Every blogger wants more traffic. How to get it? The key is a balanced strategy of search engine optimization (SEO), social media, syndication and guest posting.
So where does blog traffic come from, and how does this change over time? Looking at data from the Webbiquity blog, several trends are apparent. This B2B blog isn’t necessarily representative of all blogs of course, but the trends likely aren’t much different for many business blogs. What’s important here isn’t the specific results from this blog, but what those results say about how to get more traffic to your blog.
Six conclusions that can be drawn from this graph:
It takes time to build a blog audience. Don’t expect miracles right out of the gate, or get discouraged by low blog traffic at first. Patience is a virtue, and persistence is rewarded. Even those early posts may draw significant traffic over time as your blog gains traction.
Direct and referral traffic are highly correlated. It’s striking in the graph above how the lines for direct and referral traffic remain nearly parallel over time. But it makes sense: the more often your blog is “seen” on other sites, the more people will bookmark it, subscribe to your RSS feed, and type in the URL directly.
SEO doesn’t produce immediate results, but is crucial over the long term. Just as it takes time to build a following, it also takes a while to build credibility and authority with the search engines. Note from the graph that search was the lowest source of traffic to this blog for its first three months, and for six of the first nine months. But it’s been the top source of visits for nine of the past 10 months (the only exception resulting from the spike in direct and referral traffic to the Nifty 50 Top Women of Twitter post). And even with the falloff in direct and referral traffic over the last two months (more about that in a moment), search traffic has held up fairly well.
A closer look at Google stats (see below) reveals an even more remarkable point about search: while direct and referral traffic tend to be “spiky” based on the popularity of individual posts, search traffic is more consistent over time.
Social media is important. Of the top dozen sources of traffic, four were social networking or related sites: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and HootSuite. Twitter is the most productive, driving more than half of all non-blog social media visits. Including blogs, more than one of every seven visits came through social media (blogs, social networking, social bookmarking, or tools like HootSuite and bit.ly) sites.
Syndication is also helpful. Three of the top 12 traffic sources for this blog were syndication or content aggregation sites: B2B Marketing Zone, Social Media Informer and Social Media Today. The best syndication sites will vary by industry, so choose sites appropriate for your blog subject manner. Don’t overlook smaller blog directories and RSS syndication sites that can collectively drive notable traffic (as well as providing valuable links for SEO purposes).
Digging deeper into the Google Analytics results and correcting errors (such as GA sometimes mislabeling search visits as referral traffic) yields a more detailed picture. Search is the top source of traffic for most blogs over time. But search is affected by every link, so a multi-faceted approach is critical. For example, links from other blogs may provide only modest direct traffic, but they influence search engines and other social media sources, as well as increasing direct traffic.
Post frequency matters. Back to that dropoff over the past two months—in a way, this blog is a victim of its own success. Because I’ve obtained several wonderful and active clients through my blogging, I’ve had less time to write posts over the past 60-90 days, and the resulting dip in direct and referral traffic is readily apparent in the first graph above. But for corporate blogs, the lesson is clear: maintaining consistent post frequency is crucial to maintaining high blog traffic and continuous growth.
A substantial share of “Other Referring Sites” traffic to this blog comes from WebMarketCentral, the website marketing resources portal. The lesson for companies is to feature your blog prominently on your corporate website, as that can be a rich source of visits.
All in all, your specific results will vary, but again the key to getting more traffic to your blog is a balanced approach of activities including search engine optimization (SEO), social networking, social bookmarking, syndication, blog commenting and guest posting. And of course writing compelling content for your audience.