This was a great email that I received via the SocMedSean contact form with a question about how to grow your blog traffic. Sometimes, I struggle with “blogger’s block” and just can’t seem to write anything that I feel is worth publishing.
Sometimes it’s good to take a brain break and get outside or do something non-blog related. Other times, though, it’s good to work on things that can help improve your blog traffic without writing….and still increase your site traffic.
Thanks for all the tips on blogging and social media. Just curious, are there things a blogger can do increase blog traffic when we don’t feel like writing? Sometimes I run through a dry spell and I just don’t feel like writing, but I still want to feel like I’m working on growing my blog traffic. Any tips for increasing blog traffic during these writing dry-spells are appreciated!
Great question, Mike, and the answer is a definitive “Yes!” You certainly can do some things that will not only help improve your blog, but some can even boost your blog traffic fast.
I started SocMedSean.com back in 2009 and there have been quite a few times when I either felt like giving up or just was tired of writing.
One of those times was during a vacation to Hawaii, when I found myself disrupting my family vacation because I was so busy snapping photos, posting to Facebook, and writing blog posts. After a bit of an intervention from my family, I took a break and put the phone and laptop away.
It didn’t stop me from making mental notes, though, and resulted in the creation of my blog post about taking a vacation from social media, which I wrote and published after I got home from vacation.
One of the other topics that came to mind when I was laying on the beach soaking up the sun was all the things that I could be doing to improve my blog without ever writing a word. Were there ways for me to NOT write, but still make changes that could actually help generate more blog traffic?
Let’s be real…blogging is hard. It’s not just about writing. It requires technical maintenance, outreach and promotion, and a constant desire to adjust based on Google algorithm changes, Pinterest updates, and Facebook enhancements.
It involves a consistent mindset of determining how to improve blog traffic in order to grow your audience. And sometimes…a little blog Spring cleaning is in order, regardless of the season.
With all those things in mind, some of the tips for increasing blog traffic that ended up on the list included:
- Improving my blog page load times
- Testing new caching plugins for WordPress
- Optimizing my images so they load faster
- Lazy loading images so they only load when necessary
- Making social sharing easier for my readers
- Performing database cleanup to reduce bloat
- Cross-linking old posts to reference newer posts
Each of these would result in having a better blog that, in some way, could also improve my traffic. Since Google likes fast sites and seems to reward them with better search placement, it made sense to work on them in-between writing posts.
Quick Tip – After I was back from vacation and I started implementing these changes, I jotted them down for my fellow bloggers to benefit from. I wrote an intro post about optimizing your blog and then a full-blown massive blog post and an ebook about speeding up your entire WordPress site.
Before You Start – Know Your Blogging Goals
If you are a brand new blogger and don’t have very much content, it might be a better idea to write as much as you can. Google isn’t going to really care as much about your site speed if you only have a few posts. If you have only written a few posts and you’re already needing a break from content…maybe re-think you blog topic.
To be a successfully blogger, you really need to be passionate and excited about your content. According to Buzzsumo, businesses and marketers who take blogging seriously are more likely to see a good return on investment (ROI) than those who don’t.
Keep in mind that you are competing against more than 300 million blogs out there (according to optinmonster), so if you aren’t passionate about your topic and can’t consistently create useful, valuable content for your readers…consider quitting before you invest a ton of time.
I’m not trying to discourage you, but let just be real for a moment, considering that:
- Only 40 percent of blog posts ever receive more than ten shares
- Forty per cent of professionally boosted blog posts get less than eight interactions!
- Less than 2 per cent of all articles get more than 1000 shares.
That means you’re going to have to work hard to generate traffic and first and foremost should be content.
Write, write, write….and then, once you have exhausted all of your content ideas, explore the tips below to increase your blog traffic without writing.
If you’re at that point, though, here are some tips on generating traffic without writing.
Step #1 – Ensure That Your Existing Content Is Strong
Occasionally, when I take a break from writing, I dig in to my Google Analytics to determine what content is performing well and what content is just sucking eggs. I focus specifically on posts that are in my top 25-40 posts. I call these my “under-performing” posts.
I want them to rank really well, and they are getting traffic, but just not the traffic I expect. Obviously, every post can’t be in the top-10 (since that’s mathematically impossible) but I dig in to these under-performing posts to see where they are ranking and come up with ideas on how to enhance them.
I generally look at things like:
- Is the blog content out of date?
- Has it’s usefulness to my community diminished? (e.g. I wrote an article on the iPad v1 that is probably not very useful anymore)
- Has another article outranked it? If so, what did the other author offer that Google felt made it a better article?
- Is the focus of the content too narrow? If not, then leave it alone. If so, then maybe find ways to expand the article to meet the needs of a broader audience.
By focusing on these posts ranked 25-40, I can spend a couple of hours documenting ways to improve them.
NOTE: I know this entails writing some words….but it’s not blogging. It’s more note-taking 😉
One thing to keep in mind when you think about updating your content. Google and Bing’s algorithms are smarter than you think. They can easily differentiate between a blog that has poor grammar with little expertise and an article or a voice that has an excellent grammar.
So your main goal when producing an article is not just to rank higher but to create well written and researched pieces that will offer value and solve problems of your target audience. Be the expert that your readers expect you to be and the search engines will see that in your writing.
Once you have your list of how to improve your posts ranked from 25-40, then spend schedule some time to make the enhancements.
I do this every 2-3 month to keep track of posts that might be moving down or up in popularity.
TIP: I don’t ever touch my top-25 posts unless they really need a pressing update. I leave them alone because they are performing well. Unless there is a real need to update them (e.g. changes that impact the content and its usefulness to the reader), I let them keep on doing their thing.
Step #2 – Evaluate your site speed and ensure that your blog isn’t slow
This is a big one and it can be time-consuming.
I wrote an entirely separate article on how to speed up and secure your WordPress blog, so if you’re ready to take on the task of evaluating the speed of your site and enhancing it, here are the tips to get going.
In the post, you learn things like:
- Using caching to improve the performance of your blog
- Understanding the difference between server caching and plugin caching
- Implementing “lazy loading” of your images so they consume less bandwidth and speed up page loads
- Securing your WordPress admin console
In this age and era where visitors to your site are looking for instant answers to their questions, nobody will wait for your blog to load for three or more seconds. If your site is lagging, then potential visitors will pass before your site even loads, head back to the search results, and click on your competitor’s article.
PRO TIP: If you are really serious about speeding up a slow blog, I also wrote and entire step-by-step process on how to rebuild your site from the ground up, identify where issues are, and how to resolve them. The article above is the quick-fix for some simple solutions, but this article is the deep-dive on how to fix ongoing issues.
Look, the search engines consider page load time and website speed as one of their ranking factors, so make sure you optimize your site’s performance by avoiding unnecessary bloat, optimizing your images and using caching.
Improving your site performance, along with great content, will help your search rankings and result in more traffic.
Step #3 – Ensure that your blog is mobile-friendly
The past 5 years have seen a huge uptick in people accessing web content from their mobile devices rather than from their laptops and computers. Desktop use has been reducing gradually for more than 6 years as mobile and tablet traffic continues to surge.
Moz, an online and research and marketing firm, predicts that by the end of 2022, mobile traffic will account for 83% of all website traffic. Here at SocMedSean, about 40% of my traffic comes from mobile and tablet so ensuring that my content can be viewed properly on mobile devices is critical.
Add to that the fact that Google has indicated it will start penalizing those those sites that are not mobile-friendly and you have good reasoning to ensure that your site is capable of serving content to all devices.
Understanding that serving mobile visitors is critical to blogging success, sometimes it can be a little confusing as to what constitutes a mobile-friendly blog. While there are lots of buzzwords like “responsive” and “adaptive”, just boil it down to whether your site and its content correctly displays on handheld devices such as Android phones, iPhones, tablets and iPads.
If you are blogging on WordPress, the easiest way to check to see if your theme is responsive and will play well on all devices is to check out the details page for the theme you are using.
For example, the theme used at SocMedSean is one that uses that Genesis framework. By visiting the StudioPress page and reviewing the features of the Genesis framework, I can see that it is designed to be responsive.
If you haven’t checked on your theme to ensure that it is mobile capable, now is a good time to do so and ensure that you’re running on well-support theme that will deliver your content across all devices.
Step #4 – Make sure that your blog and content are optimized for search
Look, it’s easy to write an article. Just sit down and pound out a bunch of thoughts and opinions and click “Publish” and you’re done! What’s hard is writing a blog post that people want to read.
If you’re blogging as a daily diary or as a way to share your opinion with the world, then maybe you’re not that interested in generating traffic. That’s cool…I used to do that.I blogged for about 8 years without really caring whether I generated traffic or made a single cent from it. It was a cathartic way for me to enjoy writing about something I was passionate about (and got paid to do in my day job).
If, however, you’re at the point where you are interested in making money from your blogging, then it’s a good idea for you to spend time ensuring that there is an audience for your post. In other words, don’t write content that no one is searching for.
Trust me, no one is searching for “Sean’s latest rant on social media”. That traffic just doesn’t exist.
Instead, find under-served search terms where people are searching for answers, but the content is thin or doesn’t exist.
You can use tools such as Google Keyword planner, Serpstat, SEMrush and Ahrefs to find the number of searches for specific keywords monthly as well as find out how hard it is to rank for certain search phrases. Each of these tools has there own pros/cons, so you’ll need to determine which is the best tool for your needs.
Remember, too, that you can run these tools against your currently published articles to find ways to optimize an under-performing post to include new keywords that might help it perform better.
Step #5 – Optimize your existing posts that aren’t performing well
Because your posts, especially pillar articles, are very important for driving traffic it’s a good idea to make sure you update them regularly. Add more information to the content to ensure they are up-to-date.
NOTE: Again, there might be a little writing going on with this tip, but it’s not like you have to hammer out an entire blog post. Just take some time to update or add information if it needs it.
Search engines fancy articles that are new and fresh. But instead of coming up with an entirely new piece, simply take one of the articles on your site that isn’t performing well and freshen it up.
Some steps you might take to renew and refresh your old posts:
- Enhance the content – Link to new articles that help support your content.
- Add more valuable content – If the article is short and other articles on the topic are outranking it, determine what information your competitors are conveying to outrank you and add to your article. Beat them with better content.
- Add more images – Is the article thin on images? Maybe add a few photos or an infographic.
- Delete any outdated data – If the solution doesn’t work anymore or the topic is out-of-date, you might remove that content or even unpublish the post entirely.
- Add appropriate keywords– If you conducted additional keyword research and found that the post might rank for other keywords, then be sure to add them where appropriate. DO NOT KEYWORD stuff.
Step #6 – Cross-link high-performing posts with under-performing posts
Search engines have a much easier time ranking your content and comprehending what article is the most important when you cross-link your content. Cross-linking basically means, your high performing posts have links to your under-performing posts.
It allows the “link juice” from the high-performing posts to pass down to the under-performing posts and it’s a signal that Google should pay attention to the under-performing post, as well.As a blogger, do you forget to go back and link old articles that perform well to new articles that are relevant? It's an important step to gain organic traffic! Click To Tweet
When we write new posts, it’s easy to link to older posts that already exist. However, a commonly overlooked exercise (and one that is extremely valuable) is to look at your older posts and link them to your newer posts.
It is imperative to add as many links as possible to your pillar posts so that they have an easier time ranking on Google.
Step #7 – Focus on another medium for a while
If you’re tired of writing, do something else. Work on optimizing your email list. Create a “how to” video that you can embed in your post. Make a podcast episode about the post. Do Something Different.
There 5 good reasons to think about alternative ways of presenting your content:
- It helps your readers have a good idea of what your post is all about. This is important if you are covering difficult concepts, videos and images can help you simplify everything.
- The leading video accompanying your post will show up when your readers share the article on various social media platforms. If it is a low-quality video, it is less likely to trigger click-throughs to your blog.
- Just like with the text of your article, you can optimize images and videos to help your post appear in search engine results. By adding appropriate keywords, to the alternative text, file name or caption of the video, you can help Google get a clear understanding of what your content is all about. (It will make your content appear relevant)
- High quality images and videos make your site appear authoritative. For example, if you use a nice photo instead of a cheap-looking clip art, to accompany a post, it is more likely to be taken seriously by readers (i.e. first impressions are the do or die of everything).
- You can post the videos on your posts on YouTube and then embed the links to your blog posts on the video to capture a wider audience.
Step #8 – Make Pinnable’ Images that drive traffic from Pinterest to your blog articles
If your niche has a big following on Pinterest and you aren’t promoting your content there, you might be missing out on a great potential traffic driver. Having “pinnable” images on your site gives your visitors something to share on Pinterest that aligns with the platform’s size/shape guidelines.
If you scroll to the bottom of this post, you’ll see a section that say “Share This Post With A Pin”. That’s the pinnable image that I’m hoping my visitors will share.
If you use caching and lazy-loading on your site (and you should), you need to make sure that your pinnable image is excluded from the lazy load. Here are the steps to ensure that your pinnable image always gets loaded.
It might seem like a lot of work to go back through all your post and create/add pinnable images, but it can really drive a lot of traffic if your audience uses Pinterest actively.
Step #9 – Share your current content via your social networks
If you are like most marketers and bloggers, you perhaps only post one article per week. If your blog or site is your full-time job, then you might post as often as once per day.
Unfortunately, the organic traffic for each of those posts, usually doesn’t start flowing in for 6-8 weeks and the full potential of organic traffic to the post isn’t really realized for up to two years! This means that it’s up t you to get the traffic to new content.
While Google is analyzing your content and ranking it, you need to be promoting it via your social networks like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest.
You also need to ensure that you’re sharing it with your following via email or browser pushes.
If you’re in a writing rut and don’t want to create new posts, take some time to analyze your social sharing and marketing efforts. Things like:
- Creating automations that share your posts via email/browser push once they are published
- Auto-sharing older, but still relevant posts to your social following
- Looking for opportunities on sites like Reddit or Quora to help people who are asking questions with the solutions in your content.
Just take some time and analyze your marketing ecosystem to determine where you can make enhancements or improvements.
Step #10 – Engage your email audience by sharing older posts
After you have attracted a visitor to your site with valuable content that helped them solve a problem, always try to build a foundation for a future relationship by asking the visitor to subscribe to your email list. This will allow you to update them of new blog posts or share older posts which can result in more shares and traffic.
Remember…if they haven’t see your blog post before, then it is new to them. Even if you wrote the post a year ago.Tips For Increasing Blog Traffic Without Writing A Single Word Click To Tweet
To accomplish this, you must have a signup form on your blog. This is not just a sign-up or click here icon. You can use a sidebar pop-up box or a simple call-to-action text to encourage your visitors to join the mailing list.
Personally, I use three different options:
- A signup form on the homepage of SocMedSean.com.
- A signup form at the bottom of every post inviting the reader who just completed an article to sign up to get future updates.
- A popup box that only shows when someone is leaving the site inviting them to sign up.
Through these three options, I feel like I have the best chance of making sure readers see the signup form.
Once they enter their email address, you can use an email marketing tool like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Aweber that use your feed to automatically alert your subscribers of new posts.
This means that any time you add a new blog post, all the subscribers in your email list will receive a notification about the fresh content. This means more return traffic, and maybe even more social shares.
Step #11 – Remove Any Broken Links From Your Content
This one is a time-consuming step, but it’s worth it for two reasons. First, no one likes to read a blog post with a bunch of broken links. The user experience is terrible and it doesn’t send your readers the signals that your content is of high quality. Second, ensuring that you aren’t linking to out-of-date content sends a signal to Google that your articles aren’t junk.
The great news is there is a free tool that can help you identify broken links on your blog. Check out BrokenLinkCheck.com and enter the domain for your blog.
The scan can take a while depending on the size of your blog. In my recent scan of SocMedSean.com it took the tool about 45 minutes to crawl my site and it identified about 50 broken links that I could address. Some of the links were from commenters, some were sites that had been taken down by their owners.
Either way, I wanted to either remove those links or replace them with active links.
While the broken link checker might take 30 minutes or so to run, the process of updating your blogs posts is the time consuming part. Depending on how many broken links you discover, you need to update each post and either remove the link or update it to a new, functional link.
The process of updating my 50 or so links took me about 2 hours and was worth it to ensure that my posts don’t link to dead content.
I recommend running this tool and fixing broken links a couple times each year.
The Bottom Line When It Comes To Improving Your Blog
If there’s one thing that I have learned over almost 15 years of blogging, it’s that consistency is critical.
Blogging requires a constant dedication to creating new, useful content while also finding ways to enhance your site performance, attract new visitors, and build new relationships.It doesn’t mean you have to write ALL the time, so when you take a break be sure you are working on activities that help continually improve your traffic.Being a successful #blogger doesn't mean writing all the time! There are plenty of other activities to keep your blog moving forward when you don't feel like #writing ! Click To Tweet
I hope these tips help! As always, if there are questions about how to enhance your WordPress blog without writing anything, just reach out via my contact form. If you have a suggestion for a tip that will help others grow their blog, be sure to leave a comment!