Building Blog Readership: No Shortcuts. Content.

I spotted a question on LinkedIn today about how to increase traffic to your site. The person posing the question threw out a couple of ideas – social bookmarking and link strategies, for example, and a few people answered with a tip or two.

Most of the tips, while valid to a point, missed the mark in my opinion. They all missed the basic point – the key to building readership for your site is good content. Indeed, one of the answers gave a caveat, “…but this requires a lot of work and will also require that you be able to create quality content regularly…”

My advice: if you don’t want to work and create quality content regularly, don’t start a blog.

Shortcutting causes erosion Social bookmarking sites can boost your traffic, no question. I frequently see a jump when someone submits one of my posts to StumbleUpon. However, this is usually a temporary jump – it’s rarely (if ever) sustainable. Most of these people arrive at your site, read the page (quickly, too – traffic from these sites doesn’t stay long on my site) and leave. What’s more, you need people to vote your content up to start with.

Other people suggested putting your site’s URL in your email signatures (I’d do it on every social networking site you’re on, too). Again, this may drive a few people. SEO is important too – do your utmost to rank highly on the topics you’re writing about.

Still, all of the tips in the world won’t help you if your site is populated with garbage.

To attract – and retain – readers you need to consistently produce stuff that people want to read/watch/see. Decide who you’re writing for and write for that audience. If you’re not producing targeted stuff that grabs people, all of the other tools will only ever produce temporary spikes in traffic. Over time, good content drives people to your site and keeps them coming back. That’s what gets you ranked well in search engines, that’s what gets people to Stumble/Digg/etc your posts and that’s what gets people to link to your site.

Content 101 aside, all of the other tactics – bookmarking, linking, SEO, “top 10” lists and more – are great ideas. But, like Hertzberg’s Hygiene Factors, without good content all the rest is useless.

What do you think? Aside from posting great content, what have you found to be the best way of generating traffic for your site?

6 Responses toBuilding Blog Readership: No Shortcuts. Content.

  • I totally agree. As Vint Cerf said in The Guardian recently, “Regardless of the medium, there will always be demand for high quality content.”

    Steve Rubel also got it right when he said, “The truth is that standing out in the blogosphere has never been harder for those who don’t blog for a living. This is simply because it requires original thought – something people don’t have the time or patience to do.”

    I know that I’d get more visitors to my little corner of the internet if I had more time to to be original and work on the quality of the content.

  • Always wondered how to apply tips & tricks like these for a half-interested blogger (like me) that posts inconsistently and with half-assed quality. Where’s the bar that tells you you’re posting quality posts? It’s not necessarily purely quality, so from there on it’s content – quality content at a consistent pace.

    When you achieve a high number of visitors you know you’re starting to get it right? I suppose my personal problem is getting to the point where I’m motivated enough to go through all the necessary motions.

  • I think every blogger attracts a certain type of audience that’s based on the content which could be good and highly popular and in direct competition with other same content. Other bloggers use semi-journal sites ? (i.e., examinerdotcom) to draw upon a ready made audience which is good for fast rise as a ‘star’ while others, use the traditional methods of obtaining traffic. Just not sure which is the better audience. 🙂

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