When it comes to building, launching and maintaining a website, there are countless things that need to be taken into account. There are companies out there that deal specifically with the whole process, with teams that work full time on maintenance. Fortunately for us lowly bloggers, there are tools available that help with maintenance, allowing us to monitor and even increase traffic to the site. I’ve put together a list of the tools I use to keep an eye on site traffic and to help increase it.
I know, I know, we’ve all heard of twitter. It’s been around since ‘06 and is used by every pre-teen on a family cellphone plan. But this is a huge traffic driver for anyone’s site. If you have weekly content going up, you’re going to need a way to alert the masses of your updates. But first you’ll need a heavy following.
I’ve read a few books in my day on how to increase twitter followers, and most of them have one thing in common. To be followed you must first follow, not sure if that’s a quote, if it isn’t I’m coining it. But seriously, a great way to gather followers is to first follow them. Find a twitter account with a large following, preferably one that’s related to your niche. Whether it’s design, photography, programming, whatever. Most likely their followers enjoy the same stuff that you do and that you’re posting about. Everyday follow a few of them 10, 20, 100, however many you have time to add. After a few days of this you’ll have a considerable amount of people following you. Make sure to keep up on your tweets during this process.
This isn’t where it ends, most likely only a handful of the people you followed will follow you back. We now need to weed out the ones who are apparently too cool for us, this brings me to my next tool.
Manage Flitter is a great way to sort your twitter followers. It allows you to see who you’re following who isn’t following you. All those hundreds of people we added over the past week who decided they didn’t want to follow back, we need to unfollow.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, why unfollow these people. Why not just follow ten thousand people in my industry and not worry about it. Here’s why, you can’t tell me the first thing you don’t do when visiting someone’s twitter account is look at their followers compared to their followings. It’s all about appearance, if someone is following 5000 people and is being followed by 100, there must be a reason. Now if you’re following 5000 people and are being followed by 6000, maybe you have some interesting tweets worth following.
Create yourself an account, it’s free, and unfollow all the non followers. You’ll pick up a few followers along the way that you aren’t following to put you over the top, trust me.
Next up we have bitly. As you know, twitter has a character limit of 140. When we add a new blog post that we want people to know about, the best way would be to drop the link into our twitter feed that now has a colossal following. Only thing is, the link is sporting a 200 character count. This is where bitly comes into play, it works by taking your 200 character link and shortening it to a reasonable size.
People will also be more inclined to click on a shortened link, simply due to curiosity. When they see a link such as http://www.wikipedia.com/something-relevant -to-the-page/ they know the next stop is Wikipedia, whereas when they see something like http://www.bitl.ly/4jdd6w they think “This could be anything, it could be the coolest link I click on all day”. And the last, and probably biggest, reason to use bitly, it keeps track of all your links. This includes click count, which lets you know how many people have clicked on that link.
I’m sure you’ve used it before, if not here’s the low down. You create an account, select your interests (design, photography, tech…) and click the Stumble my interest’s button. What happens next is it brings you to a site related to the interests that you saved in your account. These sites are added by people who have the same interests selected as you. So let’s say you find a really neat photography site, you can ‘Like it’, and it gets added to the vast amount of sites already in circulation for those interests.
So here’s how you can use it to your advantage. After posting something on your site, go to the url and ‘Like it’ using the stumble toolbar. You will then notice a spike in traffic over the next few hours coming from people randomly dropping onto that page. Now this doesn’t mean they will become avid followers, or even stay on your site for very long, but it will build recognition.
Discus is a comment system complete with social network integration. It can be integrated with most site platforms and is an awesome way for people to comment on your site. You don’t have to add the discus comment plugin to your site, but do create an account with them. Commenting is a great way to create recognition and with many sites using plugins like disqus to power their commenting section it’s a great way to create traffic.
Even if you don’t use disqus, comment on as many articles as you feel relates to your field. Make sure the comment relates to the article though, the last thing I want is to encourage spam commenting, I get enough of that as it is. With most commenting systems you can add a link to your name which will lead to your site.
Last but not least, google analytics. Here is your main hub, the page that wraps everything up for you. Set up an account, bookmark the page, check it every day. This is where you will monitor all the traffic to your site and from where it’s coming from. It’s a very simple process to set up an account and will help you greatly in understanding which methods work best for driving traffic to your site.
I usually check the traffic to my site every morning, then once when I get home at night. It allows me to see which sites are linking to me and where most of my daily traffic is coming from. Once I know that I can focus on bettering those methods.
All this said and done, these are only a few of the tools you can use to boost traffic to your site. Without content they can only do so much. Content is key when it comes to websites, keep it original and you won’t have a problem.