Sometimes it happens. You’ve been watching your blog traffic grow for months. Your Alexa ranking keeps improving, and Google Analytics has shown a consistent rise in unique visitors. And then one day you wake up and . . . BAM . . . things aren’t so rosy. You’ve hit a blog traffic plateau; your numbers have flatlined like an EKG gone wrong.
After having a momentary meltdown and slight heart attack of your own, you wonder what’s going on and what you can do to remedy this problem.
Here’s the good news. A plateau is much easier to fix than a steady decline in traffic, and it’s something you can tackle immediately and diligently so the blog will bounce right back and you’ll see green once again. But you’ll need some time and testing to get it right.
Below, you’ll find 17 steps to take. Before taking any of them, though, check through your history of posts and engagement to see what has been working (use Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, Hootsuite, and so on). And consider creating a content calendar to let people know what to expect. Consistency can help boost traffic and the likelihood of repeat visits. People who have enjoyed a regular feature usually come back for more.
Then thoroughly test any moves you decide to make. Give each a few weeks to a month, while keeping an eye on the responses from your audience and search engines. If something starts to take off, replicate and repeat. If something is a total bust, ditch it and don’t look back. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and no sense in holding on to extra baggage.
Tactics to Try
Send a newsletter. A weekly or monthly newsletter is a great reminder for subscribers to check out any recent posts or highlights from your blog. You can also use it to promote giveaways and other events.
Launch a new regular feature or column. What are some of the topics that excite your readers? Is there a particular type of post that they engage with more often and more fully? If so, consider offering it regularly. I’ve done that on my blog, MommiFried, with my biweekly My Favorite Pins of the Week feature. I generate a lot of traffic from these ongoing posts.
Add a forum or community platform to your blog. It’s hard to compete with existing channels such as Facebook and Twitter, but if you post a constant stream of fresh and relevant niche content, your own community just might take off. One blogger who has successfully done this is Jill over at Scary Mommy. Check out her plethora of highly trafficked message boards.
Hold a contest or giveaway. When properly promoted, contests and giveaways attract sizable audiences. You might consider teaming up with other bloggers, brands, or local businesses to provide attractive prizes.
Conduct interviews with influencers or other people who interest your audience. If you have a niche blog, such as one focused on cooking or fitness, reach out to industry leaders and people who share a love of the topic for key interviews or guest posts. You’d be surprised at how willing most people are to participate when the subject is one they care about.
Review the ways you’re using your book to drive targeted traffic to your blog from social networks, and make any needed adjustments.
Host a link party or blog hop. There are ample opportunities to co-host link parties and blog hops. Along with several other bloggers, I host the Ladies Only Blog Share Link Party every other week, and I see a great traffic boost during these times. You can also launch your own party or hop. They’re simple to start and promote.
Reach out to companies you’d like to work with. If you’ve been sitting around waiting for that perfect company to contact you about sponsorship, advertising, or partner opportunities, you’ve been wasting valuable time. Don’t be afraid to get proactive. Draft a pitch letter and make contact about brands you think are a perfect fit for your blog.
Do more with SEO. I know this one just made you cringe. Suck it up! You’re a blogger, and part of your life revolves around search engine optimization. If you have the means, hire an expert to help improve your blog’s ranking and traffic.
If that’s not an option, these four tips should help:
- Make sure your meta-information—presented in your Website/blog as your Title, Meta Description, and Keywords—reflects what you are all about and includes important details such as your location.
- Master on-page SEO.
- Use comment linking and guest blogging.
- And don’t forget about internal deep linking; when you write a new post, link terms in it to older posts that are relevant and insightful, because internal links improve the overall user experience on your blog and show search engines that you are delivering value to your visitors and readers.
For other tips and resources about SEO, look around online or ask some fellow bloggers.
Invest more time in social media. If you haven’t been spending adequate time, this is the moment to get serious. Social media open the door to new audiences. You must invest more time in these primary referrers of blog traffic. No way to sugarcoat it.
Redesign your blog. Maybe it’s time for a facelift. Looking for some help? eLance has some great designers and programmers ready to start as soon as you hire them.
Guest-post on other blogs. This is a quintessential blogging technique designed to foster growth and enhance opportunities. Seek out smaller complementary blogs and also relevant blogs that feel out of reach. If you’re a strong writer, possibilities will open up immediately. The link juice and referral traffic can be substantial.
Participate in community discussions on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. There are thousands of niche communities all across the Webosphere. Find those that complement what you write about, and then participate actively. Don’t be a wallflower. And do not spam these communities. Fill out your profiles, including your expertise and your blog’s URL, and use your communications to do the rest.
Add images to your blog posts (one per post is fine). Change each alt title to a preferred keyword or representative description, and make sure each image is optimized for Pinterest. As of right now, Pinterest is the source of the heaviest traffic to my blog. It’s critical that posts include a way for people to share them across all social media platforms.
Include videos in some of your posts. A large percentage of the population prefers video over straight text. You can easily make videos to appeal to this audience with the camera on your smartphone or laptop. Uploading to YouTube first gives you an opportunity to fix any issues with viewing, such as low-quality colors or shaking.
Invest in advertising. This is a risky proposition, but quite often it pays off. Test the advertising waters by spending a little to boost your posts on Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn can be expensive, and using Google AdWords is tricky. Expand your use if test results are good enough.
Last, but hardly least, ask your readers what they want. It pays to poll the audience; trust me. Send a quick email poll or conduct one via Facebook. Find out what people want to see more of and what they would love to see you add to your blog.
Crystal Ponti, a digital marketing consultant with online-community expertise, reports that she has worked for some of the largest sites in the world and that she currently helps authors market their books online and offline at Blue Lobster Book Co. She blogs at mommifried.com. To learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org.