Hey folks, welcome to the second installment of this column. Since you seemed to enjoy the post last week, we're going to make this a weekly thing. Last week, we talked about possible solutions to generating leads from your blog. This week, we'll be answering a question about getting blog traffic when it seems like all hope is lost.
If you've got a question you're always wanted to ask (it doesn't have to be about blogging, even though the first two questions were), submit it here. Based on the subject of your question, we'll find an expert to answer it for you, right here on the blog. Getting your boss on board with inbound, working with your sales team, getting more people to use your product, figuring out just what the heck an MQL is, picking between two fonts for your next design project -- pretty much whatever you want to ask, we'll find an answer for. If we publish your question, we'll even throw in a sweet penname to keep this whole thing anonymous.
Sound good? So without further ado, let's get to this week's question -- it was sent to us last week from a friend in Colorado.
I work for a company that has an extremely long sales funnel, in a field that almost every business uses, but nobody wants to talk about. It’s one of those “if it isn’t broken, why would we bother looking to fix it”.
I’ve just started working here, and prior to me, the company did not have a blog or any real SEO work done. I’ve spent a lot of time building a foundation for all of this, and I’ve started to see results in our SERPs. I’ve been doing the “spaghetti” method with our blog, attempting to try a bunch of different topics to catch people before they’re thinking about making a purchase. Trying to see what do people visit most, what do they share.
I’m having a really hard time getting people to check out our blog (besides my mother), but I’m extremely confident in the services we provide and the work that we do. I also feel that I could capture leads if we had steady blog traffic, but we don’t. I post one new blog a week, on a variety of business-related topics.
Everyone always talks about how to “tweak” something to work better, but I’m not really sure how to even get that ball rolling so that I can tweak it. Is it just a time thing?
Budding Blogger in Boulder
Thanks for the great question. Not sure how long you've been at this gig, but blogging does take some time to get results. If you've only been at it for a month or two, I'd hold out a little longer. You have been getting some results from search so far, so you must be doing something right.
But if you're looking to accelerate your growth and prove to your new boss that hiring you was a super smart decision, there are a few things you can try.
Post more often.
Posting once a week is great for when you're first starting out with a new job or the whole inbound methodology, but you could get faster results if you post a few times a week. We've found that companies that blog over 15 times a month (boiling down to a few posts a week) get 2-3X the traffic as those who post once a week. As long as you're maintaining the quality that you seem to have based on your relative SEO success, ramping up on volume could be the secret to being successful.
Make your posts the right type of shareable.
I know you said that you're looking at what gets shared the most, but have you looked into how it gets shared? Are there any channels that your highest performing posts tend to get shared on? Figure out what those are, then optimize the rest of your posts for sharing to that channel.
For example, let's say that you're getting the most traffic to your blog from email -- try optimizing your blog to get even more of that. Add call-to-actions throughout your most popular posts that ask readers to share your post with a friend or colleague. You don't have to get fancy with the CTA -- adding something simple like this to the bottom of your posts could work:
Here's a template if you want any CTA design help. You could also add simple text reminders within the post itself to share it through email.
By making sharing top-of-mind and easy to do for your current readers on the channels they already love to share, you could end up getting more traffic to your site.
Email posts directly to personal, relevant connections.
Another little "hack" you can try is doing some personal outreach to folks once you've put up a new blog post. These should be about five different people who you have somewhat of a relationship with (which can mean they're anyone from someone you're connected with on Twitter to one of your most excited customers) who would also be genuinely interested in the article.
Send them a quick, personalized note letting them know the post is up and it'd be something they might enjoy -- and ask that if they do end up enjoy it, would they mind sharing it with their network. Keep your email simple and unsalesy (something in the same vein as this email) so you don't come across too strong. If you can keep the email tailored, simple, and not-pitchy, you could get these influencers to share your post with their network.
This is a slower approach than previous ones, but it's worked well for those trying to get their blog off the ground. In a similar vein, you might consider setting up a guest blogging relationship in which you post on a relevant industry blog, and vice versa -- this helps you get exposure to a new audience, and guest bloggers will often promote the posts they write to their own networks, bringing in new traffic to your website.
Ramp up social media promotion efforts.
It's unfortunate that on the web, the "if you build it, they will come" method doesn't actually pan out. To get noticed, you've got to start promoting your content to the right people in the right place at the right time.
But since you don't have all the time in the world to devote to every single network, try to choose the one that already seems to be working. You can find this out by looking at which networks are already sending you the most traffic -- find out what that network is, get on it, and rock it.
"Rocking it" means you'll be spending time growing your audience there and optimizing your posts to perform well on that specific network -- not just posting link after link to your blog. If the network you've chosen is one of the big three (Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter), I'd highly suggest checking out this post for tips on crafting excellent posts on each network.
To solve your specific issue, you may only need to try one of these tactics -- or you could end up needing to do all of them. The key each is to find what is already working for you, then add more fuel to that fire. So, for example, if you find that "click here to email this post" CTAs perform really well at the bottom of your post, see if you can increase traffic and sharing by adding them throughout the body of your post.
Hope that was helpful for you! Can't wait to see your blog start to take off -- your mom is definitely not the only person who's interested in hearing from you.
Got a specific question about inbound you'd like answered? Submit it here and you may be featured in a future blog post (along with your very own special pen name).
Originally published May 30, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017