200+ Trending Hacks That Viral your Blog and Website 2019
When you have built your shiny blog and published some content, traffic will roll in very slowly unless you actively promote your site. In other words, the building is necessary but not sufficient to ensure your blog gets the attention it deserves. This blog explains 200+ New Hacks for Blog and Website (2019).
Most bloggers skip this promotional step, and as a result, they end up receiving only a handful of visitors.
At that point, a vicious cycle starts in which seeing so few visitors demotivates the blogger, who in turn publishes less often and consequently attracts fewer visitors (which discourages the blogger further, and so on). The end result is a blog abandoned in a matter of weeks or months.
You can viral your blog by following ways in 2019, First, you’ve done your homework regarding subject matter; niche size; on-page SEO; headlines; and the type, quality, and frequency of content.
These actions alone put you streets ahead of most bloggers and also partially vaccinate you against a complete lack of readership.
However, there are millions of active blogs in the wilds of the Internet, and standing out and attracting a serious following will require a conscious effort on your part.
Another way to look at this situation is that you’ve got the first part of the equation right. Now you need to get your marketing efforts right as well.
Correct a Self-Sabotaging Mindset
Marketing is bullshit. Marketing is evil. Marketing is everything that’s wrong with this world. Marketing is the root of all evil. Marketers should be shot. If you agree with any of them, you are not alone in your dislike of marketing.
I’ve found that technical people, particularly programmers, tend to have a strong hatred for marketing.
Antimarketing stances stem partly from bad experiences with manipulative marketers and partly from a misunderstanding of what marketing actually is.
Wikipedia defines marketing in this way
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers and what strategy to use in sales, communications, and business development.
At its core, marketing is about connecting people to solutions. For example, some people may have an interest in buying an environmentally friendly car.
Good marketing involves identifying this segment of the population, then devising a strategy to let that portion of the population know about the existence of your brand-new hybrid car and its benefits (in a style and manner that will appeal to them).
Though the ultimate goal is to sell a car, marketing isn’t about convincing people who are not interested in your product to buy it. It’s about exposing the right product to the right audience. Done correctly and in an ethical manner.
It’s possible to promote without deceiving, manipulating, or forcing people to spend their hard-earned money on goods they don’t want or need.
It’s important to understand that marketing is so much more than just advertising. Marketing encompasses countless aspects of your product, including what you name it before it even exists.
If you still feel that marketing is mostly evil, I encourage you to reflect on the forms of marketing you already do, perhaps without even realizing that they’re marketing. Ever applied for a new job?
Or dated someone? While you probably didn’t misrepresent yourself with your future employer or partner by blatantly lying, you still wore nice clothes and tried to showcase your favorable traits.
In doing so you were marketing yourself
In blogging, the aim of your marketing is to reach as many people who are potentially interested in your content as possible. As we’ll see in future blogs, you may also have related additional goals, such as promoting yourself professionally, marketing yours and other people’s products, and so on.
Like all tools, marketing can be used for good or in unethical, obnoxious ways. In this blog, I advocate only white-hat marketing techniques that will get your content in front of the people who need to see it.
So if you are the stereotypical antimarketing developer, please approach the rest of the blog with an open mind. I promise that you won’t have to sell your soul.
Perform On-page and Off-page SEO
As amply discussed before, the goal of your on-page SEO efforts is to present your content in the best light possible in the eyes of search engines. You are trying to provide Google and others with positive indicators of the relevance of your content in relation to the search queries provided by end users.
Let’s briefly recap some of the most prominent on-page SEO factors.
Create plenty of well-researched, nicely written original content.
Have a keyword-rich domain name.
Write catchy headlines containing target keywords.
Have a keyword-dense slug for your articles.
Use headings in your content (and include desirable keywords in your headings).
Interlink your site by using tags, categories, related article plugins, etc.
Ensure your site loads quickly.
Have an XML sitemap.
On-page SEO is all about what you can do on your site to better your chances of ranking well with search engines. Off-page SEO is the promotional work you do outside of your site to generate backlinks from high PageRank websites (you may recall how a site’s PageRank is a number that’s assigned by Google to indicate the authority of that site).
It’s worth noting that an internal page on a high PageRank site won’t generally have the same PageRank of its homepage. Nevertheless, even internal pages of popular sites tend to attract many links and have as a consequence relatively high PageRanks.
Link building is so fundamental because quality backlinks are one of the strongest signals used by Google’s algorithm to determine the authority and relevance of your site.
The premise is that if a variety of authority sites that are trusted by Google link to your site with related anchor texts (the words you link), then your URL must be important and trustworthy for that particular set of keywords. Because of this, always use meaningful anchor text in your links. Don’t use “Click here” or similar.
When you first launch your blog, link building will help you get found and indexed by Google. To help Google discover you quickly, you should also submit your blog directly at google.com/addurl (you’ll be asked to log in first).
The rest of this blog is dedicated to techniques to perform link building as well as social media promotion. This blog is really all about techniques that will lead to more traffic for your blog, whether it’s of an organic or referral nature.
Not All Links Are Created Equal
Remember that not all links are created equal. A link to your blog from the home page of The New York Times will far outweigh a link from an unknown blog. You should not only strive to build a lot of backlinks but also try to receive them from authoritative sites. These will, in fact, increase your PageRank, ranking, and possibly send you a stream of referral traffic.
SEO isn’t an exact science, so there isn’t complete agreement on every factor that determines the value of the backlinks you receive. The ranking algorithm changes frequently as a means of combatting spam, Google bombing, and other such abuses, so that doesn’t help matters either.
Not All Links Are Created Equal •
Joe asks: Should I Care About the PageRank of My Blog?
The PageRank of a blog correlates with the authority and popularity of that site. Anything over (and including) a PageRank 4 indicates that your blog is fairly popular. The whole point of link building, however, is not to increase this magic number. The point is to rank well for your target keywords and for as many “long tail” keywords as possible.
Increasing your PageRank is a side effect of link building. In fact, the PageRank of your home page (and internal pages) is only one out of over two hundred signals that are used by Google to determine the rank of a given URL for a certain query.
If this wasn’t reason enough not to obsess over it, you should keep in mind that the publicly available PageRank value of your pages will only be updated once every few months. Initially, you won’t even see a PageRank value (or it may appear as 0).
You can assess the authority of pages and sites with an SEO browser extension such as SeoQuake, SEO for Chrome, or Mozbar.
Nevertheless, the following are some common characteristics of the ideal backlink that can help improve your PageRank and ultimately your ranking.
URLs that link to you have a high level of authority (usually measured through the PageRank).
The domain linking to you is a .edu or .gov. Google values university and government sites.
The backlink anchor text contains keywords that you’re targeting.
The page that links to your blog contains a few other external links. In other words, your URL is one of the main links on that page.
The page linking to you is relevant to the topic of your blog, and your link is present toward the top of the page (as opposed to a footer link or on the bottom of the sidebar).
Remember that you can’t expect the perfect link to your site every time. Most blogs will naturally attract backlinks from a variety of sites in a pyramid-like pattern.
Google would consider a site that only had high PageRank back-links to be quite odd and may suspect foul play. (Some people will, in fact, purchase high PageRank backlinks in bulk, against the Google webmaster)
Also, keep in mind that you don’t have control over most backlinks. Our discussion about the perfect backlink is meant to help you obtain a few high-quality backlinks. But the majority of backlinks you’ll attract will probably not be as a direct consequence of your link-building efforts.
Guest Blog on Other Blogs
In the previous blog, we talked about finding guest bloggers to obtain free content. In this section, we’ll reverse the tables. We are going to use guest blogging as a tool for promoting your blog.
Guest blogging can be an extremely powerful marketing tool. Compelling content and a dose of charisma can latch onto an existing community that’s been created by someone else and quickly attract many followers to your own site. You’ll also obtain the high-quality backlinks you’re working so hard to get.
Here are the three essential ingredients you are going to need to successfully promote your blog via guest blogging:
A blogger who is willing to accept contributions from guest bloggers.
A great article, typically comprised of original content that has not been published elsewhere. You’ll want to position yourself as an expert on the subject matter you’re covering and provide content that is relevant to both the hosting blog’s and your niche.
An enticing biography that includes one or two links to your blog. This biographical content sometimes referred to as a resource box, is typically placed at the bottom of your guest post and may include a small picture of you and a description of who you are as well as a blurb about what you’re promoting (e.g., your blog, a blog, etc.). The specifics are typically agreed upon in advance with the blog’s host.
Find Prospective Blogs
As you can probably imagine, the hardest part is finding bloggers who are willing to let you post on their blogs. Guest blogging is a win-win situation no matter which side of the table you sit at. So all you need to do is to explain its benefits to prospective hosts. Compile a list of twenty or so blogs in your niche or field.
Give priority to those with high authority (use an SEO toolbar to assess it) and especially to blogs that have accepted guest bloggers before. This task will be a lot easier if, as you should, you are already following many blogs in your niche via a feed reader.
Learn more about each blog, including the style, the elevator pitch, and so on. Then individually and sequentially approach each of these bloggers by email, starting from the most valuable and promising one.
You can use a customized template message for each of them, but don’t just copy and paste the same message for dozens of different bloggers. A message that starts with “Dear Webmaster” belongs in the spam folder.
The key to connecting is being personal and easy to relate to. Address the blogger or editor-in-chief by name. Don’t forget some honest praise, including specifics of what you like about that person’s approach to blogging.
Even if the creator is very famous and you are just starting out, remember that you’re dealing with a colleague and you have a fair proposal. Stress the benefits of your contribution, without sounding boastful, and acknowledge that you’ll benefit from this relationship, too.
Before you approach the first blogger, ensure that you have a title and rough idea of the word count of the post you’d like to write. Briefly explain what the article is going to be about, what angle you plan to take, and how it’s a relevant and welcome addition for readers.
If you are feeling proactive, you can even write the article beforehand and send it over with your proposal (however, as you never know who is going to accept your guest blogger offer, do not send out the same article to more than one person until your offer has been turned down by the first blogger you sent it to).
Popular bloggers receive a lot of emails, so don’t expect an answer in two hours. Give them a couple of weeks before following up with a second email that kindly asks whether they are interested or if you should opt for other blogs instead. If after another week or so you haven’t heard back, let them know that you’ve withdrawn your offer and will now consider other blogs.
Thank them for their time. Don’t burn bridges with fellow bloggers. If things don’t work out, remain as polite, professional, and amicable as possible.
At three weeks or so per blogger, you may assume that it will take you over a year to reach the bottom of that initial list. Thankfully, this is just a worst-case scenario. If your article and proposal are sensible, you’ll likely receive a positive answer way before you reach the last name and email on your list. The typical response times will also be much shorter than three weeks.
Once someone shows interest, you can agree on the details regarding how the article should be formatted and submitted, what kinds of links are allowed, whose referral code is used for possible affiliate links, the specifics of your resource box, if this is a one-off arrangement or if you plan to guest blog regularly in the future, and so on.
The survivors from the initial list (those you haven’t contacted yet) will come in handy as you proceed to pitch a new article down the road to expand your network of backlinks from other authority blogs. If your niche is very small, you may have to space out your contributions a little or you’ll seem to dominate the conversation via multiple blogs.
Repeat the process as many times as you wish. At some point, you may see your returns from guest blogging diminish as your site becomes an established blog in its own right within your online community.
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Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Resource Box
The resource box is your reward, so you should pay close attention to what you include within it. The main goal should be to sell yourself as an expert on the topic you’re blogging about and then get readers to take the action you want (be it buying your product, checking out your blog, whatever).
Don’t write a gigantic biography that no one is actually going to read. Include a short, carefully crafted biographical paragraph that highlights your experience without sounding too boastful or like a complete list of everything you’ve accomplished since junior high.
Your resource box should also include a single, strong call to action. Include many calls, and people will ignore all of them—a pattern, you’ll remember, we’ve seen before in regard to social buttons on your pages.
Carefully select anchor text for your backlinks so that they appear organic yet optimized for your target keyword. Typically you’d be choosing your blog title or a variation of it as the anchor text for the link to the home page of your blog.
When you discuss the resource box with the blogger who’ll be hosting your guest post, ensure that you are allowed to have regular links and not nofollow links. The nofollow value in the link below tells Google that it shouldn’t positively influence the PageRank of the linked site (e.g., Math-Blog).
<a href="http://math-blog.com" rel="nofollow">Math Blog</a>
Nofollow links were invented as a way of discouraging the rampant comment spam on blogs, so they have a legitimate use (just not for guest blogging purposes). As you work through your link-building efforts, remember that nofollow links are essentially useless for search engines (however, people may still click those links, of course).
I have heard the argument before that person doing massive link building for very competitive keywords should also include nofollow links in the mix to make the link building process appear more natural over time.
We are not taking that approach here, so you shouldn’t worry about that. Focus on obtaining high-quality dofollow links (i.e., links that don’t have the rel="nofollow" attribute).
Other Forms of Article Marketing
Guest blogging is a specialized form of article marketing. Try it out because when you guest blog, you’re adding value to your community with content that has been reviewed by at least two bloggers (you and the host of the blog you’re publishing on). In other words, it’s a form of promotion that ends up benefitting everyone involved.
Other forms of article marketing, while still technically white hat, can’t truly make that same claim in regards to adding value to a community. I’m referring to the more traditional forms of article marketing that are carried out through article directories and press releases.
How Article Directories Work
Article directories are sites that accept article submissions on a variety of subjects. In exchange, they usually provide you with a resource box at the bottom of your articles in which one or two links of your choice can be embedded. Most directories review your articles before approving them.
Such sites make money via AdSense and other advertising forms and give you backlinks from high PageRank directories. Win-win situation once again, right? In theory, yes; this is very similar to the experience of guest blogging. In practice, though, things are rather different.
The average quality of articles on the most popular directories leaves a lot to be desired. The articles are full of typos; they’re bland and often commissioned for a few dollars from people who know nothing about the subject matter they’re writing about.
Not only are the approval standards much lower than the average blogger who accepts contributions, but the people reviewing your articles will usually have no clue about your subject matter.
The majority of articles, you’ll find, are poor, commercial in nature, and published under pen names by people who do not want to be associated with what they’ve written.
I understand that this may come across as elitist, but if you’ve ever stumbled upon any of the following sites, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about and will share similar feelings: Ezine Articles, Articles Base, Hub Pages, or Squidoo.
Incidentally, Google recently downgraded the ranking of most of these directories because it, too, perceives them as poor-quality content (i.e., content farms) that adds little value to the user.
The audience of these directories is mainly comprised of random people arriving from search engines and other fellow article marketers. It’s not the cohesive, tight-knit kind of community you can expect from a blog niche that specializes in topics similar to yours.
So while you may receive some PageRank juice from article directories, you won’t get all the benefits you can typically expect from posting on the high-quality blog of a fellow expert.
Affiliate marketers love article directories because they offer an easy way to obtain hundreds of backlinks. In fact, most of these marketers outsource the creation of a handful of articles (for a few dollars apiece), and then use synonym-based software (i.e., article spinners) to automatically rewrite hundreds of combinations of those articles in a way that is difficult for duplicate filters to detect.
Other software is then used to submit a rewritten version of each article to hundreds of directories.
Does it work? Yes, for the most part, or SEOs wouldn’t use it. But you have to ask yourself how much value are you adding to the world by polluting Google with hundreds—if not thousands—of copies of the same article that was, in many cases, poor to begin with.
This isn’t technically a black-hat SEO approach, but Google doesn’t appreciate it either. (Assuming you spun an article you created or commissioned and didn’t scrape or copy it outright from a competitor.)
Keep in mind that you don’t need hundreds of backlinks every month to rank in search engines for your average technical topic. The reason Internet marketers end up relying so heavily on automatic link building of this kind is that the competition is fierce for commercial keywords such as insurance quote or make money online.
You can take a more time-consuming approach and manually write high-quality articles for these directories, ignoring spinners and similar software. But at that point, the effort and time required will not make article directories any more appealing than guest blogging.
In short, focus on guest blogging and leave article directories as a tool of last resort for link building (if guest blogging isn’t panning out well for you).
Use Press Releases for SEO
Press releases have traditionally been used to announce news about a company or product launch to members of the media. Much like article directories, there is nothing evil or inherently wrong with using them in the hopes of attracting the attention of journalists and other media.
In practice, however, you’ll find that most journalists are not interested in your new blog unless it has a novelty factor that is well suited to attention-grabbing headlines about the hot topic of the moment (e.g., “New Blog Showcases the Worst of Facebook”).
Nevertheless, press releases can be used for SEO purposes. In fact, every time you use a PR service such as prweb.com, you’ll see your press release reprinted across hundreds or even thousands of sites.
Include links to your site in the press release, carefully select your anchor texts based on your target keywords, and you’ll magically receive a boost in the SERP. Just don’t expect your story to be picked up by AP or Reuters, even with the most expensive press release plan that these sites offer.
In my experience, such services won’t send much traffic your way, but they will generate many backlinks for you.
Are they worth the price of admission? It’s up to you to decide that but search around the Web before plunking down your money, and perhaps start out with a free service with more limited distribution. (Search online for a good tutorial on writing press releases, or commission them to someone more experienced.)
It’s worth considering the argument that PR services, particularly low-cost ones that are distributed throughout the Web, are little more than spam.
Whether you buy this argument or not, it’s important to stress that we are not in the black-hat territory by any means. But how much value are you adding to users by polluting Google with your press release?
For the record, I’ve experimented with PRWeb’s most expensive distribution plan for my new blog notification service, Any New blogs Using Google, I can verify that the press release was reprinted online 210 times, including on Yahoo.
In short, feel free to skip press releases for your blog for now, but be aware of their existence for those times when you’re short on ideas to further promote your site.
Participate in the Community
One easy way to boost your link building efforts is to actively and genuinely participate in the blogosphere. Follow blogs that are relevant to your field and
Add Your Blog to Planet Sites
Planets are feed aggregator sites that display a list of posts from a variety of blogs on the same topic on a single page (and in a single RSS feed). For example, Planet Python (planet.python.org) aggregates a large number of posts from blogs by Python programmers.
If a planet site exists for your niche, you should consider contacting the owners to add your feed to their list. The perks of doing so include greater exposure for your posts and SEO advantages because you are receiving backlinks from the planet site.
Commenting will foster your diplomatic relationships with other bloggers and provide you with plenty of backlinks. Albeit some of the backlinks will be nofollow, you’ll still receive many new visitors because of them.
As you probably know, most blog engines allow your name to be linked to a URL of your choice when leaving comments. The key point here is to add value to your comments, though. Don’t leave comments just to obtain a backlink.
Instead, read what the blogger has to say and then comment with your own insight. Few things will attract readers to your blog like excellent comments from an expert voice.
The difference between comment spam and an active reader who’s trying to be useful lies in the words used. Responding to a post with a comment such as “Great post” while filling the URL field of the form with your blog URL is not that different from what comment spammers do (OK, they automate the process to scale, but conceptually it’s not that different at all).
Always add value to the topic at hand, and take the time required to leave an insightful comment that is at least a paragraph or two long. Don’t speak solely because you want a backlink. Comment because you have something valuable to say. And by all means, forget SEO when commenting. The name field should include your name, not target keywords.
At times it may be appropriate to link to your blog directly within your comment. In fact, if you are the first or second person to comment with a link, people may click your link even more than on the links within the post itself.
For example, the following comment would probably be OK with most bloggers:
Brilliant post, Richard. I expressed very similar thoughts about the behavior of subatomic particles here: <link>. I must say however that your diagrams are an extremely clever representation of quantum electrodynamical interactions. They may catch on.
Be very careful with this, as it’s easy to come across as a spammer or as too aggressive of a self-promoter. Step back for a second, and think about how you’d react if the same comment was made by another blogger on your own site. Would you approve it or reject it? Would it upset you?
When your blog acquires enough visibility, you may be approached by foreign bloggers who will ask you to translate some of your content into their own language.
Let them publish your translated content (for free). You’ll get further distribution of your ideas and/or products as well as a backlink from a potentially popular blog or online magazine.
The only condition you should have is that the article is credited to you and that it links back to your original post. In fact, you may even go so far as to actively scout for related blogs in other languages, then propose such an arrangement.
Most of the people who approach you and offer to translate your content are genuine bloggers who are interested in propagating your content in other languages.
When a translation is published on someone else’s site, you can decide if you want to link back to the translation from your original article or not (e.g., “This article is also available in Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese.”). You don’t have to. Some bloggers opt to do so, however, and this is where scammers see an opportunity.
From time to time you may be approached by scammers who ask you if they can translate a highly popular article of yours. You’ll say it’s OK, and they’ll supposedly work on a translation.
Then they’ll send you a link to a page that seemingly includes your translation and in turn, they’ll ask you to include a backlink to their translation from your article with a high PageRank.
The scam factors in when the page you’ve been pointed to is not an actual translation of your article. Scammers may keep the title, but the content will have nothing to do with what you wrote. Even if they do translate your content, perhaps badly via Google Translate, don’t be afraid of saying any to the request of linking back to the translation.
Link back only when you receive a link to a quality translation of your actual content. Again, Google Translate can help you figure that out, but a friend or reader who speaks the language would be better.
Evaluate the overall quality of their blog and not just the translation. If the foreign site is not in your niche, contains translated content about all sorts of unrelated topics, or is plastered in ads, an offer to translate your content may have little to do with admiration and a whole lot to do with SEO and link building.
Don’t be afraid to say no to requests for backlinks to translations from your original article or page.
The Dark Side of Link Building
If you pursue link building and SEO education further on your own, you’ll quickly discover what I call the dark side of online marketing.
I’ll refrain from teaching you black-hat techniques and opt instead to list a series of borderline activities you may come across and be tempted to partake in. Don’t. They are not worth your time.
Buying high PageRank links: As mentioned multiple times, buying links will get you blacklisted or penalized by search engines.
Renting email addresses: At best this is a waste of time; at worst you end up spamming people who don’t know you or your blog.
Buying social media votes: You can artificially boost your popularity on social networks like Reddit and StumbleUpon by buying votes for $0.10–$1.00 USD each. In many cases, doing so will get your blog banned from or penalized on social networking sites.
Three-way link exchanges: Reciprocal links between two sites don’t offer much in the way of SEO benefits, so there are services that take advantage of intermediary sites in the link chain to generate nonreciprocal links among those who participate in their network.
Fake blogs: You can create a series of dummy blogs through free services like Blogger or WordPress.com, and then have all of them point back to your blog. Such services routinely ban fake blogs and accounts in an effort to keep down spam.
Link wheels: This is a linking scheme involving fake blogs and article submissions that are organized so as to boost the PageRank of the URLs linking to your money page (the URL you want to promote), with the ultimate goal being to greatly boost the PageRank and relevancy of your money page for target keywords.
Mass article submissions: Spun content is submitted not just to article directories but also to networks of low-quality blogs and is set up only to attract the content of other bloggers and to earn money via AdSense and other advertisements.
Automated submission to a variety of directories: This is when you use software to automatically submit your site and feed to hundreds or thousands of crappy directories that no human will ever truly find useful.
While some marketers do pretty well with these techniques, which are not actually illegal, they’re still trying to game the system. Focus on adding value to your readers and your online community. The rewards and efforts will be far greater, and you won’t risk being penalized by search engines and social media sites.
Promote Your Articles on Social Networks
In this section (and the next), we’ll talk about promoting your articles on a variety of social media sites.
The same principles can be applied to new social networks that will pop up in the future as well as to specialized social media sites for your particular sector that are not represented here.
General Social Networks to Promote On General social media sites you should promote your content are as follows:
If your content is any good, it will see its way through these five channels naturally. Yet it’s important to ensure that all your valuable articles are promoted on these sites.
The visibility you can obtain on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ will largely depend on your network of friends, as well as on those friends or followers of anyone who sees your content and decides to post it on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. In fact, whatever you post on these sites will appear on the stream/wall of those who follow you or befriend you on such sites.
If you don’t have existing accounts on the sites mentioned above, now would be a good time to create them and start adding friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
StumbleUpon and Delicious work differently. With StumbleUpon, your article, once submitted, is randomly shown to a series of toolbar users who are interested in the categories you’ve selected for your article. If they like your content, they can give it a thumbs-up in the toolbar, which will increase your page’s score and consequently lead StumbleUpon to show your link to more people.
Delicious is a bookmarking service. If enough people bookmark your article in a short time frame (a few hours), your link may appear in the frequently bookmarked area of the site.
The quicker this process and the more bookmarks you receive when first bookmarked, the higher the likelihood of appearing in the popular page for a given tag or on the list of popular links on the home page.
Your Promotional Workflow
As soon as you publish a new article on your site, you should take the following steps:
Google +1 your article by using the counter/button we previously installed. Share your post on Google+ by pasting your link as an update.
Tweet the title plus a shortened URL on Twitter. Add a prefix such as “New blog post:” if you want to stress that it’s a link from your blog.
Facebook Like your article and then post the URL on Facebook to share it with your friends.
Submit your URL to StumbleUpon. Ensure that you pick up to five large categories (the maximum that StumbleUpon permits per page submitted). As an example, aim for Databases, not for Transactions.
bookmark your article on Delicious using a few relevant tags. Many people will be shown these tags when they bookmark the page too, so ensure that you select several appropriate tags that include a couple of generic ones like “programming” or “development.”
Using services such as StumbleUpon’s it’s possible to automate the submission of your articles on Twitter, Facebook, and StumbleUpon directly from your feed. Automating your social media promotion workflow is a good idea so that you have fewer steps to worry about once you hit the Publish button.
Resist the urge to create your own voting ring with close friends or colleagues on StumbleUpon. Instead, tell them about your new blog and perhaps introduce them to StumbleUpon. If they become active users of the site and follow your blog, they may thumbs-up your content from time to time.
On the other hand, feel free to encourage them to share your content with their friends on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, as well as bookmark your articles if they find them interesting.
There is no penalty of any kind for doing so with just a few friends. (Intentionally getting a couple of hundred people to bookmark your site, as per your instructions to do so, would constitute a manipulation of Delicious.
General Social Network Traffic Expectations
Earlier on I mentioned how you can only expect so much traffic from Twitter, Facebook, and similar sites. The reason for this is that people who are using such sites generally follow or befriend a lot of people.
They simply can’t keep up with the continuous stream of links, updates, jokes, pictures, etc. From time to time they’ll check their stream and click what interests them.
So even if you have more than two thousand people following you on Twitter like I do, only a few of them will actually click or retweet your messages. You need massive followings, or retweets by those who have large followings, to originate even so much as a few hundred hits from your Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Delicious will bring you a few hundred hits—if you are lucky, even a couple of thousand—as long as you hit its popular list. This won’t happen naturally unless you manage to first catch the attention of users on other sites. In turn, a percentage of these viewers will bookmark the site on Delicious, therefore raising your position in the popular list for that day.
The bulk of your traffic from Delicious will arrive on the same day you hit the popular page, but you may see a trail of smaller volumes of traffic continue to trickle in over the next several days.
StumbleUpon has the ability to send you what seems to be an unlimited amount of traffic. My blogs, as well as the blogs of many others, have received hundreds of thousands of visitors from StumbleUpon over the years. The beauty of StumbleUpon is that you’ll periodically receive waves of traffic from new users who discover and thumbs-up your content.
Unlike the other sites mentioned in this section, StumbleUpon is not just an instant traffic generator but a long-term means of bringing new visitors to your site.
Promote on Technical Social News Sites
As a blogger who is focused on technical or business topics, promoting on the sites discussed in the previous section will only get you so far. You also need to promote your best articles where technical audiences gather the most. In particular, while I don’t know the details of your blog, I suggest that you sign up with the following sites:
These three technical news sites should have you covered. I would recommend Slashdot as well, but only when you’ve just broken an important or immensely fascinating story. It’s not exactly the kind of place where you’ll routinely promote your blog.
Feel free to search for and explore more social news sites on your own. For example, if you are into Ruby development and blog about it, you can promote your best articles on RubyFlow. If you are in Internet marketing, there is Sphinn.
Social news sites tend to operate by accepting stories that have been submitted by their users.
Then they order them so that the “best” ones end up at the top of the homepage—best as it’s used here is a very relative term, given that each site uses a different algorithm to determine what floats to the top and what never ends up seeing the light of day and is shown only to the few people who check the queue of new stories or check stories on page 2, 3, 4, 5, or beyond.
The most common factors that influence the popularity and visibility of your links on these sites are the numbers of upvotes you receive (as opposed to downvotes or other forms of negative flagging/reporting) and how quickly you receive them.
Old submissions will not randomly make the front page of these sites, even if they receive a lot of votes all of a sudden. A story either receives a lot of votes shortly after being submitted or it’ll never stand a snowball’s chance.
The majority of stories will only attract one or two votes and never move from the new queue to the home page/popular one. This is simply the nature of such sites. Only the best stories are supposed to surface.
The difference between your story hitting the front page of one of these sites or not can often be measured by the several thousand visitors you’ll likely receive. Your objective is definitely to hit the front page of as many of these sites as possible.
Add the act of submitting your most relevant new articles to these three social news sites as part of your blogging workflow. If you have a blog already that has numerous articles in it, don’t submit past stories all at once (or your homepage for that matter). You’ll be seen as a spammer. Instead, pick your three best articles and submit them over the course of a week.
Then submit your best new posts as soon as you publish them from then on out. Always ask yourself, is my article really a good fit for these social news sites? Sometime the answer will be no, even if your article’s content will be loved by search engine users.
To speed up the submission process, install site-specific bookmarklets. Submit your stories between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET to maximize votes and exposure.
Submit Your Posts to Reddit
Reddit has the largest audience of the three sites discussed here, and there is a series of popular subcommunities called subreddits from which you can select when submitting a story.
Occasionally you can submit the same story two or three times to different subreddits, but it would be better to stick to a single submission per post that you publish.
reddit.com/r/programming is the largest community for developers, with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Depending on the topic you blog about, there’s a good chance you can find relevant subreddits at reddit.com/reddits.
Other large geek subreddits to consider are /r/gaming, /r/technology, /r/science, /r/apple, /r/android, /r/math, and so on.
Always check the number of subscribers a subreddit has before deciding to submit your story there. (You can do so by looking at the number shown in the right sidebar.)
A story about NoSQL databases may as well belong more to /r/nosql than /r/programming, but its current 395 subscribers means that you’ll receive virtually no traffic (even if the story hits the customized home page of these subscribers).
/r/database with its current 2,500 subscribers would be a bit better, and you’d automatically be on the front page of the subreddit given its slow submission rate, but it’s still a small community. Unless your story is of no general interest to /r/programming, I would try there first.
If a subreddit has 10,000 subscribers or more, however, it may make more sense to opt for it over a larger, more generic one. For example, a HOWTO about Ruby will most likely be killed instantly on /r/programming, whereas it might receive several upvotes on /r/ruby. Evaluate each case, and if you are truly in doubt, try submitting to both. (As long as you don’t do it too often.)
Reddit won’t admit to it, but it tends to like a bit of sensationalism. So make your submission headline attractive and interesting (it does not have to be the same thing as your actual blog post title).
If you quickly attract a few votes on /r/programming, you may get some ego-killing comments (regardless of your content), but you’ll also receive thousands of visitors. In the past I have received up to 50,000 visits within forty-eight hours from /r/programming for a single article of mine.
Some users may complain that you submit your own stories there, but it’s considered fair play by the admins of the site as long as you do the following:
Pick relevant subreddits.
Don’t flood the site with your submissions.
Participate in the community by submitting stories from other sites and by commenting as well.
For an in-depth look at Reddit voting patterns and stories that made it big, check out Reddit’s own analysis at blog.reddit.com/2011/07/nerd-talk-tale-of-life-of-link-on.html.
Hacker News (HN) is currently my favorite community. It’s smaller than Reddit, but it’s growing quickly and tends to be much more friendly than communities such as /r/programming. If you hit its front page, you’ll still receive several thousand visitors (and quality ones at that).
On Hacker News, you can submit any story that’s relevant to programming, technology, business, and the world of startups. War stories about your entrepreneurship or development experiences are particularly loved by this community. The audience tends to be smart, so the standard for your submissions is higher than the average site.
Stories that the community sees as fluff, off-topic, or devoid of real content are routinely killed by users who flag them. Politics is also another no-no. Take a look at the existing stories on the front page and their comments to help you figure out the type of content and headlines that are appreciated on Hacker News. Then read their guidelines in full at ycombinator.com/newsguide-lines.html.
If your link receives several upvotes, it will also be converted from nofollow to a regular link that receives PageRank juice (but the real value is in the instant referral traffic potential). For the record, Hacker News’s home page is currently a PageRank 8 page.
It’s extremely important that you spend some time understanding the site before you make your first submission. If you submit your blog for the first time and your story is flagged and killed, your blog’s submissions will automatically be killed from there on out.
Not being able to promote your quality content on Hacker News would be a great shame that translates to the loss of several thousand valuable visitors each month.
Your first submissions from your blog must categorically be very high quality to ensure that the community welcomes your blog and doesn’t flag it. If you are even remotely in doubt, don’t submit your own blog posts yet. Submit other relevant stories you find interesting.
Just like StumbleUpon and other social sites, you should avoid gaming the system by having all your friends upvote your stories. And if you send a link to your submission to a friend on Twitter or elsewhere, know that direct visits to item pages are valued less than organic votes obtained in the “new” page by HN’s ranking algorithm. (Yeah, this can be easily worked around by pointing your friends to the new page instead of to your submission. But don’t do it.)
DZone is the smallest community of the three and will only give you a few hundred hits on average if you make its homepage. It’s exclusively dedicated to programming, so if your posts are not about programming, you should not take advantage of this channel. One of the advantages of DZone is that it’s relatively easy to have one of your submissions become a popular link on that site.
While you shouldn’t expect grandiose traffic from it, it would be foolish not to pursue this community if it’s relevant to what you’re blogging about.
Submitting a story takes a couple of minutes because you are required to provide a short description of your article. I don’t know about you, but I’ll gladly trade two minutes of my time for a few hundred visitors any day.
You’ll also notice how Reddit was crucial for the promotion of my programming-related blog, with nearly half the referral traffic coming from it. In total, all traffic sources considered, one in five visitors came from Reddit in the past year.
Understanding Traffic Statistics
Immediately after you publish and promote an article, visitors from all over the world will start coming to your blog. This is a very exciting moment. It’s important, however, to fully understand the traffic figures from your web analytics suite as well as to keep track of them over time.
Analyzing statistics is particularly important because you should strive to take an Agile/Lean approach to blogging. When you try something out—a new type of article, a new style of headline, changes to the layout, anything really—you need to validate your hypothesis. You assume that a change (or perhaps a new article) will be welcome and ultimately end up improving your blog, but you don’t know for sure until you try it out and verify the results.
Baseline vs. Spike Traffic
The immediate flow of traffic you receive upon releasing and publicizing a new post will appear in your statistics as a noticeable spike. If you publish once a week on the same weekday, for example, you’ll notice a more or less constant amount of traffic (i.e., your average traffic, or baseline) and then a jump around the day your new posts usually go live.
A traffic spike, the effect lasts for a few days. This spike will eventually disappear from your charts, but the baseline of traffic you receive should increase slightly in the long run as a result of it.
Every post you add to your blog will contribute to the ongoing growth in the average amount of traffic you receive without any further effort on your part.
If I were to quit blogging for six months, I would still receive a great deal of baseline traffic every day, thanks to my wealth of existing articles. People will find such posts through search engines, links from other blogs, social media citations, and so on.
Of course, ceasing to blog would cause the average number of visitors per day to slowly but surely go down over time. More importantly, my feed subscribers would probably begin to vanish as well as they begin to notice that I haven’t published anything for months.
To grow your baseline, keep adding spikes with new posts. Think of it as adding logs to a fire to keep the flames roaring.
Key Site Usage Metrics You Need to Consider
Traffic is a generic term. Let’s get more specific and consider some of the most common metrics used to describe the number of visitors you receive.
Visits: The total number of times your site has been visited by all your visitors. If the same visitor comes back to your site multiple times over a given timeframe, all of these visits will be counted. A visit corresponds to the duration of a session.
The session is started when the user arrives on your site and ends when the user closes the tab/browser or is inactive for a certain amount of time. (In the case of Google Analytics, that’s thirty minutes by default, but this number can be customized.)
Unique visitors: The total number of visitors who arrived on your site, excluding duplicates. Unlike visits, this figure ignores multiple visits by the same visitor over a time period. This value is an approximation due to the fact that the uniqueness of a visitor is determined via cookies, which can obviously be cleared from time to time.
Page views: The number of times your pages have been loaded. If ten visitors visit your site five times each, and each of them browses two pages per visit, your pageview count will be 100 (i.e., 10 x 5 x 2). If the same visitor reloads a page multiple times, each of those refreshes will be added to the counter.
Average pageviews: The ratio between your pageviews and your visits. This roughly indicates how many pages are viewed on average each time someone visits your site. If your average page view count is 3.0, it means that, on average, people come to your site, see that page, and then explore another two pages before leaving.
Time on site: The average amount of time spent on the site by your visitors. This, too, is a very approximate figure, because leaving a window or tab open will influence this value, even though the user may not necessarily be reading or engaging with the site in any active capacity.
Bounce rate: The percentage of visits that lead to a single page view. It’s a measure of how many visitors leave after landing somewhere on your site directly from that page versus those who stay and explore other pages before leaving. This number can vary wildly from one analytics suite to another.
New visits: The percentage of visits from new visitors versus visitors who have already visited your site within a given time frame.
The exact implementation of these concepts by your web analytics tool will affect the numbers you see. Google Analytics’ figures are generally accepted as a standard of sorts in the industry.
A good analytics solution will show you these site usage details as well as plenty more about the profiles of your visitors (network, country, language), their browser profiles, your site’s traffic sources, which search engine keywords were used, and so on.
You can learn a lot about your visitors by taking a look at these less frequently used metrics from time to time.
Interpret Visit Quantity and Quality
It’s important to regularly keep an eye on your site’s usage stats. Some of these will tell you how good a job you are doing in attracting visitors to your site. Others will give you a glimpse of how satisfied your visitors are likely to be with what you’re providing them.
Visits, unique visitors, and pageviews are visit quantity metrics. Average pageviews, time on site, bounce rate, and new visits are visit quality indicators.
Generally speaking, people pay attention to visit quantity but very little to visit quality. If you were to express the popularity of your site to other people, you would normally list pageviews and visitors. But do not ignore visit quality parameters. They can give you equally important information about your visitors’ behavior.
Visit Quality Statistics
Aim to have high values for average page views and time on site. These numbers correlate to the amount of exploration and reading that your visitors do once they land on your site.
If these figures are decreasing over time, you may have to work on the quality of your content and the way you interlink so as to facilitate the easy discovery of other pages and posts on your blog.
Conversely, aim for a low bounce rate. A high number often correlates to visitors who are disinterested in your content. For example, their landing page (or entrance page) may not be that relevant to what they came looking for. Or perhaps your layout, eclectic font, unique background choice, ads, etc. are putting your readers off straight out of the gate.
The issue of new versus returning visitors is a bit more complicated. Here you want a high number because it means that you are attracting a lot of new visitors. Unfortunately, a very high number also implies a low number of returning visitors, which in turn could be a red flag regarding your visitor retention and engagement ability.
For technical audiences, a lot of returning visitors will do so via feed readers, which wouldn’t be accounted for in your statistics suite. Technical users also tend to clear their cookies more often. Due to these points, I wouldn’t worry too much about a low percentage of returning visitors.
Instead, strive for a very high number of new visitors (e.g., 70 percent or more) to help accelerate the continued growth of your site. If your conversion rate from visitor to the subscriber is good, your main goal unequivocally becomes recruiting new visitors.
Use the PostRank browser extension to assess the popularity of your RSS entries.
How Social Media Affects Your Stats
As you analyze your statistics, you should always keep the nature of your site and traffic in mind. For example, song lyric sites—which everyone seems to hate—probably have an average pageviews value approaching 1.0 and a bounce rate nearing 100 percent.
People come to such sites in order to read the lyrics to a song and then leave immediately. It’s hard to engage users further, due to the very nature of these sites, so their owners opt to be ruthless in their monetization strategy instead, which further alienates users who land on these ad-ridden sites.
In the case of a technical blog that’s been promoted as described in the previous blog, visit quality metrics will primarily be affected negatively by the fickle nature of social media traffic.
Your blog will most likely be relatively popular and grow quickly, but you’ll also have relatively low average pageviews and time-on-site figures and a high bounce rate. (As we’ll see soon, Clicky addresses the issue of social media affecting bounce rate by redefining what a bounce is.)
For example, ProgrammingZen.com’s global statistics for this month show 1.18 average pageviews, 36 seconds average time on site, and an 89.40 percent bounce rate.
Filtering the statistics for search traffic only shows much higher average pageviews value, triple the time on site, and a noticeably lower bounce rate. Conversely, the new visits percentage is an excellent 86 percent, regardless of traffic source.
In fact, the typical use case for social news users would be to click your site link, skim the post, and then go back to the social news site they came from to read the comments and perhaps share thoughts of their own there. For other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, the pattern is not much different.
These low values, affected by the nature of my traffic, do not cause for concern per se. What really matters is the trend. Are they getting better, worse, or staying about the same over time? If yours get significantly worse, then you need to investigate why this is and figure out what changed.
Where Do They All Come From
OK, you’ve published a great post, promoted it everywhere you could, and your site usage statistics are now showing a great deal of traffic rolling in. Awesome. But how do you know which promotional channels worked? Was
Alerts and Goals
Both Google Analytics and Clicky allow you to set alerts and conversion goals. Alerts are used for receiving emails (or SMS) when traffic levels reach a certain target or goal. When you are starting out, set your alert to something low, like 500 visits per day, depending on your expectations.
Conversion goals help you keep track of specific events, such as a reader visiting a particular thank-you page after signing up for your newsletter. These are particularly useful to quickly get conversion statistics on events such as downloads, email subscriptions, sales, etc.
if you run a startup that sells products or service subscriptions, you’ll need to keep track of your conversion funnel.
You can do so through custom reports in Google Analytics or through a specialized solution such as KISSmetrics.com. it Reddit or Hacker News that brought in the masses? Perhaps you made it big on StumbleUpon.
And for that matter, how do you even know that all these new visitors are coming for the sake of your latest article and not from an older one that suddenly got popular? (This certainly does happen sometimes.)
Any traffic analytics suite worth its salt is going to be able to answer these two important questions for you. You should monitor where your traffic is coming from (i.e., your traffic sources) and what it’s coming for (i.e., your top content).
Doing so tells you where it’s worth promoting your content and what kind of content and headlines are working for your blog.
Note that with most analytics software it’s possible to drill down or filter statistics by a given URL. By doing so you can see where the traffic came from for a specific article. Likewise, you can filter by traffic source to check out which articles and pages are popular among visitors coming from a given source.
Analyze Google Analytics and Clicky Statistics
It is ultimately outside of the scope of this blog to illustrate every corner of either Google Analytics or Clicky, but in order to help you get started with them, let’s see how to use the most fundamental statistics discussed above through these two tools. If you haven’t installed trackers for either of these two suites yet, Customizing and Fine-Tuning Your Blog.
Get Statistics Out of Google Analytics
Note: I have opted to present instructions and screenshots for the new version of Google Analytics. If your layout looks significantly different, ensure that you clicked the New Version link at the top of the suite.
When you check out the statistics of your blog in Analytics, you’ll be prompted with a dashboard, Google Analytics's dashboard. The data shown will cover the past thirty days, but you can change the range to whatever you like.
As you can see, Google tries to provide you with all the key site usage statistics for the chosen period in one spot. Namely, these are visits, unique visitors, page views, average page views (shown as Pages/Visit), average time on site, bounce rate, and percentage of new visits (shown as % New Visits)
In the left sidebar, you should see Visitors, Advertising, Traffic Sources, Content, and Conversions groups, with many links below each of them. Explore all of these to discover the default reports offered by Google Analytics. In particular, check out the Traffic Sources and Content tabs.
Both of these menu groups contain an Overview link that acts as your dashboard specific to Traffic Sources and Content, respectively.
By using other submenu items, such as All Traffic, Referrals, Search, Pages, and Content Drilldown, you’ll be able to get more specific information.
Understanding what keywords, content, and traffic sources are working will give you the edge when deciding what other kinds of content you’d like to publish and how to go about promoting it.
(Searches by logged-in users coming from Google are no longer reported. This means that “(not provided)” will appear in your organic search traffic reports.)
Keep in mind that most blogs receive the majority of their traffic from Google. When you check out your statistics, you’ll probably learn that you are not one of them.
Thankfully, that does not cause for alarm. With the techniques described so far, you’ll attract so much referral traffic that it will be very hard for organic search traffic to match it.
Search traffic will help you have a healthy baseline of traffic every day, but the big numbers you will see each month will definitely be inflated by social media traffic spikes.
Clicky works quite similarly to Google Analytics. There is a dashboard, which contains most of the info you’ll want to know. You can customize the date range (by default, today’s stats are shown), and the navigation bar offers a variety of menu items to provide you with all kinds of statistics.
You can filter by virtually anything (including by URL and by a visitor), and as mentioned before, Clicky is also in real time. You can use the Spy feature minutes after promoting your posts to literally see traffic as it arrives on your site.
In the beginning, this is a captivating experience and may lead you to waste too much time basking in the excitement of seeing your first visitors.
What is different from Google Analytics, aside from quite a few extra features, is the nomenclature. Instead of pushing pageviews, Clicky likes to refer to actions.
The two concepts are not very different, except for the fact that an action such as downloading a file or clicking a link will be counted as an action but not as a pageview.
The bounce rate is calculated in a drastically different way, however. Whereas Google might show me an 85 percent bounce rate, Clicky tells me that it’s 25 percent. The difference lies in the fact that the smart team behind Clicky has redefined the concept of bounce rate to better describe the behavior of the user.
According to Clicky, a user that lands on your page and then stay there for a while to read it (before leaving) should not be seen as a bounce.
I tend to agree and like to use Clicky’s metric because it gives me a better sense of how many people really were put off by my site/article, and how many were engaged by my page but didn’t stay to explore the rest of the site. In an era of social media traffic, this is an important distinction.
I find Clicky to be particularly useful when I truly want to understand the behavior of users. In fact, if I wanted to, I could select a single user and see the complete set of actions that person took.
How Reliable Are Traffic Comparison Sites
As the owner of your blog, you’ll have exact, detailed statistics. However, unless you share these numbers, other people won’t know about them. Likewise, you don't know about the actual statistics of most other sites that you’re not in charge of.
There are websites such as compete.com and alexa.com that attempt to compare sites in terms of traffic based on a series of heuristics. In Alexa’s case, for example, it mostly relies on the sites that have been visited by users who installed the Alexa toolbar.
In my experience, these sites tend to be wildly biased and inaccurate. If you decide to compare sites this way, remember that the results you get are only a vague indication of the true popularity of the URLs you test.
Compete believes that this month ProgrammingZen.com only received 375 visits and Math-Blog.com received 3,676. It’s off by at least a couple of orders of magnitude in the first case, and easily one in the latter.
The sites receive comparable amounts of traffic, but Compete would lead you to believe that my math blog is ten times more popular than my programming blog.
Part of the reason for this is that very technical sites are penalized by Compete and Alexa, given that very few techies are willing to install a toolbar that keeps track of what they do on the Web (even though those toolbars are not the only source for such sites’ stats).
This user came from Google looking for information on how to learn to programme and then went on to explore a series of articles on my programming blog.
Do I have enough content to satisfy what that user is after? If not, what sort of articles could I write to help that person out?
More commonly, you’d think about this when checking out what keywords brought you traffic rather than by stalking an individual user. Nevertheless, that’s the kind of thinking this exercise should lead one to.
Keep Track of Your Blog’s Growth
In the business world, there is a common expression that says that what can be measured can be improved. In my experience, there is a lot of truth to that observation. It’s important to assess the current statistics and verify how they evolve over time as a result of your efforts when you start a blog or try to revamp an existing one.
Some entrepreneurs, particularly in startups, like to use a KPI (key performance indicator) dashboard or spreadsheet. As a blogger, regardless if you have a company or not, it’s a good idea to do something similar.
Use Excel or Google Docs to keep track of your blog KPIs. Which ones? The choice is up to you, but definitely include your site usage metrics, your FeedBurner, and your email subscription numbers. Eventually, you may also want to keep track of conversion rates (e.g., from visitor to subscriber), revenue, and so on.
For the time being include a column for the date when you checked your stats, they have columns for pageviews, unique visitors, average page views, time on site, bounce rate (from Clicky, if possible), the total number of articles on your site, feed subscribers, and your email subscribers.
Update your spreadsheet once a month to see how your site is growing and evolving over time. At some point, you’ll even be able to plot some of these metrics to better visualize your progress.
A final word of advice: don’t obsess over statistics. By all means, check your stats for five minutes a few hours after publishing an article, but don’t let doing so become an addiction.
Checking your global stats once a month to fill your KPI spreadsheet is plenty. It’s a fun and useful process, but remember that checking your stats continually will not help them grow or be a very productive use of your blogging time.