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Gini Dietrich

Increase Blog Traffic with These 12 Ideas

By: Gini Dietrich | June 12, 2013 | 
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Increase Blog TrafficA couple of days ago, I was lamenting to my friend Abbie Fink that Spin Sucks grew only 29 percent in 2012.

She rolled her eyes at me as I was finishing my statement. “Only 29 percent,” she said.

OK, OK. I see her point, but we grew more than 1,000 percent in 2009, 292 percent in 2010, and 194 percent in 2011.

So you can see why I am a little stressed about it…and why Lindsay Bell spends time in every staff meeting brainstorming with us new ideas to increase blog traffic, sponsorship dollars, Google+ authority, and overall revenue.

Because we have it very top-of-mind, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how to take the content side of our business to the next level.

When What You Use No Longer Works

The thing we struggle with, of course, is what we did to get us here no longer works. So now we have to be creative and innovative and a bunch of other “ive” words that work here.

Sure, there are some things that still work: Comment on other blogs, write for humans and optimize for robots, build community, write guest blog posts, speak at conferences, answer questions, go to networking events, leverage YouTube, and use traditional media.

But it turns out that’s no longer enough.

So what do you do if the things you’ve always done no longer work, but the industry isn’t talking about anything new?

Increase Blog Traffic

Following is a list of 12 things we’re going to try to increase blog traffic so we can exceed our other less ego-driven goals..

As we do, I’ll report back on the pros and cons of each, how we tested, and what was the most successful.

  1. Create a video series. I don’t know if this will be the he said/she said series Sean McGinnis and I have been talking about doing for years, if it will be a series of video instruction, or both. But we’re going to expand the Facebook question of the week (which we still do so stop by and ask a question!) and better use YouTube to help expand our networks.
  2. Write case studies. Sherrilynne Starkie asked me for some case studies the other day and I was embarrassed to tell her we’ve never formally written any down. If they’re not used as examples in a blog post, we don’t have them official. Yes, I know. It’s a priority.
  3. Write more guest posts. I was in a groove where I was writing one a week for a couple of years and got burned out with the Marketing in the Round promotion last year. I want to get back in that groove, but also involve my team more in becoming brand ambassadors. So if anyone would like a guest post from us, let us know!
  4. Write longer form content. I’m talking about the how-to guides, the beginner’s guides, and maybe taking my own advice and write the gospel according to us (though Lindsay reminds me I am writing Spin Sucks, the book, which serves that purpose).
  5. Start an affiliate program. I’m not sure how I feel about this one, but I think it’s worth exploring options for continuing to provide free content to you, but earn money on all our hard work. We’re testing sponsorships so this may be a natural next step.
  6. Network with new groups. There are some crowds where the blog is already very well known…but there are also some groups who have never heard of us (as if!). We’ll target one new group for the second half of 2013 to network with in order to continue growing this side of the business.
  7. Use owned images for content. Like we talked about yesterday, we’ll begin creating our own images to help our content stand out among all the visuals already present on the interwebz.
  8. Participate in Q&A sites. This is one we completely ignore … and there is some great opportunity. Not just on LinkedIn, but on Quora, Yahoo, and others. We’ll find the sites where people ask questions about marketing communications and begin to build our influence and authority there.
  9. Test pop-ups. Not pop-ups for more subscriptions (though that would be nice and maybe we’ll test it eventually), but to encourage people to share our content as they read. The social share buttons are already on the content, of course, but this may encourage additional sharing, which Google loves.
  10. Survey our readers. We do this on the client side by continuously asking how we’re doing and what else we can be doing for them, but we’ve never asked you what else you’d like. Expect to be asked soon.
  11. Create a podcast series. Of course, we have Inside PR and that won’t change, but we want a Spin Sucks branded podcast. Well, Lindsay wants us to have one so I just smile and nod.
  12. Host an event. So many of you have asked when we’re going to have a Spin Sucks event…mostly so you can all meet one another in person. We’re not yet convinced it’s the right thing to do or that it will be profitable, but we are considering it.

Of course, we can’t do all of this in the next six months, so we’ll tackle one thing at a time and blog about the experience.

What else would you add?

I drew/wrote the image on an Admiral’s Club napkin in the Austin airport. 

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

141 comments
SavvyCopywriter
SavvyCopywriter

I think an affiliate program could work as long as you only endorse products you truly trust and believe would add value to your community. That is a win-win. If you're up front about it being an affiliate program, people generally don't mind supporting your efforts to earn an extra dollar by providing something that would help them over time. It becomes less of a sales piece and more of a "Hey, I found this great product and loved it so much I joined forces with them to help deliver it to you" kind of a thing. 

On another note, I would love a guest post from the Spin Sucks team, so feel free to add TheSavvyCopywriter.com to your list of possibilities :) 

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

Say, Idea #13 could be - "Write a blog post with 12 ideas for increasing blog traffic" 

;)

photo chris
photo chris

Gini, I don't think there's anything wrong with an affiliate program so long as it's stated as such (as if you'd do anything else!) and you continue to add good things to your community. I actually would find it helpful. 

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

May I add to your list?

I still like the ideas of creating topical anchor pages. You have SO MUCH content, I think users would find it valuable if you curated a list of the top 20-25 posts on a variety of each topic and promoted those with a side bar link to ensure you are driving user and link value to those pages.

If done correctly, those pages would rank for harder to reach topical queries in the search engines and pull users deeper into the site in areas of their interest, reminding them about high quality posts about a topic of interest to them.

The selection could be based purely on traffic metrics, or could be built more along the lines of telling a story or educating on the overall complexity of a topic (or both). A win for the site and users either way.

Latest blog post: Protected: Social Slides

bitofmomsense
bitofmomsense

Love this post. After hearing you speak at Social Capital Conference in Ottawa, and nodding my head the entire time, this shouldn't surprise me. What I especially love is that you don't mention anything about paying for coverage. While that may work in some cases, most of you what you recommend is content driven.  Really like that! 

OneJillian
OneJillian

First: if you host an event, @ginidietrich, you may rest assured that I will be present, come hell or high water (or snow or that biting, ridiculous face-peeling Chicago wind). So that's settled. (also: DO THIS.)

Secondly, I am very interested in seeing a he/she video series. Two viewpoints (now with a variety of differences from male/female to agency/in-house) are very valuable in discussing digital marketing, especially when one has so much content to take in on a daily basis. Pulling in two bits of current advice in one place makes a LOVELY offering for visitors and for new audience discovery.

Third, the last idea I'll call out for you to implement is networking with new groups. I think this will be the hardest of all, but when you succeed, building a presence and authority in a setting/group that isn't seeded with adoring fans like myself, it will shake that shroud that many speakers and authors have in this industry: once you start talking the talk, you forget entirely about walking the walk.

I hope as you go along, it'll ignite the fire for other business to follow suit and start spreading knowledge of best practices even further.

jennimacdonald
jennimacdonald

Gini I agree with all 12 points, 100%. I do have a quick question though, if you don't mind. If your blog didn't have any traffic before you started managing it and it now has a lot of traffic, the percentage of growth is huge but that's expected. Is there another number to look at for the wow factor? Monthly visits?

briansrice
briansrice

Hi Gini

Great suggestions and if you or anyone on your team would like to guest post, you are welcome to do so on Business2Community.com.  Just email us at contribute@business2community.com and I will make sure that you get all setup.

All the best,

Brian


KevinVandever
KevinVandever

This may seem obvious, and you're probably already assuming this, and you would even be correct in assuming this, but you have to be relevant and interesting otherwise most, or all, these tools and ideas won't help. The analogy to my world is when a business unit comes to my department asking for a software solution or tool to automate a specific function. When we sit down to discuss the function, it sometimes turns out that there is no process behind the function. Folks think the tool will bring about the process, and it can, but it may not be the most efficient process for their business, it may the process created by the tool. Go back and create the process, or in your example of increasing blog traffic, make sure the foundation is set, that you have relevant and interesting content, and build from there. Or, I could be completely wrong here. 

Andrea T.H.W.
Andrea T.H.W.

This is something I'm thinking about too. I was having good results from my blog, so much that I could easily aim to get around 1000 visitors a day for the end of 2013. Unfortunately the last Google updates somehow threw everything in the bin. I'm doing nothing wrong from their point of view only that I'm more or less gone from page 1 to page 4 or 5 which means very little traffic and consequently money.


It's surely partly my fault because I'm pretty little social so my content isn't shared a lot but writing in a different language from my mother tongue, having a real life and being mine a one person blog there is only a certain amount of time I can work on it. But I begun doing it, if something doesn't work anymore we must change.


Also it might be, and this it's pretty common for niche websites whatever gurus think about it, that in this period my aimed keywords are not searched enough.


Well, at least I have to be more creative which is always good. :)

Patrick McNease
Patrick McNease

So many ideas. I love the fact that you used a napkin to write down these ideas haha. 

I have one addition. For Number 11 I thought it would be awesome to utilize SoundCloud for your Podcast. Or maybe even uStream. Have you looked into answering fan questions and broadcasting via Google Hangouts?

Thank you @ginidietrich for an excellent article. Guest Posting is fun. I think I will take the whole month off and focus on guest posts.  

jolynndeal
jolynndeal

Your ideas are excellent (and will be tried on my blog).  One thing I can add that I have been doing is using non traditional sharing platforms, like slideshare.  With slideshare, I capture key points (or use the subheadings) of my blog posts (using nice photos or other graphics) and then also embed the presentation into the post.  Slideshare has 50+ million in its audience.  With slideshare, I use a call-to-action that directs viewers to the blog post for more information, so I am able to promote my blog and use creative content.  Another idea we've been considering is using Vine or Vimeo to create a short video about the blog content, and sharing it with a call-to-action back to the blog post.  If people only knew how much time and energy is put into entertaining and engaging them!  As for your pictures.... using your own gives you great flexibility and can save money, especially for new bloggers. I use free platforms like Quozio, Pinstamatic, and Picmonkey to spice up photos I take.  I can't wait to see your feedback on the ideas your team has come up with.

dbvickery
dbvickery

If any of the SpinSucks community wants to guest post, I'm game! I love reading your content, so I'd be happy to see it on my blog any time. The "prompt" is to write a sports analogy that somehow conveys a social media/leadership/"life" lesson.

FYI, I have NOTHING on cycling...

I totally agree that LinkedIn is an untapped platform for increasing visibility and thought leadership. As much as I believe in the professionalism of that platform, and the power (especially for B2B relationships), it still seems to be the "redheaded stepchild" when it comes to my time allocation.

bradmarley
bradmarley

Does anyone actually read long-form content on a blog? I love it, but I get the sense a blog is not the right place to put it.

photo chris
photo chris

@Sean McGinnis Sean I think this is FANTASTIC! I was just looking for the blog "backup info" to something I was trying to share with my boss the other day and this would have helped. Also- I think if there was a topics page and several areas applied to him, he'd be more likely to dive in himself, take best practices seriously, and would know, et hrm, where to look and who to consult when we needed to. 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@bitofmomsense I'm a big believer in the owned content and there is a place for paid media, but I don't think it's right for something like this. That said, you bring up a good point. I wonder if we should be integrating some paid and earned media in here?

Latest blog post: #FollowFriday: Rob Biesenbach

Patrick McNease
Patrick McNease

@bradmarley  I think long form content works if you break up the post into multiple posts. This approach builds anticipation. What do you think about this approach Brad?

photo chris
photo chris

@ginidietrich @photo chris

 If you think on it, it's just getting paid for the referrals you already make. Does that help?

I think it's only icky if you 

1. "hide it" 

2. Start saying wonderful things about books, programs, etc. that are NOT.

 I know where you are coming from through.... I am the networking marketing manager for a wedding studio in Chicago. When we started our thank you program of sending a gift card to catering directors when a couple said they referred us, I wanted to go home and scrub myself clean; I felt like I was "bribing" them,  so I get it.

 But, the program has gone well. My relationships ALWAYS start with mutual affection and respect and grow from that. I don't "offer" them cards as an incentive to say nice things, they just get sent when couples say they were referred. 

On the positive side, it keeps us at the top of their minds inbetween visits AND I get the benefit of a phone call if something has gone amiss- rather than simply being kicked off their list and bad-mouthed publicly. 

 I'll bet that you could, right now, think of ten things: books, paid webinars, seminars, a gadget of some sort, software, that you LOVE and would love us to know about and that we would love. Its a LOT of LOVE!  If you find a good and honest fit for something for the community here, then what's wrong with "selling it?" 

Also- can we please re-visit the t-shirt idea? Millions Gini- MILLIONS! Black t-shirt (v-neck for the ladies) Orange Go PRO! semi-circle  on the front and ...Cause Spin Sucks (spin sucks in Orange Circle). 

bitofmomsense
bitofmomsense

@ginidietrich I think there is a time and place for paid content, but if people only look to that as their source for growing traffic, it's not sustainable, I don't think. But when integrated into ideas you've already mentioned there can be success. I do like that you focused on the content primarily though.  

Andrea T.H.W.
Andrea T.H.W.

@ginidietrich you're surely right and I begun using it as well as rel author and such but I really hate when things are forced down my throat this way. 

One thing is using a service because it's either or both good and useful, another is when someone has a monopoly and forces you to use its services and obey its dictats.


Imho it's definitely not an ethic way to do business. But that's the way it goes, for now. :)


Do not evil: reminds me of the Inquisition.

bradmarley
bradmarley

@PTheWyse Oh, yeah, broken out into a series of posts is a great idea. But then it becomes short form again. :)

photo chris
photo chris

@biggreenpen @ginidietrich @OneJillian May I just add, profit smaa-fit? Yeeeees, we all need to make money, but holy CATS would that be fun! And think of all the wonderful things that happen because of fun. I wonder if the Purple Pig would hold us?  Hrm, maybe not. How many are we talkin' Gini? 

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

@ginidietrich @Sean McGinnis The funny thing is I'm doing almost everything you hit on in the book in terms of planning. I picked it up because of all the work I'm doing at the new gig and realized it would probably be a good touchstone in terms of review.

Latest blog post: Protected: Social Slides

photo chris
photo chris

@Sean McGinnis oh, I agree. But while I have a (sometimes really loud) voice in the program, I don't get to run the show. But now I have more ammo on how to design the program. :-)

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

In general, I'm not exactly a fan of self-imposed word count maximums. Your goal should be to create the most authoriotative web page about the topic you are writing about, whatever that takes. Sometimes, that's only a few hundred words. Sometimes, a few thousand. My gut tells me that's more frequently longer rather than shorter, but I have no data to back that up. Just my gut.

Latest blog post: Protected: Social Slides

photo chris
photo chris

@Sean McGinnis That's a great example and really gives me something to think about as I "strive" to maintain a 700 word cap. in our upcoming blog. Thank you!

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

@Sean McGinnis Agree. The point above is solid, the other thing to keep in mind is that one of the limitations of long-form content (scrolling/reading on a trad. computer) is being / will be addressed by smartphone / tablet and GGlass type technology. 

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

I don't think there is one. But I can give you a real world example of what I mean.

I wrote a couple thousand word post on "Link Building Techniques" and announced it was my longest ever post on Facebook. At leats 3-4 people told me I should break it into a series.

I refused and posted it as one long post. That post is now #1 for "Link building techniques." I knew I'd have a shot at getting it onto page 1 when I posted it. It's been linked to a handful of times. Now, imagine I broke it into a series if 2-3 different posts. Would that post series be thought of as "authoritative"? Which post would get linked to? Both of them? That splits the authority of that writing into 2-3 different locations. It's the same philosophical discussion we've had at various times about having multiple websites. You can find reasons to do that strategically, but doing so splits your link building efforts and the authority you would naturally build by concentrating your writings on one domain.

The same holds true for posts, IMHO.

Latest blog post: Protected: Social Slides

photo chris
photo chris

@Sean McGinnis ahhhh, and the "break" between what is considered "long" and what is considered "short" is....???? What is the "magical word count?"

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

I disagree about the impulse to break apart longer form content into smaller bite sized chunks.

As a counterargument, think about the sites in this space that you consider "authoritative." Sites like Moz.con or Search Engine Land. The posts that get run on Moz are very long and authoritative.

Longer posts tend to get shared more and generate more links, in my experience - so I would counsel you to not be afraid of them even if your initial thinking is to break them up.

My two cents.

Latest blog post: Protected: Social Slides

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