7 Proven Strategies to Increase Blog Traffic for Free In 2018
Last modified on 19th July, 2018
Before I answer that question, let me tell you why most bloggers fail to attract traffic to their blogs.
Back in 2013 and earlier, most bloggers wrote 350 to 600 words articles about anything they like and hoped for the best.
Some may got lucky when Google picked up their content and ranked them for certain keywords.
If you are still doing that today, it won’t work.
Some discovered a few different strategies to drive traffic to their blog and figured that they would give each one a shot and see what happens.
The ideas may come from articles like 23 ways to increase blog traffic or the 101 best ways to promote your blog for free and so on.
While you can try 101 ways to increase traffic to your blog, it’s more useful to know where you should be spending most of your time to get the best ROI.
This post will explain the strategies and biggest platforms that you should use to promote your blog posts and increase your website traffic.
How to Increase Blog Traffic For Free
If you want to make money blogging, driving large amounts of traffic to your blog should be one of your main blogging goals.
That said, all traffic is not created equal. What you need is traffic that converts into social media shares, engagements, email subscribers and customers.
Getting visitors to your blog requires a specific plan that you need to execute and follow through.
Executing random tactics sporadically won’t help you much in the long-term and it’s a waste of your time.
To start increasing traffic to your blog, the first step is to make sure your blog posts are helpful to your readers.
1. Start With Creating Content That Solves a Problem
Use your blog as a way to help others with what you know. Although, you don’t have to be an expert on the topic to help your readers.
For example, when you start blogging, you’ll face many problems and challenges along the way.
As you learn new things, you can turn this new found knowledge into helpful advice to your readers.
As you come up with a blog topic to write about, think how:
- Your new knowledge can benefit your readers
- You can help them solve a similar problem
- Your ideas can help improve their blog, business, traffic etc.
- You can help them achieve their goal easier and faster
- You can inspire them and in-turn helps you reach your own goal (convert them into email subscribers, customers etc).
Leave the opinion pieces to the newspaper columnists. I’m not saying you shouldn’t share your opinion or give your perspective on an issue.
However, you’d want to avoid writing only about things that you are interested in or whatever enjoyable experience you might have.
You don’t want to be the type of blogger whose only concern is to make other people like you.
These bloggers spent so much time creating content about them instead of creating the content that other people actually want to read and that they need.
When a visitor arrives at their blog, as awesome as the content may be, there’s nothing for the visitor to learn and benefit from so they will leave. So, if you want your readers to like you, give them what they want!
It’s perfectly fine if you want to be a lifestyle blogger or Instagram famous. Be an inspiration. Give tips and strategies for your readers to help them through the process.
Good blog posts should:
- Help solves your reader’s problems
- Have practical value, i.e. actionable
- Be formatted for a quick read, i.e. scannable
- Be long enough to hold reasonable value.
One of the best ways to write great content is to create a long-form content.
2. Write Long Blog Posts (Long-Form Content)
What is long-form content?
There’s no exact definition of what “long” means, some experts agree that 1200 to 2000 words article is considered to be long.
Thus, long-form content dives deeper into the topic and cover all the bases by answering all questions the reader may have (kind of like this guide you are reading).
While creating long-form content for your blog requires a considerable amount of work and time, the benefits you get in return are well-worth the effort.
This blog post, for example, took me 2-3 days to write!
Benefits of Creating Long-Form Content
Here are some of the benefits you get from writing long-form content:
Your posts will rank higher on the search engine results
There’s a research done where they found the average word count of a first page result was over 2000 words.
Your posts are seen more authoritative
Long-form content is meatier, better-researched and often offer more valuable insights than shorter posts.
Writing long-form content position you as an authority and helps establish you as an expert in the subject matter.
According to Backlinko.com, in-depth, authoritative content also has a direct relation with search engine rankings.
People spend more time on your site
With comprehensive and useful content, people will spend more time reading them, increasing the time spent on your site.
They’ll also tend to visit your other pages more because they trust you more.
You get more search traffic for related keywords
Writing a longer post allows you to integrate more long-tail keywords into a single article.
What are long-tail keywords?
A long-tail keyword is a keyword phrase that contains at least three words. It’s used to target niche demographics rather than the mass audience.
Because they are more specific, they are often less competitive than generic keyword terms.
So, with long-form content, you can get one of your posts to rank for hundreds or even thousands of long-tail keywords.
Your posting frequency doesn’t matter as much as the length of your posts when it comes to optimizing your content for long-tail keywords.
Brian Dean of Backlinko.com said he has managed to get 1 million unique visits over the last year. At that time he has only published 32 posts in his blog.
Your post will get more shares
People tend to share posts that provide so much more valuable information as found by BuzzSumo. With 3000-1000 word articles getting the most shares.
Longer blog posts offer more value and are unlikely to be filled with trivial or superficial information.
How and When to Create Long-Form Content Blog Posts
Getting people to visit your blog every single day is nearly impossible if you don’t have great content to begin with. So before you worry about increasing traffic to your blog, worry about your content.
If search is a major source of your traffic, focus on creating longer content. However, don’t create long-form content just for the sake of it.
Not all topics warrant excessive detail (think current news and celebrity gossip).
Try to write about evergreen topics such as how to articles that focus on beginner topics to stay relevant.
To make sure your content are easier to read, you’d want to:
- Use shorter paragraphs with shorter sentences in them
- Use headings and subheadings to break up your content
- Use bullet points and lists where relevant
- Highly key points in bold, italics or underline
- Use images to break up your content
3. Optimize Your Blog For The Search Engines
Making your blog’s content SEO-friendly is one way to drive massive blog traffic.
In 2018, Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year.
When I talk about optimizing your blog for the search engines, I am referring mostly to Google because they have the lion share of the global search volume.
A good blog SEO practice helps you rank better on the other search engines too.
While having a blog that’s focused on Google SEO is great, trying to get traffic from them is hard because:
- It’s very competitive.
- Can take awhile to rank
- SEO can get quite technical
That said, it’s one source of traffic you can’t ignore because you get very targeted traffic which will engage with your content. Good rankings also bring consistent traffic for months even years to your blog.
Some people will tell you to only focus on publishing great content and the search engines will notice and will rank you appropriately.
While that can definitely happen, it can take a very long time, months if not years. Most bloggers already gave up by then.
Why leave this to chance when you can be proactive and take action to improve your search engine rankings quicker?
Understanding Search Intent
People arrive at your website with an intent. Either they’re looking for specific information to help them do something or they want to learn something.
By understanding their search intent, you can optimize your content for keywords that target them in any phase of the customer lifecycle.
For instance, if they are in the learning phase, make sure your page is informational. On the other hand, lead people to your sales page if they are in the buying phase.
Understanding search intent will help you sell more of your stuff, get more email subscribers, get more clicks on your ads or whatever your goal is.
How to Optimize Your Blog SEO
So how do you optimize your blog for the search engines?
Improving your blog SEO involves two main components:
- Selecting a keyword (or more) to optimize
- Getting backlinks to your blog
To learn more about SEO and how to optimize your blog, check out the following posts:
4. Participate in Q&A Sites Like Quora
Quora is a Question & Answer website where people go and ask questions on any topic.
Created in 2009, today Quora has more than 100 million unique monthly visitors and is one of the most popular websites on the Internet.
By joining Quora, you can:
- Build your personal brand and reputation (you’ll need to use your real name to participate in a Q&A)
- Use it to drive engaged referral traffic
- Get massive blog traffic for free
Sometimes Quora will continue to drive traffic from answers you created months ago (or a few years earlier). It’s normal to see questions from Quora ranked on the first page of Google search results.
Some bloggers vouch that Quora is one of the major sources of traffic to their blog.
Visitors arriving from Quora are more likely to spend time, visit other content and convert on your website.
How do I know?
Recently I started participating in Quora and as I checked my Google analytics I noticed the followings about the traffic from Quora:
- They are spending more time on my site – over 7 minutes on average
- They are viewing more pages – 2.53 pages
- Bounce rates are pretty low
Granted, the sample data is small but, there are many other bloggers who claimed to experience those good numbers too.
How to Use Quora For Blog Promotion
While you aren’t allowed to promote your blog directly, you can leverage their popularity by providing high-quality answers and strategically place related links pointing to your blog posts within your answer.
Take extra caution when linking to your blog. Doing it just for clicks can get your account suspended for spamming.
Your goal is not to answer every single question, but to answer popular questions that receive more views.
When someone upvoted your answer, Quora will rank it higher and make it appears in the community feed increasing its visibility.
To get the most out of Quora, you’ll need to do followings:
- Optimize your profile – position yourself as an expert in the topic. Use your bio to promote your blog and social media accounts.
- Provide in-depth and good content on your blog – give Quora users a compelling reason to visit your website
- Find questions that attract the most views and followers – you may be thinking the most popular answer has gotten too many views and you can’t compete with them. Remember, most popular questions also have a ton of followers so when you post an answer, those followers will be notified that there’s a new answer.
- Look for new questions that are gaining traction – a week old question which receives 1000 or more views is a good candidate
Let’s be real, you can’t expect a torrent of traffic after spending a few hours answering questions here and there.
Unless you are being featured or get lucky, expect little traffic for the first few weeks.
Ideally, you should try to answer at least one question every single day. Your answers need to add value to the conversation for them to attract views. In-depth answers are good but they can also be short, concise and unique.
The more time you spend time cultivating your presence on Quora, the more views you will receive. To increase blog traffic, just keep it consistent and be patient.
To learn more about how to use Quora to drive traffic to your blog, check out this post.
5. Use Pinterest to Promote Your Blog Posts
After writing an amazing blog post, you need to tell people about it.
This is where Pinterest comes in.
Pinterest is actually a giant advertising billboard, still, its users never look at it that way. Another interesting fact about Pinterest is that it’s actually a search engine with a social element but it’s not a social media platform.
As such you’ll notice people who visit Pinterest are there mostly to search for information (for the social part you also need to pin other people content).
This means they are more engaged and will respond to content that provides an answer to their question.
Pinterest works so well for bloggers because the platform is image-based (as opposed to video-based) that can be tied up with your written content. It’s actually the secret weapon for many bloggers.
Pinterest can help you
- Drive lots of traffic for free
- Gain organic traffic quicker compare to Google for instance
- Gain sustained traffic for months.
The disadvantages of Pinterest is that it takes time to master and require some skills to create beautiful pins which attract people attention.
To learn more how to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog check out the following articles:
- How to get Free Traffic From Pinterest Search
- Can You Get Good Traffic From Pinterest to Your Blog in a Short Run?
- How To Drive 3x More Traffic To Your Blog With Pinterest
6. Write Amazing Guest Posts
Guest blogging is a great way to promote your blog to a new audience who’ve never heard of you before.
It can be useful in getting links back to your site when your blog is new. But it can also be bad depending on who you ask.
- It’s a good way to get started
- Helps build up backlinks – quality links improve your blog search engine rankings
- Not a great source of referral traffic
- If you write a guest blog for a small blog, chances are you won’t see any traffic
- You don’t own the content and you can’t republish it on your blog.
- Takes a lot of work
- You’ll need good writing skills.
The best way to go about it is to select the right blogs. Don’t just offer to write on any popular blog. Find those that are relevant to your audience.
Now, I have a confession to make.
I’ve never written a guest post before!
Sure, I can guest blog on some mid-tier blogs if I choose but to get the most out of guest blogging, you’d want your posts to appear on the largest and most authoritative sites.
The alternative is to guest blog on several smaller but good quality blogs which is doable but will take a lot of work.
You see, English is not my first language as may be apparent from my writing.
I don’t want to spend more time than necessary trying to craft the perfect post with impeccable grammar, while putting other more important tasks, which potentially could provide a better ROI, on the back burner.
That said, it’s something that I plan to do in 2018 because I believe it’s one of the best ways to acquire backlinks from authoritative domains.
The goal is not to drive immediate traffic but to gain traction on Google for the long-term.
When the time comes, I’d probably hire a good proofreader from Fiverr to help me polish my post. 🙂
In any case, check out this in-depth article about guest blogging to help you decide if this is the route you want to try.
7. Start Your Own Email List
Building your email list should be a priority early on in your blogging journey.
Unfortunately, most bloggers think collecting email addresses isn’t important. We are more focused on creating content on our blog because it’s the thing that actually gets us traffic.
Why create an email list when you have nothing to sell or you didn’t even know what you’re going to talk about?
Having an email list allows you to build a deeper relationship with your audience.
You’re able to use the platform to teach and provide value that will help you build that trust even before any sort of transactions happen.
You can inform your subscribers as things happen even when they aren’t visiting your blog.
These are people who have given you the permission to email them. So you can ask them questions about what blog posts you should write even about what products you should sell.
It’s a way for you to drive traffic instantly to your new blog post too. Just send your subscribers email whenever you publish a new blog post.
Darren Rowse of Problogger.com said he always get a traffic spike whenever he sends an email to his list about a new post.
For most bloggers, their email list is their number 1 way to make money.
If you are starting out and are on a tight budget, I would recommend registering with MailerLite.
You’ll have full access to all the features for free and can send an unlimited number of emails per month if you have fewer than 1000 subscribers.
You can learn how to start your own mailing list here.
8. Other Strategies to Increase Blog Traffic
I don’t consider the following methods as a major driver of traffic because they often offer lower ROI but can be effective if done correctly.
Your own experience may differ though, so feel free to give them a try and see it for yourself.
Create Twitter and Facebook Page/Groups
The reason why I don’t include Facebook and Twitter as one of the major sources of traffic is that they are unreliable, have a short lifespan and inconsistent.
If your post goes viral, you’d get loads of traffic for the first few hours then it dies out. Some say the average lifespan of a tweet is around 15 minutes, and Facebook post last for about 6 hours.
To improve your visibility you’ll need post more frequently (and risking driving people away for over posting). On these platforms, people don’t return just to search for previous content.
Having a large number of followers can improve the visibility of your post and extend its lifespan substantially as people reshare or re-tweet it. Unfortunately, new bloggers with only a handful or no follower have no chance.
Facebook algorithm changes could affect your post visibility too. The recent one limits posts from pages or brands from showing up in a user’s news feed and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Well, actually there is something you can do about it, which is to pay Facebook to show your post to more people. Facebook advertising requires a different set of skill to master. If you don’t know what you are doing, you could end up burning a hole in your pocket.
Remember also, these social media sites actually own your audience. They can shut you down for whatever reason.
That said, don’t discount Facebook or Twitter completely. They can work wonders if you can create viral video content. Unfortunately, regular blog posts have less chance to go viral unless it’s some next level stuff.
Also, not everyone wants to sign up for your email list. So, with a Facebook Group, you have another channel to connect with your followers. The best part about Facebook groups, it doesn’t adhere to the same restrictions or the algorithm that a Facebook page does.
Joining other Facebook Groups can also be a good way to promote your blog. There are many blogging related groups you can join (just do a search to find them).
There are no complicated requirements. Most groups welcome anyone as long as you are a blogger.
Finally, create dedicated Facebook Page or Twitter account for your blog. It’s always good to build up an audience on these platforms as it gives your blog more visibility to more people.
Drive Traffic By Blog Commenting
The are two ways you can get benefit from blog commenting:
- Leave a comment on other blogs – others will notice and may visit your blog
- Encourage comments on your own blog – this helps create long-form content and help to boost your SEO.
Leave Comments on Other Blogs
Commenting on other blogs is a good way to get you noticed.
However, all blogs are not created equal. You’d want to select popular and highly authoritative blogs in your niche to comment.
Visit those blogs on a regular basis and start leaving awesome comments that add value to the discussion.
Granted, this may not bring you much traffic.
But your goal isn’t to get everyone come across and clicks your URL (although that would be nice). The goal is to get people who are really into the topic to notice and click.
The bloggers may start noticing you and might start mentioning you in their blog posts or get an invitation to guest blog.
In any case, WordPress comments are no-follow by default.
Meaning anyone leaving their website URL or link in the comments won’t benefit from the SEO juice of the page. This is good because it discourages comment spam.
Unless the comments are do-follow, blog commenting won’t boost your backlinks and domain authority as Google does not transfer value or anchor text across these links.
Encourage Comments on Your Blog
This second benefit of blog commenting is seldom talked about.
Earlier I talked about how creating long-form content help you rank for hundreds even not thousands of keywords.
But what if you are very busy and don’t have the time to research and write 2000+ word article?
You can encourage your readers to comment on your blog post!
Once you’re starting to get comments, reply to all of them. Try responding with more than once sentence instead of just thanking them for commenting.
Try to expand upon what they’ve written or debate them. Your goal is to encourage healthy discussion.
When other people see that you take time to reply to comments, they will comment too.
Imagine having 10 people leaving 50 words comments, that’s an extra 500 words of free user-generated content on your page. You just bumped your 1000 word blog post word count by 50%.
Having a longer post means more keyword variation you can rank for, and more value to your readers.
Blog comments help you build engaged followers to your blog. If they are bloggers themselves, you might even be able to start a mutually beneficial relationship.
Through blog comments, you can discover new perspectives that you might not have considered before.
When it comes to driving traffic to a blog, most bloggers feel rather demotivated because:
- Nothing seems to work no matter how hard they try
- Things seem to progress very slowly
- They keep reading how the top bloggers get tons of traffic but they see nothing
- They get trickles of traffic here and there
- Blog search engine optimization (SEO) can get technical
The biggest mistake most new bloggers make is spreading themselves too thin. They try to master every blog promotion strategies.
What you’d want to do as a new blogger is to focus your time learning just one strategy. Get very-very good at it. Then add another strategy to the mix.
Identify Your Strengths
Start with the strategy that you think you can be good at quickly:
- If you are a good writer, maybe you should start with guest posting
- If you are a technical person, then Google SEO may be right up your alley.
- If you are creative then Pinterest could be the answer to your traffic drought
- If you like helping people, use Quora to share your knowledge
- If you are a good learner pick and mix two or three strategies
Some bloggers will tell you how their blog traffic began to pick up after a year-long blogging.
Which was after they got nice guest blogging gigs, had some posts became viral in the social media or Google finally started ranking their posts.
Wouldn’t it be great if there’s a way to accelerate this process without having to slog away months and months and still see nothing?
Yes, there is!
By getting very good at one (or two) strategy first!
The only way to increase your blog traffic fast is to be consistent and never give up. Most importantly, focus on proven blog promotion strategies that increase blog traffic.
In any case, you would want to get on the Pinterest action and get a good start on increasing traffic to your new blog.
Over time, you’d want to make sure not to depend on a single traffic source.
Now it’s your turn.
Do you have a blog promotion strategy that work for you? Please let me know in the comments.
If you find this post useful, feel free to share it.
Thanks for reading!