I know I’ve talked about why I blog, but in the past week I’ve had three people ask me about how I get new commenters and new visitors to my blog. There are tons of resources on how to increase traffic to your blog (google “how do I increase traffic to my blog”). But people have asked me, so here are my thoughts.
I am a new blogger – I’ve only had this blog since December 2009 – but my site hits have been gradually increasing over time.
May 2010 was an oddity – I was published on the WordPress.com frontpage.
I don’t get a ton of hits, but I get enough to hold my interest, and to make writing regularly worth it on the days when I don’t necessarily want to write. These are some of the factors that I believe play a role in getting people to check out my blog, and to keep them coming back:
Cross-publishing on Facebook and Twitter. I get most of my regular, returning readers from Facebook. I think that a lot of people don’t like to subscribe to receive email updates, so FB and Twitter provide an opportunity to unobtrusively knock on the door when I have new posts. Also, I have friends and family who do FB, but don’t read a lot of blogs. FB connects them to me.
Including popular, controversial or unique words in my posts. Sex, circumcision, diet, porno, Marilyn Monroe, atheism, ValleyScare. All of these words have coincided with a bump in my viewership and my google search hits. One of my favorite bloggers, Jeremy from Cafe Witteveen, put the word “vuvuzela” into one of his posts during this summer’s World Cup and received a generous boost in his viewership. This is a good way to get people to glance once at my blog, but not a great way to gain loyal, returning readers.
Getting noticed by bigger blogs so that they publicize for me. I consider this to be one of the coolest things that has happened to me during my time in the blogosphere, and yes, even more than being published on WordPress.com: Jen from BlagHag took notice of my blog and thought it was decent enough to add it to her Recommended Reading List. Whenever I add a new post, her blog updates so that my post shows up in the left-hand column. I usually get ~10 hits per day redirected from her site. I also show up on some blog rolls on other sites and get occasional hits from those. It’s audience bias – when the bloggers who have an interest in reading me put my blog on their website, chances are decent that their readers will also have an interest in what I’m writing.
Posting early. Or late. It seems like I get a rush of hits in the morning, a smaller bump over the lunch hour and then after 5pm. These are the times when regular readers check their blogs, and I try to publish accordingly.
But whenever I post, I try to post regularly. I’ve talked with other bloggers and blog readers about this, and it seems to be a popular idea that even if you post once per day, if you post in a predictable manner you’re going to retain regular readership. People want to know that the stop at my site is going to be worth it. I like to publish early in the day (but that doesn’t always happen).
The more I post, the more I show up in google. Seems pretty obvious, but as my content has grown, I’ve been suprised at some of the searches that lead to my blog. I have found that some of my past posts are bolstering site visit numbers on days that I don’t publish new material. Google has sent quite a few visitors my way for a few select search phrases: Ada Lovelace, ValleyScare 2010, Green Porno, Pi Necklace, MN Renaissance, Chikage Windler, Gluten Free Pancakes, Girl in the Rain.
Get lucky enough to be published on WordPress.com. At the time my blog was chosen for the WordPress front page I was getting an average of maybe 25 hits/day. I received 1,383 hits that day. As soon as I disappeared from the front page my hits came back down, but my daily average moved up to about 35 hits/day.
Getting site hits has never been the purpose of my blog. I enjoy writing about what I’m up to and sharing cool, geeky, science, political and social news. But having readership – especially an active readership that comments, debates and commiserates with me about the things that I write – is definitely a bonus.
Thanks for stopping by.