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Entries Tagged 'Increasing Traffic' ↓

Why RSS really is Important

I write this as something of a slow convert to the importance of RSS subscribers. The reason is that a while back I had gained good traffic levels and a reasonable income without having any RSS subscribers. However, whenever I read articles about blogging, I heard people talk about the importance of RSS subscribers. So slowly I tried focusing more attention on this aspect of blogging.

Why I focus most of my blogging attention on RSS subscribers.

  • Chasing Google search traffic is a limited business model. What happens if you get a google penalty or you lose rankings?
  • It is hard to fool Google with artificial links. In this article – quality of links, I mentioned how ‘easy to get links’ are generally not very valuable. The really valuable links are the natural ones from visitors. My feeling is that these natural links are most likely to come from your subscribers. I don’t try to get subscribers just so I can get links. But, if you have hundreds of subscribers, it is likely you will get a lot more natural links than if you have just one (yourself)
  • RSS subscribers will help vote for you on social bookmarking sites.
  • RSS subscribers is a sign that people like your blog. This is good for advertisers. It is a sign to Google you are not a spam blog. I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow Google used RSS subscribers in determining rankings. A high subscriber guarantees a certain level of quality. Anyone can try manipulate search rankings but manipulating rss subscribers is much harder.

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Traffic levels for Blog Posts and Static Pages

I am amazed at the difference between traffic for blog pages and static pages. On my economics site by google blogger blog has 423 posts and gets on average 4,000 daily page impressions by Google Analytics. A static section of my site has 130 pages and gets on average 35 page impressions by Google analytics. A post on a blog gives a ratio of 10 page views per post. A static page gives an average of 0.3 pages.

It would be interesting to understand the disparity between blog pages and static html pages.

  1. One potential reason is that the static pages are generally shorter.
  2. Maybe their keywords are not so good. Although I tried on both sections to choose ‘keyword friendly’ titles.
  3. Maybe google give higher rankings to blogs, especially with a reasonable RSS susbcriber count?

But, it gives a clear incentive to add blog pages rather than static pages. In fact, I ended up adding a second blog, because I didn’t want to overwhelm the first blog with too many posts.

Another issue worth mentioning is that blog posts often give ‘temporary traffic’ For example, I have a few pages such as Euro 2008 forecasts, which is giving good traffic during 2008, but, will obviously drop off next year. Even blog posts without dates often give diminishing returns over time. I think what is happening is that Google, give a higher weighting to recent blog posts because this is often what people are searching – recent posts.

It may also depend on the niche of the Blog Website. On another site www.biographyonline.net , the results are less conclusive. Here the static pages get a similar level of traffic to the blog pages (although here the blog has only 123 pages). The difference here might be that the static part of the section is actually a higher quality than the blog. In depth biographies are given static pages. Blog entries are shorter snippets. Also biographies don’t lend themselves to blogging. I mean dead people are more suited to a static site than a constantly updating blog. So in this niche, people don’t want blog entries, but, in economic, recent events are more important.

I would be interested if  anyone else have evidence of traffic volumes for blog posts vs static pages?

Tips on getting more traffic to a site

Getting More Traffic To Your Website / Blog

Readers Question: What strategies can we use to increase traffic for our established site. It has many inbound links and good content, but, not as much traffic as we would like.

The hard part of building a website, is creating good quality content and getting natural inbound links. With this already in place, there are quite a few things that you can do to easily increase Traffic.

Three Main Sources of Potential Traffic

  1. Google Search – Choose the right keywords and you will get much more traffic
  2. Social Media – If your content gets picked up on social media there is chance for getting tons of traffic.
  3. Building of Loyal Readership through RSS subscriber base

Keyword Analysis.

The title of pages is very important for determining how much search engine referral traffic you get. The key is to use keywords that people search for.

  • One example: I had a page if you have a page ‘Yorkshire Dales’ you will get little traffic because that is a very competitive keyword. However, by adding one word ‘Cycling Yorkshire dales’. I got a reasonable amount of traffic from the post. Sometimes I go through sites adding certain words to titles and this can lead to more traffic.
  • Look at exisiting traffic statistics. work on keywords that are working. For example, if people come to your site searching ‘new bikes’ try pages like ‘new road bikes’ ‘new time trial bikes’ e.t.c.

Creating New Pages – Top 10s, Best of

Often we don’t need to create new content but merely make better use of existing content. Suppose, we have 1,000s of good photos on our site. We need to organise these photos into targeted, irresistible pages. For example, with 1,000s of photos related to cycling, I would create pages like:

  1. Top 10 Cycling Photos
  2. Unusual cycling photos
  3. Unique Bikes of Oxford
  4. How Not to Cycle Through Town
  5. Best Photos of Yorkshire Dales
  • Here, we are trying to think of titles that people may search, and also create really excellent pages, which will inspire people on social bookmarking sites, forums and hopefully get links to.
  • Note, it is good to focus on a particular theme, e.g. the unique and unusual do well. Beautiful nature scenes will appeal to different people.
  • Make these pages really stand out then try promote them. Even if they don’t work on social media, you can get steady traffic from google and other search referrals.

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Why I Stopped Commenting on Other Blogs

I went through a period of low posting frequency on Net Writing. Ironically, at this time, I was being much more prolific with commenting on other blogs. I guess leaving a comment is less intimidating because it can be much shorter than a blog post; a blog post involves a bigger psychological effort. However, these are the reasons why I have largely stopped commenting on other blogs.

  • If I have something interesting to say, I will post it on my own blog, rather than leave a comment on someone else’s blog. Leaving a comment on other blog, gives much less benefit than creating a post on your own blog.
  • People give more importance to a blog post than a comment. On some blogs, the standard of comments is pretty high, like Copyblogger. However, people instinctively give a higher authority to a blog post than a comment. I usually read blog posts, but, don’t get round to reading the comments.
  • I don’t read that many blogs anymore. I used to read many blogs to get ideas for posts, but, I find that reading many feeds, doesn’t actually give you that many new perspectives. Generally, I prefer to just use my own ideas.
  • Opportunity Cost of Time. Leaving comments is time consuming. You have to find blog posts, think of something to say and then fill on all the captcha’s e.t.c. (BTW: Blogger blogs are the worst) If you spend an hour leaving comments, that is an hour you can’t be spending on your own blog or getting away from the computer. I’m not saying commenting is a complete waste of time; it just ranks fairly low compared to other things you could be doing.

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Simple Tip for More Traffic

When writing articles most webmaster know the value of a good title. Choose the right keywords and you can help maximise traffic from search engines. There are various tools we can use to work out the best keywords such as wordtracker, but these are often expensive. Often looking at your own statistics can give a good idea of keywords that are working.

However, it is not just the article heading that can bring in traffic. Often I look at statistics and the popular keyword searches are not titles, but subheadings within articles. Therefore, when writing articles I often try to think of several subheadings with  related Keyword searches to maximise traffic from search engines Ironically, this can often be a helpful way to think of relevant things to add to the article.

Example of Increasing Traffic through Use of Subheadings

I was writing an entry on ‘Asymmetric Information‘ for my economics site (I know its not the exactly the most exotic example, but, it will do )

The first thing I do is to use the google search in Firefox; when typing in a search google offer suggestions of  popular and related keyword searches for asymmetric information. Google suggestions included:

  • asymmetric information definition
  • asymmetric information insurance
  • asymmetric information in Financial Markets
  • asymmetric information wiki

Therefore, in addition to the title asymmetric information, I have worked these other 4 longer keyword searches into the article. Therefore, the page has increased its capacity for attracting traffic. If I just focused on asymmetric information I would expect traffic to be low. But, by adding relevant subheadings I have increased the usefulness of the page with very little effort.

  • Note: Many people search keyword terms and add wiki at the end. Here I have only added the word wiki by linking to wikipedia right at the end. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a subheading, sometimes just adding a keyword in the text is enough to bring in more traffic.

Using Subheadings that Work

In your statistics you may notice that some keyword searches are very popular, even though they are not titles. If this is the case, then it may be worth generating a page specifically for this keyword search. E.g. If I get a ranking of no.7 for asymmetric information insurance when it is a subheading, then making a page with title asymmetric information insurance is likely to give a much higher google ranking.

Other Benefits of Using Subheadings

  • Adding subheadings is a good way of experimenting to see which keyword searches are good for bringing in traffic.
  • Also, I feel that adding subheadings is good practice for readability. People like to scan articles and subheadings definitely make it easier to write.
  • My initial entry for asymmetric information was quite short, but looking at related keywords gave me ideas to make it more informative

Related Articles

Is it worth Trying to Get On Digg?

Since I began blogging a few years ago, I have always been in two minds about whether it is worth trying to get my articles submitted to Digg. On the one hand, Digg can be a way to gain huge amounts of traffic and build up your blog, on the other hand the effort required to get a Digg homepage can leave you wondering whether it is really worth it?

How Much Effort is Needed to Get on Digg?

To get on Digg home page you need a way to attract at least 20-25 votes to give the article a chance. If an article is just submitted, it will in all probability disappear without trace.

One article, I wrote received over 50,000 referrals from Stumbleupon (over a 4 week period). From Digg it received 2. There are so many submissions to Digg, that most new submissions just get lost without anybody looking at the article.

To have any chance you need a submission to attract 20-25 votes pretty quick. This means it will then show up in the upcoming section of your chosen category and then at least you have a chance.

To get 25 votes means you will need to ask friends for favours to vote for you. This can be done through either digg shout system or emailing friends asking for votes. Alternatively, you could become a power digg user, who gets loads of friends and so people are more likely to vote for your submissions.

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Making the most of Traffic from Social Media

It is one thing to get 10,000s of visitors from Digg, Stumbleupon e.t.c; it is another thing to keep and make them regular readers. These are some suggestions for making the most of any surge in traffic that may come your way.

Content Not Ads above the Fold.

If you really want to maximise the traffic from social media, it is best to sacrifice the optimal ad positions. Sometimes I am stumbling and the only thing I see on the screen is a logo and a 330*300 Google adsense block. Invariably I mark the content thumbs down, without even seeing the article. This is not to say you can’t have ads at the top of the screen, but, if the only thing that is seen by the viewer is ads, what impression does that give? It is helpful to view blog traffic as investment. The small return from short term advertising is worth much less than the potential benefit of attracting long term subscribers who will help grow the blog. If you really want to have ads dominating the top, you could at least remove them from articles that are targetted at high traffic.

Easy to Subscribe.

It is important that it is easy to subscribe. In my opinion this is the most significant benefit of getting traffic from social media. Visitors will not click on ads, most will never return. But, if you can get even 0.5% to subscribe then it’s all worth it. The obvious thing to do is to place an RSS subscriber link in a prominent place. Some people like to make a feature out of it and place it at the top of a blog post. This probably has a good conversion rate, although it does have the drawback that the content is pushed further down. Email subscription is also worth having.

Best Articles

I have found that on a strategically designed blog a stumble visitor can visit an average of 2.3 pages. (this may not sound a lot but, it does disprove a theory that stumble visitors have a high bounce rate. However, to get a low bounce rate requires an effort to keep readers. An excellent way to do that is highlight your most popular articles. You can do this with a plugin or manually add the articles. Recent articles are also good to highlight as long as they are not just average page fillers.

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8 Effective Ways to Increase RSS Readership

(This post is part of Blogging Tips – Group Writing Project)

When I first began blogging, I didn’t give much priority to RSS readership (partly because I didn’t know what it was :) ) but now, increasing RSS readership is one of the main goals for my different blogs. These are some methods that have worked for me; I’ve placed them in a rough order of usefulness. None of them are quick and easy; for them to be effective it is also essential to be able to write good content. If you would like to suggest other methods please add in comments.
Guest Blogging

Probably the most effective way to increase RSS readership is to write guest posts for well established blogs. Recently, I wrote an article for Pick the Brain – 6 characteristics of happiness. With 11,000 subscribers you do get a good return in terms of traffic and boost to RSS subscribers. It is hard work because the articles need to be of a high quality. Also don’t just write 1 guest blog, if you keep guest blogging it creates a cumulative effect and you will become better known within the blogosphere. This personal branding is quite important. – If you keep appearing on top blogs people will want to subscribe to your own. Another benefit of guest blogging is that the article will often rank highly in google, I now get a steady stream of traffic from old guest posts. Therefore, there is a cumulative effect from guest blogging, the more you do it the more powerful it becomes. Zen Habits is an example of a blog which made extraordinary growth in RSS readership through guest blogging.

Commenting on blogs

Commenting on blogs is a slow but steady way to increase your readership. When leaving a comment I try to say something worthwhile because this will make people want to find out more about the commentor. If you just leave ‘nice post’ it is hardly suggests enticing content on your own blog. A good question is whether to leave your URL on a comment. I’m often in two minds about this. For blogs where I regularly comment I don’t put a signature as it might start to irritate people. However, for new blogs, I do often leave a signature or even link to relevant blog post -it helps to create a higher click through rate. Traffic from comments may be low, but the traffic is highly targeted and these are the most likely people to subscribe.

Tips for Commenting

  1. Choose Popular and / or relevant blogs and try and get in early.
  2. Use Google Blog Search for your keywords, this helps find new blogs. (I often search ‘Economics’ on google blog search for my economic blog.)
  3. Say something useful

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Why Stumbleupon is Better Than Digg

I have used various social bookmarking. In my own experience I have had a much better experience with Stumbleupon than Digg. These are some of the reasons I prefer Stumblupon to Digg. I would be interested if people have a similar or different experience.

1. Stumbleupon Rewards the Best Articles

Stumbleupon seems more democratic. You can submit a good article to digg but it can fly off the new section as quickly as you submit it. Generally stumbleupon is better at picking up on good articles. At digg everything counts on the 24 hour window after first submission, and your network of friends. At stumbleupon it seems less important who are your friends and most stumbles I receive are good quality. Spam doesn’t seem a real problem at Stumbleupon.

2. Stumbleupon doesn’t ban the best sites.

Many times I have seen my favourite sites getting ‘banned’ by digg, usually because they are ‘too successful’ Examples that come to mind include Pick The Brain and Copyblogger. (true sites can come off the banned list, but it can take a long time)

3. Stumbleupon has more Positive Pages.

It seems that on Digg stories that do best are the negative ones. See article at We The Change on Digg At times, the negativity can be overwhelming. When browsing the internet, I like to see some positive stories and articles of inspiration.

4. Stumblers Like Stumbleupon

Whenever I goto Digg the top stories seem to be complaining about Digg, which I find completely uninteresting. At Stumbleupon you aren’t bombarded with articles complaining about rigging of Stumbleupon e.t.c.

5. More Diversity of Interests

Stories that do well at Digg tend to be fairly narrowly focused on a small number of aspects. Stumbleupon enables a greater diversity of topics, it is also easier to choose the topics you are interested in. If you like topics like self improvement or minority interests you will find greater coverage at Stumbleupon. Continue reading →

Advantages of Offering Email Subscription

I was speaking to a friend about RSS feeds. He made the point that for his favourite blogs he prefers email subscription, rather than RSS.

  • Often people subscribe to many RSS feeds, but, then it becomes difficult to read them all. I know that I have subscribed to many RSS feeds, but rarely read any blog entries.
  • Getting an email, increases the chance they will give the notification there attention and actually go to the blog.
  • Just because established bloggers, have worked out what RSS is, and how it works; – it doesn’t mean your average reader has. Email provides an option for those who don’t want to work out another thing. Ask non bloggers if they know how RSS works, I’d be surprised if many do.

Net Writing Subscriptions

How To Offer Email Subscriptions

  1. Set up an account with feedburner. – This makes it easy to manage and track your RSS readership and email subscribers.
  2.  Goto your Account and click on Publicise. On the left navigation bar is an option – offer email subscription.
  3. Feedburner give you code to paste into your blog. (probably best as a page)