We've all had them: plateaus. You know when you get halfway to a goal and stall out? Or you reach a certain point and can't seem to push past it? That's what's happening to me now with one of my blogs: my traffic has stalled out (at a pretty dismal level compared to years ago) and hasn't moved in the last year. I'm spending quite a lot of time on posts on that blog to get relatively little in return, so I've recently started looking at what the potential problems are and how I can fix them – then ultimately get my traffic up by at least 50% in the next three months.
After a lot of research, I've learned that these 5 things can have the biggest influence on increasing a blog's traffic:
Amp up Social Media presence
I already talked a little about my social media experiment, but I completely neglected Google+ and LinkedIn. With good reason; I really didn't consider them very “important” to what I was doing. I do know now, however, that posting to Google+ can really help with SEO, and I read something very interesting on ProBlogger about using LinkedIn to grow traffic.
I don't necessarily believe that LinkedIn will “explode” my traffic like the article suggests, but I am interested to try and see if I can make a community there. I still think Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest are more important for their sharing potential (post share-ability is very important to increasing blog traffic), but I look forward to seeing what I can learn from the other social networks.
Do more with SEO
I've always done “organic” SEO on all my blogs, and just focused on using keywords and descriptive post titles without paying a whole lot of attention, and that works well on my other blog, but I could be more effective on the one that's plateaued. I installed the WordPress SEO plugin and am going to being more active about SEO, but I've also started really analyzing my search engine statistics to determine how new readers find me. Once you know where your new visitors enter your site, you can work to optimize that page/post to keep them there, or at least to make it easier for them to come back: add links to popular posts, add a note about new content, make sure there's a newsletter sign-up box and sharing/social media buttons easily visible…
Experiment with Email Newsletters
Email newsletters have always been an incredibly important traffic driver for my sites; I notice daily when the RSS newsletter goes out that traffic spikes and I get most of my comments. The problem is, I've been sending them at the same time every day for years, maybe it's time to try something new?
According to Mailchimp (which is my newsletter service of choice), most emails get opened between 2-4 in the afternoon and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I was sending out my RSS newsletters in the morning, so I've switched to the afternoon – we'll see if that makes a difference. Also, I don't send out a weekly email to that blog, but I've set up a list and will start doing that every Wednesday around 3:00. DO NOT underestimate the power of emails and having an email list, if they're designed well and optimized for your community, email newsletters are one of the most important ways to get consistent traffic and keep readers engaged with your blog.
Reach out to more Partners
When I first started blogging, I spent half my time reaching out to potential partners. I started with boutiques and brands I was already writing about, and emailed them to talk about ways we could work together. I was able to create a lot of exclusive content as a result of this, but as I got busier, I let my communication with valuable potential advertisers and partners become lower on my priority list. Big mistake.
Reaching out to brands and boutiques you want to work with is so valuable, not only in terms of relationship-building, but also for getting exclusive content. Exclusivity is exciting and a HUGE traffic driver, especially because it's in the interests of the brand to promote your blog. I'd recommend spending time every day or week emailing brands, boutiques or PR companies with ideas for content or sponsorship opportunities (make sure to follow Crosby's suggestions!!)
Broaden your Blog's Appeal
This is really interesting, especially since I'm the world's biggest advocate of a super-narrow niche, but I'm going to try and broaden my blog's appeal a bit. Over the years, I've narrowed this particular blog down a bit too much and haven't been as focused on providing ALL the information I can, which has led to the decline in traffic. If you notice that your traffic has plateaued, look at your niche and see if you can broaden it a bit and reach out to more readers. Or maybe in your case it would help to narrow it…
You could also try:
- Doing an interview with another blogger
- Answer questions once a week
- Write a guest post on another blog
- Make your images more “share-able”
- Re-design your blog, change the color scheme
- Start a post series that will continue to bring in traffic
How have you gotten over a blogging plateau? Any other ideas?
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]