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If You Post It, Will They Come?

What brought you here to read this blog post today? Did you find it through a search engine? Did you click on a link from your Twitter feed? Or are you one of the faithful few who subscribes to the blog?

I was recently talking with a friend who was giving me a hard time that I don’t read her blog on a regular basis. It’s not that I don’t like her blog posts, but there are 600+ unread posts in my Google Reader and only so many hours in a day. I know I’m not alone, I think we’re all time and attention-starved.

I think my friend was really suggesting that I should be reading and sharing her posts. As a new blogger, she wants to grow her audience. Getting me to read her posts (and hopefully share them) is a marketing strategy for her. I think a lot of new bloggers out there just expect people to read their posts. They figure, the more they post, the more traffic they’ll get. To a certain extent, that’s true, but it also takes an equal or greater amount of blog marketing.

If I take a look at my Web traffic over the past year, it’s across the board in terms of traffic source:

  • 30% of visitors found the blog through a search engine – they were searching for something and found the blog
  • 28.7% of visitors were direct – they knew our website address and typed it in their browser bar
  • 9.5% clicked on a link to one of our posts in a Twitter feed
  • 7.3% clicked on a link through the RSS feed and visited the blog
  • 5% were referred from, a PR-focused website that regularly features our post
  • 3.5% visited the blog from StumbleUpon
  • 2.3% came through Facebook

To my friend’s point, 28% of people just come to the blog looking for the latest post. I’m sure some of those people were friends I bugged about not reading my blog – maybe not. Regardless, they knew the address of my blog. That comes through reach and frequency. There’s no secret formula for that – it’s called hard work. But that didn’t happen magically…

I’ve got myself out there to meet people and I’ve spoken at conferences. I’ve sat through hundreds of hours of Twitter chats (I love sharing ideas). I’ve written more than 160 blog posts and I’ve written 30 posts for other blogs and newsletters. I’ve read other blogs and left insightful comments. I’ve volunteered my time to help others find jobs in PR. And I’ve educated myself on how to write blog posts that are easy to find through search engines – and how to make it easy for people to share blog content.

If you want to grow your website traffic, you have to move beyond the “If I post it, they will come” mentality and realize that you have to tell people it’s there. Nearly 10% of my blog traffic comes from Twitter – where I’ve always shared a link upon publishing a new post. Just recently I’ve integrated Facebook on the blog, enabling readers to ‘Like’ blog posts if they do. It’s already contributed 2.3% of the traffic for the year.

Don’t assume people are reading your posts (and don’t assume that they should be either). While I advocate for sharing links to content and letting people know you are there, it’s the quality of the posts that will ultimately determine whether or not they’re worth reading.

If a blog post falls on your blog, and nobody’s around to read it, it doesn’t make a noise – you know what I mean. Make sure people know about your blog. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Share a link to your blog post on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – I prefer to write different status updates for each
  • Participate in Twitter chats like #journchat – don’t plug your blog on the chat, let people discover you. If you make some good points, they will.
  • Read other blogs – if you see something you like, leave a genuine, heartfelt comment (don’t just comment to get a link to your blog – it will be obvious to the blogger). Pay attention to what other bloggers are doing on their sites too – you’ll learn a lot.
  • Learn a thing or two about SEO and use some basics in your posts – using frequently-searched keywords in your title is one of a hundred tactics you should be thinking about.
  • Offer to guest post on bigger blogs – you’ll usually get to include an about paragraph that links back to your blog. This is a great way to build awareness for your expertise while attracting readers to your blog.
  • Make it easy to share your blog posts – take a look at this post, you can Retweet it, Like it, or share across a dozen or so different options.
  • Make sure people can subscribe to your blog via an RSS feed – I also enable people to subscribe to the RSS feed via email (Feedburner is a good option)
  • Please share this post – and finally, don’t be afraid to ask people to share your post. If they like it, they’ll usually be happy to do so. Just remember to return the favor and share great content you discover.

Blogging is a great way to extend your professional brand, but it’s also a lot of work. For all the time you spend blogging, you might as well dedicate some of that time marketing your blog. Don’t assume your posts are so good that people will just show up to read them.

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