Monday, November 13, 2006

How to increase your blog traffic

I have posted before about Jakob Nielsen and his comments on blogs, written from the perspective of business-to-business web design. I concurred with most of his recommendations, in a theoretical way. Recently, though, I've noticed that my hit counter has, for the first time ever, shown signs of life (10 a day may not seem like many, but try saying that to someone who got three!). Here are my (experience based) suggestions:

  • Give posts clear titles. After half a lifetime reading British newspapers, it seems wrong somehow to just say what something is, without trying to twist it somehow, use a quotation, or make it ironic. Wrong it may be, but nobody will be Googling for your play on words, so you'll be buried deep in page 10,000 of "Big Brother 7" or whatever.

  • Guide newbies. Almost all your visitors will be visting only once, to look at a specific subject they are currently interested in. Most will move on. But make it easy for them to explore by having links to your best or most popular posts as part of the sidebar.

  • Post often, or regularly. This is where I fall down, because my blog isn't the No. 1 thing in my life- it's down there at number 75 or so. Repeat visitors like to see new content. And of course, the more content there is, the more archive there is to be picked up by searches.

  • Don't bother with carnivals, webrings etc. There are 100 million webistes out there. Sharing links and passing around a handful of readers from site to site makes no difference. That's not quite true, but in general I'd say if you're going to invest your time, put it into writing more content rather than chasing links.

  • Be topical. My review of Not Going Out might not be very good, or thorough, or even a proper review, but it's currently Google's No. 1 hit for "Not Going Out review". Maybe you can't always be right- but you can always be first.

  • Review things. Why? Because one of the great uses for the Web is for people to find out what a film/book/album is like. So people like reviews. Much better than hearing about shoe shopping or your favourite breakfast cereal.

  • Link out. Links are helpful to the reader, and raise Google rank. Win, win.

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