WordPress is a powerful blogging platform, and many thousands of people start a WordPress blog every day – whether it’s self-hosted on your own web server or with a free WordPress.com blog. Many bloggers give up after a few months though, often because their blog isn’t as popular as they would like it to be or they aren’t getting many comments. The problem is that even with great blog posts, your blog doesn’t automatically become popular. The saying “build it and they will come” simply doesn’t apply to blogs.
So let’s take a look at 8 strategies you can adopt from today to make your blog more popular without delving into the technical aspects of WordPress.
Focus On One Topic
Many people start writing a blog with the glorious plan of writing about their life and thoughts on the universe in general. The sad truth is that while one or two of your posts may appeal to some, the broad range of content will prevent many visitors from coming back for more.
If you want to write a popular blog, you need to focus on one or two topics, and stick to them. If you don’t feel like you can write about a single topic that much, then try broadening your topic up a level – for instance, your real passion is strawberry plants, but that’s hardly going to fuel a blog for more than a few weeks, so why not write about growing fruit trees – when you get sick of that, move on to gardening in general.
By keeping your content focused (and learning about the topic yourself in the process), you will keep people on your site looking for more of your content, and coming back for more next month.
Make Friends In The “Blogosphere”
Chances are you aren’t the only blog about gardening on the Internet, so find a few fellow bloggers and start participating and commenting on their blogs. Most will allow commenters to include a link with their name. You’ll not only get some visitors from their blog, but you may also build a rapport with the author and can consider a link exchange.
A word of warning though – make sure your comment is genuinely adding something to the conversation, providing useful information for other readers and relevant to the post you are commenting on. It is extremely frustrating to have someone say “hey, nice blog post” in an effort to simply self-promote, and it will quickly get your IP address marked as a spammer.
Join Blog Carnivals & Blogging Support Groups
For my past blogs, I’ve had enormous spikes in visitors by participating in so-called “blog carnivals”, where you write about a particular topic and submit it to the carnival host, who will include your post in their round-up of all the entires. Assuming the host is popular, or the carnival is correctly promoted by all participating blogs, it’s a very successful way to introduce readers to similar blogs and everyone benefits. The best place to find a carnival that suits your topic is to visit blogcarnival.com.
Join a blogging support group too, like bloggers.com. It’s another great way to find similar blogs, and all members get listed in the database as well as their latest posts highlighted on various pages.
Keep Visitors On Your Blog
If you’ve got lots of related content, it’s fairly safe to assume any visitors will be interested in that too. We’ve covered a few plugins (LinkWithin, Best Related Posts, or SimpleTags which we use for MakeUseOf) that can do this automatically for you before, so be sure to read that as it’s all still relevant. Posts with a small preview image will do much better than simple text links (look at the bottom of this article for a great example).
Write Outside Of Your Blog
Guest blogging on related blogs helps to establish you as an expert in a particular topic. In fact, we even accept guest submissions for MakeUseOf as long as they meet our stringent publishing standards. MyBlogGuest is an easy way to find blogs looking for guest writers, or even find guest bloggers for your own blog during those dry spells.
You might also want to consider writing a quick article or two on some of the free article aggregate sites such as EzineArticles, which lets authors include a link or two and push their content out to a large audience of subscribers.
Engage Your Readers & Encourage Comments
If a reader comments on your post, they obviously have something to say – but they might not have bookmarked your site, or shared it yet. By replying to your readers and keeping them engaged, you foster a relationship that keeps readers coming back, as well as making them more inclined to post your story to their Facebook wall or retweet it.
Another way to encourage interaction is to reward commenters with a plugin like CommentLuv, which highlights a commenters latest blog post.
Add Social Sharing To Your Blog
While I’m personally against the rise of social sharing widgets everywhere on the Internet, some small unobtrusive buttons on your website can do wonders to increase your blog exposure. Stick to the basics with Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon buttons to avoid the clutter that can make some blogs look messy. AddThis is one easy WordPress plugin to help you do this.
Keep At It
Blogging is not a short-term thing; you really need to be in it for the long haul if you want to build a large base of readers. Keep publishing fresh new content, accept guest submissions, and work at building your network of blogging friends and link partners. You will get there eventually, and as your blog ages, it gains more and more trust from the search engines.
Image Credit: ShutterStock