Posted by Nessa | Posted in seo,site design,tutorials,wordpress | Posted on June 15, 2007
Yes, it’s another one of those. It seems that every blog has its own tips for increasing traffic, so I decided to add my own tips that seem to have worked for my site
My first website was bluebutterflyweb.net which was set up back in 2005 for a school project while I was learning PHP and simplistic web design. I eventually made that a personal site, but I didn’t really care about search engine placement because the only traffic I cared to generate was from my friends and colleagues. In August 2006 I changed the domain name to v-nessa.net. It wasn’t until I redesigned my site back in Dec of 2006 that I started caring about people actually finding my site…I only had about 400 unique visitors a month which is obviously equal to pathetic in the eyes of the internet world. Three months later, I look in my stats and see that the traffic has nearly quadrupled since my first launch. Putting the pieces together I came up with a list of what worked for me.
1) Write what people want to read.
The giant cluestick should have slapped you with this one. If you don’t write what people want to read, no one will read. Try to keep your blog focused on a niche…it’s ok to post on other topics occasionally, but try to keep your blog based on a general category to build a good reader database. For instance, you’ll see that my blog is primarily focused on programming and technology, with mild tangents of topics that no one probably cares about.
Also, be original. It’s ok to post on topics that are discussed in other blogs, but add your own twist and you’ll find that people will be less likely to turn their heads. You’ll always want “features” on your site that no one else has so people will have to go to your site to get it. You can offer your own scripts, themes, wallpaper, etc. to encourage people to come to your site.
2) Make it pretty
Have you ever seen a dog so ugly that you wanted to gouge your eyes out with a spoon rather than pet it, even though the owner says it the best dog in the world? I could probably say the same about your blog. No one likes an ugly site, or a site with a gazillion popups. Get yourself a good host, good blogging software, and a nice theme. I’m not saying this just because I’m employed there, but InMotion Hosting would be a good start for all of the above — for as little as $4 per month you get your choice of 5 bloggers that can be installed with a click of your mouse, not to mention a free domain name.
3) Watch your stats
Know where your traffic is coming from. I use AWstats on my server so I can see exactly how most people are getting to my site, like which search engine terms they are using, who’s linking to me, etc. I’ll occasionally see a crapload of search hits for a topic that I didn’t even write about…this lets me know what people are searching for and I’m therefore more likely to write on it because I know that people want to read it. It’s also helpful to know which sites are linking to yours so you can continue to keep tabs and possibly create even more traffic from that site to yours.
4) Search engines are your friend
This one should come second in the “duh” list, and it’s possibly the hardest point to write on in a post like this. I’m not going to lie — getting a good placement in search engines is not easy for some people, but if you don’t get listed no one will find you. There are a lot better resources out there that can elaborate more on this topic, but here are the key points:
- Check your code – You should make sure that the coding of your site will allow search engine spiders to properly crawl your site, meaning that your HTML should be clean and properly formatted. Using professional blogging software like WordPress can eliminate your need to worry about this.
- Use META tags, descriptions, and anything else you can squeeze in there – If you do a ‘view source’ on my site you’ll see that I have a variety of keywords set up. META tags are still valuable to most search engines, so don’t ignore them.
- Use SEF URLs – Search Engine Friendly URLs are formatted in a way that will allow search engines to find them. A link that looks like this will probably make Yahoo want to commit suicide:
Try to make your URL’s formatted in a way that search engines understand:
If you are using software that generates dynamic URL’s like in my first example, you can create a rewrite rule in your .htaccess. Most software developers of blogging engines have additional plugins or re-formatted .htaccess rules that you can use.
You’ll also want to name the URLs approriate for the type of post. For instance, if you were writing a post on sex and candy, a url extension of …/sex-and-candy/ would probably score higher than ../index.php?page=123456.
- Use Sitemaps – I can’t stress how important this one is. A sitemap is just how it sounds — a map of your site. They are very easy to make, and can be submitted to Google or Yahoo in seconds. There are several sites out there who offer to generate them for you at no cost, but if you are using blogging software there may be a plugin available for you. For Wordress I use this.
5 ) Get listed
There are hundreds of blog directories out there, and the more that you can get into the better. If you go to the ‘Stuff’ section of my sidebar you’ll see several places that you can register your blog. This is called “Social Networking.”
6) Let people link
You should be somewhat reliant on other bloggers to help you, whether it be on their sites or in a blog directory. If you make this easy you’ll find that your visitors will actually do it, so add some links at the bottom of your posts to allow your visitors to instantly add your blog to social bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us, Technorati, and Digg. I use Sociable, which allows you to add over 50 different links to popular directory sites, even though I only chose the most popular.
This is a tip I kind of found by accident, when I started posting on my friends’ blogs and random forums. When people read my comments they clicked on my site too. Forums can be a little trickier, but you’ll want to try to link back to your site as much as possible without spamming. Put your URL in your profile and signature, and try to link back to your site if you have relevent information to share. For example, I recently posted my Ruby on Rails tutorial on the cPanel forums, and suddenly I’m getting 100 more visitors a month from people learning how to install Ruby. Do use caution with this method though, as some sites frown upon users linking to their own sites.