After setting up your blog, you feverishly write post after post with the expectation of dozens of visitors checking out your content. Several months go by and you check out your site’s analytics, only to be crestfallen as the numbers are hardly reflective of the time and effort you’ve spent publishing the pieces you’ve written. We’ve all been there and many bloggers have lost motivation to continue writing when looking at their website metrics. From header optimization to organic reach, here are 7 reasons why your blog isn’t getting traffic.
As you start out blogging, it’s difficult to generate more site traffic through organic reach alone and it’s leaving out a potential audience that includes billions of monthly users on social media. According to Statista there will be 3.02 billion monthly active social media users by 2021 and 81 percent of the U.S. population currently has a social networking profile. The best part about posting on social media is that it’s a quick and easy way to drive free traffic to your site.
It’s simple to create several social media accounts and start posting away, but you won’t get the results that you’re looking for if you don’t have a social media strategy in place. You should consider the following things when expanding your social media presence:
If you haven’t already, think about the audience you’re trying to reach with your content. What are they interested in? What social media platforms do you think they spend the most time on? How can you create posts specific to that social media medium that will appeal to that audience?
Looking to learn more about search engine optimization? Read our SEO beginner’s guide for everything you need to know about SEO and how to drive business results through search engines like Google and Bing.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when starting to build your social media presence is posting on every social media platform possible. It’s important to be great at 1-2 instead of mediocre at 4-5. Different audiences are drawn to different platforms, not to mention that each platform has its own algorithms that determine whether your post is something users would be interested in.
Facebook is all about sharing content and is heading toward live videos as a significant factor for engagement. Twitter relies on frequent and short tweets accompanied by 1-2 hashtags and media. Instagram is photo-centric and hashtag heavy.
Each platform requires different size dimensions for photos, varying lengths of captions and rules regarding hashtags and peak traffic times. Start with 1-2, cultivate your following, become experienced in the requirements of the platform and slowly branch out. Using social media is a surefire way to bring in more monthly visitors to your website.
Social media isn’t used to self-promote to your followers. It’s important to engage with them in what’s known in the 80/20 rule; 80 percent of your time on social should be engaging and interacting with your audience, while 20 percent is promoting your content. Engage in Twitter Chats, stream live videos and chat with your viewers, respond to every comment and leave comments of your own on other people’s posts.
While social media is an easy way to get traffic to your site, if your site isn’t optimized or easy to navigate then users will quickly bounce as soon as they enter. You should make the following considerations when designing your site:
It’s easy to make your blog vibrant and colorful, but make sure that it isn’t too bright. Stick to 2-3 complimentary colors (the Adobe Color Wheel is great to use for instances like this) and 1-2 serif typefaces for your posts. It’s tempting to change the color of your typefaces, but the easiest thing for users to read is a black font on a white background at 16px.
With a lot of my clients, one of the biggest considerations for their sites is making it easy to navigate in as few clicks as possible. Does your site have a clearly-defined menu in the masthead with a homepage button? Are any links broken or redirect to the wrong page? More than 67 percent of users will bounce from a site if it takes too many steps to purchase or get desired information, marking the importance of easy navigation.
Optimizing your blog for desktop viewing is still important, but studies show that more than half of website traffic comes from smartphones. Most smartphone users expect a website to load within two seconds; 29 percent will immediately switch to another app or site if the load time is too long. Your website should also have responsive design so that a friendly user-experience is provided on all platforms (most WordPress themes utilize responsive design). If you don't have a SSL Certificate installed to redirect from HTTP to HTTPS, Google will penalize you from a SEO standpoint and users are more likely to bounce when faced with the red unsecure triangle displayed next your website's URL.
Google also ranks your website based on how quickly it loads. There are a few ways that sites are tracked on its speed:
This is a sample of pageviews on your site and how quickly they load.
Execution speed looks at the load time of any discrete hit, event or user interaction on your page. It tracks how quickly images load and response time to button clicks.
Time to first byte (TTFB) is how long it takes for the first byte to load on your site. This is the most important aspect in determining your site speed.
If you’re using visuals and photos in your posts, try to keep them in a file size of 200-500 kilobytes so the page loads quickly. For videos it’s a best practice to embed them after being uploaded onto YouTube so that your site isn’t bogged down with a data-heavy video. Minifying source code and compressing images is also important in reducing the time it takes for your site to load.
Once you get users onto your site, make sure that your design theme or template is responsive and functions perfectly on a smartphone. Also make sure that you’re using a CDN such as Cloudflare to reduce server response time. CDN’s store images and data in their virtual servers and serve them based on the user’s IP address and location.
Earlier I mentioned that it’s initially hard to gain significant organic reach when you first start blogging. After a few months of making the right design considerations and building your social media following, it’s incredibly important to optimize your posts for Google’s search engine.
In a nutshell search engine optimization (SEO) is the algorithm Google uses to crawl your site to determine if your posts are relevant to a user’s query in its search bar. If you aren’t optimizing your posts for Google, then there’s little chance that your site is being ranked to display according to that user’s query. There are a few things to look out for when optimizing your posts, starting with:
Keywords are one of the most significant factors for SEO. Your posts should revolve around using the right keywords that answer a user’s question on Google. There are two types of keywords: short-tail and long-tail.
Short-tail keywords are typically 1-2 words and should generally be avoided. It’s difficult to know what a user is specifically looking for based on 1-2 words. As an example, if a user types into their search bar “new car,” we have no idea what they’re looking for. Do they want to buy a new car? What model and year? Which brand are they looking at? Are there specific features that they want to learn more about? Put simply, we don’t know. Not only is it hard to determine that user’s intent, but these keywords are highly competitive, making it difficult for you to rank among a sea of other competitive websites vying for that keyword.
Long-tail keywords consist of phrases with four or more words. Because they’re more specific, there’s a significant decrease in user queries, but it allows you to optimize your post so that it effectively answers that user’s question.
Using the previous example, if a user is looking for a new car, they might type in “features comparison between 2016 Buick Verano and 2016 Honda Civic.” Now we know what kind of information they’re looking for and can include that along with synonym keywords into your post. Doing this will show Google that your site effectively answers that user’s question and will strengthen the chances of it ranking on their search results page.
A helpful plugin that I use on my site is Yoast SEO. It’s great for providing a starting guide on optimizing your posts for SEO, but it’s important to not overstuff your post with keywords. Stick with using your main longtail keyword 1-2 times in the body of the post and in a subheading or two. Using synonym keywords, or keywords that are similar to your main keyword, are beneficial and should also follow the same rule of being used 1-2 times in your post and subheadings.
Google looks at more than just the body of your post when crawling for keywords. Make sure that your main keyword is included in your title, meta description of your site, URL and the ALT text of any photos that you use in your posts.
One thing to watch out for is that your site wraps your keywords in H1 and H2 headings, as these are indicators that Google looks for when crawling your website. I recently found out that my previous site theme didn’t designate H1 headers to my titles, making my site lose out on a lot of potential organic traffic. Inspect your site source code and check to see to see if your theme is doing this.
Linking to other posts is another way to optimize your post. There are two different types of linking: internal links and external links. To keep it brief, internal linking refers to linking to content on your website within posts. Doing this shares the SEO juice with the rest of your site and other pages instead of just that single page that’s ranking well on Google’s search results page.
External linking refers to linking to other websites. When doing this, it’s important to link to 3-4 high quality sites that aren’t directly competing with your keyword, as external linking also shares your SEO juice with those sites and vice versa. You don’t want to be linking to shady sites or sites that aren’t affiliated to the niche your targeting.
A huge mistake that many bloggers make is writing posts with the expectation that people will read their content because they wrote it. Short answer, if your content is boring, then no one is going to read it. You should be passionate about what you’re writing; it’ll reflect in your piece. Having said that, your content should be easy to digest and understand to the average reader. It also needs to be visually appealing. In point #2 I mentioned sticking to serif fonts and visual considerations to make when laying out your site.
Digital allows us to utilize so many different mediums, whether it’s with pictures, infographics, videos, even embedding tweets or interactive charts into our articles. Make sure to spruce up your content with 3-4 visuals that will keep the reader enticed. A free tool that you can use to produce stunning photos is Canva, a drag-and-drop photo editor with a friendly interface that anyone can pick up without prior experience. If you need photos to accompany your posts, Pexel or Pixabay also offer uncopyrighted and commercial-free stock photos for download.
A wide range of bloggers often start posting furiously in the beginning, posting several times a week expecting immediate results. When motivation wavers, this posting schedule becomes irregular and infrequent until the blogger eventually gives up on producing content. Consistency is the best way to cultivate a following.
If you aren’t consistent, followers won’t have an expectation of when content is released and your blog will drop out of their minds as they search for other sites to satiate their daily consumption. To combat this, consider the following:
Writer’s burnout is a real thing. You need to figure out your writing tolerance, whether it’s writing three short posts a week or churning out a 2,000 word piece. I block out my weekend to sit down, come up with some content and write until it’s finished. When I first started, writing 1,000 words a week was a daunting chore, but over time it became easier and now I can churn out 6,000 words a week without burning myself out. Figure out the best day to pick a topic and write about it until it’s finished.
Many successful blogs often write about different kinds of topics in their niche. In my case, I come up with a piece centered on digital marketing, case study analyses in the world of public relations, a weekly photography challenge and a 20-minute podcast. Be sure to diversify your content a bit and choose specific days and times of the week to upload your posts.
Varying up your topics will ensure that your content is fresh instead of rehashing the same thing with every post. It’ll also allow you to set specific days and times to upload, giving your readers consistency so they’ll know when to hop onto your blog to check out your latest entry.
I mentioned the importance of external and internal linking when optimizing your posts. A method of getting more traffic to your site is through backlinking, which refers to links of your site being shared on other sites. Google looks at the number of backlinks when determining the authenticity of your site and if it’s a reputable and trusted source.
There are numerous ways to backlink that fall into three categories: white hat, black hat and gray hat. White hat techniques are Google-approved ways of building backlinks. I won’t go into much detail regarding black hat and gray hat, but if your site is found to be practicing these techniques it can seriously penalize your site from ranking.
A few techniques that fall under white hat backlinking include guest posting, commenting on other people’s sites and sharing backlinks with other users in your niche.
Guest posting is one of the best ways to develop backlinks, but it’s important to make sure that you fit the website with your content and that the link to your site is a Do Follow Link. The difference between Do Follow and No Follow links are that Do Follow share your SEO juice with the site that you’re linking to. No Follow blocks that SEO juice from flowing elsewhere and should only be used with sketchy sites, affiliate sites and sites that reference useful information but don’t fall in your niche.
Sharing backlinks with other bloggers is also great, but you should get to know them and only share 1-2 backlinks with that site so Google doesn’t perceive it as a blackhat or grayhat technique.
Commenting on other sites is the most passive technique of the three I’ve mentioned; it has benefits, but a lot of sites will No Follow comments and the links that are posted in them, so it’s a matter of searching around to find a site that Do Follow’s your site link in the comment’s section.
There’s a lot that goes into what drives traffic to a website, ranging from site speed, social media, keywords, backlinking and content creation. By following these techniques your website traffic will see a significant increase, although it takes time and consistency to see the results that you’re ultimately looking for.