How To Increase Traffic to Your Blog or Website

[First Posted 12/16/09] Since I get asked this from time to time let me share what I did a few years ago to increase traffic to DC...

When I started Blogging there weren't as many blogs so it was easier to get noticed. But what I did tirelessly was to read other blogs and then link back to something I said on my own blog. I did it often, all of the time. That got me noticed. Then people would read what I wrote. If they liked it they came back. And I engaged popular blogs where many people already visited. I challenged the Christian sites, or on skeptical blogs I made substantive comments. Then what happened is that sometimes the authors would respond in a post of their own, which drove even more traffic my way. Remember, even bad publicity is publicity[!] Being the atheist that I am, Christian sites will tear into you so be better prepared for that than I was. It's very hard not to wallow in the mire with people who personally attack you, but that's what happened. Nonetheless, these sites have readers who will come and stay at your blog for a while.

I've noticed that readers come and stay for a while and then move on after a few days, while others will stay for weeks and still others will stick around for a month or two. Very few readers stick around longer than that, although once someone becomes a reader he or she will come back sporadically for a long time. That's why you need a steady influx of new readers, and that's why you must be willing to continually visit other blogs and make comments on them; that is, until you get to the point where your blog is frequently listed among the top sites in your category of expertise. DC was ranked in the top 10 Bible Blogs for November out of over 350 of them seen here, my target audience, and it was ranked 13th among atheist sites seen here. I have not been commenting much on other blogs, especially popular ones, and so my ranking is slipping in part because of that.

Another thing is the post title. I recently posted something called "Did Jesus Exist?" But I never argued there was a person named Jesus who existed, only that there was a historical founder to the Jesus cult. His name might not have been Jesus. The title is the thing. And such a topic is controversial, which drives up traffic. Current events also get traffic, lots of it. I recently did one on Oral Roberts who died. That's getting a lot of traffic. Then too asking your readers to comment gains their attention, because everyone has something interesting to say. Ask them what they think and they'll tell you and then come back for another visit to respond to others. Include a "Recent Comments" button in the sidebar so readers can follow what others are saying on posts they haven't subscribed to. I've also found that if you mention a famous person's name it gets people's attention.

Have a button on your website where people can choose to follow your blog with a feed. Then when you post something new they will know about it and visit if it sounds interesting. People will even be happy to be seen as a follower of your blog because that helps them get noticed by other readers. If there is a blog that you frequently visit then become a public follower of that blog since that's free advertising for you.

You must also frequently post substantive stuff or links to other sites that are interesting. The more posts you have in your archives the more hits you will generate from search engines as people search for keywords.

Titles, frequency of posts, archives, comments on popular blogs, current events, controversial topics, feeds, and substance. That will help your Blog or website gain a readership--don't forget substance! But it takes effort, lots of it, and it can be frustrating. Still, if you believe you have a message to share then it's worth it.

Any other suggestions?

20 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Oh, and another thing. Don't moderate comments if you can. ;-)

John D said...

That's good advice John. So good I decided to follow it by posting my first comment here.

I picked your book up when I was in the States during the summer. Excellent stuff.

John D said...

I am aware that that was a completely unsubstantive comment. Apologies.

John W. Loftus said...

No worries John. Posts are good enough, even if substantive posts are better.

Thanks for commenting.

John W. Loftus said...

John D, your site looks good! I hope others go there and read your stuff.

Larian LeQuella said...

Please don't critique my site! :)

I just like reading about your perspective, since it's one I really can't identify with on a personal level (never having been theistic). I do mention you to my theistic acquaintances though so if you get random questions from them, that's why!

The Uncredible Hallq said...

Any take on what the good Christian blogs are these days? I subscribe to a few Christian blogs with my feed reader, but these days it's only occasionally they post anything that seems worth responding to. I miss some of the blog fights I had in years back. Your thoughts?

John W. Loftus said...

Yes, Chris, I remember the Blog wars (with fond?) memories. It was hell but I miss it. Maybe I'll pick on a popular Christian site and start another Blog war just for old times sake, you know the one, Triablog...

Anyway, the longer I don't moderate comments the more time Christian trolls have to show up. And when they do you'll know them by their fruits. ;-)

The motto at DC is this: If you allow a free unmoderated discussion of ideas they will come...sooner or later.

Wes Widner said...

I wrote a post a while back outlining 3 resources I found to be particularly helpful when marketing my blog.

My favorite was the 279 days to overnight success which emphasizes making long-term goals and strategies like posting regularly (like you mentioned in your post).

Maintaining a posting schedule has been one of the hardest things I've done so far in marketing my blog but also one of the most rewarding as the traffic gains, while not enormous, are steadily increasing.

Anyhow, thats my .02

Bud said...

I say without shame that my posting a comment here is motivated by my desire to have people visit my blog. Consider it my taking your good advice.

I am an agnostic with theistic proclivities. Part of me still holds on to the idea that there's a god, and I'm not sure why. Functionally I'm an atheist; that is, I don't pray, consider what any god has to say about how I conduct my life, or look to a holy book for guidance, wisdom or cosmology. My life, pragmatically speaking, is "a-theistic": without god.

I used to be a Christian, and a minister and an apologist as well. Ironically, Christian apologetics served to push me towards rejecting Christianity. Still, I have this theistic tendency or feeling I haven't been able to shake. Maybe that's part of the process. I'm curious to read your thoughts, given your own background.

Sabio Lantz said...

John, when you say "don't moderate", do you mean don't censor or don't participate or just what?
Thanks !

John W. Loftus said...

Sabio, I mean by letting people comment freely as they wish rather than for them to wait until their comments are approved. This way people can comment and then comment again and again as others respond. This generates more hits as they do so. More hits means being ranked higher in lists of good blogs in your category of expertise. And getting ranked in these lists gets you noticed more. And if people feel like they contribute they will stay longer on your blog rather than move on in a few days or weeks.

Sabio Lantz said...

Thanx John, I agree.

BTW, this post inspired me so I posted on one more item you left off your list. Judiciously labeled pics ! I quoted you, of course.

John W. Loftus said...

Sabino, yes, good suggestion. I need to post more images. Thanx back to ya.

Winston Smith said...

John, you say "don't moderate comments if you can."

Sorry, John, but we don't want that to happen.

Winston Smith said...

But all kidding aside, your post is very revealing, John.

Inadvertently, you have explained a large part of your motivations in the "early days".

Sabio Lantz said...

@ Winston

Hey, is this an inside conversation? Since many of us are following this thread by email, could you kindly not make it a private conversation and fill us in (otherwise, you may wish to e-mail John). Smile !

Are you hinting at the crass motivation to just get numbers? If so, I think we all agree with that embarrassing fact - yet it is part of reality when it comes to effectively communicating in the long run, no? The question is how do we balance it with message. And I think John emphasized the solution, "Substance".

Sorry, if I am misreading your comment but it was a bit terse.

Leah Elliott Hauge said...

Question, John: Can you link back to your own stuff too much? I ask because I've been linking a lot on your blog and a few others since reading this post, and I don't want to wear out my welcome with the blog owners! I do make an effort to make a meaningful contribution to the conversation, and to make sure my entries that I'm linking to are relevant.

John W. Loftus said...

Leah, link away. Just be sure the link is relevant or else people won't bother clicking on it.

Cheers.

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