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?