In May I began the How to grow your blog traffic experiment. The experiment involves me, Lisa, tackling a new method of increasing my blog traffic every fortnight. I’d share the results, the stats and any lessons I learned in trying out each method. That way you would be fully informed about how you might do things differently, ahem, better.
Think of me as your very own bloggy guinea pig.
Increasing your blog traffic
My blog traffic is the same as James Earl Jone’s voice. Low baby, low.
I’ve been blogging since the beginning of 2014 and have yet to hit the milestone of 100 visitors a day. Yesiree, less than 100 people in this huge wide glorious world of ours feel the need to visit my blog. I’m not sure how fulfilled their lives can truly be. Sure their relationships, home, work, community stuff might be all good but what does it all mean without my blog? Hmm?
In any case, my primary effort goes towards creating good, relevant content. My secondary effort and the impetus for the experiment is to create long term organic growth in readership.
For the most part this means discovering where my readers are and letting them know I exist. Engagement, providing something of value to them is how I will convince them it is worth returning to my blog.
Much of the advice around how to increase a blog’s visitor numbers focuses on blogs with some traffic already. It is harder to find articles that show growth in the very early days or ones that tell me how using method x will affect my traffic and how much effort it will take from me.
That’s where this series comes in.
Overview of experiment
The 20 minute challenge involved the following parameters:
Target Apply any action that may result in blog traffic growth as a direct or indirect consequence.
Criteria A maximum of 20 minutes per day may be spent on the activities. All activity needs to be genuine, supportive of other bloggers. (Note: The usual sharing of a new blog post link was excluded from the 20 minute challenge. The 20 minutes is on top of that activity).
Related goals Support other bloggers, increase other bloggers traffic, build relationships with fellow bloggers.
A quick note about the criteria and related goals. One of my overall blogging goals is to provide value to others. That means I am conscious about behaving with integrity and will not participate in traffic growing methods that may impact negatively on others. So basically no ‘get rich quick’ traffic purchase schemes and nothing where I receive 100% benefit but give nothing in return. Just so’s ya know y’all.
You know those plastic container lids where you push one side down to have the other pop up and you end up with the thing jammed between your knees as you try to exert the same pressure on every side at the same time? Ok, so that’s blog traffic growth.
Every time I concentrate on one aspect of traffic growth somewhere else drops. Or pops. Or poops. It depends on what analogy you’re using.
You’ll see from the graphics below that my traffic rose at a good rate, my followers rose but at a slightly lower rate. So far so good. The real disappointment this time was in the bounce rate which increased and the session duration which dropped – a lot.
I have a theory for this which I’ll explain shortly.
You’ll see from the first chart that I had a lot of new visitors this fortnight. That’s because I joined a several groups which held link parties during the week. The nature of the parties meant that speed was of the essence to fulfill your assigned tasks (more on that below). People didn’t have time to meander through a blog, they just did what they needed to do then ran off to the next blog. Hence the increase in bounciness and lowered attention span. It’s basically a toddler.
If you’ve read any of the experiments (you so should) you’ll know that my social media numbers are as low as ma blog. The proportional increase while positive isn’t as mind blowing as they appear on the face of it. Going from 21 to 57 Google+ followers is a 171% increase. Twitter’s by far my largest following at 740.
The big lesson I took away from this session of the How to grow your blog traffic experiment is that it is possible to boost your visitor numbers. But. If you’ve got limited time to work on improving your blog traffic you’ve got to be really organised.
The effort involved
In total the 20 minute challenge gave me 4 hours and 40 minutes to dedicate to traffic growing initiatives over the two week period.
On some days I spent less than 20 minutes which I made up elsewhere.
The graph below shows how that time was apportioned.
I spent the majority of my time on Facebook but that time was concentrated on a few Facebook groups I joined. I contributed to the group discussions and participated in group challenges.
I found the groups to be fantastically supportive. I was able to get a few technical questions answered and in turn, was able to offer my 2 cents worth to help other bloggers.
One of the groups I joined was primarily link building focussed but in a collaborative way. While everyone’s aim was to try to build their own traffic it was achieved with camaraderie, reciprocal support and a good dose of humour.
The link parties I took part in through these groups included:
- Page Like swaps
- Twitter follows
- Blog comment shares
- Facebook post comments, likes and shares
Really anything that provided value to us all was considered.
I did find the groups to be effort heavy. To obtain a particular boon for myself I needed to provide that same benefit to the other group members. A minimum was often set (e.g. to get a Comment, Comment on 3 others in return) to ensure the activity was achievable for busy folks but I took some extra time to make sure I got everyone in that activity.
I also nominated myself to run the Bloglovin’ thread in one of the groups.
My main takeaways from the Facebook part of my experiment are:
Groups are a great way to give and provide support to other bloggers.
Facebook is geared towards quick interactions. It’s ideal therefore for action-oriented communities – more so than forums.
You need to be super organised so you have time to attend to all of your FB Group duties.
Triberr and Twitter
I’m enjoying my continued association with Triberr. I joined as part of the Twitter experiment and have not been disappointed with it yet.
Triberr is a community dedicated to providing extra tweets for your content. It’s reciprocal so you are expected to do the same for others.
To date I haven’t had any problems finding quality content to share with my followers but this comes down to which Tribes (sub-communities) you join. Take your time to find ones which have content you believe your readers will appreciate.
In my limited experience with Triberr I’ve found the Tribes I’ve joined to be sincere in their sharing efforts. It’s frustrating when people aren’t genuinely contributing to a particular activity. You’ll no doubt have experienced this if you’ve ever hooked up at a link party.
I didn’t put very much effort into Twitter this week. In the last experiment I found Twitter followers would happily follow links to my content so I just need to find the right balance.
I also registered for Tweepi. In the last experiment Michael suggested in a comment that I should try the tool. I’d put it on my to do list but got to it straight after his tip.
Tweepi is a tool that helps you to manage your Twitter account. There’s a free version which is what I signed up for.
It’s an easy to use tool which tells me a variety of things (even with the basic, free account) including:
- Who my unfollowers are
- Who’s following me but I’m not reciprocating
- Force unfollow (boot undesirable followers to the curb)
Those are just a few of the many ways I can use Tweepi.
I must say I’m in love with it right now.
I’ve used it to unfollow a number of unfollowers. I read a blogger who said if someone hasn’t followed you within x number of days, unfollow them. I agree with that approach excluding of course those peeps and organisations you never had an expectation of them following you.
Just a warning – you need to be very careful about the volume and frequency of your follows / unfollows. Twitter does not like it when people (especially those with a small following themselves) go follow cray-cray. See here for Twitter’s follow limit rules.
Google+, Instagram, Pinterest
This fortnight I did the bare minimum with these networks.
All I really did was make sure to follow new followers.
Apart from that I joined a few communities on Google+ but have yet to get my head around any of these.
What I like about the Facebook Groups was that a number of parties required you to visit other people’s blogs and follow, subscribe or comment while you were there.
Of course I liked the bonus of receiving those myself but I was grateful that I was able to do some blog reading at the same time.
That was my biggest loss I think, that with only 20 minutes a day I didn’t put time aside for connecting with bloggers in this way. I miss bloggy mates and will be sure to make time to catch up with my blog reading and commenting in the next few weeks.
Follow parties work
This was one of my lessons from the Twitter experiment. This week however I spread my activity across parties that were follow-focussed and parties that created additional traffic to my blog. The latter involved a party which required participants to leave comments on blog posts and another party in which people needed to subscribe to a blog. Both necessitated party members to visit my blog to complete their tasks.
As I mentioned above, this had a negative consequence as I had a group of people who briefly visited to my blog to do something specifically then quickly left to go to the next meaning the average duration dropped considerably.
I appreciate this type of following will be fleeting but I hope to have piqued the interest of a few fellow bloggers who may have found something they enjoyed in my blog and will return at a later date. I know I found some blogs I enjoyed reading. At the very least it’s nice to have connected with other bloggers who have similar goals to me.
Expanding on the party idea, joining groups is beneficial to you as a blogger and to your blog. I had my blog critiqued, was given some solutions to a couple of technical issues, received tips about a change I’m wanting to implement soon and much more besides. They are a time saver in the long term.
Organisation is key. You will get the most from your effort if you take the time to sit down and think about:
- Your overall blogging goals
- What network / activity will best support those goals
- How your time can most effectively be used to achieve them
Otherwise, 20 minutes can so easily turn into two hours of effort frequently interspersed with long periods of effing around.
The next experiment
Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to be getting my head around Google+. For some reason it hasn’t really turned me on (will it ever??) so I only joined a couple of weeks ago.
But I hear good things about it so I’ll suck it up and see.