The other day I had an in-depth email conversation with several of my online blogging pals about who’s reading our blogs. When looking at Google Analytics (and beyond), it’s clear that many bloggers are receiving visits from fellow bloggers. One of my buds reported that for her, it was as high as 85 percent of all visits to her site. She also noted that the bulk of her comments come from fellow bloggers. She feels that, to some extent, she’s failing, because she has not built a strong following or readership outside of her blogging community.
Personally, I don’t consider it a failure if a great number of your readers are your peers. Bloggers often share the same passions, hobbies and have similar lifestyles. So naturally, we’d be a fit for each other’s blogs. At the same time, it’s also great to reach non-bloggers and convert them into loyal readers.
Here are some tips on building a readership beyond your blogging community:
Keep the content flowing
Post as often as you can and stay true to your voice. While some bloggers have carved a niche posting light-hearted, humorous posts, that might not be your thing. And that’s okay. Don’t kill yourself trying to post everyday. Several high quality posts per week is better than rushing and publishing five to seven of lower quality.
Link it up
Be selective and link to quality content that is relevant to your niche topic or the topics that you write about on a regular basis. Over time, others will start linking back to you. Traffic will begin to flow – from the sites you’ve linked to and as a result of your increased search engine ranking.
Be active on social media
Use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ to share your posts and find new readers. But don’t just set up accounts and share links to your posts. Get social! Make sure you are interacting with your connections and responding to all comments. As detailed on SEOmoz, “If you consistently employ a strategy of participation, share great stuff and make a positive, memorable impression on those who see your interactions on these sites, your followers and fans will grow and your ability to drive traffic back to your blog by sharing content will be tremendous.”
Guest post on popular blogs
According to Darren Rowse, the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips, “one of the most powerful ways of exposing your writing to a new group of people is to put some of your best content on other peoples blogs – and not your own.” I could not agree more. To start, I recommend seeking out blogs that already have a strong following and receive a good amount of traffic.
Participate in communities
Networking is key to generating awareness and growing your readership. That’s why I recommend seeking out communities where your audience is already active and participating proactively. There are a lot of communities on the web, but I’m going to recommend that you start on Google+ first. On this platform, engagement is high and the ROI is significant.
Make your content SEO-friendly
I recently posted a basic SEO primer to help take the mystery out of this critical content marketing strategy. Search engines are a massive opportunity for traffic, so don’t overlook this step.
Make it easy to share your content
It’s hard to believe, but many bloggers have yet to add social icons to their blogs so that readers can share content effortlessly. There are plugins available to help make adding social icons an easy process.
Utilize Google Analytics
Make sure you install and USE Google Analytics. With Google Analytics, you can find out where traffic is coming from, who your readers are and what content is most popular. This is “actionable” information that you can put to use to grow your readership.