During the 8 years I’ve been blogging the way readers find my blog has changed massively. Whereas I used to get a lot of blog traffic without much action on my part, in 2018 I’m working hard to make sure my content is seen. For any bloggers out there who would like to increase their blog traffic, these are the exact strategies that have worked for me.
A bit of context
I used to be one of these bloggers who spouted off about blogging not being about the numbers. My focus was always to write content that informs, inspires or gets a chuckle out of the reader and as long as people were enjoying what I was putting out there I felt like I was winning.
But the blogging landscape has changed. It used to be easy for good content to rise to the top. I didn’t have to self-promote too much as readers did this for me and as there was less personable travel content online there wasn’t as much competition for eyeballs.
Then this blog became my business and, of course, getting more blog traffic is very important to sponsors. What used to be an impressive readership was just a blip compared to my competitors who were reaching 6 figures and to be honest this hurt a bit. No one likes to feel rubbish, do they?
So, I went back to school. I’ve written previously about how I audited my blog, undertook a blogger course, and tried to rectify some of the mistakes I had made by plugging away for years without any clear marketing or SEO strategy.
It’s taken a little while for this work to pay off but finally I’m seeing results. My traffic has slowly been increasing since the start of the year and then this March it all started to click. (Or should I say, more readers did!) I had my biggest traffic month ever in March 2018 and it’s been hugely rewarding to feel that my travel advice and musings on expat life might be helping more and more people.
(Note: This post contains some affiliate links which means I may make a small commission if you purchase something after clicking my link. It’s how I afford to give away advice for free 😀 Find more information in this disclosure.)
What happened to my blog traffic in March 2018
In comparison to the month prior my results for March were as follows:
Search traffic up 28%
Pinterest traffic up 10%
Referral traffic up 300% (mainly thanks to 15k new sessions from Flipboard, see below)
These are the 7 key strategies that made a difference.
7 ways to boost blog traffic in 2018
Flipboard is a news aggregator and within a week of signing up I had my first post go viral on the site. I had 3 followers at the time but ended up with 12k referrals in 1 day – exceeding my previous best day for the blog by a mile.
There’s little known about the Flipboard algorithm but my experience has shown that more newsworthy or timely posts about flying or travel hacks work well and that you need to flip content as soon as it goes live.
Other ways to increase your reach include joining a group magazine and getting together with other bloggers to flip their content. Check out this post from Australian Travel Bloggers on how to drive traffic from Flipboard to get you started.
Interestingly, the referral traffic I’ve received from Flipboard has been very engaged. There was a knock-on effect with increased page views to posts I mentioned in the viral article and I made approx. 50 Amazon affiliate sales from links included in the article in the first 24 hours. This is the article that went gangbusters, in case you’re interested.
Installing Social Warfare Pro
Update Jan 2020: Some bloggers reported issues with the latest version of Social Warfare so I pulled it from my site and no longer recommend it.
After getting on the Flipboard wagon I wanted to install a social share button that has a Flipboard button to make it easier for readers to flip my content for me. The Pro version of Social Warfare offers this plus a few other perks, like a customisable floating design.
One of my favourite features, however, is the social share customisation. Basically, you can pre-fill the Pin image and text you would like to pop up when people click the Pin button on your sharebar – so no more pins with empty text or img654.jpg as the description! You can also overwrite the title, description and image that comes up when people share the post on Facebook and LinkedIn, using something catchier than you would for SEO purposes.
Social Warfare Pro costs just $29 USD for a year. Sign up here.
Scheduling pins on Tailwind
I’ve written previously how I missed the point of Pinterest for a very long time but finally with the help of Tailwind I’m starting to see serious results. I’m sure many of you know about the Tailwind pin scheduling tool but I just wanted to share my favourite feature of Tailwind, which is the interval button.
I love that you can pin 1 pin to several of your own boards, group boards and Tribes and set them to be spaced out at an interval of up to 90 days.
Another handy feature is that you can see the engagement rate of group boards so that you know which ones to focus on – or not as the case may be.
Joining Pinterest share groups on Facebook
Another perhaps obvious strategy that I missed the boat on was joining Facebook pin sharing groups/threads. It can take up a lot of time looking for content in your niche to pin to your boards so that’s where these groups come in. The rules are you have to share EVERY pin in a thread if you drop yours in but I’ve found some interesting content this way and learned what does and doesn’t make a good pin by observing the design of others.
Super obvious tip: I tackle the pins in groups of 10, right clicking and opening in a new tab and liking the comment of the pin I got up to so I can see where I was when I next dip back in. I also only add pins from my ‘Best of Girl Tweets World‘ board into share threads as it makes it very easy to know at a glance which ones I’ve shared in threads already or not.
Oh and don’t forget to turn off notifications for that post once you’ve dropped a pin in the comments as you don’t want hundreds of notifications every time someone else adds a pin.
If you’re a travel blogger check out these FB groups:
Pinterest for travel bloggers
Ultimate Pinterest Group for Travel Bloggers
Engaging with the travel blogging community
I used to shy away from Facebook Groups for bloggers because there seemed to be a lot of noise and I could never quite keep up with what was happening. I think a lot of people felt the same and now those original giant travel blogger groups have split into smaller, more focused factions – and this is where I recommend people spend more time.
I’ve made a lot of new connections, picked up tips and swapped advice back and forth with bloggers in the likes of Female Travel Bloggers and DNW-Making Money From Blogging and this has had a knock on effect with my traffic.
Of particular use is using these groups to find relevant link swaps and build backlinks to posts I’ve updated with better SEO. (See below.) They are also great for finding collaboration or guest post opportunities, which I’ve been too lazy to follow up so far but know I should get more involved with in the future.
Updating old content to improve SEO
The biggest impact to improving my search traffic has not been writing new SEO-friendly posts but making the old ones that already rank optimised for SEO.
Sharon Gourlay is the expert on this but, in a nutshell, I used Google Search Console to identify terms I already rank for then worked on improving those posts by updating headers, descriptions, images and creating a new pin. I then added even more relevant keywords, which I identified via KeySearch, and used the blogging groups to build backlinks to the article.
I have a lot of content that isn’t ranking for anything so it really helped me to focus by starting with posts that rank for some terms and adding more so they can rank for 10 to 20 additional keywords. By adding 1 line of text to a post I went from position 96 for the term ‘what to do in canggu bali’ to 14 – within weeks!
Resharing & republishing old posts
Optimising old posts made me realise how many articles I have and how many of them go unseen. I think in my head I pictured that all readers had been around here for ages and seen all the old content before. Bwahaha. I have 600 posts. What was I thinking?
So, although it sounds very simple – resurfacing, tweaking and sharing old posts has helped me better connect with newer readers and by tagging the destinations or brands that are mentioned in these posts they’ve helped me boost traffic too.
In some cases, if I added enough new information and felt like it would be valuable for the post to go out again via RSS, I changed the publication date and republished the post altogether. It means the article also turns up more in widgets around my site that are set to feature newer content.
Note: I did not change the URL and I left old comments but included a line in the article saying when it was updated.
Need help boosting your blog traffic?
The reason I’ve had the motivation and structure to tackle all of this is thanks to Sharon Gourlay’s Build Blog Freedom course which I started mid-March. (This isn’t an ad or affiliate – I just really like what Sharon does!) The monthly modules have a heavy focus on SEO and affiliates and how you combine the two to create passive income. It’s still early days for me but the first module included a course on goal-setting, which has been massively helpful for reaching my traffic goal. Once I had made a monthly plan to reach it there was no excuses.
If you’re more of a beginner or intermediate blogger then I also recommend The Blogger Course by The Travel Hack, which will teach you how to get more blog traffic and set you on the right track for treating your blog like a business.
What hasn’t helped me get more blog traffic?
Instagram. I have such a love/hate relationship with Instagram as it’s fun to use but gives my business so little back compared to the time I can accidentally waste on it. I get some good clicks from Stories but it’s nothing compared to the power of Pinterest and Google.
So, while I’m getting serious about traffic I’ve taken a step back from Instagram and it hasn’t hurt my blog or brand in the slightest – in fact, I was interviewed by Vice this week after the journo found me on Insta, even though I’ve been less active over there for weeks. The lesson, for me, is to spend more time on the things that get results and less worrying about those that don’t.
If you’ve made it to the end of this marathon you deserve a medal. I hope you find this information useful but do let me know f there’s something I’ve missed or you think I can do better. I’m off to tackle making sure this upward curve continues!
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