It's frustrating, right?
Your blog is better than 99% of the blogs in your niche.
Your content is highly helpful and useful to readers.
And yet, you get no traffic while others with lower quality blogs than yours get all the traffic and credit.
You listen to many of the gurus and start applying many different tactics to increase your website traffic and drive traffic to your blog, but in the end, the results are not satisfying.
I'm sure it is, because I've been in the same situation and nearly all bloggers have the same problem unless they have a couple thousand dollars to burn.
So how do you increase your website traffic even if you don't have a fortune to spend, or have no money at all?
That's what you're going to learn in this guide.
Note: This post is a long one and I don't expect you to finish it in one read. You can grab a pdf of this post + checklists for all the strategies mentioned here by clicking on the button below.
A taste of what you'll learn:
Ditch The Tactics. The Simple Tip To Get The Traffic You Crave
We're all about the tactics.
You keep reading on the internet about this tactic that helped a blogger increase their website traffic and you start to implement it. Then you see another one that helped another person increase their website traffic or maybe the same person get bigger result, you then use both of them to promote your blog.
The thing is that these tactics will offer you different results on different time ranges, so if you don't understand the big picture, you might dump them both and be left wondering what to do next.
Focus on the traffic strategy you want to use not the tactic.
Strategies are the high-level planning of how you're going to get traffic. Tactics are the methods or steps you will take to apply the strategy.
Think first about the strategy you want to use to get traffic and then find the tactics that best suit you to apply this strategy.
And don't worry if you don't know how to do that, because that's what the rest of the post will be about: different strategies you can choose from and the tactics to help you apply these strategies. You're in for a treat 🙂
And if you are wondering, there are mainly 4 traffic strategies to increase your website traffic. We'll go over each one in detail and the various tactics to apply these strategies.
But first, let's discuss the prerequisites you need to have before getting traffic.
The Prerequisites to Start Getting Enough Traffic
Before we dive deep into the tactics, we need to talk about some of the essentials you need in order to make sure that you not only get enough traffic but that you benefit from this traffic so it doesn't go to waste.
After all, it would be sad if you spent a lot of time increasing your website traffic through the roof only to see your blog go down the drain, which is what would happen if your visitors only visit your blog once, leave, and don't come back.
So without further ado, here are the prerequisites to start getting enough traffic.
Position Yourself in The Market Right
Before you go any further, you need to have a unique value proposition. You need to be different from the rest of the market so people have a reason to follow you.
A good way to help you figure out a value proposition is the positioning matrix technique by Danny Iny.
This technique will help you find an open area in your market that you can dominate.
According to Danny:
Take two qualities your ideal customers care about. Use the X and Y axes to create spectrums of each quality. Now, place your competitors on the grid according to how low or high they are on spectrum.
Here's an example for a finance site:
The X axis defines the general philosophy. The left extreme is the “buckle down” philosophy or doing the work. On the far right is the “enjoy life” philosophy, or getting the most out of life with the least effort.
The Y axis defines the general strategy for helping the audience achieve financial stability. On one end of the spectrum, the strategy is to save money, while on the other end, it’s to make more money.
After plotting competitors (blue dots), we find an open space (red dot) in the “enjoy life” end of the spectrum and closer to “make money” than “save money.”
You can learn more about this technique by listening to this interview, Danny Iny on The Positioning Matrix.
Other great ways to help position you in the market:
- Personal branding: There is only one you and that could be huge to differentiate yourself from the market. Seth Godin, Marie Forleo, Chris Ducker and Noah Kagan are great examples.
- Find the cross-section between 2 topics: When you combine 2 topics together, you instantly have a new market. Brian Clark combined copywriting with blogging and Derek Halpern combined psychology with marketing.
After you position yourself in the market, you can then start thinking about creating content and promoting it.
Good Hosting & Theme: Prepare For the Traffic
Before you start driving traffic to your site, you need to have the right technology to support it.
A good hosting service and a good theme have become essentials nowadays.
Why hosting is important?
Because your audience expects your site to be fast. If it's slow, they'll leave the site. And also, if there's a lot of downtime, then you could lose that visitor for life.
So, what hosting should you use?
Why is design important?
In his post, The "Content is King" Myth Debunked, Derek Halpern showed why content is not king anymore and why design is king.
The reason why is because design can cause immediate distrust for new visitors.
So how do you get a good design without a lot of fuss?
You don't need to mess with code or spend hundreds of dollars to get a good design.
Or if you're like me and you have Studiopress sites as your hosting, then you get 20 premium themes for free to choose from, so you don't need to worry about this problem.
Free wordpress themes are not always great, I don't recommend using them for your blog. Read this post by Mary Fernandez to know why, 7 Warning Signs Your Free WordPress Theme is Sabotaging Your Blog.
Have An Email List
I'm sure you heard the saying that "there's money is in the list."
The main reason building an email list is important is because it helps you build relationships with new visitors and make them into returning visitors and engage with them till they trust you and at which point you can sell them your products/services.
It can help you pay your rent, as Ramsay from the Blog Tyrant shares here 🙂
If you want to read more about why you need an email list, check out this sumo-sized guide by Sumo about why your website needs an email list.
After you have an email list, make sure to add opt-in forms across your site to make sure people see it and have a chance to get on your list.
Here are a few places to add your opt-in form:
- Feature Box: This is a box at the top of the page just after your logo and navigation bar. It has the best conversion rates. PlugMatter is a great plugin to help you add this form to your site.
- Sticky Sidebar widget: Sidebar opt-in forms are nearly dead, but sticky ones, which scroll with you are still working like a charm. You can read this guide to know how to add this to your WP site.
- Popup forms: A lot of people complain about how annoying they are, but the truth is that work. You can add it for free using Sumo, or you could use the thrive leads plugin.
- WelcomeMat: A cool feature where you create a full-screen CTA to ask people to opt-in to your list; they can then scroll down to continue reading your post. You can do it with Sumo or thrive leads (scroll mat).
- Slide from the bottom: This is a cool, less aggressive place to add an opt-in form to your site. It appears when people scroll a certain percent of your page, usually near the end of the post.
- After the post: When people read to the end of the post, this means they liked your content, and more than likely they would be happy to hear from you again.
Once you have your opt-in forms on your site, you're now ready to start driving traffic to your site.
Make sure to download the foundation cheatsheet to walk you through everything you need to get done before driving traffic to your blog.
The 4 Traffic Strategies That Work
After analyzing over 50 bloggers, what strategies they focused on, and what tactics they used to increase their traffic in various stages of their site growth, I found that there are only 4 strategies that work.
All of them focused on one of these strategies to grow their blog.
I'm talking about people from the old days like Brian Clark of Copyblogger to people who just made it this year.
I'm not saying that there aren't any other possible strategies, but I can tell you that these are the ones that have been proven to work and will continue to work for the coming years.
So what are these 4 traffic strategies?
- Networking with big players: In this strategy, you start building relationship with big players, so they can help you out later on.
- The skyscraper technique: In this strategy, you write exceptional blog posts that are proven to be popular and promote the heck out of them to rank higher on google.
- Be a well-known member in a community: You interact with group members till you understand them very well and become well-known among them, then use that distinction to grow your site traffic.
- Use paid traffic to save you some time: You spend money on advertising to grow your email list and find people who are willing to listen to you.
There are many tactics that you can use to apply each of these strategies to increase your blog traffic.
In the rest of this post, you're going to discover:
- The advantages and disadvantages of each strategy
- Different tactics that work for every strategy
- A detailed step-by-step guide to help you apply these tactics
Here's my suggestion.
Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each traffic strategy and then decide what will work for you.
After you decide on the strategy you will focus on, take a look at the different tactics that can help you carry out that strategy and then start applying them.
And don't forget to grab the checklist for the strategy you're following. It will be easier to follow through and apply the strategy.
So without further ado, let's start with the first strategy.
Strategy #1: Networking Your Way to Success
Have you ever seen someone go from being nobody to being mentioned by almost every celebrity in the industry?
Then they were probably following this traffic strategy.
The advantages of this method:
- The traffic will be of high quality especially when influencers endorse your content
- You can turn these relationships into joint ventures so you earn big bucks when doing launches for your products
But it's not easy. Here are the disadvantages of this method:
- It will take you a long time to start seeing any results, I mean no less than 6 months and sometimes a year. The true benefits will come after 2+ years.
So despite the huge benefits, there are significant drawbacks to this method. But the careful observer will note that many of the people who built their blogs into 7-figure businesses followed this strategy.
So if you are patient and you like networking with other people, then this strategy is for you.
How to Get Noticed by Powerful People (Even If You're a Nobody)
So you think this strategy is great but you think you can't do it because you're a nobody?
You can do it and build relationships with big players even if you're starting from scratch, but it will take you some time, as I said before.
Here are a few tactics to help you start building a relationship with an influencer:
1. Send thank you emails
There's nothing that makes people feel more appreciated for what they do than the thank you letters they get every day.
It puts a smile on their face all day long.
But big bloggers receive a lot of thank-you emails that are geared toward getting their attention.
So you need to stand out.
Here are some tips on how to send a thank you email:
- Don't forget their name: I know this may be obvious, but many people just start the email with "Hi," and then don't even mention the blogger's name. Or even worse, they may use the wrong name! Don't do that.
- Be specific: Don't just say that their blog has changed your life and so on, be specific. For example, mention an old post that you really liked and how you applied what he/she shared in that post.
- Thank them for the positive results of what you've learned from them.
A simple way to say thank you while driving traffic to your blog is using the poster boy formula.
Here's how to apply it:
People love to share case studies about how their ideas work, so follow the pattern above and show them that their product really did work.
Use Social Media Strategically
Most influencers spend a good amount of time on social media to connect with their audience.
This is your chance to get their attention and make them notice you.
So, how do you do that?
- Find the platforms your target is most active on: Everyone has a platform that they focus on and spend a lot of time on. Find that one, and try to be active on it. Answer questions when they ask any.
- Tag them when you share their content.
- Share a little about their post : Don't just share the title like everyone else. Explain the reason for why you liked the post.
- Praise their service/course: Again, there's nothing better than complementing their product, especially when you do it in public and everyone can see it.
- Create image quotes: Another great way to stand out is to quote them from any of their posts, create a simple image and promote it on social media. Here's a great one where Michael Hyatt quotes Simon Sinek:
Social media is a great tool to help you start the relationship-building process with others. Use it wisely and you'll be able to start building relationships with more people.
Leave comments that work
We've been told that comments are a great way to drive traffic to your blog. It doesn't work anymore for getting traffic or for increasing ranking on Google.
But still, it's a great way to get noticed by big influencers. People love to check comments on their blog posts, especially new ones, and see feedback from other people.
The thing is that most people are doing it wrong, and that's your chance to stand out from the crowd. How do you do it correctly?
Well, here are few tips to help you write comments that stand out:
- Don't just say the same thing other people have said: Be complimentary and offer something new, a reason why the idea shared in the post is great and so on. Add to the conversation.
- Don't self-promote: Obvious? I know, but some people still link to their content and mention their services in the comments.
- Share the benefits you learned from this post and how you plan to implement the things shared in the post.
Maybe you're wondering how you could write a comment that stands out from everyone else's and catches the influencer's eye.
Here is a simple formula you can use from my friend Kevin Duncan of Be A Better Blogger, which he shares in his masterpiece, The Ultimate Guide to Writing Comments That Open Doors with Popular Bloggers (BTW, check out the post, you're going to learn a ton from it.)
Here's the formula:
- Start by mentioning their name: Simple. Hi, (name).
- Complement them about their post.
- Add value: Share an insight, or best of all, ask a question. It adds to the conversation and keeps the dialogue going. If you ask a high quality question, the author will remember your name.
- Tell them you're going to share (or already shared) the post.
Here's an example where Adrienne Smith writes a perfect comment.
Interviews are a great way to deepen your relationship with influencers. I would suggest trying the above 2 techniques first before trying this one.
But why are interviews so powerful?
- By conducting an audio/video interview with someone, it helps you connect more than by using email or social media. They're more likely to remember you.
- 50% of them will share your podcast and give you a surge of traffic.
- As Robert Caldini shares in his book, Influence, when you do a small favor for someone (in this case, interviewing them), that person is more likely to do a bigger favor for you (maybe sharing your post.)
The bad news?
It is not an easy job to get influencers to free time from their schedule to do an interview with you.
The good news though, is that it's not as hard as you think, and it doesn't have to be scary. All you need is to do it right, and you'll greatly increase your acceptance rate.
So what should you do exactly?
Here are some tips to help you:
- See when the influencer is appearing on multiple podcasts at once. At that time they'll be more likely to accept your request because they're promoting something.
- Show them that you know their work: Don't just cold email.
- Craft questions they are not used to hearing: Ask them questions that make them want to be interviewed by you. They hate to be asked the same questions again and again.
For more details on how to nail your interview strategy, check out these resources:
- 7 Ways To Get High Profile Guest Interviews For Your Podcast
- Conduct Better Podcast Interviews with This Simple 6-Step Preparation Process
- How to Interview Influencers (Even If You’d Rather Curl up and Die)
- How To Conduct A Quality Podcast Interview In 7 Steps
Write A Guest Post
Isn't guest-posting dead?
A lot of people were using guest posting solely for SEO purposes, and that's why guest posting was declared to be dead: because it may affect your rankings negatively, if you do it the old way.
But the main benefit of guest-posting is actually not the SEO or traffic benefits.
The main benefit is the relationships you build with other bloggers.
Guest-posting has enabled me to build relationships with many influential people who became my clients after that (and it's not about the money either).
When you guest-post on someone else's blog, and you write a popular post, they owe you a favor. You saved them a lot of time and you drove them a lot of traffic. And that post will continue to drive them traffic.
That's why you need to think about adding guest-posting to your arsenal, if you plan to use this strategy.
Danny Iny said that he got 800 subscribers from his first few months of guest posting, which isn't really that impressive.
The thing is that he was able to build a lot of relationships. He went to those people and asked them to contribute to his book, Engagement from Scratch.
The day after he published it he got 872 subscribers and after 3 weeks he had 3,381 subscribers. Check out more about his success story here.
Yes, he did a lot of things right which contributed to his success, but guest-posting was the main thing that helped promote his book with the people who wrote it with him.
So how do you do guest-posting the right way to build relationships?
- Don't always look for big blogs, especially when starting out: The bigger the blog, the more guest posts you will need to already have under your belt in order to build a relationship with the author.
- Share your best content as guest posts: Don't write the best content on your blog and publish average posts on other people's blogs. You need to publish the best content on big blogs. You can even ignore posting on your blog at the beginning.
- Spend time studying the target blog: You need to learn what content topics work best, what is the format of the blog, understand the audience by reading a lot of content, and how to dig deeper to write the best content on the blog.
- When you pitch the blog, follow the guidelines. If there aren't any, then rule #1 is don't make it too long.
- After your post is published, promote it to make it popular, and respond to comments.
- Email the author after the post is published within 4 weeks and ask him about suggestions on your post, and maybe pitch another guest post.
Here are a few more resources from the archive to show you how to do guest-posting the right way:
- How to Get Your Guest Posts Accepted Every Time by Ali Luke
- A Quick and Dirty Guide to Your First Guest Post by Neil Patel
- 42 Lessons From 42 Guest Posts And 12,324 Social Shares by Tom Hunt
Buy Their Product And Be an Active Student
When you spend money to purchase a product/service, you are ahead of the 99% of the people who email them asking for free advice.
You're giving them your money, and they need the money to keep doing what they do. So they're going to be happy to help you.
This is your opportunity.
Here's what you can do to make the most of this opportunity:
- Ask them powerful questions that show them that you've done your homework and studied their content.
- Go and apply that content and show them the results: Remember the poster boy formula? This is the same strategy but more powerful. What every course creator wants is to prove that their ideas are working. If you help them gain a few customers, you're helping them make money and they will be very grateful to you.
- Be an active member in the community: Usually, most of the courses come with a community element. A great way to stand out from the crowd and build relationships is to help other members and save the blogger some time. Be as detailed as possible so that he/she doesn't feel the need to add anything more.
This strategy is very simple and I would suggest you start with it if you have some cash. It'll put you ahead of the curve with that influencer and save you a lot of time later on.
What to Do After You Build the Relationship
After you spend the time to nurture that relationship and become connected with an influencer, you're ready to start benefiting from that relationship to get the results you want.
You could ask them for a share, for advice, for an introduction, a testimonial, or you could even ask them to promote your product.
But before you email them and ask them for any favors, here are a few things you should do to make sure you don't burn that relationship.
- Make the task easy to complete: it should take them less than a minute to complete it.
- Be specific: Whenever you ask them to do something, be specific. Don't just say "promote my next post," ask them to tweet it and even give them a pre-populated link.
- Make it a win-win situation: Yes, you have the relationship, but you need to make it a win-win situation. Always think about what's in it for them. If you want them to share your post, it has to be great and beneficial for their audience.
With these 3 tips in mind, you'll be able to continue having that relationship and benefit from over time.
The most important thing is to remember that they're a human, and they don't want to be used as a tool to help you reach your goal. Connect with them and enjoy the process.
And with this, we're done with the first strategy to increase your website traffic.
Don't forget to grab your cheatsheet to make it easy for you to follow through as you apply the tactics shared here.
Strategy #2: Write Exceptional Blog Posts and Promote the Heck Out of Them (aka the Skyscraper Technique)
If you're not familiar with it, the skyscrapper technique was developed by Brian Dean from Backlinko. Brian published just 5 new posts last year but he still able to increase his blog traffic by using this strategy.
The strategy is simple:
- Find topics that are proven to be popular in the industry
- Work hard to create epic content around related to those topics
- Promote the heck out of your posts
Here is Brian himself describing the strategy in this 5-min video.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to every strategy.
The advantages for this strategy:
- Results are faster. You can start driving traffic to your blog in a month or two.
- Long-term SEO results: When you promote your content the right way, you will start gathering links and rank higher on google, this will increase your website traffic for a long time without having to make any further effort.
- You don't need to have relationships or any authority to apply this traffic strategy.
But there are disadvantages:
- Risky: You can spend a lot of time to create content that you think is better than that of other people, but it might not lead you the results you want.
- It's a numbers game: Don't expect to email 10 people and have 8 of them promote it. After all, you have no previous relationship. Expect 10% of them to reply to you and 5-7% to promote it. That's why you need no less than 200 people to do outreach to in order to start getting any results at all.
- Boring :When you try to search for 200 people to email, and then start to research all of their email addressesf one by one and then email them individually, you will be bored to death.
But the truth is, many people have used this strategy to grow their blogs quickly in the last few years. It's proven to work and it will continue to do so.
Some of the people who applied this strategy:
- Brian Dean (of course)
- Robbie Richards
- Alex Turnbull
- Sarah Peterson at Sumo.
- Cody Lister
- Sujan Patel
and many others.
This strategy works and that's why a lot of people are using it.
But don't worry. You're going to discover how to apply it the right way here in this post.
Shall we start digging into the details?
Make sure to download the cheatsheet of strategy 2 before continuing to read so that you know exactly the steps you need to follow to start applying this strategy.
How to Find Compelling Blog Posts That Are Proven To Be Popular
The first step is to know what influencers are already sharing. What is the compelling content out there in your niche that you want to beat?
Notice: I didn't say good or very good. I say compelling, i.e. amazing content that wows you and influencers.
Can you think of a podcasting tutorial that beats this one? It's actually better than most of the paid courses out there.
This is the type of content you need to be looking for... ALL THE TIME.
But how can you find compelling content like this?
Follow the next steps and you'll be able to find with amazing content out there that you need to outdo, thus creating even more awesome content.
Just a bit of warning: it may take you some time to find that compelling content to go after.
The best part?
You can do this step once, and you'll have a pure gold mine of ideas for several months, if not years to come. Just put in the time.
Ready to go? Let's do it.
Step #1: Google's first page
Sometimes the best ideas are right in front of your face.
If a post makes it to the first page, it means the post has got links, shares, and tweets from influencers out there.
Here's a simple tip to help you get the most out of this: install the Mozbar for either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
It shows you the domain authority and page authority of each result without opening the page.
Why you need to do this?
Look for posts that have high page authority and not domain authority.
Some sites rank in the first spot because they're posted on a high domain authority site, and Google loves those. That's why they're in the first spot.
Those are not necessary the compelling content you need to look for.
The best results are where the DA is low and the page authority is really high.
Try different search terms related to your main topic, and you'll have a good list to go after.
Step #2: Search subreddits for top content
Once upon a time, bloggers were starving to get more upvotes for their content on Reddit to drive more traffic to their blog.
This was one of the biggest sources of traffic out there at that time, after digg.
Nowadays Reddit isn't as good of a traffic source as it used to be, but there's still something you can benefit from: the great content that makes it to the top. 😉
First: Find great subreddits related to your topic. I recommend searching with Search Reddit; it'll get you more desired results that Reddit doesn't show.
Second: Take a look at the hot threads out there. These are not always great. But if you find something compelling, save it. If you don't, move on.
Third: Go to the Top Tap. This is where the pure gold is. You'll find the the all-time most popular threads in that subreddit.
Here's an example from the fitness subreddit:
That's what you should be going after.
Step #3: Search for the top posts on popular blogs
Popular blogs are popular... well, because they have content worth sharing. What if you could find the content that made these blogs popular and create even better content?
Your site would be more popular as long as you promote your post right.
So, how can you find the top posts on popular blogs?
There are many tools that are coming out all the time to help you do this, but the only one that has stood the test of time is buzzsumo.
Buzzsumo enables you to find popular content on other sites + other cool benefits, which I will talk about below.
So how do you use it?
- Login to buzzsumo: If you don't want to sign up, register for their free 14 day trial.
- Click on the topcontent tab and then enter the blog's domain name.
And you'll see results sorted by social shares. Just make sure that "articles" is selected on the left side.
Step #4: Search for content curators
There are a lot of people out there who do the heavy lifting and curate great content without you needing to spend hours of research replicating their efforts.
You'll find the top compelling content related to your topic in just one page.
All you need to do is search for those content curators on Google. Here are some keywords you can use:
- best (keyword) posts
- keyword + “all-time best”
- keyword + “best 2016′′
- keyword + “top 100′′
- keyword + “top 50′′
- best (keyword) posts 2015
It'll take you just a few seconds to get the best content on your topic. Easy, right?
Here's an example where I entered "productivity":
Step #5: Use BuzzSumo for popular content related to your topic
I've saved the best for last.
Although the previous steps are great to get the best content out there, BuzzSumo is by far the best way to help you find popular content in any industry. Really, it's that awesome.
That being said, it doesn't replace the above steps, which is why I placed it in the end, so make sure to do the previous steps first. But feel free to spend more time playing with this tool. 😉
First, head over to buzzsumo.com. Create an account and then login.
Second, under "filter by type", check only content and uncheck the rest. And under "filter by date," check past 6 months.
Third, enter the keyword and wait for the top posts out there in your industry.
The tool sorts content by total shares in all networks. If you care more about one social network than the other, make sure to sort by popularity in that social network.
Here's an example where I entered "self-improvement":
And there you have it.
At this point you should have a gold mine of compelling content out there. Save all your results in a spreadsheet, so when you need some traffic for your blog you can just open it, find one piece of content, and continue the following steps.
You won't need to do this step every time you create a new piece of noteworthy content for influencers to share. So take the time to do it right.
That's the first step in creating compelling content that influencers will beg you to share.
Tactics to Make Your Post More Epic
Now that you have all this compelling content that influencers are already sharing, you need to create an even better resource.
Remember, influencers love to share the best. Your job is to be the best. But how?
Here are 3 ways to make your content even better:
Technique #1: Go into more detail
It seems obvious, but the best way to have a better post is to go into more detail.
Here are 3 techniques you can use to get more in-depth into your topic:
Create the ultimate post out there about your topic
Always try to make your post the ultimate resource on the topic you're writing about.
Steve Kamb's Paleo Diet Guide is a great example.
Here's another great post from Gary Korisko on Smart Blogger, The Ultimate Guide to Writing Irresistible Subheads.
So, to write an ultimate guide about a topic, do the research first and try to find an angle that no one has discovered yet.
Find the gap in the top shared posts and write about it. So how do you find the gaps?
Well, the comments on those posts are your secret weapon for finding the gaps. See what people are asking for repeatedly that isn't answered clearly in blog post and you're sure to find a winning angle.
That's the first technique to go more in-depth. The second one is very simple.
Use the word "for example" more
Whenever you find yourself stuck in writing and don't know what to write about next, use the words for example and continue writing. The best part about this technique is that it helps you go into more detail without you even having to think about it. 🙂
For example – yes I'm guilty of using it – you could share stories that happened to you or your readers or anyone else to prove your point. Got it?
If you're going to write a list post, write a gigantic one
List posts are proven winners. That's why even if they're re-posted again and again, they still remain popular.
However, to a certain extent their influence has decreased over the years due to overuse.
So posts which share 5 tips or mistakes or whatever about any topic won't do any good these days.
The ones that will become popular are the big ones; I mean 25-, 50-, 100- or even 200-item list posts.
Here's an example for a guest post by Tommy Walker that went viral on Chris Brogan's site. It's titled 106 Excuses That Prevent You from Ever Becoming Great.
The post is over 7k words, and it's got 100k+ stumbles and 1000s of likes and tweets.
Want another great example that wasn't that big?
Henneke wrote an awesome post for Copyblogger titled 37 Tips for Writing Emails that Get Opened, Read, and Clicked.
The post became so wildly popular that it was the most-shared post on Copyblogger in 2013. I'm sure you're seeing how effective list posts can be.
If you're starting out and you want to get on the radar of authority bloggers, write a list post.
It's time-consuming and influencers know this, so when you do the work, it'll be obvious to them, and they'll reward you with at least a tweet or a like.
So, how do you write one?
Here are 4 steps you need to follow:
- Brainstorm a crazy number of ideas–and try to be unexpected. If your points are trite, people won't continue reading.
- Carefully craft headings for each point – make it highly addictive.
- Put your strongest points at the start and at the end of the post.
- Make sure to study viral list posts on Buzzfeed. The whole site is built on list posts. Study their headline structures and post structures and try to adapt them to your post.
Technique #2: Step up the design
In his post, "Content is King" Myth Debunked, Derek Halpern shared an interesting research that generated a lot of buzz in the marketing industry.
In this study, researchers asked subjects to look at two websites:
One website was professionally designed. The other looked dated and ugly.
When the researchers asked people why they mistrusted the information on either site, 94% said it was because of design.
And get this: the content on both websites was EXACTLY the same.
Design could make the difference between people actually reading your post, and people leaving your post the moment they see it.
Here are two examples to show you exactly what I mean:
He didn't only spend thousands of dollars to hire awesome writers to write these posts for him, but he also spent tens of thousands of dollars on the design.
You can check out the advanced guide to SEO, for example. The guide is well over 45k words which would have done great, without spending all this money on design, but he knew it was going to be worth it, so he did it... multiple times, which proves how effective it is.
Example #2: The Ultimate Guide To Successful Email Marketing by Chris Hexton from getvero.com
It's also an awesome guide like Neil's.
But to do it this way, it would cost you thousands of dollars, which, by the way, would be a great investment.
But the good news is that a few adjustments in your post could make it more attractive without the need to pay thousands of dollars.
Here are a few things you could do:
- Create a custom intro image for your post. Just pick a stock photo, plug it in PowerPoint and you're good to go. You could also use Canva or PicMonkey to edit it and create beautiful images.Here's an example from Leslie Samuel's The No. 1 Reason Most Bloggers Fail.
- Make your callouts, block quotes, more attractive.
There are many tools like Thrive Content Builder that can help you make your page design more attractive without hiring designers or wasting time. You could check out this tutorial from Authority Hacker to help you with this tool.
Bottom line: Design could make a huge difference in your post going viral or not, so spend some time and money to make your post look more attractive.
That's technique #2.
Technique #3: Create a case study post
You won't always be able to use this technique for every compelling content you find in your initial research, but...
Case studies are by far the second best content type to get traffic after gigantic list posts.
They're unique, even if you write about a topic covered by a lot of bloggers from every angle.
You show people the results that they want to achieve, and how you did it. What else do you need to write compelling content?
Here's an example of a case study post, so you understand what I mean:
If you can craft stories well, that's an extra plus. And with the right promotion, you're guaranteed to get a spike in traffic whether you're a popular blogger or a beginning blogger who's just starting out.
Here's what you need to write a great case study post:
- Inside information about a result other people want for themselves
- Be willing (and able) to spill the beans
- The ability to tell a story
The last one is difficult for some people. If you can't tell a story well, your post won't do you any good.
But here's a simple technique you could use to tell a great story. Emulate others.
See how others share their results and try to emulate the way they did it.
So, do some quick research on Google for case studies. It doesn't need to be in your niche. Pick case studies that became very popular and try to emulate them. This way you'll be able to craft effective case study posts.
Writing case studies is the last technique to make your content more compelling.
So, to sum things up, to create an even more compelling post than the popular posts out there and follow one of the following techniques:
- Get more in-depth. Write ultimate guides; use for example more; write gigantic list posts.
- Step up the design.
- Create a case study post.
Pro tip: Try to use more than one technique to create even more compelling content. You could combine stepping up the design with any of the other two. Or, you could use the 3 together for the ultimate combo.
A good quote I heard from Jon Morrow is that the amount of traffic you get is directly proportional to the time you spend creating your posts.
Posts that take 10 hours to create won't fare well as those which take 1 week.
So, spend the time, and make sure to create something awesome, but don't wait forever trying to get everything perfect.
How to Promote Your Content
Having a great post, publishing it, and then hoping to get traffic is the wrong way to do it.
Instead, find the right influencers to share/link your post, find their email addresses, and then email them asking them to share your post.
So, you first need an awesome post which you should have now after completing step 1.
Now you need to make a list of the right people to share your post and to link to it.
Notice: I said the right people, not just anyone who has a blog in your topic.
Ask people who are likely to say yes.
Instead of just asking random people for links, ask those who have shown interest in the original piece of content you found in the first step or similar posts in your topic.
Don't worry, we'll dive into details about who to contact, so let's get started.
Follow the techniques below, and you'll have a good list of the right people who are willing to share your post.
Just a quick note about how many influencers you should go after.
A quick rule of thumb is to go after at least 200.
If you've spent hours writing your post, spend double that time to get the traffic it deserves and reap the benefits.
After all, it's the most compelling content out there and you need to get it the traffic it deserves.
If you want to, find 500 or even 1000. I'd recommend doing that if you're just starting out and want to skyrocket your way to success.
With that said, let's start getting a big list of people to promote your post.
People Who Linked to Similar Posts
When people link to other posts, they always try to find ways to give more to their audience.
If you have a great, detailed post, they'll be happy to link to you.
So how do you find people who linked to similar, previous posts?
There are a few tools to help you apply this strategy, like:
Plug the links you found in your research into any of these sites and you'll find the people who linked to those posts; then make a spreadsheet with the posts you've found and the name of the influencer.
There is nearly no difference between them.
Buzzsumo is a great one to get familiar with because you'll be using it during other steps, too. Another one I like is Ahrefs, specially due to the many other tools they have. You can read more about these tools here and how to use Ahrefs for the skyscraper technique in this Ahrefs review post by Authority Hacker.
Anyway, use the one you like and plug the links of the posts you found during your research there.
Then sort the pages with the one which has the highest domain authority or trust flow.
And then export the top 50 results into a spreadsheet. Do this for all the posts or resources you've gathered from step 1 and you'll have a huge list of influencers waiting to link to your compelling post.
People who've shared similar posts
Find people who've shared related posts in the past month.
People who tweeted articles related to yours will be happy to promote your post if it's compelling.
So how do you find these people?
I don't know of any tool better than Buzzsumo. Here's what you need to do:
- Login to buzzsumo and enter your blog topic.
- Select "articles" and "past month" in the date range.
- Click on "view sharers" on posts related to yours.
- Export the sharers to an excel file.
- Repeat this for multiple posts.
- Filter out people who have less than 5000 followers.
- Set the url_share_ratio to filter people who have a share ratio greater than 1.0.
- Also set the retweet_ratio to filter (show) people who have a retweet ratio greater than 2.0.
After you have a big list of people who shared a similar, previous post, you can move to the next step.
Read this post for more information about how to increase website traffic from people who've shared previous, similar posts, How to Promote Your Blog to Attract 1,300 Social Shares & 2,752% More Referral Traffic.
How to Find Email Addresses
After you have a huge list of link targets, it’s time to find their email addresses.
Sometimes though, that email address is not going to be readily available. So, expect to do some digging.
The good news is most are quite easy to find. Go to their about page or their contact page, you may find their email address there.
If you can't, try Google.
Search on Google to find the email addresses of influencers.
You could enter the name of the influencer and their website name along with "email address".
So you could search for Chris Brogan email and you'll get it. 😉
If you can't find it this way, you'll need to use the following tool to help you with this process.
It's a browser plugin that connects to Gmail. You'll need to have a Gmail account to use it.
When you type someone's email in the to field, it'll return back with a list of their social profiles along with their photo (if available).
What if you don't know their email address? You guess it. If you guess it and their picture appears, then you guessed it right.
Here are some steps you can try:
First letter of first name + last name @domainname.com
First name + last email@example.com
At least one of these techniques is likely to get you the right address.
I've found this cool Google doc called an Email Permutator that does all the heavy lifting for you when it comes to inputting the various email permutations.
All you do is type in their name and domain name, and it gives you back pretty much every permutation of possible email addresses. Check it out. It’s pretty cool. It's made by the people from Distilled.
First, go to this page and save it in your Google docs. Then type the first name, last name and the website name.
Then add each one of these in the “To” field in Gmail and see which one brings up their social profiles.
I know it's a lot of hard work, but remember, one influencer could send you thousands of individuals-worth of traffic, so it’s worth it.
But what if it doesn't work?
If all else fails, try this tactic.
Find their Twitter account, and if they're active, send them a tweet like this:
Hey, got a question for you. Can you send me your email? I won’t pester you to death, I promise. 🙂
I learned this technique from Jon Morrow and it has worked for me a couple of times. So try it.
I have been using find that lead lately since it is created and the results are satisfying.
What if it fails, too?
If this technique also failed, then cross that authority from your list and try the next one.
No one influencer is going to make or break your career. If you've given it your best efforts and worked all these angles without success, then move on.
You did everything you can to make them see your awesome compelling content. They may notice it later and share it, so work on the next one.
Here are other resources to check out:
What to send to influencers
There are many templates out there, but I use a variation similar to this one from Cody Lister:
The template above was for a shared post, you can change it for linkers by changing first sentence to I noticed that you linked to one of my favorite articles on this page.
Other resources to promote your post:
There are many resources out there about the skyscraper technique and content promotion strategies.
Here are a few of them:
- How You Can Create Content That Generates 400,000 Targeted Visitors by Brian Dean on Okdork
- Case Study: How I Increased Traffic 272% In 30 Days (Without Spending A Penny) by Robbie Richards
- 21 Content Promotion Strategies That Will Triple Your Traffic by Cody Lister
- How To Promote Your Next Blog Post And Increase Traffic By Over 425% by Adam Colnell
- The Pareto Outreach Philosophy & How It Can Help You Build 1000% More White Hat Links by Perrin Carrell
- 1 Simple Blogger Outreach Case Study = 2,000 New Visitors by Michael Pozdnev
I know it may seem overwhelming, but you'll get used to it. I've created a cheatsheet for this strategy to make it less overwhelming, and you will know exactly what to do.
Strategy #3: Be a Well-Known Member In a Community
Now to the third strategy that many bloggers have used to grow their blog in a short period of time.
In a nutshell this strategy is where you go become a part of a community (whether it's forums, subreddits, Facebook groups, and so on), and you interact with people till you become known there.
Once in a while, after you become known and understand the group, you could promote your posts sending you floods of traffic.
A good example of someone who built a successful business from a community is Sol Orwell of Examine.com. He grew a 7-figure business using the power of reddit. You can read more on this post on Grow and convert.
Before we dive deeper, let's talk more about the advantages and disadvantages of this strategy.
Advantages of this strategy include:
- You can drive tens of thousands of visitors to your new blog post in less than a week.
- Fast results. Can take anywhere from 2-4 months.
- Build relationships with people who can become influencers in your space.
- A great way to increase website traffic that doesn't take much effort.
Disadvantages of this strategy:
- The quality of visitors may be lower.
- Takes a lot of time to interact with the community at the beginning before you start getting any results.
- The community can disappear and all your efforts will have been in vain.
How to Apply This Strategy the Right Way
Now that you know about the strategy, let's delve deeper into how to apply it.
Select the platform you like and then select the community
There are many platforms nowadays where people can build communities.
To know which platform to select you need to know 2 things:
- Where does your ideal audience hang out more?
- What platform do you prefer?
For the first question, I think it is easy to answer if you have a detailed picture about your ideal audience.
Anyway, here is an infographic from Sproutsocial showing you the demographics of some social media platforms:
And the second question is a preference thing. Your job will be harder when you don't like the platform. Instead, you could go all in on a platform that you like.
And btw, it doesn't need to be social media platforms, it could be forums also. But I think social media platforms are more available.
After you decide on the group that will work for you, you're ready to go to the next step.
2. Study the community
Now that you know the community you want to be part of, you need to understand it very well.
You need to know what is popular in this community, what topics they love to talk about.
If you're in reddit, find the top-reddits of all time. This will help you understand the stuff that works best.
You will also need to understand the guidelines.
Keep reading posts and comments every day to get a sense of what the community shares.
3. Become Part of the Community
After you study the community for at least 2 weeks, start participating in the community.
Now, you can start leaving comments with helpful feedback, vote for others' content and maybe even share their articles.
The thing is you need to engage with the community and become part of it.
4. Share your post with the community
You earned it, after a month or two of interacting with the community, it is now time to start reaping some benefits.
Depending on the guidelines, you could share the post by yourself, or maybe ask some of the friends you've made to share it for you.
A good tip is to say that you're looking for feedback on the post.
5. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right hook
The last step in the process is to give, give, give and then ask, or as Gary Vaynerchuck loves to call it, jab, jab, jab, right hook.
BTW, if you plan to use this strategy, I would recommend you to check out his book.
After you share the first post, your job now is to continue providing value for the community before you can ask for anything.
As Gary say it, make it a 3:1 ratio.
Give more than you ask.
Always be interacting, understanding the audience, finding trending topics, and then write about those topics and share in the group.
That's it for this strategy.
It's very simple and it's the same process for all groups. I won't delve deeper into each platform, because each platform really deserves its own post, but you can check the resources mentioned below:
- The most counterintuitive (and effective) advice on using Facebook Groups
- Growth Hacking Reddit: 10k+ Visitors Each Month (For Free)
Don't forget to grab your cheatsheets. It will be easier to follow this strategy.
Strategy #4: Paid Traffic - How to Save Time By Paying Money
We've come to the last strategy, paid traffic.
In this strategy, you're going to save a lot of time that you would otherwise need to promote your post, and spend money instead.
You can even skip the post creation part and build your list directly.
So, how does this strategy work?
In a nutshell, here are the 2 ways to go to use this strategy.
The 1st way:
- Create an epic post with content upgrades in it.
- Have an irresistible bribe to offer to people related to the post.
- Create a landing page to promote the bribe.
- Drive traffic to your post via ads.
- Create retargeting ads for those who visited the post and didn't subscribe, and send them to the landing page.
- Followup with them using an autoresponder.
The 2nd way (skip the whole post creation process):
- Have an irresistibe bribe.
- Create a landing page to promote it.
- Create ads to send people to the landing page.
- Followup with them using an autoresponder.
You can pick whichever method you want. I prefer the first because it converts people from being cold traffic to warm traffic, but you can decrease the disadvantage gap using the power of autoresponders.
You can read more about why the first strategy is better here, [Test Results] The “Pixel Process”: How Digital Marketer Gets 81% More Leads and 38% More Sales From Paid Traffic
The thing is, you can start with a simple plan and then iterate as you go.
Advantages of using paid traffic
- Start seeing results in days or maybe even hours
- Can be outsourced and run on autopilot
- Need a budget to start with, at least $1000
- Learning what works and making changes can cost you more money
- Results are not guaranteed, specifically, you can't guarantee that you will make back what you invest
Yes, it is going to save you time, but you're paying money and you don't know what the results will be.
For many people who have money this will be a great strategy to kickstart their growth, after which they can outsource it and focus on another strategy, or if they do well enough, they might not even need another strategy.
So how do you apply it?
Let's start with the first step.
Creating an Irresistible Bribe
The first step to make this strategy work is to create an irresistible bribe.
But why?, you ask.
Here's why you need to create a bribe:
- It helps increase your conversion rates, thus you won't need to invest as much money.
- Why would people give you their email if they don't know you? You need to bribe them to do so.
So, what bribes work best nowadays?
The bribes that work best nowadays are things that can be consumed in 5 minutes.
Preferably, it should offer a quick fix to a problem or a quick tip to help people get a result that they want.
So what are the best formats for a bribe right now?
#1: Checklists / cheat sheets:
People love checklists. Most people don't like reading long posts like this one. They want checklists that are easy to consume that can help them get the results they want.
The best part is that it can be simple; one-page checklists do a great job.
Here are some awesome examples:
Another great one is the one-page optimization checklist from Brian Dean of Backlinko for his Google rankings factor post.
A template is an easy-to-fill-in document.
The best part about this bribe is that it can help people solve a problem.
A great example that comes to my mind is the Bidsketch proposal template.
When you enter your email, you get a template for a proposal email that saves you time after that.
People love shortcuts.
#3: Resources list:
Another cool bribe that has become popular in the last 3 years.
You ask people for their email address and in return you share the resources you used to solve a problem.
You're empowering people with the right tools. How cool is that?
The best part about all these formats is that they're easy to create and can be only one page.
And they convert higher than video courses nowadays.
Here are few other formats you can test:
- Discounts for your product
- An ebook
- A video course
You can read more about bribes here:
- 7 Simple Ideas for Mailing List Opt-Ins
- The Quick and Dirty Guide to Creating Your “Bribe to Subscribe” in Record Time
Creating High-Converting Opt-in Pages
After you have your bribe in place, you need to create an opt-in page that helps you promote your bribe and convert visitors into email subscribers.
So why do you need a landing page?
They have a single purpose--which is to convert visitors into subscribers--and all distractions are removed (like navigation bars) so that people have just 2 options; either subscribe or go back.
So what does a landing page consist of?
- Headline: The main function is to grab people's attention and make them continue reading.
- Subhead: Helps you give more details before losing the visitor.
- Body: Explain the benefits of the bribe.
- Image: You show people what they're getting and make them imagine the benefits of getting it, so you get higher conversion rates.
- Call to action: A button or text where you tell people what to do to grab the bribe.
Here's a great example that shows all these parts in action:
Most of the time, all you'll really need is a headline and call to action, which will convert better than having a long opt-in form.
Especially when you're starting out, shorter is better because we tend to mess things up when we're new at them. Keep it simple.
How to create landing pages
You might be worried about having the technical know-how to make a landing page, but thanks to all the turn-key technology you can get nowadays, that shouldn't be a problem anymore.
There are several options for create landing pages without you having to play with code:
- Leadpages: One of the first landing pages solutions that people are still raving about. Creating a landing page is as simple as plug and play. You don't need a hosting service to publish these landing pages.
- OptimizePress: This isn't a hosted solution like Leadpages, it's a WordPress plugin. It can do many other things, like membership creation. Another great solution, but there is a learning curve to it.
- Thrive Landing Pages: This is the tool I love the most. It enables you to use any of a number of saved templates and edit them using the content builder, which is really flexible. Combined with landing factory, you have more templates than you'll ever need.
So which to choose? It's a matter of preference: if you want something that's easy to use and are willing to pay a monthly fee, then leadpages is your best bet, but if you want to host them on your blog and just pay one-time, then think about optimizepress and thrive landing pages.
If you want more options and comparisons between them, check out these 2 detailed posts:
- Turning WordPress into a Sales-Machine – OptimizePress and Alternatives
- LeadPages or OptimizePress 2?
Now you have everything to create a landing page. All you need now is to create landing pages and start testing them.
Crash Course in Facebook Advertising
After you have the system ready (your landing page and your bribe) you now need to spend money creating ads to promote the bribe and start getting subscribers.
There are many places you could place your ads, but Facebook is a great place to start because it's simpler to start with and you can target a highly specific part of your market.
That's why in this post, you're going to go through a crash course on Facebook ads.
That doesn't mean that you can't use other platforms like AdWords, Twitter or Pinterest.
You can start with whatever you want, but focus on one platform at the beginning, then add as you go.
So, let's get going with Facebook ads.
What Do You Need For a Successful Campaign On Facebook?
Facebook ads can be complicated when you listen to gurus and start obsessing about every single detail.
But in the beginning, you can test the water and start getting results without complicating things.
Here are the 4 essentials you need:
- Identify the target audience
- Create the ads (image and text, possibly video)
- Set the budget
- Analyze performance and optimize
Let's dig deeper into each of these:
The first step to start doing FB ads is to find the target audience. Who do you want to target your ads toward?
These should be people you would like to work with and who want your bribe.
So who could you target on Facebook?
- Custom audiences: These are audience fb creates based on your visitors. You can build a custom audience of people who visited your site in the last 180 days, or it can be based on your email list.
- Lookalike audience: These are group of people who fb thinks would be of high similarity to the audience you give to fb. You just need at least 1000 people in the custom audience to be able to use this.
- Interests: This is where most people start. You can target people based on the pages they like, books they read, and so on.
- Mix between two of the above: You can start using Facebook's new "AND" feature to be able to target people who intersect between 2 interests and so on. This will make your audience hyper-targeted.
- Narrow the audience down using age and country and other demographic options.
If you have an email list, or you get a good amount of traffic, then start creating ads for a custom audience and then test a lookalike audience.
Create a different ad set for each group.
If you're starting from zero, you have no option but to go with the interests option.
You need to think about the pages your custom audience would like and start targeting them.
Just remember not to go overboard. Don't target more than 500,000 people per ad set. Audience intersect is your best friend to hyper-target people.
Creating attractive ads
After you have your target nailed, the next step is to create attractive ads that grab their attention and make them click to check out your landing page and hopefully subscribe.
Here's what you need to create an attractive ad:
- Evoke interest using the headline.
- Keep the text short and to the point.
- Image is the biggest factor that determines the success of the vast majority of your ads. Don't just go with obvious stock photos. If you can use your own picture and make it emotional, so much the better.
You can learn more about the fb ad creation process and tips to create better ads from these posts:
- 7 Lessons Learned from Running 440 Facebook Ad Campaigns in One Year
- The Quest For The Perfect Facebook Ad
- How To Design Facebook Ad Images Like a Pro (…When You’re Really an Amateur)
- The 4-Step Approach to Effective Facebook Ad Targeting
Analyzing and adjusting
After you run your fb ads for few days, it is time to start optimizing your campaign and focus your budget towards what's working and remove the rest.
In the early days of advertising, your main job is to test the waters and learn more about your audience. You need to know what ads work best, what images convert better and what target audience is working.
Here's what you need to do:
- Wait for few days before you start analyzing. The FB algorithm will take some time to adapt and find the audience who converts best based on your needs. The cost will decrease as it gets more efficient.
- Start checking the CTR, opt-in rate, and your cost per conversion.
- Start dumping the ads that have higher cost per conversion.
- Create new ads for different targets. Make sure that you learn from what works and what doesn't.
- Analyze again after 48 hours.
But keep in mind that the problem won't always be with your ad. It may be with your audience targeting or with your landing page. So, how do you know where the problem is?
Luckily, a digital marketing team created a troubleshooting flow chart to help you answer this question.
Click on it for a pdf version.
Where to learn more about fb ads
As I said, this is a crash course to get you started. Here are a few resources/people which I've been following over the years to improve my fb ads.
- Digital Marketer: As you see I linked to them a lot in the post because I've learned a lot from them. Go follow their blog and you will up your biz.
- Perpetual Traffic podcast: From Molly Pittman of Digital marketing and Keith Krance and Ralph Burns. I rarely miss an episode, so check it out.
- Jon Loomer
- Nickolas Kusmich
- Adespresso blog: Don't forget to check out their guides.
- Brian Moran
- Rick Mulready: Art of Paid Traffic podcast is one of my favorites also.
- Amy Porterfield: Online Marketing Made Easy podcast is another favorite of mine.
These resources are more than enough to get you going with fb ads.
I've also created a cheatsheet to help you apply this strategy. Make sure to check it by clicking the button below.
The Only Way to Increase Website Traffic
Driving traffic is simple. It all boils down to this; find what works and keep doing it.
Reading this giant post won't get you any visitors at all. In fact, it will be a waste of your time if you don't apply what you read.
So how do you get traffic?
Take action the right way.
So, how do you take action the right way?
Here's exactly what you need to do:
- Decide on the strategy you will focus on.
- Choose your tactics to start getting traffic.
- Ignore any other traffic strategy till you make it work.
- After 6 months, evaluate and see if you want to focus on another strategy.
- Keep doing the work day in and day out.
So you know what you need to do, and you have the tools and knowledge to rock it.
All you need is to take action.
And I'll see ya on the other side 🙂
And Don't forget to grab your cheatsheet and special bonuses by clicking the button below.