I have had many people over the last month ask what I have been doing to have success in increasing traffic to my blog and other online content. This post highlights my answer to them. You may not be able to utilize all tips on all your posts or content. Use whatever you can whenever you can to improve your results.
When you make a post, cross promote other posts that might be of interest to others that are reading this post. People may have found this particular post from a search engine or someone sending them a link to it directly. If you are doing a post on "How to protect SharePoint with System Center Operations Manager" and you have already done a post on "How to Install System Center Operations Manager Step By Step" make sure you add a cross link to your prior post. Also go back to your prior post and add a link to your new post. Cross promote your own site where possible (and appropriate)
Develop a relationship with other bloggers and influencers. Look for people that blog about topics that are of interest to your audience and watch them. When you create posts, add links to others posts that might be of interest to people that are reading your post. For example: if you are doing a post on "Planning for Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010" and there is another expert that has a post on Business Intelligence (BI) in SharePoint 2010, do a cross post. That is, add a link to the bottom of your post to link to their post. Don't be bashful, let them know that you posted a link from your post to theirs. Eventually, they will start posting links to your site as well. It is also ok to develop an "agreement" with other specialist to coordinate posts to help each other cross promote. BTW, anybody want to cross post with me? Send me a note at http://blogs.technet.com/b/danstolts/contact.aspx.
There are many public and social sites that want the community to be active. Take advantage of this and post your content to these sites. Some like to post a "preview" of the real post and then provide a link to the entire post. Some sites do not allow previews so make sure you understand the rules. If you do a preview, I recommend you make the preview post a complete and relevant post. It is fine to have your real blog post more detailed but you might upset people if you put a "to be continued" type of post online. It may also get you kicked off the site so be careful and considerate. Also, be active on other community sites. Don't just make reposts of your content, answer questions and become active on other sites. As people that are on these sites start to recognize you, they will start watching your blog. This could actually make your blog posts go viral so be smart and do not ignore this one!
Not everyone has a 20mb x 20mb fiber optic Internet connection. Make sure that the server you are using to host your blog is responsive. Also, make sure you are not showing so many posts on your home page that it takes too long to load. There are other things to consider when it comes to the server like order your content is displayed, search capabilities, appearance, and many, many more. These are beyond the scope of this post.
The URL of your post is important. Use keywords and avoid characters (like space) that URL encode to multiple characters. I am not a fan of creating posts with words all jumbled up. It is much better to add an underscore character instead of a space. The primary reason for this is it makes it more readable. If you have a bunch of %20's in your URL it will be hard to read what the post is about if you are looking at just the URL. Often URL's are forwarded so you want them to be readable. Many blog platforms will automatically generate the URL based on the title. The way around this is just create the post with the words (and underscores) that you want in the URL then go back after the post and change the title if you like to add the spaces or change the words as needed.
Video's have been popular for a pretty long time now. With the economy being in such bad shape, they are even more popular. People are finding it difficult to get away from the office or to get the money to attend live events. They still need to keep up with technology so they turn to the web for this training. Create your video's using your favorite screencast creation software and post them.
Do NOT nag your followers. I do not want to do this for all of your posts but for posts you really want to try to spread or posts you are particularly proud of use other outlets to spread the word. Post a link on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Send emails out to any groups you belong to. Send an email to friends and family (as long as it might be of interest to them) and ask them to help you promote it. Ask fellow bloggers if they would mind helping you promote it. Be careful here. Do not do this too often or you will loose the impact and ability to use this avenue.
If you are just getting started creating a blog just do it! If you are uncomfortable getting started. Just start slow with small posts. Instead of doing a 10 steps to success with something do something really small. Perhaps a topic like "Windows 7 Snipping Tool Rocks" how to use this little tool with a screenshot or two can be done in 5 or 10 mins and can build your confidence to continue on. The more you do it the easier it will get. There is no substitute for experience. Another thing you might want to do is look at other bloggers to see how they started. Most blogs have a list of posts by month. Navigate to the first month of their blog to see what they did. This will give you some ideas of how you might get started.
I have found some success in applying these tips and techniques. Be there no mistake about it, I still have a long way to go. I would really like to see 100 times more traffic on my site. However, I can tell you I have found success deploying these techniques and this year I experienced 400% growth in my online reach over the same period last year. Additionally, I have had much feedback from customers thanking me for "saving their butt" by showing them how to solve a big problem they had. One last point… No better time than the present to get started. If you are starting your blog or just want to improve your blogs performance, you have to start. Put a stake in the ground and start building. Good luck!
Feedback / Additions / Disagreements greatly appreciated!
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