What tools I use to boost my blog:

Posted by Minnaar Pieters 12 Mar 2009

Up until about a week ago I did not do anything to increase my blog traffic. It was merely something I used to type out my thoughts, anger, or joy with certain products and services. While it had its share of regular readers, I decided to start marketing the site with a variety of services, and to great effect. So much in fact, that my traffic has grew about 10 times within 7 days. I am not lying. While many of these steps are obvious ones that many people do anyway, I thought I would just list the variety of services I use to boost my blog. Here is all the steps I took to do it, in no particular order:

1) Google Analytics and Webmaster: This is a absolute treasure trove to research your current readers. What browser are they running, where do they live, do they use a mobile browser etc. While you might argue that knowing what browser your reader uses is not that useful, you have to analyse the results. In other words, if 80% access the site with Firefox, and a big portion run a screen resolution of 1600+ pixels, you might deduce that it is people who know a bit, and make wise choices in technology. If they access it from their iPhone, you might want to cater for them with a mobile version of the site. The user is required to enter a simple piece of code to verify that the site exists, which can be found once you register for Analytics. Also, make sure to enter a SiteMap into Webmaster tools which give gives Google better ability to scan all your site pages and headers, which are necessary for search results.

2) Twitter: This is probably the single most effective marketing tool to boost hits on your sites. As long as you can frequently update both your site and your twitterfeed, the two go hand in hand to make immense increases in traffic. Whenever you make a blog post, tweet about it, and then your followers who are interested have a quick link to your blog. Obviously, dont go overboard, otherwise people might just get annoyed with you. Its a fine line.

3) Enter your blog into directories: Examples include Afrigator, DMOZ, Zoominfo, Technorati etc. These sites all keep catalogs of sites that can be easily accessed by people looking for specific topics. So if you believe your blog is of high enough quality, go through the process of registering for the these directory services.

4) Metadata: While Google does not necessarily use metadata anymore for its crawlers, many websites still do. Metadata includes decriptors that can quickly and easily define what your site is about. You need to be accurate with your descriptors, dont go overboard with a ridiculous amount of tags. You need to at least define a page title (for every page), description and keywords.

5) Image alt text: While this will not necessarily boost traffic, it is always a good idea to cater for visually challenged users who use screen readers. Whenever you add a image, make sure you add alternate text (or "alt" text) that gives a short description of the image. These tags are also used by image searching crawlers such Google Images, so make sure your alt text is accurate. Another way to show up in searches.

6) Register for a proper domain: While its cheap (actually free) to hang on to that yourname.blogspot.com or yourname.wordpress.com address, it is definate no-no should you ever wish to properly promote your site. Registering a domain name is cheap, and both blogger and wordpress have options available to quickly and easily make a proper .com name.

7) Reciprocal linking: If you have friends that are into the same things you are, or also have blogs, make sure you link each other in your blogs. This is called reciprocal linking - and is a big component to increase your Google Page Rank. A lot of sites on the web have a page rank rating - basically a way that Google classifies how important your blog is. If your site pagerank is zero, and you link to a lot of your friends, their pagerank will not be increased. However, if the people who link to you is of a higher page rank, it will boost your sites page rank! So if you can get your link on a few sites that are of high quality, it goes a long way towards boosting your page rank.

8) Register your site on feedburner: This Google owned venture makes your site available to the web's largest community of feed readers, which makes your site accessible to much more people. You can use all sorts of customization options which can all be used to boost your site in very specific ways. Also look at Bloglog which can give users very quick access to your site, and your site is exposed to a wide community of blogs.

9) Monetize your blog: While not all blogs benefit from monetization, I would recommend you use it once your site reaches a certain amount of visitors per day - say 500 upwards. If you start to do it too early, the advertising can put off users who think that your site might be a linkfarm if it is not tastefully done. Wait for your readership to grow, then start very lightly. Most popular example is Google Adsense.

I will updates this list as I come across more effective methods - every day I come across something great which helps.

(After reading this article myself, I cant help but think it looks a bit like a Google advertisment. I will start looking at alternatives, but I just gave examples of services I use myself).

As a tip I would firstly recommend Google Analytics and Twitter. They are the catalysts that can make your efforts into a golden egg...

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I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.