How I Doubled My Blog Traffic (& Got a Bigger Audience) in 3 Weeks

Building more blog traffic requires work. But it’s not rocket science. It’s a series of simple steps that require time and effort to execute, but the steps themselves aren’t a secret. You simply have to be willing to DO THE WORK.

3 weeks ago, I set out to prove that point by following those simple steps here on the Sugarrae blog. When I wrote about earning an income through blogging I ended that post by stating “Blogging isn’t easy money – it’s simply an easy opportunity. YOU have to decide what you’re going to make of it.” And that’s the truth.

On September 24th, I decided to put a little more effort into Sugarrae than usual and document what I did and the effect that it had on the blog. I know the “steps” work – I do it on commercial blogs all the time. But I wanted to be able to show you it in detail – which meant doing it here on Sugarrae. The results of following these simple steps? Evident…

doubled traffic

Now exactly – EXACTLY – how did I do it?

Adding (traffic) content

Using the very tactics I blogged about in how to come up with new blog post ideas, I found a few phrases people were looking for in Google that I didn’t have content on yet, but could easily create. How to create new blog post ideas, how to decide on an affiliate niche, etc. I created those posts, promoted those posts, was careful in wording the title tag for those posts and began to cross link those posts within other content I was creating with relevant and varied keyword phrases (note, I JUST did that above).

Adding (good) content

Not every piece of content I create is to get traffic from search engines or make money with affiliate marketing. In the brick and mortar world, these might be referred to as “loss leader” posts. A loss leader is a product that the merchant knows it won’t make any profit from directly – they might even lose money on them. It’s more of a “get them to the store and hopefully they will buy other things” play. Loss leader content doesn’t make money directly, but it helps to increase your branding, your traffic, your visibility and bring new people to your blog.

There’s no direct profit being aimed for – only indirect profit by increasing your regular readership and your mailing list subscribers (in my case). I would describe the 48 Things I Know I Wish I Knew Then post on the lessons I’ve learned as a entrepreneur to be one of those posts. Any direct income? Nope. 265 tweets, 213 likes, 77 +1′s and 6,100+ visits with 4,900+ of those being NEW visitors to my blog and a 250% increase in mailing list subscribers for a week as the post circulated heavily? Yes please.

Adding (money) content

For me, my “money” content are primarily reviews. Reviews (like the one I did of Yoast’s Video SEO Plugin) make me money directly from my core audience as they’re published, as well as make me money for people who have never heard of Sugarrae, but are searching for “[product name] reviews” in Google for a long time following the initial publication. I cannot stress enough to do HONEST reviews and never, EVER sell out the trust your audience has in you to make a commission. I’d also suggest these be sprinkled in, with care, and not bombarding your audience with you “money” pages, whatever they may be.

Timing the extra content effort with traditional promotional opportunities

The time frame I chose to do this in correlated with my attending SMX and speaking on three panels there. Though I was representing PushFire in an official capacity, I’m “known” by my handle so I always mention it when I’m introducing myself on panels. I purposely tried to be showcasing more quality content while attending this show. So maybe now you’re thinking, “Um, Rae, I don’t speak at shows.” Do you attend trade shows and hand out business cards? Are you going to be mentioned in the news or on a high traffic blog? Are you attending a tweetup? Whatever kind of traditional marketing exposure you get, always try to maximize it.

Guest blogging

I did two guest posts in the last few weeks as well. One was called lies people tell themselves about building a blog audience. It was published 9/26 and while the direct traffic wasn’t astounding, the number of times to post was shared – and the increase in how often my brand was mentioned – on Twitter was awesome.

twitter graph

Same goes for the guest post I did on getting Google Analytics training for free.

Back to the 5 lies post – in it I very deliberately linked to a page on my site about how to make money blogging. I’d created the post about a month ago and it had easily popped in to the top 10 for the term on Google after a week or so and was sending some decent traffic even with the low ranking. Within a few days of doing the guest post, I watched my ranking on the term go from the bottom of the first page to the top of the first page – with the expected increase in traffic as a result.

keyword rank

CopyPress got a post I put a lot of effort into, I got a lot of branding out of it and was able to swing that into increased search engine traffic on a term I was targeting as well. Win, win, win.

Running a small Facebook Fan campaign

Back in September I had decided to start running a small campaign to attempt to increase the amount of “likes” – in a MEANINGFUL WAY – on the Sugarrae Fan Page. What do I mean by meaningful? It’s easy to run contests or do stuff to increase your likes on a fan page. But I didn’t want to increase the number of people liking the page for the sake of boosting the page ego. I wanted to increase it with likes from people that would actually read – and potentially share – my content when it gets posted.

I actually got the idea after I saw an ad for the Shawn Collins fan page in my sidebar, which I hadn’t thought to previously visit, but once it was in my face, I was like “oh, yeah, he rocks [like]” – THOSE were the kind of likes I wanted.

So I set up a small ad campaign with a limited budget. I tried to make it pretty targeted. The limitations on where the ad showed were as follows:

  • who live in the United States (WHY: I wanted to limit if for the first test)
  • between the ages of 24 and 50 inclusive (WHY: I find that fits my primary demo)
  • who like search engine land, shawn collins, seomoz, #Search engine optimization or #Affiliate marketing (WHY: If they “like” any of these pages, they will likely be interested in the type of content I deliver)
  • who speak English (US) (WHY: because I do)
  • who are not already connected to Sugarrae (WHY: Waste of money to advertise to people who are already fans)
  • whose friends are already connected to Sugarrae (WHY: Birds of a feather…)

facebook campaign

From 9/15 through 10/6, I spent $35.53 to obtain 53 new likes directly from the ad campaign. That works out to about .67 per like. The campaign also showcased my brand to almost 9K people during that time. I’m ok with this CPA for meaningful likes, so I restarted the campaign again today. I’m also ok with the increased traffic referrals Sugarrae.com is getting from Facebook as a result of obtaining more meaningful likes.

Cross promoting ALL content

Whenever I published a blog post, I promoted it via all avenues possible. Tweets, Sharing on Facebook, +1′ing it on Google+ – and when I saw content go even hotter than I expected, like with the 48 things post, I purposely reached out to people with massive reach and made them personally aware of the content, hoping to make it even hotter.

Growing an audience is all about chasing and increasing the baseline

The baseline – in my head – is the average traffic you receive even if you’re not doing anything “extraordinary” or active promotion. Every time you do promotion or have a hot post or actively work (like above) to increase your user base, you’ll get peaks from doing so. The peak isn’t the important part to me, it’s the resulting valley – the new baseline – of traffic you’re receiving once whatever promotion you’re doing cools off or slows down. When the dust settles, I want my new baseline to be higher than the baseline before the active promotion. THAT’s the game.

As long as you keep working to increase that baseline, you’ll keep increasing your audience and the monetization possibilities your blog holds. Wash, rinse, repeat.

About Rae Hoffman

Rae Hoffman aka "Sugarrae" is an affiliate marketing veteran and the CEO of PushFire, a search marketing agency specializing in SEO audits and link building strategies. She is also the author of the often controversial Sugarrae blog. You can connect with Rae via Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Sugarrae runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

If you’re someone who doesn’t understand a lot of PHP, Genesis will give a ton of functionality that you wouldn’t be able to obtain otherwise with a simple control panel instead of having to alter code. For the advanced, Genesis has incredible customization possibilities via Genesis hooks.

The theme is not only highly customizable, but it has allowed me to run Sugarrae more professionally, with a much more targeted focus on monetization than it ever has been able to achieve before.

You can find out more about Genesis below:

Comments

  1. Thanks for this. Great post, and super actionable info.

    Question: how did you research phrases being searched that you hadn’t created content for yet? Simply googling a few keywords and seeing what came up in autofill, or something more scientific?

  2. Great info, thanks Rae.

    Which analytics tools are you using above, especially the third image?

    • Jon – glad you enjoyed it. :) To answer your question… that’s Raven Tools – they import Google Analytics data and put it into their own UI. It can be limited in some fashions, but much better to work with in others, as with the above. :)

  3. WOW this is amazing, I’m totally gonna try this, thanks for the awesome post

  4. Are you noticing coorelation between more traffic and earnings?

  5. Rae,

    Very cool post. I normally don’t spend too much time reading other people’s content except when it comes as a referral from another authority in my niche.

    I was referred to you by Jessica over at CopyBlogger. She said you are one of those women who don’t hold back about affiliate marketing and sharing your experiences.

    So naturally I felt inclined to read and sure enough you offer some good insights.

    I’ll follow you for awhile if you don’t mind.

    Best,
    M

  6. Great post, thanks. I really like the “loss leader” analogy. It’s a good way to take thinking about money out of the equation and remind yourself that you should always aim to provide quality content that people are interested in.

    Plus, I’ve actually found on a couple of my other blogs that I end up making more money than expected from posts that were originally intended to be loss leaders and that they can occasionally reveal new money-making opportunities.

  7. Hi Rae,

    Thanks for sharing with us your strategies for doubling your blog traffic which is very helpful for me at this point in time since I’ve lately started my first ever blog after my 7 year long painful and agonizing struggles trying to succeed online.

    As I am currently busy with my guest blogging and spending quite a lot of time on it, I’d like to ask you if you could recommend any good guest blogging technique that I could use to save a lot of time and to be more productive than I am right now.

    Another thing that I’d like to ask you is this. My goal of setting up and running a blog is to first attract, retain and nurture a good relatinship with a group of my blog’s loyal visitors so that I could survey them from time to time in order to get better ideas on what kind of products (ebooks, etc) I could start developing for them, ok?

    Having said that if you were now in my shoes starting from the scratch with blogging and having my current blogging goal in mind (as mentioned above), what exact steps you’d take in order to build up and develop a decently big group of your blog’s visitors in the fastest time possible.

    Finally, since I made my first blog post about 3 to 4 days ago and am now doing lots of commenting on other people’s blogs with my aim to get my first blog’s visitors to see and comment exactly on that first post, I have now stopped creating my blog’s new posts because of that reason. Is that a good thing to do in order for me to achieve that goal? What would you do in this case.

    Thanks a lot for all your answers and help.

    Bruno Babic

    Thank

  8. Many times it really requires a little elbow grease to gain that traction to a blog. People tend to forget that once you write a post there are many ways to leverage that content in order to drive extra visibility to it. Does it happen overnight? Not at all and it typically requires time and patience. Do it right and it can payoff greatly.

  9. Thanks Rae.
    How long did it take when you first started blogging to get attract a good baseline of visitors?

  10. Amazing insight on increasing blog traffic. I landed on your blog from searching for top Seo’s and (I think it was on Aaron Wall’s blog) they certainly did a great job by featuring you on the list, based off what I’ve just read alone. Just got another subscriber, thanks for the insight!

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