This is an abstract from my book How to Start a Blog
Having a blog is great and all, but having a blog that people actually read is deeply satisfying.
There’s a problem though: how do you get people to read your blog?
How Blog Traffic Works
In today’s world, if you are not producing valuable and consistent content, you are invisible. There are just too many things pushed at us every day.
I dedicate from 30 minutes to 1 hour every day to the Internet. That means Social Media, mostly Twitter, RSS and content aggregators.
I always see the same people. Those people that are highly successful keep pushing out great content.
It might be an inspiring tweet, a great blog post that’s shared a lot, or something that’s just worth reading.
Unless you perform at the same level, you are not appearing in my feed because I only give it limited time. And I assume the vast majority of people do the same. People don’t just spend the whole day on social media waiting for you.
Share your work where the people are
Sharing your content is a great motivator especially when your blog is young and you don’t have an audience yet (more on this later).
In this situation, you can’t rely on organic traffic. To avoid losing motivation, it’s key to get your first views by sharing your content.
You can do 2 things: share it with your own audience on social media, if you have an audience already, or use sites that provide an audience and try your luck.
Those sites include Reddit, Hacker News, Medium, and forums that specialize in the topic you are talking about. Word of caution: you might have your feelings hurt in some of those venues, so just be prepared for criticism.
Organic growth is the only reliable solution for long term traffic
You might have the proverbial lucky day, and your blog post goes viral in places like Reddit, Hacker News, or on Social Media.
But the key factor for your blog is organic traffic.
Organic traffic means Google will receive a search from a user and will decide that it should show them your blog post.
Organic traffic is a key factor to every website. Social media traffic is generally low quality, hard to get, and hard to maintain over time.
This is a long process. Google needs to trust you, and it can take some time.
My best suggestion to give Google a reason to show your blog posts is to consistently solve people’s problems.
Solve people’s problems
How do you get Google (and other search engines) to send loads of traffic to your website?
What matters to Google is that it satisfies its own users.
And those are people searching.
People search in order to solve their own problems.
I see SEO people who suggest that you write 3000+ posts to rank on Google.
That’s a great tip if their goal is to discourage you from writing more. They call it long-form content.
Now, as a non-SEO person, but as a person that does things and observes what works and what doesn’t, I can say that if you solve a problem for a person with a 4-line blog post, Google will thank you by sending you more people who have that problem.
They know using their algorithms when a person found the answer they needed. This is Google’s job. Their job is to solve people’s problems by providing the perfect content they are looking for.
If you can provide that, Google will help you.
Not every post on your blog can solve a problem, of course. But if you have posts that solve problems, you’ll start to notice, as those are the posts that will get the most visitors.
Not every post must be small of course, and if long-form content is best for you, do that.
The importance of links
When we were talking before about choosing a good domain name, I mentioned domain authority. I said that an old domain name will likely have more domain authority.
What is domain authority?
Domain authority is a sort of score that search engines use to set the importance of a website, and it’s determined by many different factors. The specific algorithms and metrics used are not publicly available, but there’s one thing which is key to domain authority: links.
The more links to it that a website has, the more authority it has. But it’s not that simple. The more authority the domain has that the link comes from, the more important the link is.
Links have very different weights. A link coming from Wikipedia has more power than a link from a random tweet. And search engines do take social metrics into consideration, too. We can’t know for sure, but a link in a tweet from an influencer in your field has more weight than a tweet from a Twitter bot account.
Google (I say Google because it’s the most important search engine, but others might do a similar thing) is also careful about the topic. If I link to a kitchen recipe site from my computer programming blog, that link is not going to have much value.
If a famous kitchen recipe blog links to a smaller kitchen recipe blog, then that’s more relevant for Google, and it will give that link more meaning.
When it comes to links, it’s important to get links from relevant and on-topic websites.
This is only something you can get by providing great and useful content.