With more than 2 million blog posts published daily, more companies than ever before are jumping on the blogging bandwagon. But to build a blog that stands out from the crowd, drives significant traffic and reaches its target audience? That takes some skill and dedication.
And yet, few of us have the time or resources we’d like to be able to dedicate solely to our company blog. Sure, there are some low-hanging fruit most of us already know: use keywords in post titles, create a schedule and sticking to it, email posts regularly to blog subscribers ... But how do you continue to drive growth when you’ve exhausted all the easy improvements?
Lucky for you, we’ve got six tried-and-true, intermediate-level strategies that can help even the most resource-strapped marketing teams kick things up a notch to increase blog traffic and drive the results you want to see.
1. Look for forums to share your post.
Actually, the idea isn’t just to share the post; the idea is to share a summary of your post and a link back to the post. To start, find out where your target audience hangs out online. For us at Clariant Creative, this is often inbound.org. GrowthHackers.com is sometimes another good choice for us, and even Tumblr can be right for some posts. Do a little research to find the forums that are popular in your industry.
Our favorite approach is to create a short “teaser” article that provides a quick synopsis of the original post but leaves a few key points unanswered. We’ll then include a link back to the original post, to encourage the reader to click through to read the rest of our content.
Sharing the post in this way not only helps drive traffic directly from the forum, the inbound link means the post will rank better in the search engines, which in turns drives even more traffic!
2. Switch up the timing of your subscriber email updates
A client of ours recently switched from weekly email updates to once-a-month updates – and the results have been amazing. Open rates have skyrocketed by 187%, and blog traffic has grown by 208%. Ironically, by sending fewer emails to their list, they’re generating tons better engagement per email.
Meanwhile over at Clariant Creative, we’ve been experimenting with sending our blog email notifications on Sunday mornings. So far, the data is encouraging: We’re seeing average email open rates around 31%, which we’re quite happy with.
Both examples prove that, in marketing, it’s dangerous to rely on assumptions. Don’t be afraid to go against “best practices” – both of which would suggest that once-a-month emails and Sunday morning emails might not be good moves. Had we been scared to challenge the status quo, we never would have found what works best for our target audience.
Related Post: Benchmarking Your Email Statistics: What's Normal [Data]
3. Broaden your on-page SEO to include synonyms.
With semantic search, Google is getting quite good at recognizing different phrases that mean the same thing. This dramatically change the SEO game for content marketers.
So while it’s still a best practice to identify and use keywords in such places as meta tags and body content, don’t feel like you’re stuck repeating that same keyword over and over again.
Instead, using related terms and synonyms – in addition to your target keyword – will help you expand your opportunities to rank well in the search engine, while still help you perform well for your initial target.
We took this semantic approach for a recent blog post we created for a client, and just two months later, that post is ranking for 10 variations of the target keyword.
4. Have a point of view.
Perhaps the biggest mistake we see people make with business blogs is forgetting the fundamental truth that you must earn your reader’s attention. If your post simply regurgitates information readily found in a hundred other blog posts, why on earth would anyone click on your post? It’s not that you can’t choose an evergreen topic; it’s just that you need to have something original to say on the topic.
Brian Dean at Backlinko has figured out a terrific approach he calls the Skyscraper Technique to take already-popular topics and create truly outstanding blog posts that kill it in the search engines and generate tons of engagement and backlinks.
In our own experience, this approach works. Two of the top performing posts in the Clariant Creative blog each contain close to 2,000 words and offer a fresh perspective on such perennial marketing topics as creating buyer personas and identifying customer pain points.
Straight up, this is hard work. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, the results can be breathtaking.
5. Switch up your formats.
The top 10 most popular posts at Clariant Creative represent a smorgasbord of post formats. One top post is a simple quiz that tests the reader’s SEO know-how. Another great performer is a SlideShare post that showcases PowerPoint best practices. Both posts are fun and fresh, and they’ve both generated terrific engagement.
Another client of ours has done fantastically well by incorporating a mix of infographic-style posts, client spotlight posts, and industry profile posts.
Be original, and just a little unexpected. You’ll delight your readers, and you’ll be delighted with the traffic this brings.
6. Pay to promote your top performing blog posts on social media.
It’s getting tougher and tougher these days for business posts to gain visibility on most social media platforms. In particular, new algorithms on Facebook have been a beast for businesses to break through; posts frequently don’t even show up in the feeds of people who have previously liked your page. Trying to reach new fans? Forget about it.
In response, many businesses are using paid ads to reach those coveted new audience. Paid social media can pay off – but if you’re like us and always trying to stretch your limited budget, you’ll want to be careful about how you spend your ad dollars.
Facebook makes things more complicated than they really need to be by offering marketers multiple options to take your money. You can boost posts, promote posts, or create standalone ads. There’s some controversy over which method is best (see this post and this post to learn more). Our own data is similarly mixed; we’re still testing to see what works best for our business, and we strongly suggest you do the same.
Also, we suggest not throwing the dice on an untested post. We prefer instead to promote posts we already know are popular, so we can use our ad to build on that popularity and drive traffic through the roof.
Ultimately, if we were to condense all of our advice on increasing blog traffic down to a single sentence, it would be this: Test everything, and listen to your data. Once you’ve already covered all the basic best practices with your blog, you’ll need to rely on your data to help you continue to grow your blog.
There’s plenty of great marketing advice out there, but things change. Markets shift. Buyers evolve. What works for one business won’t necessarily work for yours. Dig deep into your numbers, note your benchmarks, and start playing around with new approaches. Measure, compare, and adapt accordingly.
And then share your results with us – we’d love to feature your success in an upcoming blog post!
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