Many first time bloggers automatically assume that once their blog is setup and they put a few posts on it, they will get some hits and regular readers. This is quite untrue. You won’t get any traffic if no one knows about your website. In this article I hope to tackle these problems and discuss some of the common ways bloggers and webmasters drive more traffic to their site by understanding the user. I have received many emails from aspiring bloggers asking me what they can do to get more traffic, so hopefully this will help out at least those people. Don’t forget to checkout the prequel, How To: Start Blogging, that covers the technical side of setting up a blog.
Before I get into getting your name out there, your blog has to have some style. Most web users are instantly turned off by tacky site designs or extreme neon colors. I know I won’t stay at a website too long if the layout or navigation annoys me. The goal is to have a unique blog, different than all the other weblogs on the net. The one thing I really stress to others is making it easy for your readers to contact you. It shouldn’t take a reader more than a click, if any, to find your email address or a contact form. This makes the reader feel like someone actually runs and cares about the website. An about page is also a great asset to have on a personal site or blog. The more a reader knows about you, the more they trust your content. I highly recommend reading this weblog usability article by usability guru Jakob Nielsen.
Your blog’s usability goes hand in hand with its content. You can specialize in a niche subject as long as you have an idea of how many people might be interested in that subject. If you do well with your niche subject matter, you could get some crazy traffic for being the only decent blog online with that type of content. On the other hand you could have widely used content, such as some aspect of technology, but add your own twist with your opinion or comparing/contrasting from other tech analysts. People won’t go to your site to read something they could have read on CNet or Tom’s Hardware, they want a unique take on it. If you learn anything from this article, I hope its that reblogging is a very bad thing. The one thing to kill your traffic is having identical content to another several hundred blogs. I suggest taking a glance at Mr. Veloso’s Evils of Constant Reblogging to get a better idea. Finding out what your content should be is a key element of your blog’s identity and the type of image your blog will ultimately emit.
Technorati is Your Best Friend
Technorati is one of the best traffic providers for bloggers. It makes your blog much easier to find when people search by technorati tags. Technorati is also a large blog ranking engine. Based on the number of links to your blog from various websites, your blog is given a rank. The higher your rank the easier your blog is to find when people search for things. A higher rank gives your blog greater credibility in technorati. If you don’t already have a technorati account, get one. After you have setup the main settings, such as your profile, you need to claim your blog. Go to Account and then down the page to Your Blogs. Enter the URL of your blog in the URL field and then hit “Claim this weblog.” Once you’ve done that go to “Configure this Blog” and fill in what you can. Click the checkbox to select “Include this blog in Technorati’s Blog Finder” and fill out as many tags or keywords that accurately represent the content in your blog. When you’ve done that, click “Save Changes” and then grab your claim code. There are two types of codes that you may put somewhere in your blog for technorati to verify that your blog exists and keep track of it. If you have a blog that is Blogger powered or some other blog host that does not give you direct control of your blog files you will want to use the “Link Code” and post it somewhere on your blog. If you are using a more versatile blog publishing system, such as a custom WordPress or Movable Type installation you should copy the “Embed Code.” You can edit your sidebar, header, or footer file and put it wherever you like. You also have the option of posting a Technorati search box or various links on your blog without altering the code you just pasted. Select the options you like and click “Save Changes.” Everything is done by automatically by Technorati. One last thing you might consider is adding the Technorati ping link to your weblog. Doing this will let Technorati know when you have updated your blog. Find out how to do that on Technorati’s Ping Configuration page.