Struggling to get traffic to your blog? Want to know what widgets and apps will magically increase your hits and get you noticed? The secret is actually rather simple: Hard-work, regular updates, extensive reading, and good relationships with wider communities will have new visitors flocking to your site.
Speaking at a ‘Pimp My Blog’ talk at City University last night Patrick Smith, Karl Schneider, Tim Glanfield and Martin Stabe dismissed the idea that fancy apps are the secret to huge monthly visitor figures.
“There is no secret to it, there is no widget that can give you traffic,” said Smith, the editor of www.themediabriefing.com. “If it is crap then no one will read it and there is no way out of that.”
Similarly Schneider, editorial director at Reed Business Information (RBI), said: “Your wrong if you get too tied up in technology and the tools, because at the end of the day it is all about a relationship with the audience and telling a story.
While you may not be able to ‘pimp your blog’ out with one single widget, there are still some fundamental things you can do to increase traffic and, as Stabe, interactive producer at the Financial Times, said, “punch above your weight”.
Have a niche and be an expert in that field
The panel were unanimous in stressing the importance of focusing your efforts on one particular area. Schneider cited few examples of niche B2B publications that RBI runs that get a huge amount of traffic because they focus on very specific areas. The best way to get noticed, according to Stabe, is to digest everything you can about one specific topic. By doing this you can make yourself an expert and people will want to know your views.
To get hits you have to serve the needs of a particular community or group. Smith stressed the importance of always asking yourself, ‘what does my site do and who is it for?’ Remember the most successful blogs and bloggers are those with clearly defined communities and readerships. Glanfield highlighted that actually one of the easiest ways to start to form relationships with wider communities is to identify forums that are relevant to your subject matter and engage in conversation with members.
“The biggest change in journalism is that it is becoming interactive. It is not something you do to your audience, it is something you do with your audience,” said Schneider. In other words, use your blog to engage with your audience through quizzes, polls and effective linking to other sites, and make the best of Twitter. Remember it is a two-way street so you have to re-tweet others, engage in dialogue and not just constantly rant and rave.
Remember the web is a multi-media platform
Utilizing pictures and videos can really make a difference to your blog. Think about the how you can supplement your words with visuals and audio.
Do not despair there are some tools which, if used correctly, can help you boost your online profile.
- Delicious: will help you bookmark and store anything interesting that you read online. It can also be used as a social networking tool to find other individuals reading in the same areas as yourself.
- Google Reader: Use this to get a constant stream of updates from sites you have subscribed to. Essential if you want to become an expert in a field and also very time efficient as saves you having to visit lots of sites a day.
- Dipity: Will help you embed timelines into your posts to give it that visual edge.
- Re-tweet/Facebook like widgets: Will allow readers to re-twetter, like, bookmark and share your blog posts.
- LinkWithin: A widget that will allow you link related articles at the bottom of a post.
- Google Spreadsheets: Are a great way of crowd sourcing data journalism and presenting it in a inventive way.
See presentations from Pimp My Blog on YouTube:
Thoroughly Good Blog: We’re online publishers now
BBC College of Journalism blog: video
Rajvir Rai is a postgraduate journalism student at City University London. He can found on Twitter @R_Rai.