Saturday, 30 June 2012

6 Things to Do to Have a Successful Blog (and Increase Traffic)

Building a blog is one of the easiest, simplest things in the world. Building a blog that gets a good amount of traffic on a consistent basis is the tough part.

However there are countless blogs out there doing just this: getting some truly amazing levels of traffic consistently, at times even thousands each month!

What these blogs have been able to do is plan, carry out and successfully execute a set of actions, through which they have seen their traffic levels rise to metronomic levels in a relatively short amount of time.

And let’s be honest here, the single most important and essential thing to your blog is it’s ability to drive traffic to it. For traffic, it is important that you focus all your efforts on aspects that work, rather than wasting time on stuff that doesn’t.

1. Build an Email List

Why: Email lists are a great way of bringing consistent traffic to your blog as well as drive in repeat visitors. If you’re successfully able to build even a reasonably-sized email-list, you have the potential to drive in a lot of targeted traffic, of people that actually want to hear from you (that is why they gave you their email ID in the first place!), and hence rely less on external sources of traffic.

How: I personally recommend using an email marketing tool such as Aweber or MailChimp. Both are paid-for services, however the latter provides a free service as well, which of course comes with certain limitations. Put up a email subscription form on your blog that lets people subscribe to your updates. In order to encourage people to subscribe to your blog, you could even offer them some kind of an incentive.

Time Taken: 20 minutes

2. Social Media Integration

Why: Not only social mediums, such as Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus bringing in massive amount of referral traffic, they are also a great way to be able to share your content online. Facebook, for instance, is getting to that magical 1 billion total users figure, with more than half of them active users. In addition, according to statistics, people on average spend close to 20-30 minutes on Facebook every day. Youtube and Twitter boast similar stats as well. All of which means that there is massive marketing potential, as well as the ability to drive traffic to your content through these mediums.

How: Integrate all major social media platforms to your blog. Add buttons for Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest and the like. Add a like, +1 and RT button on all your posts. How you go about doing this actually depends on the platform you’re using. For instance Wordpress and Blogger make it as easy as looking up and installing the necessary plugins. Doing so will allow people to share your content on these social mediums, and if your content is good enough, it might even spread like wildfire and go viral!

Time Taken: 30-60 mins

3. Facebook Fanpage

Why: Speaking of social media, it would be a good idea to start a Facebook page for your blog. Facebook pages are, quite simply, superb! They allow people to become fans of your blog, and receive updates on a regular basis. You, as the page administrator, have the ability to send out updates as often as possible to your fans and interact with them. It’s easy to create a page and maintain it. Above all, it keeps your personal profile separate for your business one.

Couple this with the face that Facebook has a massive user base (as explained above), and gets tons of daily active users, not having a Facebook page would be a massive missed opportunity. Some of the biggest blogs in the world boast a strong presence on Facebook, often having thousands of fans.

And of course, you fanpage could be a brilliant method of generating referral traffic to your blog. Simply post an update with a link to your blog and watch those visitors roll in!

How: Go to and create a new page for your blog. Fill out complete information of your page, put your blog’s logo up as the profile picture, and get creative with the cover picture. Cover pic provides you with a massive opportunity, for instance you could put an image of your latest special offer, or a new arrival, or a picture from an event, depending on what sort of a blog (and Facebook page) you have.
Above all, post regular updates, without spamming your page.

Time Taken: 20 mins

4. Target Audience Most Likely to Share

Why: Apart from getting traffic from Google, your social profiles and other sources, you are relying on your audience and visitors’ ability to help spread the word about your content. In order to do so, you need to target the audience that will most likely share your content. For instance if you have a blog on weight loss, targeting those people interested in weight loss will obviously yield its results. Similarly, if your content aims to let the reader know about how he can get the best mileage out of your vehicle, you need to target petrol-heads and automobile enthusiasts.

How: Identify groups which have large numbers of people in your niche. Taking the automobile example, it would be a good idea to hit some forums and blog where automobile enthusiasts come together on a daily basis to speak on such matters. Be a part of the discussion, leave some constructive comments and put a link to your blog in your signature. Hit Facebook groups and pages, Google+ Hangouts, and look at Twitter trends, and look for other places online where people are sharing content that is similar to yours, and speaking of similar things as well.

Time Take: 30 mins

5. SEO

Why: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is extremely important in the sense that it allows you to be able to drive in traffic to your blog from search engines on autopilot. Google, one of the biggest sources of referral traffic out there, generates more than 60% of the total referral traffic in the world, alone! Search engines, therefore, are a massive source of traffic.

Unfortunately, many bloggers (and unsurprisingly those whose blogs don’t do particularly well) choose to ignore this source of traffic for a variety of reason, most notable of which is that SEO is too hard/complicated/difficult to grasp. The simple fact remains that they’re missing out, as Google gets an enormous 3 billion (yes that’s billion with a ‘b’!) unique search queries every day, a number which is only growing.

How: While SEO can take years to master, learning the basics is always a good thing, and while the list of things everyone should know would prove to be too exhaustive for this write-up, a simple Google search on ‘SEO basics’ will bring up a ton of results. Read up on some basic SEO best-practices, and try implementing them with your blog.

Time Taken: 1-2 hours

6. Guest Posts

Why: Guest posts can be an outstanding way of getting the word out about your blog, as well as building some valuable backlinks to your blog. When the link to your website goes on an authority blog, it can open up a great avenue to direct highly-targeted traffic back to your blog, as well as get you visitors from your own niche. If it’s a high-PR website, getting traffic from such a source will be of immense help to your own PR.

If you have people guest posting on your blog, it can be a great source of getting fresh content on your blog on a regular basis.

How: The importance of guest posts usually goes amiss with a lot of bloggers out there. And to be fair, especially when you start off, convincing other authority bloggers to write on their bloggers, or getting people to write on yours can be difficult. What you can do at this stage is leverage your personal contacts and friendships, people who you know and people who can write for you, or would be willing to let you write on their blogs. Furthermore, approach people on your social networks (Twitter, Facebook), and don’t be discouraged if someone replies with a no. If someone is willing to do a guest post for you (and I believe there will be people), make it as easy for them to write as possible by allowing them freedom to write however they like and whatever they like (related to the content of your blog of course).

Time Taken: 60 mins (if you are writing a guest post)

Friday, 29 June 2012

Using Google Plus to Get Traffic

Contrary to popular belief about Google Plus (or Google+) being a ghost-town, the fact is that the social network has actually seen a steady growth in traffic levels and monthly visitors. In March 2012, there was a 27% rise in Google Plus’ traffic, which means that as many as 61 million people visited the social networking site.

Furthermore, according to Larry Page, Google Plus now has 100 million active users.

However these traffic levels are nothing to be particularly proud of, considering the fact that Facebook is getting almost 10 times more traffic (it now has an excess of 900 million active users), and even Twitter has an excess of 100 million active monthly users. Other relatively-newer social networks such as Pinterest are on the rise, and are getting a lot of traffic while generating a large amount of outbound traffic. 

But what’s particularly encouraging from Google’s perspective is that fact that Google Plus is on the rise, and has enjoyed a steady growth as far as monthly visits are concerned, especially in the last one year. Google’s social networking website still has the potential to bring inbound traffic and visitors to your website.

How to Get Going on Google Plus

For starters, create your profile and fill it up with all information. This includes your personal and professional information. And above all, include all your links, including the link to your website.

Add a photo or an avatar to your profile, preferably of yourself. What you want to do here is make your profile seem genuine, so that other Google Plus users add you back to their circles.

Try making your profile stand-out, Google Plus now offers a cover photo, ala Facebook. This cover photo is prime real estate, and can be used to put just about any image up; maybe you having some fun with your friends, a photo of you from that photo-shoot, you speaking at a blogger’s convention, your company logo, the banner photo of your website/blog, the sky’s the limit here. Basically you want to make use of each profile element Google Plus has made available to you.

Once you’re done, try adding people to your circles (‘circles’ on Google Plus are the Facebook alternative of ‘Friend Lists’). Google Plus makes this easy thanks to the ‘Explore’ button. Your aim here is to add a few like-minded people and hopefully they too will follow you back.

Many people on Google Plus (and Twitter) use the follow-unfollow technique to gain more followers. While I don’t recommend doing this, it could get you a large number of followers.

In addition, put up some +1 buttons and icons on your blog, and add the link to your Google Plus profile underneath every post (as a signature). This will allow people to find you on G+ and add your to their circles easily.

Essentially, spend some time on Google Plus, building friendships, getting to know people and generally networking with other like-minded individuals.

Getting Traffic from Google Plus

First off, share all your posts on your Google Plus page, especially with the relevant circles. That is the beauty of Google Plus, it lets you organize all your connections by different circles (such as professional, acquaintances, etc.) and you have the ability to create your own circles and as many of them as you like. So if a post on SEO tips has gone up on one of your blogs, you can share it with the relevant circle(s).

You can divide all your connections on Google Plus according to interests using circles. This ability to group your followers will not only allow you to engage and share with like-minded people (especially useful when you’re running multiple blogs), you will also be able to get extremely targeted traffic this way.

Another way to promote your posts on Google Plus is to +1 pages on your website. +1 is Google Plus’s alternative to the like button. Doing this has two distinct advantages: the posts that you +1 will be shown to people who have added you in their circles on Google+, and these +1’d posts will also show up in Google SERPs who have you in their circles, whenever they look something up on Google using search queries relevant to the post, which means that +1 is a part of Google’s search algorithm.

Therefore, simply hitting +1 on a post can bring your post up from page 20 (or wherever in the SERP it might be) to page 1!  This can make up for the lack of SEO, because even if your on-site and off-site SEO metrics are weak, people in your circles will still get your posts and pages on the first page of the SERP.
If you have a reasonable number of people in your circles, who +1 your post, and provided that each of the people who do +1 your post have a good number of connections on Google Plus, this will give your post a lot of visibility, as well as appear on the first page of the SERP for a lot of people.

Like I said before, it is a good idea to install the +1 button in all your posts. Either on the sidebar, or underneath your post. There are tons of plugins that let you do this, depending on the platform you’re using, or you could get the HTML code from Google Plus’s support page and simple add the code to your website.

Lastly, make sure that you add people on Google Plus as possible, and that they add you back to their circles as well. Create different circles and add people to the relevant ones. When sharing something on G+, make sure that the people (or circles) who you share with are in the same niche as the content of your blog. Be careful about this, as adding too many people all at once will almost certainly make Google think you’re a spammer, disabling your account. 

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Importance of RSS

RSS, short for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, is an XML-based content distribution format used by websites and blogs to distribute headlines, content, audio, blog posts and video all over the internet.

Here’s how it all works: a publisher (you, for instance) who wants to share his content with other websites and people in general puts the content in a single file, aka an RSS document, and registers this with a free website which provides RSS feeds.

Almost every blog and website, especially news sites in particular, are using RSS feeds, which people can subscribe to. People or subscribers simply need a feed reader (such as the free Google Reader) to view the feed’s content.

In addition, more of the popular browsers today (most notable Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome) come with built-in feed readers, all one needs to do is add a feed to the reader, something which is as simple as dragging and dropping.

Understandably, this is one of the best ways of circulating and spreading your content rapidly online, as well as being able to bring in large amounts of traffic back to your blog. If the content of your website is interesting, and is updated frequently, it has to potential to be subscribed by a large group of people and hence bring in a lot of traffic!

Why It’s a Good Idea to Set Up an RSS Feed

It is a good idea to set up RSS for your own website or blog as well, as it allows your audience to subscribe to your updates and if you update your content frequently, it can help bring in a regular stream of traffic to your blog. Look at it this way; every time someone fires up his or her reader to check the headlines, they will also see your website’s updates and clicks the link, bringing you traffic.

RSS has made email marketing and newsletter marketing almost redundant. Emails and newsletters tend to get caught in spam filters and usually end up in the junk mail folder, which means that their visibility and success ratio is extremely low. With RSS, since you’re not sending an email, you don’t have to worry about that. Each and every one of your subscribers can simply open their readers to get your updates.

Another excellent aspect about these XML-based RSS feeds is that they can be exported and used on external sources, such as other websites. So if, for instance, your RSS feed interests a webmaster from another blog/website, they can put up your feed on their website, redirecting traffic back to you.

The benefits of all this are multifold, it will improve your visibility and exposure by making the content of your website/blog available to a lot of potentially interested people. It will also make your content available on RSS search engines and content aggregations website. Getting traffic through RSS will provide you with a nice PR and SERP boost. And RSS also gives access to your website’s content to other websites working in the same niche or covering the same topics.

How to Create an RSS Feed

I recommend using, and excellent service that lets you build and manage all your feeds from one central location. Once your feed has been created (an XML file), upload it to your web server through FTP. Your feed’s URL will be This would be the link to your RSS feed.

Whenever you add a new article to your blog, the feed automatically gets uploaded as well.

Use FeedBurner with your RSS feed, as it provides you URL for your feed that visitors can easily subscribe to. It also provides a redirect URL, which means that if you move your blog and the feed’s URL changes, FeedBurner will provide a redirect URL so that you don’t lose your subscribers.

Bear in mind that popular blogging platforms, such as Blogger or Wordpress, create, manage and generate RSS feeds for you automatically. This frees you of the hassle of creating or updating your RSS manually.

Submitting Your RSS Feed

First off, you have to look for RSS directories, and a quick Google Search will bring up many of these. Once done, submit your RSS feed to as many of these directories as possible. It might take a while if you decide to do it manually, but you do have the option of using either one of the widely-available submission tools out there, or perhaps even outsource the whole process. Make sure that each submission has a unique description, title and keywords. Also keep a record of the what exactly you are submitting and where.
Another tool at your disposal is called an RSS aggregator. In simple terms, what this does is take many different RSS feeds from different locations to form a single feed or webpage. The single feed can then be submitted to directories, adding to your list of backlinks.


RSS feeds, therefore, are a great way to create some valuable backlinks to your blog, and help your blog rank better for your keywords. Additionally, RSS can be a brilliant way of bringing in potentially massive amounts of traffic. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

How to Speed Up Your Wordpress Blog (and Why It’s Important)

Wordpress is nothing short of absolutely brilliant, a great publishing and content-management platform.
However the fact of the matter is that Wordpress blogs and website can be pretty slow at times. This could either be because of a plugin that takes too long to load up, a bad/corrupt Wordpress installation, a slow webhosting service, or maybe even a combination of different factors.

And quite frankly, a slow-loading website can be a downright pain! Load times are interrelated with other important aspects of your website. For starters, a website or a blog that takes ages to load up will most certainly not have very impressive conversion or bounce statistics, will most certainly lose repeat visitors, subscribers and customers, and hence will lose you traffic and revenue in the process.

How to Test Website/Blog Load Times

I use a simple, free online tool by Pingdom to test the load times of my websites. A great little tool, it quickly tests your website and determines its total load times in seconds, and provides you with the page’s size as well. It also gives you detailed information such as pages size and load times of each individual element of your website.

Importance of Load Times

An average human being is impatient by nature. For instance when you look something up on Google, you get 10 results almost instantly. You will most certainly read the information on the website that is quickest to load, one that loads up within a couple of seconds, as opposed to one that takes more than 30 seconds to load up. Chances are, if a website is taking too long to load up, you will almost immediately close it.

If this wasn’t enough, it is a proven fact that when a new visitor stumbles upon your website for the first time, you have only a few seconds to capture their attention. Hence pages that load up instantly have a distinct advantage here.

Even if your website looks fantastic, offers the best products, at the most competitive prices out there, if it loads up too slow, you’re losing potential customers and buyers even before you get the chance to be able to convert them.

Because in all fairness, no one is really going to wait around for more than 10 second for your webpage to load up. People will move on. Studies too have shown that the time before people click away from your website is an extremely short one. And that means you are losing potential sales, customers and clients even before you had the chance to convince them stay on your blog or take some action.

So in essence, you might have all your on-site and off-site SEO metrics up to mark, in good health and performing as expected. But your slow load times are quite simply, killing off all your efforts.

Last but most certainly not the least, Google’s ranking mechanism and algorithm now takes website load times into account, in order to rank your blog for your keywords. Faster-loading blogs will be ranked higher up the SERP and vice-versa.


Now that the importance of a quick-loading website has been established, here are a few things that all webmasters and Wordpress users can do in order to ensure that their blogs don’t take ages (or more than 5 seconds) to load up. The following list of suggestions has not been arranged in any particular order.

1. Hosting

Yes, start from the beginning. Slow load times could very well be due to unreliable hosting services, or one that is unable to cope with the demands and traffic levels of your website. Choose a good host and a good hosting package (remember, you almost always get what you pay for!) when starting from scratch, or upgrade to better, quicker servers, maybe even dedicated ones from a well-reputed host.

2. CDN

Content Delivery Networks (or CDNs) are being used by all big blogs out there. What a CDN does is that it picks up all static files (CSS, Javascript, Images, etc) from your website and places them on servers all over the world. Whenever someone tries to access your website, a CDN delivers this content to them by accessing the closest possible servers, drastically reducing seek and loading times.  One of the most well-known CDN out there is Max CDN, they have servers all around the world and have some excellent paid packages. Cloudfare is another good alternative.

3. Optimize Images

WP-SmushIt, a great plugin that automatically optimizes your images as you’re uploading them, reducing their file-size (while having a minimal effect on image quality) so that they do not take too long to load up, especially on slower internet connections. Speaking of plugins…

4. Use Plugins

Yes, using plugins that speed up your blog’s load times will make a world of difference. One such plugin is W3 Total Cache. This plugin automatically improves the server performance by caching your complete website automatically, cutting the load time of your blog’s theme and content into half. It also comes with CDN integration. WP Super Cache is another similar plugin, but what this particular plugin does is it generates static HTML files of your website’s pages, which are then served directly, instead of calling up the heavier PHP scripts. No reason why you shouldn’t use both these plugins.

5. Optimization

Another plugin that I recommend using is WP-Optimize. This gem of a plugin optimizes your database (including post-revisions, spam, drafts, tables, etc.) and reduces their overhead, bringing down load times of your blog considerably.

6. Theme Framework

A good theme forms the foundation of your blog. The more well-built the foundation, the better, quicker your load times will be. This is precisely why WP’s default themes load up almost instantly, they are well-built and above all, they are minimalistic, no-frills frameworks. If you’re looking for something just as good but with more options, check out the Thesis Theme Framework. While you might need to shell some money for it, it is by far the best after-market theme framework out there in terms of load-times, customizability and SEO.

7. Revisions

Wordpress, as crazy as this is, stores every single one of your post drafts, so if for instance during writing you save a draft 20 times, you’ll end up with 20 post revisions, all neatly stored in your WP database. Imagine if you were to add large sized images to your post; Wordpress would essentially have 20 versions of the same large-sized post, making a single post extremely large in size. In order to counter this, use a plugin called Revision-Control, which keeps your post revisions to a limited number, 2 or 3, which means you end up with a lighter and uncluttered backend.