6 important tips I’ve learned for getting more traffic on your blog posts in 2020
Every day, hundreds of thousands of blogs are competing for the same digital real estate, our screens..
If you have a blog in 2020 and are actively trying to make a living from it, I want to first congratulate you for being among the (relatively) few who still believe that blogging is a worthwhile venture. It’s no surprise that the internet continues to provide a surplus of content for the public's consumption, yet many bloggers (that I’ve spoken to) have seen decreases in their website traffic, usually attributing the loss to “forced updates” from web browsers.
While it’s true that browser giants like Google are constantly making updates, a decrease in blog traffic is the result of nothing more than a failure to listen to what people are searching for, and not updating your own blog to follow suit. What’s happening is- there is a cultural change in the way that searches are being done online. We used to search for things like “best italian restaurant in seattle, WA on valentines day”. That’s a very specific search, with a whole lot of keyword cramming. Unfortunately, people just don't search that way any more, especially if they’re in any sort of hurry.
Instead, a common search today will look like “italian food seattle valentines” (if it’s even that detailed). Because Google has had to shift their algorithms to provide more appropriate responses to the queries that users submit, so must we as bloggers change the way we create and target our blog content.
Here are 6 important tips I've learned in my blogging experience, for getting more traffic to blog posts in 2020, based on my years with Millennial Moderator.
- 1. Set all backlinks to open in a new tab (href)
- 2. Include Google breadcrumbs and other metadata in your posts
- 3. Use social bookmarking websites
- 4. Suggest similar articles throughout your post
- 5. Make all URLs dynamic and responsive
- 6. Actually create and USE a mailing list
1. Set all backlinks to open in a new tab (href)
This might seem like a no-brainer, but for the longest time I didn’t even think about how clicking links on my website affected retention rates. I built my website from scratch using AWS S3, so everything had to be custom designed, including all backlinks within a page (yes, it took a lot of time to push updates). The default behavior of the href syntax is to replace the current webpage with the URL that was clicked- meaning the user is taken away from your blog page and onto a different one. From an analytics standpoint, this is tracked as an exist, and effectively decreases retention rates and increases bounce rates (how often people leave your website entirely, instead of navigating to other pages you have). In most cases, people will click links just to take a peek at whats on the other side, not very often intending to stay on that target page (from my experience). If a backlink replaces your page with the current one, the user has to click the back arrow to reload your page, which could present additional load delays and might deter the reader from even going back to your website entirely.
By switching your href links to open in a new tab, you allow for users to retain their place on your website and open a new tab with the target webpage, which they can simply close to return right back to where they were, on yours. This way, your analytics doesn't show that people completely navigated away from your page, and it prevents the user from having to wait for your page to reload, if they choose to go back. Most website builders like Wix or Squarespace probably have this backlink attribute by default (remember, I built mine from scratch), but in case you’re looking for a manual way to convert your href links to open-new-tab, just add target=”_blank” to your href element. This is how it should look:
If you need help with the coding side of things, check out this post.
2. Include Google breadcrumbs and other metadata in your posts
Google is getting really (really) smart with how they serve content to their users. In their more recent updates, they’ve added a variety of meta data features that allow websites to appear more dynamic to viewers on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). For example, if you’ve heard of Google Knowledge Panels, they’re a Google-side meta data feature that improves the browsing experience by collecting and displaying all relevant information about a particular topic. For example, check out the knowledge panel for my music project- Lowsh. Google breadcrumbs is a similar, metadata feature that allows Google to display previews of your webpage content, right on the search results page, for a richer and more dynamic experience. Here’s a list of Google metadata features (called structured data) that you can, and should, start including in your blog posts.
The important thing to note, is that Google prioritizes websites that choose to implement these metadata features, and ranks them higher on SERPs. That means that if you don’t use these features, Google will likely lower your overall ranking, which is basically a flat tire in the racing world of SEO. If you need help adding Google breadcrumbs or any other metadata to your website, feel free to reach out and ask me questions on my website. I’m happy to help.
3. Use social bookmarking websites
Social bookmarking is the process of adding your website to a social platform that acts as a sort of aggregator for web content. For example, Twitter is a social bookmarking website because you can post your website URL and it will be added to the overall “feed” of Twitter, for others to see, comment on, and most importantly, click on. Social bookmarking has been around for awhile, but it isn’t very talked about in the SEO world, from what I’ve been able to find. Listing your website on social bookmarking sites can encourage more website visitors, possibility of shares, and even increase SEO ranking. Here are several examples of social bookmarking websites that I recommend you start posting your content to, ASAP:
- Medium (if your work is an article)
- Dribble (for designers)
- Slashdot (for more technical bloggers)
- Scoop.it (more towards business)
4. Suggest similar articles throughout your post
One of your main jobs as a blogger, is to retain readers, by providing them plenty of clickable links to get to other places on your site. If you haven’t yet, you should be telling your readers about other articles that they should read, based on the topic they’re currently reading about. For example, if you have an article about how to build a website, then throughout the piece, you should be recommending other articles you’ve posted that relate to websites- how to design a website, price comparison of website builders, increasing website traffic, how to get web design clients, etc. Much like the way Google algorithms work, we must think ahead to what the user will be looking for next, and give them a straight path there. Failure to do so in a timely manner, could mean they go back to the drawing board and find another website that answers their question.
There are many ways to convince readers to click to another page to learn more. Traditionally, blogs will have a suggested articles section at the end of the piece, just like this current one has. But to get click throughs that count, you need to get creative and really speak to the value that an additional article can bring to the reader. Even within the body of an article, you need to know how to funnel traffic based on what the reader is thinking about, and offer them more ways to learn about the topic you’re discussing. Sending readers to other pages on your site is also great for your analytics (decrease bounce rate), and ultimately, gives readers more value, which is what really counts in blogging.
5. Make all URLs dynamic and responsive
Some time ago, I wrote about the importance of using Twitter cards, which basically turn every URL that's posted on Twitter into an image-based, clickable thumbnail. By presenting an image as opposed to a boring blue link, readers feel more confident about what they are clicking on, and as bloggers, it's important for us to establish trust from the get-go. Plus, Twitter cards take up more digital real estate on the feed, and are less likely to be missed while scrolling. I was able to increase click throughs by almost 30% by adding Twitter cards!
Social sharing links are another important link type that simply MUST be dynamic. If you click the Twitter share button at the end of this article for example, the Twitter website will open (in a new tab) and a predesigned message will autofill into a tweet. All the user needs to do at that point, is click tweet (if they approve) and your article link gets published on their network, just waiting to be clicked. By simplifying the steps that readers need to take to share your content, we encourage more overall sharing and reading of our blog posts. Another really great way to use dynamic links is through Click to Tweet, which places a message for users to simply click and be taken to Twitter, where they can tweet the message instantly! Check it out and give it a try:
6. Actually create and USE a mailing list
When it comes to retaining readers, newsletters and mailing lists never seem to fail. Despite what some people might think, emails are still a massively successful way to get more eyes on your content- so many people rely on emails in their day to day lives, and each email presents an opportunity to present an uninterrupted message to the reader. Emailer services like Mailchimp make it extremely easy to automate signup forms and popups, and they have a free version that is perfect for bloggers to get started with. The tricky part with getting users to signup (a commitment), is in the positioning and the value proposition. For example, if this is your first time on Millennial Moderator, you should have seen a pop-up with an invitation to join. Otherwise, I have a section to sign up in the footer (bottom) of this page. We also utilize a direct URL form, which is great for sending to people directly and posting on social media.
I should mention that although Mailchimp is great, I am currently seeking other solutions for emailer services, primarily because I want to be able to customize which pop-ups appear on which article. Wouldn’t it be great if (for example) an article about music production had a popup form that spoke directly to readers who are interested in music? As opposed to a blanket, signup statement that may or may not resonate with the reader? As I choose the right mailing solution, I will write an article and updated this one. If you have any suggestions, please let me know, or drop a comment on this Reddit thread!
When it comes to getting more traffic to your blog posts, you need to above all, be willing to try new things. The traditional model of keyword jamming no longer has the same SEO benefits that it once did. Even long-form content, which was praised by Google in previous years, sometimes falls short in comparison to shorter articles that directly answer a question that people are searching for. Keep trying new things and if you have any questions about how to get more readers to your blog specifically, feel free to shoot me a note.
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