In the last 6 months, my blog has grown by over 1000%. Up until the end of last year, I did not focus on my blog as much as I should have. Instead, I focused on growing my Instagram. Since the end of December, I have worked on figuring out ways to increase my blog traffic.
After spending hours researching and learning as much as possible, I saw my blog grow quickly and organically. While I am still learning, here are some of the things that have worked (and some things that haven’t). In two years of blogging, I have learned quite a bit. After about six months of blogging much more actively, I am finally seeing the results.
Remember that you do not have to do all of this at once. Pick one thing that you can improve on and focus there. If you want to make this full-time, make sure to take time to focus on money-generating tasks and not just tasks that drive traffic.
It will take time to see a payoff for all of your work, so don’t burn out by trying to fix everything all at once. In fact, you can always pin or save this post to come back to it again after you’ve accomplished one of these things to find your next idea.
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1. LEARN & FOCUS ON SEO TO INCREASE BLOG TRAFFIC ORGANICALLY
When I first started blogging, I assumed I knew how to write. I am an English teacher after all. It turns out that being a good writer does help with SEO (Search Engine Optimization). However, there is more to it than that. You need to figure out how to do keyword research and where to add those keywords, as well as utilize tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
SEO is one of the best ways to increase your blog traffic because it helps you move up in search rankings. By targeting and ranking for keywords, your blog will naturally bring in more traffic without you having to do anything other than create the content.
The disappointing thing with SEO is that there is no immediate gratification. Do not let this get you down. Keep working, and it will pay off. Some posts may rank quickly, especially if they are answering a question that is not easily found elsewhere. My post on eating in the Coppa Club Igloos in London without a reservation hit the first page of Google within a month. That is rare though. Many of mine are still working their way up. It typically takes 4 – 6 months to generate decent search engine traffic from what I have learned. It may take longer depending on a lot of factors though. The top results on Google are often over a year old.
THE IMPORTANCE OF KEYWORD RESEARCH FOR SEO
At the beginning, I just started to write. I created a title that looked like something I would read, wrote a post about the place, and then published it. If people searched for it, it would come up in Google I thought. I did not realize how many factors go into this whole process.
WHY I NO LONGER USE YOAST SEO
If you use WordPress like I do, you probably have Yoast at the bottom of your blog post page. Don’t worry too much about Yoast. I don’t even use it anymore.
I don’t use Yoast because Yoast, while it can give you good tips, makes you think you have correctly optimized your post and should rank for it when you may have no chance. For example, if I put in the keyword Iceland on my Iceland itinerary post, Yoast says I’m good. I’ve used the keyword in all the right places. However, I have very little chance of highly ranking for the term “Iceland” against so many other big travel and news websites.
For Yoast to be useful, you have to know what keyword you are targeting. That is when keyword research comes into the picture. Keyword research helps you find the right keywords to target based on your blog’s niche and size.
USING KEYSEARCH TO FIND KEYWORDS
Personally, I use Keysearch as it is the keyword research tool that most people recommended and one of the best blogging tools out there. I use the basic plan and pay annually. I signed up when they had a deal around New Year’s, but they also have deals at Black Friday and possibly other times as well. There are other free keyword research tools you can use as well although I do not have experience with them.
Before using Keysearch or many other keyword research tools, you will need to know your DA (domain authority). You can check your DA here (you have to create a free account – that’s all I use here). Your domain authority is based on a few factors including links to your website. While it is somewhat of a vanity metric, it attempts to help you see your chances of ranking on Google or other search engines based on the strength of your site.
Once you know your DA, you can choose a keyword to target. Type it in, and then Keysearch will show you the top sites ranking for that term. It will also show you the search volume for that term and list off other possibilities. If your DA is 15, and the top sites are all DA 50+, you have very little chance of ranking for that term. However, don’t give up. You could still rank if you optimize your post correctly.
You can also try a related search term and think in terms of long-tail searches (6 day itinerary for Iceland instead of just Iceland for example). Think about other ways to word it or look at the titles of those top posts for ideas. Your post, if it is well-written, will rank for more than just that one search term (including some you may not expect). By finding one that works, it doesn’t mean you can’t use the other search terms, but your primary keyword should be the one where you have a chance to rank.
WHERE TO PUT YOUR KEYWORD
Once you find your keyword, it is time to start working on your blog post. For SEO purposes, you want your keyword to go in a few places. This is when Yoast could be useful – once you have found a long-tail search term. However, it is still not perfect as it does not do as well as Google at recognizing similar wording if you use the free version.
For best SEO practices, your main keyword needs to be in your title, your slug (link), the snippet (or meta description – what shows up under the link in searches), your first paragraph (or first 100 words according to some), and the headings (not all of them, but one or two for sure). Your main keyword and any secondary keywords should be in your headings, your body paragraphs, your alt text on images (this helps those who use assisted reading options but also helps Google rank your images), and formatted text.
When you link to other articles within your blog, try not to use just “click here”. Instead, use a keyword you targeted for that page to give it a little extra boost.
USING GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE & GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Once your post is up, you will want to keep an eye on Google Search Console and Google Analytics. If you haven’t set these up for your site, do it now! They bring so much value to helping you learn more about your site. They are must have blogging tools!
Google Analytics shows you who is on your site, where they came from, all sorts of audience demographics and behaviors, and so much more. I’m going to focus on Google Search Console now though as it relates more to keyword research and SEO.
Google Search Console helps you see what terms people are using to see your site and which pages they are clicking on to get to you. It lets you see how your searches are doing over time. You can create different reports to see where you can improve on keywords. It can also help you find other keywords to go back and add to a post.
For example, my Groupon Getaways and Living Social Escapes post was one of my first posts. It was getting very little search traffic. It had lots of impressions but very few clicks. I realized some of the clicks it got was from searches on if these were scams. I went back and changed the title and reworked some of the main text to fit some of the search terms bringing in traffic to it. Now it regularly brings in traffic from Google searches and from the Google Discover page.
Check through it every once in a while, especially if traffic drops for a post. Then you can see what happened or if you fell in rankings. Use that to go back and optimize your post again based on which words are and are not bringing traffic so that your traffic increases again.
2. MAXIMIZING YOUR TIME WITH WRITING BLOG POSTS
While learning SEO basics with keyword research will help you grow over time, there is more to SEO than just keywords. There are also some other strategies to use to help drive more traffic to your blog. These things include writing more often, writing longer posts, and writing posts that are specific. However, don’t spend all of your time on your blog writing, as there are many other tasks that help too.
WRITE MORE OFTEN
It should probably be obvious that writing more often will bring you more traffic. However, there is a delicate balance to find here. When I first started my blog, I sometimes had a few months in a row with no new blog posts. This is not ideal. Last week, I published three blog posts. I don’t plan to do that every week as it took a lot of my time.
Personally, my goal when working full-time was to post one blog post every two weeks. My husband works every other weekend, so I would sit down on those weekends and knock out a blog post. Now that I am blogging full-time, my goal is one post a week. If I can do more than that, great. When I was teaching full-time, sometimes I didn’t hit the every two week mark. That was okay too.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to stick to a set schedule. Do take the time to set a goal for how often to post and try to stick to it as best you can. For some people and some niches, you can easily push out a couple of new posts a week. For other people and other niches, maybe once a month is better. I wouldn’t let too long go between blog posts though. Posting more often is supposed to keep giving your readers a reason to come back and also helps Google see you as being active.
Putting more content out there will give people more reasons to click and read. That will help you bring more traffic to your site. Make sure the information is quality information though so that people keep coming back for more.
WRITE LONGER POSTS
Well, unless you are like me. Then you might need to write shorter posts! I tend to be naturally wordy when it comes to writing (I’m an English major, so there’s that). For SEO, you don’t want to have a bunch of short blog posts with no depth. While you may have some shorter posts that are about one little specific thing, you should in general aim to have at least 1,200 words. Really, 1,600 – 2,000 words is more ideal, and longer posts tend to be even better.
Google tends to favor longer posts for a few reasons (the top 10 typically are 2,000+ words). They are more likely to give a detailed answer that gives the reader what they want. They are also more likely to rank for multiple search terms because of all the information included. For ad purposes, they also give you a chance for more ads to be viewed which brings you more passive income. Chances are, you can also find ways to link to a few other posts as well to keep people on your site.
With long posts though, make sure you are providing valuable information. People are not going to stick around if it is boring and not helpful to them. Don’t just write to make the post longer – write to provide more value.
WRITE SPECIFIC POSTS AND NOT JUST GENERIC ONES
Everyone likes to write the itinerary posts or top things to do posts in the travel genre it seems. Some of my best performing posts are more specific though. Think about what you searched for and wanted to know before that trip. Write to answer those questions. You don’t have to always give the full itinerary to have a post.
It also helps you with internal links if you can write some more specific posts that are related to your longer itinerary and destination review posts. Could you do a post on just one activity or restaurant or hotel? If so, you can link the two posts which helps with lowering your bounce rate and keeping people on your site longer.
DON’T SPEND ALL YOUR TIME WRITING BLOG POSTS
While putting more content out is good, there are many other tasks that go along with blogging. You need to make sure to focus time on revenue-generating streams and not just traffic. You can also research affiliate programs, see which posts are bringing you the most money, learn more about SEO, create new pins, guest write, pitch brands, market your post on social media, etc.
There are so many tasks besides writing the post, editing the pictures, and hitting that publish button. When you are setting goals and figuring out what works best for you, make sure to balance it out. The traffic won’t help you much if it isn’t earning you anything. I’m focusing more on traffic and sessions right now to qualify for Mediavine. However, I know that some of these other tasks will improve traffic as well as generate income now.
3. CREATE YOUR OWN INSTAGRAM LINKS PAGE
If you are looking to gain traffic immediately, take time to do this now. Since creating my own version of a Link in Bio page, I have had almost 2,000 clicks on that page. Before doing this, they were all going to an outside source that housed all my links. Since you can only have ONE link in your Instagram bio, you might as well make it count.
Creating this landing page can help you drive more traffic to your blog immediately. The instant gratification side is great, and it takes only a little bit of your time to set it up. To keep this post a little shorter, I have a full post on setting up your own Instagram landing page to drive more traffic to your blog.
4. USING PINTEREST TO DRIVE TRAFFIC
Pinterest should be your best friend. It is not just another social media platform, it is a search engine. I put off learning Pinterest for a year and a half. It wasn’t until last fall that I started to look into it. By January, it was paying off and now brings me daily traffic.
Pinterest is one of the most valuable tools out there for bloggers. If you aren’t getting the traffic you want from Pinterest, see if you are making one of these Pinterest mistakes that keep you from going viral on Pinterest.
TAILWIND IS WORTH EVERY CENT
I am often cheap. I don’t want to spend money if it won’t bring a good return on investment. Tailwind does that. If you use my affiliate link, it will get you $15 and me $15. Tailwind is one of my favorite blogging tools because it saves me so much time.
I sit down on Tailwind for about an hour once a week (sometimes more, sometimes less). I can’t be on Pinterest all the time, although doing some pinning directly is important too, so I use Tailwind to schedule my pins. Tailwind lets you decide how many pins you want to do a day (I do 50 – 70 right now) and then picks the optimal time to post them. I just find the pins and it does the rest.
When I put the images into my blog posts, I already optimize them for Pinterest with a pin description using a plugin called Social Pug (Grow by Mediavine now, but you do not have to be on Mediavine to use it). If you use Elementor for your blog, use Tasty Pins instead. You can also code it in using data-pin-description=”Pin description here.”
If you do not add a pin description, Pinterest pulls the alt text which is meant for screen readers and accessibility. If you do not use alt text or a pin description, no description is pulled. People are not likely to fill in the description for you, and it will not help you if it is blank (Tailwind won’t post it at all).
Tailwind also has Tailwind Tribes. You can join Tribes in your niche and share pins there. Then people repin them to their own boards. This is also where I find most of the pins I schedule. Make sure to pin high quality images so that people see your pins (from your site and others) and want to follow you to see more.
Once I set up my pins for the week or next few days, I’m done and don’t have to think about it anymore.
OTHER PINTEREST TIPS
CREATING MULTIPLE PINS
When I first started using Pinterest, I knew I needed pins. I used to create just one or maybe two pins per post. Now I usually create 5 – 10 to start. I only add 2 – 4 to my blog post, but I pin the rest manually to Pinterest or through Tailwind.
I also pin ALL of the images on my blog post to any applicable boards. Sometimes one of those images takes off, so I then use that to create a new pin with that image.
I’ve also started playing around with pins with multiple images on them. I’m using a few formats now and testing out which ones get the most clicks and saves. So far, I am seeing the pins with multiple images perform better than the ones with just one image.
JOINING GROUP BOARDS
When you first start out, you have no followers and few monthly views. One way to get your pins seen by more people besides Tailwind Tribes is to join group boards on Pinterest.
They can be tricky to find and join. I go to a few people who are successful on Pinterest in my niche. On their page, I look at their boards. Look for the boards that have multiple profiles in the little bubble at the bottom left corner of the images for the board. Those are group boards.
Click on the group boards that are applicable in your niche. I look for boards that are active and have a good number of followers. The rules to join are typically in the introduction. Sometimes there is a link to click on or you need to send an email.
If you aren’t sure, you can always message or email the board owner. The board owner may not be advertised, but you can see it in the link. For example, one of my group boards is https://za.pinterest.com/helenesula/all-things-blog/. If it didn’t tell me already that Helen Sula is the owner in the description, I could find out the owner by looking at the link just in front of the group board name. If you remove the group board name, it will take you to Helene’s Pinterest profile where you can find her link to her blog to email her. You can also send a message through the Pinterst platform to ask about joining.
PIN DESCRIPTIONS ON IMAGES
I know I’ve mentioned it already, but I want to say it again for people who are scrolling. Make sure to add a pin description to EVERY image on your blog post. When people pin an image, this is the description that shows up. Mention what is in the picture and then include a sentence that advertises the blog post. You can always hover and pin one of my images to see an example of what I mean.
5. USE OTHER BLOGGERS LIKE HELENEINBETWEEN AS A RESOURCE
If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably heard me talk about Helene Sula of HeleneinBetween.com. Helene started as a mentor and has become a friend. When I first started, I spent hours on her website pouring over her free resources.
There are a lot of bloggers out there who talk about what has worked for them. Use those resources. However, be aware that not all of them know what they are talking about. Helene does. She has been blogging for 7 years and worked in social media marketing before that. She knows her stuff, takes pride in keeping up to date with the current trends and tools, and doesn’t put anything out there without researching it first.
6. FIND FACEBOOK GROUPS IN YOUR NICHE
Facebook pages can be a great resource as well. I avoided them for a while. I felt like I didn’t have time for one more thing. How could I possible benefit from these to make it worth my time?
Well, fast forward to now when I mostly go on Facebook to check these groups. These groups give me a chance to learn from others and ask my questions to get feedback. It is important to join pages in your niche, but if you’re a travel blogger, I’ve got one you NEED to join.
FACEBOOK GROUPS FOR BLOGGERS
You can get the best free advice in Facebook groups for bloggers. You can ask questions, answer questions, or just stalk the pages for lots of good (and free) information. There are quite a few Facebook groups out there, but the two I have learned the most from are Make Traffic Happen and DNW – Making Money From Blogging (from Digital Nomad Wannabe). You can find tips for all things blogging as well as collaboration and guest posting opportunities.
One of my favorite Facebook groups for female travel bloggers is Wandering Women Travel Bloggers. Again, you can ask questions and get answers here as well as network with others in your niche. This group also runs optional threads, and my favorites ones are geared at getting shares for your blog posts.
Every Wednesday, there is a blog share Wednesday where you comment and pin the five blogs ahead of you. On Saturday, they do Blog Post Saturday where it is more of a free-for-all. You can post any travel related post from your site, ask for the engagement you want (comments, pins, tweets, click throughs, etc.) and then others will engage with it. It is a great way to get more eyes on your site, make friends, and have your posts get shared. There is no obligation to reciprocate, but people are more likely to engage with your post if you engage with theirs. They are also likely to remember after a few weeks if you do not ever reciprocate.
Thanks to Blog Post Saturday, I can see the trickle down effect throughout the week from the social shares my posts get. This is another great way to start increasing traffic to your blog immediately as well as making friends and connections in the blogging world.
7. GROWING AN EMAIL LIST
Growing an email list is not easy unless you put effort into it. It is still a work in progress for me, but in the last few months, I have grown my email list for 0 to over 500. It would be higher if I had more freebies to offer, but that is an area I struggle in – thinking of what freebies to offer.
I just used the built in email list for the first year and a half of blogging. Around Black Friday, I signed up with ConvertKit. ConvertKit makes it easy to create a freebie, send it out, build lists, keep separate lists (I have travel, Instagram, and blogging lists), tag people based on the actions they take in your emails, etc. I can send out emails to people who have taken specific actions or signed up through specific links.
Lately, as my blog views have grown, my email list grows almost daily by a few new subscribers. Once I have the forms set up, I don’t have to do anything at all. I put a ConvertKit email sign up box on every page like the one below, and sometimes I offer a freebie to go with it. I used ConvertKit when I released my free preset, and it made it so easy to send it out automatically.
You can set up emails to be sent out ahead of time or even full email sequences. If you want to do a mini email course, ConvertKit makes that easy too.
I originally was sending out emails every time I did a new post when it was once a month or so. Now that I am posting weekly, I am doing monthly or bi-monthly emails about new posts. I did give an option by letting people click on a link to be tagged if they want an email for every new post. That keeps me from annoying people who don’t want to get emails as often but still allows me to communicate with those who are interested.
You can sign up here to start growing your email list today!
8. USING COLLABORATION POSTS AND GUEST POSTS TO DRIVE TRAFFIC
Links from external sources are important for increasing your Domain Authority or DA. It is hard to get natural external links though. Those external links, especially if they are from sites with a higher DA, help show you are more trustworthy. If other trustworthy sources link to you, Google assumes you are trustworthy too.
While this is no longer one of my main focuses, I do still intend to do some guest posting and collaboration posts as I have time. You can find guest posting opportunities on a lot of niche sites that are run by a group (like We Are Travel Girls or Dame Traveler). You can also find them in Facebook groups from other bloggers. The same is true of collaboration posts.
For guest posts, you write the entire post. It cannot be a duplicate of a post you wrote for your own site. That is the downside. You are creating content and often providing it for free. You often provide the photos to go with it too. In exchange, you get some links to your site (make sure to link back to your own site and related posts!). This can be time consuming, but a guest post can help send you more traffic and help improve your domain authority. I’ll be honest though – I don’t get very much traffic like I thought I would when I first did them. You can also find paid writing gigs as well by pitching your ideas to sites that pay for your work. That is much more worth it if you can get paid and get links.
Collaboration posts are similar but not as much work. Often, you are writing just a small blurb that will be part of a larger post on a topic. While you still get a link from it, it often doesn’t help your DA quite as much as it does when you are the only one getting the link. Because there are links to multiple other blogs, it decreases the power of your links.
If you are just starting out or really want to focus on improving your DA, guest posting and collab posts are a great way to help. If you are more established and just hoping to get more traffic from it, there are better ways to spend your time.
Hopefully these tips will help you as your grow your blog and allow you to increase your blog traffic quickly. Feel free to leave any questions or other tips in the comments!
Looking for more blogging tips? Find 24 blogging tips I wish I knew when I started 24 months ago here, the 9 blogging tools every blogger needs here and 15 reasons you’re not going viral on Pinterest here.
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