How to Increase Traffic to Your Blog

Not every blogger is interested in increasing traffic to their blog but if you're one of the ones who would, here are some tips.
Blog design:

An easy to read, pleasant design can make your blog stand out. Take a close look at blogs you enjoy reading and see what elements they have in common.

Make it easy for readers to subscribe to your blog. Most blogs have this near the top of the sidebar. If you don't have subscription options available, sign up for a service like feedburner. I'd recommend you have both RSS and email subscriptions.

Help your readers find your older content. I've had great results using the similar posts plugin from WordPress. Use your sidebar to highlight popular posts.

Use pictures and illustrations! They grab the eye and break up long blogs of text. Flickr is a great source for free photos, read Give Each Blog Post a Pretty Face With Flickr to find out how to find images that are free for you to use and how to give proper attribution.

Social Networking:

Sign up for social networking sites like StumbleUpon and Twitter, they can be a great source of traffic as well as a great way to network and find out the latest trends. I've had great luck with StumbleUpon traffic; according to my stats, the average visitor from there stays on my site for over six minutes and views 3.5 pages. You can also get traffic from Facebook, Myspace, Digg, Reddit and more.

Find groups in your niche. For example, I am a member of both Twitter Moms and Mom Bloggers Club.

Submit your blog to sites like Blog Catalog.

Other Networking:

Comment on other blogs! I can't stress the importance of this enough. If you read a post you enjoy, leave a thoughtful comment. This gets your name out there and on most blogs, readers can click on your name to see your site. On sites with commentluv enabled, your last blog post title shows up under your post. There have been times when one comment on a blog post has resulted in 40+ visits to my blog in one day. Even if it doesn't result in direct traffic, people will start to recognize you and you'll become a part of the community.

Participate in online forums. Don't spam them with your posts (in fact, on some forums this is frowned upon) but most will let you put a link to your blog in your signature.

Talk to other bloggers. Interact with them on Twitter or Facebook. Email them with questions or compliments.

Offer to guest post on a blog in your niche. Not all blogs take guest posts, but it can't hurt to ask.

Learn Basic SEO:

SEO is search engine optimization. You won't need to be an expert, but knowing the basics helps. A great free resource is The Bloggers Guide to SEO. Some basic things you'll want to do are:

Write clear, descriptive headlines. If you have a keyword you'd like to rank for, make sure it's in the title.

If you use WordPress, the All in One SEO Pack is a valuable tool.

Interlink your posts as much as makes sense. If one of your posts relates to another, link to it.

When linking, use good anchor text. Anchor text is the term for the words that are underlined to make a link. Instead of click here, write a description of the link using one of the keywords for the destination page.

Try to get as many sites to link back to you as possible (without spamming, of course!). This is another area where commenting and participating in groups and forums helps a lot. While some add a "nofollow" tag to your URL, many do not and search engines will count this as an inbound link to your page. Having lots of inbound links from highly ranked pages helps your own page rank.

Page Rank is Google's way of saying how important your page is in the eyes of Google. It has nothing to do with how much traffic your site gets or how good of a blogger you are. Higher page rank helps your pages show up higher on the search results page.

The most important rules of all:

You have to give to get. Help other bloggers out; leave comments, give them a Stumble, tweet their last post, share their link with your friends. Be generous with compliments and quick to do a favor or answer a question. Become an active member of your online (and offline) communties. It takes a while to build trust and a reputation but once you do, you'll find that others will be eager to help you out.

And nothing substitutes for high quality content. Having lots of visitors to your site means nothing if they don't stay and read your words.

Be patient, many A-list bloggers have said it takes them years of work before getting serious traffic. Even if your goal is more modest, it will still take time and hard work.

Other Resources:

This is by no means a comprehensive guide. If you'd like more information, I find these blogs helpful:

How to make my blog

Problogger

Blogging without a blog

Copyblogger (more of a marketing writing blog, but has great blog tips)

Good luck! .Remember, don't be discouraged and continue to give it your all!

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