Once you finally get your blog set up and make it look exactly like you want it to, the next thing that you want, unless your blog is a private journal, is people to read the blog. There are a lot of ways to gain traffic for your blog, and some of them work better than others. Below are some suggestions for what to do (and what not to do) to get more traffic to your WordPress blog.
1. Stumble Upon– Stumble is a website which installs a toolbar in your browser (don’t worry, there is no annoying advertising or spyware, or anything like that) which allows you to “stumble” through the internet. You click “Stumble” and you are taken to a website based on your interests and the suggestions of others. You have the choice to mark the page as a “Like” or a “Dislike”, or you can review it. If you list your blog on Stumble, you WILL get traffic. I suggest writing a very good blog post and submitting it to Stumble (by clicking “I Like It” while looking at the post) and also submitting your main blog page. Doing so got me about 500 hits within hours. Since then, I get a few hits from Stumble every day. Sometimes it’s just one or two, and sometimes it’s twenty. If your content is good, more people will click “I Like It” and you’ll get more traffic. Something important to note is that if you submit every page that you write to Stumble, or if you’re not submitting anything else, you will eventually get blocked from Stumble or your submissions will carry much less weight. I suggest only submitting the posts that you REALLY think Stumble users will appreciate.
2. Digg – Unless you have a lot of friends and contacts on Digg, don’t bother. Digg can easily skyrocket your post from 100 Diggs to 1000 Diggs, but it will almost never move you from 2 Diggs to 20, or from 20 to 100. I listed about ten blog posts on Digg, and I think I got a total of one hit. If you do have a lot of support on Digg, or if you feel that you can build it, it might be useful. However, building a presence takes a lot of time and effort, and it might be better spent just by promoting your blog.
3. Facebook and Myspace– list your blog’s webpage on Facebook and Myspace. Don’t spam, but stick it in your status message or on your profile. I’m barely active at all on either website, but I still get two or three hits a week from people who see the link in my profile and click it. If you are active, and if people view your profile frequently, you will get a lot more hits.
4. Use WordPress Tags and Categories appropriately– When I first started using wordpress, I organized my Categories based on things that I write. For example, I created the SILT category for “Stuff I Leanred Today”. It turns out that your personal Categories are tied to wordpress Categories in general. So if I post into my personal Category “Erin’s Political Views” it stays put, or gets put into Category – Erin’s Political Views, and no one ever finds it that way. If I instead list it under Politics, it gets hit by everyone looking at the Politics category, and can even get picked to be “Best in Category.” Tags work similarly, except that from what I can tell, there seem to be a lot more tags in use than Categories. I tend to get most of my hits, currently (with the exception of Stumble spikes) from wordpress Tags, and a few from Categories. Also, on the front page of WordPress.com are lists of Categories and Tag that are currently popular. Use this list when you’re not sure what to write about. The most popular tags are usually Politics, Life, Music, Photography, etc. “Personal”, somehow, is even a popular tag. I would think to add “life” to my journal-type blog posts, but I would never had thought to add “Personal” until I looked at that list. Check it frequently.
5. Yahoo Answers -If you have a speciality, and especially if your blog is focused on teaching people about specific things, Yahoo Answers can be a good place to advertise. When you answer a question (being thorough and helpful) list your website in the box for resources. People who like your answer will click the link to your blog for more information.
6. Be the reader you want. Go to other people’s wordpress, read and comment. Subscribe if you like what they write, and add them to their blogroll if you think that your readers will like it as well. Also, if you use other websites based on the things you discuss in your website (for example, I use Flickr and DeviantArt for photography) make friends there and list your website on your profile. Whenever you see ANY content online that you like, promote it just like you would promote your blog. Do it anonymously, or do it in a way that lets them know what you have done. Hopefully, they will do the same for you, but at the least, you know that you’ve given someone else the satisfaction of seeing new hits on their blog.
7. Consider your own habits– How do you find websites? Do you search google? Do friends IM them to you? Do you click links in people’s blogroll? However you find websites, try to make your own blog accessible in the same ways. You’ll be amazed at how many ways you can think of to bring traffic to your blog.
8. Signatures– In emails and on forums, add your blog url to your signature. If someone likes what you have to say (or if they really don’t like it) they may click on the link to find out more about you.
9. Don’t spam– spamming, just as posting a URL to your blog on a website’s comments sections or in an unrelated forum thread, doesn’t do you any good. Think about it. Have you EVER clicked on one of those links? You’re only wasting your time if you spam.
10. Interesting Titles and Opening Lines – frequently, readers won’t see your entire blog. They will see the titles of one or more blog posts, and maybe the first few lines. If the titles are boring, they probably won’t click to read more. You have to attract your reader from the start.
11. Submit to contests and blog-rating sites – there are a number of websites, such as Blog of the Day Award, that you can submit your blog to. I recently won a Blog of the Day Award, and I’m getting a lot of traffic from that. Don’t be afraid to submit your blog, what’s the worst that can happen? Also, don’t be afraid to ask a blogger that you respect to look at your blog and make suggestions. If they like what they see, they may link to you. If they don’t, their suggestions will hopefully help you make your blog better.
12. Make your RSS button accessible- having an easy-to-find RSS button means that readers who like what they see will be more likely to add you to RSS. If your RSS button is at the bottom of the page, or if you don’t have one, readers might not even consider adding you to RSS.
There are literally hundreds of ways to promote your blog. Some of them are absolutely worth your time, and others aren’t. Some take only seconds to set up (such as an email signature) and others will take hours of work (such as building community on Digg). Decide what is worth it to you, and, above all, produce quality content on a regular basis. Granted, you can write stuff just for you, such as my Journal posts, but make sure that you are also posting things that readers who don’t know you will be interested in.
If you’d like me to take a look at your blog, feel free to post the URL in the comments. I’m thinking of adding a “Blog/Website of the Week” sort of post, if there’s enough interest.