If you’ve taken my advice and started a blog, you might be wondering how to get blog traffic.
And if your goal is like mine – to make your blog profitable, then getting an audience is critical to your blog success.
Without an audience, you won’t have any customers.
And without customers, you won’t make any sales.
Though this might seem obvious, many people don’t consider how to gain an audience when they blog.
They think that if they publish a website, people will simply start visiting it.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
The most popular ways to gain a blog audience fall into two broad categories: SEO and social media.
I’ll start by explaining some of the SEO methods for gaining a blog audience.
Driving Traffic with SEO
What is SEO anyway?
When you search something on Google, marketers call those search terms “keywords.”
And how Google determines the order of search results that appear when those keywords are searched is the subject of great debate.
There’s an entire industry dedicated to figuring out how to appear in the search engine results for keywords.
It’s called Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short.
Why does this industry exist?
If you can rank in the top few search results for specific keywords, you can make a lot of money.
Imagine you sold computers and your website was the first search result for the keyword phrase, “best computer to buy today.”
You’d probably make a lot sales.
While the full story of how to rank in Google search results will probably always be a mystery, we have an understanding of the basics.
The basics of ranking in organic search results is that you must have other authoritative websites linking to yours. (when other websites link to yours it’s called a “backlink”)
Active SEO – Ranking for Specific Keywords
So the backbone of this particular SEO strategy is:
Outrank search results by creating higher-quality content with more links pointing to it.
Brian Dean of Backlinko is THE expert in this strategy.
Like many internet marketers, Dean cut his teeth in the field by doing all the wrong things.
But it wasn’t long before he “cracked the code” and took a blank WordPress installation from zero to $10,000 in monthly revenue in just 4 months! (source)
Dean isn’t the only one whose had success with this strategy.
Richard Mariot is another blogger who has generated $12,000 in monthly revenue by:
clinical onsite SEO, clever content strategy, and persistent email outreach.
In other words, using SEO to organically rank for specific keywords is a fantastic way to build a profitable blog.
But is it the right strategy for you?
It might be if you:
- Are technically inclined (this strategy can get technical at times)
- Have money to invest in website and tools. (optimal website settings for SEO and backlink tools can get pricey)
- Are prepared to create content 10X better than the competition
- Enjoy research (finding the right keywords to rank for is a research-intensive process)
- Are willing to spend 80% of your time marketing your content and 20% of your time creating it (the split Brian Dean recommends).
If this traffic driving strategy doesn’t seem like a good match for your personal strengths, don’t sweat it.
There are a lot of other ways to drive traffic to your blog.
Active SEO – Producing a Volume of Content and Obtaining Generic Backlinks
Targeting highly specific keywords like Dean and Mariot do isn’t the only way to gain search engine traffic.
In fact, one of the top SEOs, Neil Patel, takes an entirely different approach to content creation and link building.
Patel provides exhaustive and detailed content in his niche.
While Dean only has ~30 articles on his blog, Patel publishes at least a blog post per week (and usually more).
Patel also does keyword research.
But it’s general and topical in nature.
And likewise, his backlink efforts are also generic and usually obtained through guest posting and by simply being an expert in his field.
This form of SEO might be for you if you:
- Are technically inclined (most SEO strategies can get technical at times)
- Have money to invest in website and tools. (as mentioned above, optimal website settings for SEO are pricey)
- Are willing to produce a TON of content (for both your website and for guest posting on other sites)
- Are prepared to spend 20% of your time marketing your content and 80% of your time creating it (the reverse of the Brian Dean split).
Though SEO is a technical field, almost every article about SEO falls into one of two categories:
- How to get more backlinks to your blog (like this article)
- How to optimize your website for search engines (like this post)
These two articles are good starting points if you’d like to use this traffic driving method.
Passive SEO – Victor Pride
Not all SEO requires significant marketing.
Victor Pride has done no marketing for his blog besides simply publishing his content on the web.
He has no social media profiles.
He has never reached out to bloggers for backlinks.
He’s never guest posted to drive more traffic to his blog.
He has simply published his content consistently for a long time.
Pride made nothing after a full year of blogging.
He made $15,000 in his second year of blogging.
And after 4 years, he made $1 million in total revenue.
How does this strategy work?
You just post high-quality content as frequently as possible and let search engines do the rest.
Even if you do no active marketing, Google will crawl your site (especially if you continually produce content).
And after a while, your content should begin to show up deep in search results for long search phrases.
And just like Pride, you can slowly build an audience.
Web searchers will eventually find your content, join your email list, and become a follower of your blog.
So is the passive SEO traffic driving method for you?
It might be if you:
- Are extremely patient (this method takes years for profitability)
- Are willing to produce high-quality content for years before seeing any fruit of your efforts
- Hate marketing
- Don’t use (or want to use) social media
- Plan to use e-mail as the primary means of connecting with your audience
If you think this strategy is for you, I’d still encourage you to optimize your website for search engines.
All else being equal, a technically optimized site will outrank a non-technically optimized site.
Driving traffic with social media
Not everyone wants or needs to focus on search engine optimization to have a profitable blog.
Many financially successful bloggers drive all of their blog traffic with social media.
So what platforms should you focus on to maximize your social shares?
As you can tell from the chart below, most of the viral social shares occur on Pinterest!
So let’s start there.
The Astounding Traffic Driving Success of Pinterest
Pinterest is an unbelievably good traffic driver for blogs.
The sheer number of probloggers driving all their traffic from Pinterest is insane.
Just check out this list and note how many bloggers are earning a full-time income from Pinterest traffic alone.
Why is this social platform so effective for driving blog traffic?
Pinterest is unlike any other social platform in that it’s primarily used for sharing blog posts.
But, it’s also overwhelmingly female.
If your target audience isn’t female, you may not have the greatest success on the platform.
If it is, focusing on Pinterest is a no-brainer.
Here’s a detailed post I wrote about how to grow your Pinterest audience and blog traffic.
Driving traffic from Pinterest might be a good fit for you if you:
- Are female and/or have a female target audience
- Blog about popular Pinterest topics like fashion, travel, food, diy/crafts, personal finance, motherhood
If you don’t blog about the above topics and your target audience isn’t primarily female, don’t sweat it.
Your blog can still achieve massive success on plenty of other platforms.
Here’s how social sharing breaks down platform by platform when you take Pinterest out of the picture:
Facebook absolutely dominates social sharing after Pinterest.
We’ll take a look at that platform in the next section.
Building a Blog Audience with Facebook
In Neil Patel’s epic challenge to build a nutrition blog from scratch to earning $100,000 in monthly profit in < 1 year, he primarily used Facebook as a traffic driver. (source)
How did he drive so much traffic from the social media giant?
First, he used paid advertising to grow his page follower count to ~3200.
Then, he exchanged shout-outs with other bloggers in the same niche with similarly sized followings.
These strategies combined with frequently publishing high-quality blog posts to his page enabled him to grow his Facebook following at lightning speed.
With a highly engaged Facebook following of 50,000+, he was able to drive significant traffic to his blog in no time.
Vin Clancy also has a fascinating guide on how to growth hack your Facebook audience.
Check out his blog, get into his email funnel, and he’ll probably send the guide to you.
Using Facebook to drive traffic to your blog might be a good traffic driver for your blog if you:
- Have a large personal network on Facebook. (You can always re-post your Facebook page posts to your personal profile to radically increase engagement.)
- Use video. (Facebook and other social platforms are prioritizing video content as it has the best engagement)
Increasing Blog Traffic with Twitter
The next largest source of social shares by network according to the CoSchedule chart above is Twitter.
So why is Twitter the only primarily mobile social network in the top 4 networks by social shares?
It shouldn’t be a surprise that fewer social shares occur on primarily mobile social networks.
Mobile devices simply aren’t as conducive for readers to share and otherwise interact with content.
I think Twitter is the one exception to this “desktop > mobile for social sharing” rule because of the retweet button.
Twitter has a built-in viral function with the retweet button that makes retweeting (aka social sharing) as simple as clicking a button.
Jeff Bullas frequently says that Twitter is his largest traffic generator by far (and he receives over 400,000 blog visitors a month!) (source)
Twitter might be an effective traffic driver for you if you:
- Are trying to reach millennials
- Are ready to post many times a day
- Have a male target audience
If Twitter seems like the best place to grow your audience, check out my comprehensive blog post about it.
The next two largest platforms for social sharing are Google+ and LinkedIn.
I haven’t yet experimented with these platforms.
But clearly, I need to do so and report about it here on the blog.
However, I do have more to say about a couple other platforms.
Growing a Community on YouTube
YouTube is unique among social media in that it functions as a blog (vlog) platform of its own.
This can be great for vloggers because YouTube users spend a long time on the platform and can be some of the most loyal followers.
But it can also be difficult to drive traffic from YouTube to a website.
And if your entire following is on YouTube, you are at the mercy of the platform.
If YouTube changes it’s policies making it harder for you to earn money, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Despite this, YouTube is still probably worth investing in especially if you:
- Have a distinctly visual niche like fitness or cooking
- Are physically attractive
- Feel comfortable in front of a camera
- Even if none of the above are true for you, YouTube is still an incredibly powerful platform.
You can re-purpose video content for almost every other social platform.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a master of this technique:
- Publishing the audio from his YouTube vlog as a podcast
- Taking clips from his YouTube vlog and publishing them natively on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.
- Incorporating his vlog into his blog posts
You too can re-purpose video content in all these ways if you have a vlog.
How to Crush it as a Blogger on Instagram
Instagram might not seem like the best place to grow a blog audience.
And for many, this is probably true.
But, some bloggers and brands drive significant traffic from Instagram.
My friend Matt who runs @goldenretrievers is making a full-time income driving traffic from his Instagram profile to an e-commerce store.
So how do you know if Instagram is a good marketing platform for your blog?
It might be a good fit if:
- Your brand revolves around original photography (think apparel and lifestyle)
- Your target audience is millennial females
- Your have video content. (This will only become more important as Instagram continues to follow the pattern of its parent company, Facebook, in prioritizing video)
If Instagram is where you want to focus your efforts, I created a guide to help you automate your Instagram growth here.
SEO works for ANY demographic, niche, or target audience because every demographic uses search engines.
(though some niches will work better on social because someone has already ranked for the best keywords in that niche).
But if you are less technically inclined, you can always use social media to drive traffic to your website.
Social platforms with more desktop users will typically drive more sales and email signups than predominantly mobile platforms.
This makes Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn particularly powerful.
But plenty of bloggers successfully drive blog traffic with primarily mobile platforms like Instagram and Twitter.
If your target audience is primarily female, then you should probably focus on Pinterest for driving blog traffic.
If your target audience is primarily male, then you should instead focus on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.
And Facebook has so many users you can find any demographic and target audience on it.
Lastly, remember that you can have success without any active marketing at all by simply publishing blog content and letting Google crawl your site.
But, you’ll need an iron will and incredible patience to wait the years it will take to gain an audience with this method.
My final advice in this post is to follow the pattern of both Neil Patel and John Lee Dumas.
They both recommend focusing on one platform until you experience success with it.
Once you’ve mastered growth on that platform, then consider moving expanding to another platform.
I did NOT do this and I regret it.
I’ve been slowly growing audiences on several social platforms when I could be growing rapidly on one platform.
But there’s nothing I can do about it now except learn from it, teach others to avoid my mistakes, and press on!
How do you drive traffic to your blog?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments.