Blog Tips Series: 4 Effective ways to drive traffic to your Blog

Design Crack is a design blog, so style minded people skip this article. Today, I’m writing one in a series of articles that covers the nuts and bolts of blogging. If you are a fledgling blogger looking to build some audience, then keep reading. Why listen to me? I’ve been testing a bunch of different techniques for years, and I’ve found a few things that have worked consistently to drive tons of traffic to my site. I’ve decided to just stick to a few really specific techniques and leave the standard stuff out of the discussion.

1. Web Rings still work:

It’s scary, but true. The ancient webring still boosts traffic to my site. About a year ago, I joined a design webring called Lounge72. I had never really considered a webring because they have always seemed so cheesy. This webring, though, looked cool and it had great quality links. If you can find a ring for whatever subject your blog is about, then I would consider joining. I now receive dozens of visitors every day from this webring and this has been consistent for months.

2. Join Stumbleupon to promote your own blog:

Stumbleupon.com is a bit of an everything place. It’s has so many pieces and parts that’s it’s hard to keep track of what it all does. The part that I’m mainly concerned with is StumbleUpon’s “stumble” button. This is the most powerful thing on the site. Why? It’s like a remote control for the web. You type in a topic and start hitting the stumble button, and it brings you to site after site after site on the topic you’ve chosen. In the past, sites like Delicious just give you lists of sites tagged with your topic, but a list isn’t as fun or as inspiring as seeing actual sites themselves. It’s just a much more fun way to channel surf the web.

This is what the Stumbleupon toolbar looks like.

Here’s the big tip: I submit every page I write on my blog to Stumbleupon with their handy submission button which can be added right in the browser. When I did this, I immediately started seeing 30 or more people coming to my site each day with occasional spikes of several hundred unique visitors.

I’ve also used Stumbleupon to test the effectiveness and usefulness of a page through Stumbleupon’s paid program. Let’s say you wrote something that you think people would find really important or useful. You can insert this to be a top stumble destination for a particular topic, age group, and even location. People will see your content first, and be able to comment on your page. This is a quick and inexpensive way to get your blog in front of people. If it’s great content, people will keep coming back, and you will get a “thumbs up” from any stumbler that liked the page. If the content sucks, then you will know quickly because you will get tons of “thumbs down”. It’s really a handy way to find out if you are on track with what you present to people.

3. Blog your posts from Flickr to your blog:

One thing that Flickr allows you to do is blog from Flickr, and Flickr automotically sends the post to appear on your site. This is using the XML-RPC interface which you really don’t need to know anything about. All you need to do is follow the directions from Flickr to set it up. I don’t use this technique myself, but I have seen friends get great traffic to their site using this technique.

Here’s the big tip: Write the article, but be sure to include a number of keywords that your blog is about in the article as well as tag the picture with a number of keywords. Then include a link back to your site at least once in the article if not twice. I would also make sure to give the link tag a descriptive title. If you’ve got interesting photos, or you start each article off with a photo like I do, then using Flickr to drive more traffic to your blog is going to be effective. Also, I suggest looking through the Flickr Groups and finding a number of groups that this photo would be appropriate to submit to. The photo will then show up in the groups and bring yet more eyes for your blog. If you are a heavy duty photograher who can describe photos well, then this is going to get you some serious traffic.

How do I do this? First, get an account with Flickr. It’s free for the basics, but it’s a bargain to get a pro account at $20 per year. Next, upload some photos. Upload instructions are HERE (this link works only if you’re logged in). Make sure you’ve set the photos up so that you give permission for the photo to be blogged. Then, set up a connection to your blog at this address: http://www.flickr.com/blogs.gne?from=extend (this link works only if you’re logged in). Just follow the instructions on how to set up your blog to talk to Flickr. If you can’t figure any of this out, just leave a comment and I’ll help you. Next, after all of this is set up, you can go back to your main Flickr page, click on one of your photos, and you should see a button above the photo that says “blog this”. Then just follow the instructions and the photo should pop up into your blog. Finally, I copy the blog entry and paste it into the photo description on Flickr which guarantees you have the blog entries on both locations. The photo description is the little text directly under your image. This is not related to the tags which are a different thing entirely. This sounds a bit complex, but it’s not so bad once everything is set up.

There are some flickr plugins for wordpress blogs that I’ll discuss in later articles that may help speed this process.

4. Get a big search engine traffic boost with the Image Googlebot:

Something every blogger who likes to include pictures on their blog should be acutely aware of is this: Is Google indexing my images and if not then why? I’ve noticed through some crafty research that certain sites get nearly half of their search traffic from images.google.com. That means if your images are not indexed then you could double your search traffic by making sure the images are indexed. First, let’s find out if Google is indexing my photo’s. Go to Images.Google.com and click on advanced search. Do a search where you restrict the site to just your blog URL, and if the results don’t turn up any images then Google is not indexing your images. If you are seeing all your images indexed, then stop right here and skip to the next step.

If you’re not seeing images then there are two things you need to check: First, is the robots.txt file. This file commonly resides in the main directory of your webserver and is there to ward off search engines from finding files that you don’t want to show to the search engines. Often times, the robots.txt will tell a search engine to skip over your images. To boost your traffic, make sure that this file is not excluding your images files or directories. A detailed discussion of what to look for in the ronbots.txt file can be found here. I also highly recommend signing up for google webmaster tools which will test to make sure that images are being searched. The second way to make sure your images are being searched are meta tags in the head of your page (here’s a quick overview). Let’s say, for instance, you just copied a template for your blog and didn’t create it from scratch. Often times, template designers will put a meta tag in the head of the theme that will ban search engines from reading images. They do that just as a safety precaution, but if you want your images indexed, you’ll want to get rid of this meta tag as well. Unfortunately, you will not see an immediate bump in traffic. Google takes a long time to index all of your images as to not put too much strain on your web server. Expect to see a significant traffic increase, but this will be a slow process that may take months.

In the next article, I will cover: How to gain knowledge by reading other blog’s publicly available site meters, essential WordPress plugins for driving traffic to your site, meta tag writing, and a host of other topics.

As always, your feedback is appreciated.

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