, but they are the most common ones. Although this post was mostly designed to be a sarcastic critique of the blogosphere, these tactics really aren’t all that useful. The internet is a competitive place. There really aren’t tricks or secrets for increasing traffic. More than anything else, traffic depends on luck. The right article, at the right time.


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