As an author, you know that maintaining a blog is a great way to connect with readers and promote your work. But what if no one ever sees your blog? To drive traffic to your author blog, you need to implement some effective marketing strategies. In this post, I’ll share some tips that will help you reach more readers and boost traffic to your blog.
The Foundation: Getting Your Content Right to Attract First-Time Visitors
What’s the best way to get first-time visitors to your website? You may think it’s all about getting them to your site in general, but you’d be wrong. It’s about getting them interested in your content. So how do you make sure your content is engaging?
Step 1: Know Your Audience
The first step in creating traffic-attracting content is to understand who your ideal target reader is. That way you can discover what kind of information are they searching for. To attract traffic, you need to be publishing content that solves problems your target reader has and is looking to solve online. What keywords are they using to find that content?
Once you know what keywords they are using to find solutions to their problems, you can develop search engine optimized content. For example, I know that my ideal clients might look for “traffic tips for authors.” Thus, this post was created!
Step 2: Understand Your Message
Now that you know who you are talking to, you need to understand what it is you are going to say them. And you need to make sure that your message matches your audience. If it doesn’t, go back to Step 1.
Step 3: Write Useful and Relevant Posts that Share Tour Message to Your Target Audience
Keyword research can help you come up with ideas for useful and relevant posts, but I’ll go into that topic in more detail later. Right now, I want you to focus on ensuring your content is readable, interesting, and useful to your readers so that they’ll come back for more.
If you want to be read, you need to post something that will benefit your readers. Readers won’t continue reading a post, nor come back to read your blog again if they don’t gain a benefit from it. This benefit can be something productive like business advice or something entertaining like humor. Publish content that is valuable to your readers, it helps them accomplish or fix something. But also, publish content that is related to your books.
Bonus Tip: Write for Human Readers
Don’t write for the search engine bots alone. If you do, two things will eventually happen:
- Readers will not come back.
- Search engines will figure it out and possibly blacklist you.
Neither of these outcomes is what you want, so write for humans and you’ll your blog will have much better staying (and attracting) power.
Step 4: Infuse Your Personality Into Your Posts
Feel free to write like how you speak. This will give your writing a personality … a warm, human touch. The more personable your writing, the more likely people will want to read it. Remember, there are lots of folks out there who sound out the words in their head when they read, whether they are aware of it or not. So, when your writing is infused with your personality, it can give readers the impression that they are talking with you and getting to know you. This is a subtle, but very powerful, effect.
Layer In a Strategy for Repeat Visitors
One of the metrics of a successful author website is repeat visitors. In fact, returning visitors account for a major part of many (if not most) successful websites, whether they belong to an author or not. Returning visitors are easier to convert into book buyers and paying customers because the more often they return to an author’s site, the more trust they have in that author. Any credibility issue that may have existed just melts away.
Authors have a variety of ways to keep visitors, readers, and fans coming back to their sites. Here are just a few that you can use.
1. Maintain a Consistent and Engaging Blog for Your Repeat Visitors
When you stick to a consistent posting schedule on your blog, you gain two important benefits:
- Increased organic traffic. Google favors websites with fresh content. They are more likely to index and rank your site higher if there is regular fresh content posted. Blogging also helps with search engine optimization (SEO), which can bring more organic traffic and help you rank higher in search engine results.
- Readers know what to expect, and so they are more likely to return. If you post every Wednesday, a reader who likes your content will start coming back on Wednesdays to read what’s new on your site. And, if you include snippets about yourself — humanizing your posts — your readers will more than likely become regular readers.
An additional benefit is that blogging gives you something you can regularly share in your newsletter and on social media.
2. Send out a newsletter
Speaking of newsletters, sending out a regular author newsletter is an excellent way to drive repeat visitors to your website. Here is how this works:
- New visitors arrive at your website. They like what they see, so they sign up for your newsletter.
- They receive your newsletter with one or more links to your website and click on at least one of them.
Bang! Repeat traffic!
Of course, there are some other moving parts that make this happen, but that would use more space than I want for this post. But in general, in addition to what I mentioned above, you’ll need these things:
- A relevant and enticing opt-in incentive
- A highly visible opt-in form on your website
- Email marketing software to deliver the incentive, as well as your newsletter
- And, to make this all work even better, a landing page, a thank you page, and a welcome and/or follow-up email sequence.
If you would like help with this process, I’m working on a workshop tentatively called Aweber for Authors: Build a Solid Email Marketing System in a Weekend. If you’d like to get on the early notification list for this workshop, sign up here.
Use Behind the Scenes Strategies to Drive Traffic to Your Author Blog
So far, I’ve only mentioned those tactics you can implement that your target reader will see. But there are some behind-the-scenes things you can do to help increase traffic to your blog, as well.
1. Optimize your website to create a positive user experience even on mobile devices
Google will penalize your website if it doesn’t provide a positive user experience. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to your site’s load time. I helped a client increase traffic to her site simply by evaluating the load speed and then taking the actions necessary to increase it. Some simple things you can do include:
- Optimize images for the web. Make sure they are 72 dpi and are at least close to the size you want to appear on your webpage. WordPress has plugins that will do this automatically for you.
- Ditch bells and whistles that don’t offer value and slow pages down. This can mean switching out one plugin to another that has better, leaner, faster code. It can also mean getting rid of plugins you no longer need to use.
- Make sure your website is optimized for mobile. If you’re using WordPress, make sure that the theme is mobile-friendly and that you follow its internal rules so that you don’t break its mobile-friendliness.
2. Use Tags and Keywords
Not only do you want to have keywords in your copy, but you also want them to be in your categories and tags, as well. Search engines will use categories and tags to help classify and index your content, so make sure that they are relevant and accurate.
Integrate Social Media Into Your Author Blogging Strategy
Social media may not be a great way to directly sell your books, but it is a great way to increase the visibility of you, your books, and your blog. And that can lead to increased sales.
Social Media Can Improve SEO by Creating Backlinks to Your Blog
There are a couple of ways you can leverage your social media presence to increase traffic to your author website and blog.
Add your website’s link to your profiles. If you’re ambitious, create a special landing page for each profile welcoming them to your site and pointing them to your top blog posts.
When you publish a new post, share it on social media! If you must, automate it. However, it is better to do this in real-time. For Facebook and LinkedIn this is especially true because you’ll get more people to see your social post if you post the link in the comments, and not in the body of the post.
Keep in mind that your audience on each platform is a little different. Therefore, your strategy for sharing on each platform should be different. For example, Instagram is visually focused, and LinkedIn is professionally focused. The tone of your posts, as well as the visuals that go along with them, might be different.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat … Multiple Times
Not everyone who reads your books decides to subscribe to your email list. Some only follow you on Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter, or some other social media platform. Therefore, you need to remind them that you have added content by sharing your blog posts on all your social media platforms.
However, once is not enough. With your evergreen content, you want to share posts more than once over the course of a few months. Come up with several ways to talk about your post, and then schedule them out over time. If you see the bump in traffic to that post continue to remain strong, you can continue sharing it once a month or once a quarter until you see it not getting a decent number of clicks.
Remember, social media feeds are filled with posts, and the more people someone follows, the less likely they are to see one of your posts. Repeat posting increases the likelihood of more people seeing a post.
Content Strategies for Driving Traffic to Your Author Blog
To recap, I’ve discussed several ways to increase traffic to your site:
- How to develop the right kind of content to attract your target readers
- What to do to nurture repeat visits to your site
- A couple of behind-the-scenes tips
- And how to use social media to drive traffic to your author blog
What follows are some tips on how to structure or format your content so that it not only attracts your ideal readers but keeps them on your site for a while. This will reduce what is called “bounce rate.” Google doesn’t like sites with a high bounce rate because it is used as an indicator of content value. If the content isn’t good, the visitor will “bounce” or immediately click away.
Make your blogging interactive
One way to encourage people to stay on your site longer is to make your blog interactive. That may sound challenging, but it really can be simply done:
- Placing video or audio clips in your posts.
- Include an area for comments or for feedback and encourage it with a request to comment below. In this way, you can get reader impressions or reactions.
- Consider including polls and quizzes.
Engage your readers in interesting ways and they will not only stay longer, but they’ll also come back.
Include Video and Audio in Your Posts
Embedding video and audio clips increases the time someone spends on your site – if they watch or listen to them. This is a great way to increase the time spent on your site, while also increasing the perceived value of the information. For example, here is a video I created about driving traffic to your website:
Post occasional polls, surveys, and their results
Polls and surveys add an element of interactivity to your blog. They provide a quick way for visitors to voice their opinions and to get involved in your world. And, if you use the results to create future books, characters, and even programs, your readers feel like they contributed and are more likely to become fans. Examples of topics you can create polls and surveys about include:
- Which cover design do you like best?
- What are your thoughts on my latest book idea?
- Which topic would you like me to write about next?
- Who is your favorite character in my last book?
All these examples involve your readers and fans with you and your books. It gives them some virtual skin in the game and keeps them engaged.
Another way to do this is to post a survey on your website that encourages folks to ask questions.
Solicit questions at the end of your blog post. Of course, this means you’ll need to monitor your comments … which you were doing anyway, right?
Use Statistics to Keep the Traffic Coming
The number one rule for driving traffic to your blog and getting more readers is to write posts that people want to read. But how do you know you’re accomplishing this goal?
You monitor your stats!
The statistics you want to pay particular attention to include:
> Which posts get more readers?
> Which days of the week get more readers?
With the information you learn from tracking these two stats, you can optimize your blog more powerfully than by any other means. If you use WordPress, this is easy. Simply install Google’s “Sike Kit” plugin and connect it to your Google Analytics account. Soon you’ll find on your Dashboard in the Site Kit section a list of “Top content over the last X days.” These are the pages on your site that are attracting the most traffic right now.
What attracts most readers to your blog?
Look at which posts get more readers. Do you see any trends in which kinds of posts get more traffic than others? Are there topics that are hotter than others? This is valuable information about your website visitors. It can help you understand if you’re headed in the right or wrong direction with your blog content.
Dig in and find out what it is about those popular posts that attract more readers, then repeat them often. If need be, experiment by publishing new posts in the same topic and style and discover which metric is attracting your readers.
Increase the popularity of popular posts with link clusters.
According to ProBlogger.com, a link cluster “is a group of links that you can point at a post or page to improve its search engine ranking.” When you know which posts are more popular, you can increase their search engine ranking and popularity by linking to them from other posts on your blog. Choose popular posts that use keywords and keyword phrases you’re trying to rank high in and this technique could be golden for your blog’s traffic.
Maximize your highest readership day or days.
Look at the traffic your blog gets throughout the week. If there is a day or two that gets spikes of traffic, those are the days you should be publishing your best posts. This will increase the chances that your post will be shared and therefore increase traffic even more. If you are only posting once or twice a week, this strategy can make a big difference.
Watch for traffic spikes and capitalize on them to get more readers.
When you get a particularly high traffic period, follow it up with a series of high-quality posts that show off your expertise. This will encourage visitors to come back, stick around, comment, and share your posts. For best results, act on your traffic spike within 48 hours.
Start Attracting More Traffic to Your Author Blog Today
So, there you have it – a comprehensive guide to creating an author blog that attracts first-time visitors and keeps them coming back for more. It can be daunting to think about all the different ways you need to market your work, but I hope this article has given you some ideas on how to get started.
Remember, start small and gradually add new strategies as you become more comfortable with them. And most importantly, always keep track of your statistics so that you know what’s working and what needs improvement. Are there any strategies I missed? Let me know in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This post is a consolidation of several posts originally published on CarmaSpence.com in November 2007, January 2008, August 2009, May 2010, March 2011, and February 2020. They have been merged, re-organized, and updated for content.