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10 Ways to Optimize a Popular Post on Your Blog

Over at the ProBlogger Room on FriendFeed Keith asks a good question that has stimulated a whole stream of thought for me. He asks:

“If you have a blog post that clearly outperforms all other posts (more than double the traffic in my case) do you capitalize on it by writing more posts on the same topic?”

When a post on your blog does better than others there are numerous things that I’d encourage you to consider doing – only one of which is writing more posts on that topic.

KEY LESSON – The first thing to realize is that ‘hot’ or popular posts on your blog are not only important because of the traffic that they are currently bringing in – but they’re actually more important because of what they could potentially do to improve and grow your whole blog. Most of what follows is about leveraging a hot post to grow your blog.

10 ways to Optimize a Popular Post on Your Blog

1. Analyze the Source of Traffic

The first thing that I’d highly recommend you do when you realize that one post on your blog is attracting more traffic than others is to spend some time analyzing the source of the traffic. Where it’s coming from will determine what actions you need to take next.

  • Is the traffic coming from search engines? If so, you’ll want to do some SEO on the post. You should also do some analysis of what keywords people are searching for that drives them to the post.
  • Is the traffic coming from social media? If so, it’ll be more temporary so you’ll want to act fast and concentrate on converting visitors to subscribers.
  • Is the traffic coming from another blog or site? If so you’ll need to act quickly, concentrate on getting subscribers but also build a relationship with the other site.
  • Why does the post work? – this is an important question to ask yourself, particularly if you’re looking to write more posts like it. Is it the title of the post, is it the topic, is it the voice you wrote it in?

The more information you have on where the traffic is from and why it’s landing on your post the better equipped you’ll be to decide which of the following strategies you should take next.

2. On Page SEO

If point #1 shows you that traffic is coming to the post from search engines you are in luck. Search engine traffic is wonderful because it has the potential to send your post traffic every day for years to come. However don’t just sit back and feel good about yourself – ask yourself how you can take the traffic to the next level and drive even more search engine traffic to it!

One of the things you will want to do is optimize the post for search engines even more than it already is. Obviously you’ve done something right in terms of SEO – but how can you improve it even more?

Knowing the keywords that the post is doing well for in SE’s is important here. Once you know this you can highlight them to the search engine bots by bolding them, adding them to your post to increase keyword density, adding images that have those words as their name and in alt tags, adding them in headings etc. Don’t ‘stuff’ your post with the words – but finding ways to naturally build them into your post can help it rank even higher for those words.

Again – don’t over do this. You’re already ranking well so just tweak the post a little.

Read more about on page SEO at Search Engine Optimization for Bloggers.

3. Off Page SEO

The other thing you can do to attempt to boost the search engine ranking of the post is to build a few incoming links to the post. Search engines see incoming links to a page as like a ‘vote’ – the more votes the higher it’ll rank (in general).

Note: The best type of incoming links are ‘relevant’ ones (ie from sites on a similar topic) and ones with the keywords that you’re trying to rank for in the link.

The first way to get some extra incoming links to the post is to link to it from your own blog/s. Find other posts on similar topics and link to this post from them. You don’t need to link to the post from every page on your blog – but do find at least a few other posts to link up to it from.

The second way to get extra incoming links is to submit the link to other bloggers. You might do this by pulling a few favors with other bloggers or by emailing them to suggest the post might be relevant to their readers. Don’t spam people and do keep the links relevant to the sites that you’re submitting them to – but any links you get can help give the post an extra boost.

Lastly – another source of links can be social media sites that you are active on. Even just tweeting the link in a relevant way to readers can add a little Google Juice. I’ll write more on social media sites in my next point.

4. Submit it to Social Media Sites

If the traffic to your post is coming from a social media site like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit or Delicious you’ll need to act a little faster to optimize the post. I’ll suggest some ways to do this below – but first you might want to see if there are some ways that you can ‘help’ the post become even more viral on social media sites.

For example – if the post is on the front page of Digg there’s a chance that it could also be growing on StumbleUpon or Delicious. Check this out and vote up the post on those services. Send the links over to others to give it their vote too.

You might also like to add a link or button to the post itself if it’s doing well on social media. For example – if I notice a post is starting to build momentum on Digg I’ll add a Digg button to it. This can often be enough to tip it over the edge and onto the front page.

5. Add Options to Subscribe

This one is important whether the source of traffic is search engines, another site or social media as it focusses upon converting your new visitors to the page into ongoing readers of your blog.

When I have a ‘hot post’ I’ll often add a link to the post that says something like ‘enjoying this post – get more like it via our newsletter’ and link to a page giving the blog’s subscriptions options. These links can do very well at the end of posts.

6. Add links to the post to other pages on your blog

Drive people deeper into your blog by adding links to other pages on your site. You can do this within the content of the post itself or at the end of the post as ‘further reading’.

The key is to make the link to your best posts and to posts that are relevant in terms of content to the hot post.

7. Optimize Page Loading

Hopefully you won’t need to do this because your page will already be well optimized – but if you’re getting ALOT of traffic (for example from Digg or some other large site) your loading times might slow down – particularly if you have a lot of large files that need to load.

I learned this the first time I got on the front page of Digg on a photography related post where I had 20 large images that needed to load. The page didn’t crash but I burned through a heap of bandwidth that day and probably lost a lot of readers who got frustrated with the slow loading images.

8. Monetize the Post

Personally this is not something I do straight away as I like to work first upon converting readers into subscribers – however if you have one post with a lot of traffic it could be wise to add monetization streams to that post.

For example – if the post is doing a lot of impressions you might want to add some CPM ads to the page.

Another technique is to add relevant affiliate products to such ‘hot posts’.

I would avoid adding too many of these to hot posts as you could end up putting readers off. My personal approach is to monetize sites by converting people into regular readers and letting their continued visits to my blog make money over a longer period. Sure you might be able to earn a few extra dollars by stuffing such pages with CPM ads – but those visitors will be less likely to return in future.

9. Improve the Post

Some bloggers resist updating their blog posts – but I think it makes a lot of sense to not only add new posts to a blog but to improve old ones. I’m not just talking about editing posts for SEO benefits – but editing and adding to posts so that they become more valuable to readers.

Here’s the thing – if you’ve got a post that is attracting thousands of readers to it but it’s and ‘average’ quality post – you’ll have a lot better chance of converting readers to be loyal if the post is of an ‘excellent’ standard. So look over such hot posts and see if there are ways you can improve them.

10. Write More Posts Like it

Finally – we’re onto Keith’s question and the idea of writing more posts like the one that is ‘hot’.

I think that this is a good idea – on a number of levels.

  • Extend Ideas – write an update to the post, or another one that takes the ideas to a new level.
  • Related Topics – if there are other topics of a similar nature write posts on these.
  • Target Other Related Keywords – write posts that target related keywords to those being searched for to find the first one.
  • Similar Voice – sometimes it’s not the topic that you write that attracts people but the way you write it. For example I chatted to a blogger recently who had an avalanche of traffic to a humorous post that they’d written (the first time they’d ever written in that style). They began to write more of these types of posts and saw continued success with it.

If you write a followup or related post to the first – make sure you add a link to it on your hot post.

What Have I Missed?

In this post I’ve shared 10 things that I do to popular posts (I should say that I rarely do all of them to the one post – each will be more important in different situations) but what have I missed? What else do you to to popular posts on your blog?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I heartily agree with your point #9 about improving posts. I believe that we should continuously improve our work, even if it means making changes to a blog post. Thanks for the great ideas!

  2. This type of articles are really interesting and useful. I mean, when an article describes step by step guides to do something useful with a blog, it is definitely a very good help. The 10 steps described here are all very clear and precise.

    Thanks again Darren for the tips and useful information we can get from your articles.

  3. Excellent points Darren. It’s so easy to forget about old posts or to overlook the fact that they can be improved or made to be more effective.

  4. Very informative video. I learned something today, as I have never used crazyegg before. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for creating this information piece.

    Gary Vincent

  5. Well, the thing is that the majority of those hits come from searches made by people who are NOT my target audience. It just so happens that the title of the post and the content are of much more widespread interest than are the other posts on the blog.

  6. Darren, thank you so much for answering my question on your blog! I really didn’t think it would turn out so much attention. You answered my question and elaborated so even I could work on what to do with it. Since asking that question, the post I was referring to has actually quadrupled the visitors that I have gotten on any other post. Now, my blog gets less than 100 hits a day, but it is growing constantly, so the 4 times any other post may not mean as much as if I were getting traffic in the 1000’s per day. But, I am also new to blogging, and write about fence installations and materials, so I don’t have a huge market to go after. As I am experiencing more growth, I decided to move to a self hosted WP site before it was to late to move, in the process of that now.

    Thanks again Darren, this has helped me tremendously!

  7. One thing I need to include in my blog is an invitation for people to subscribe to the post within the post. I think that’s something to put on my to do list for the immediate future! Thanks for the great article. :-)

  8. Thanks for sharing guy, it is very useful for me as new blogger. But if I want to get traffic, by creating new post, should I create a posting that related with another post, or just what in my mind…thanks for reply…

  9. Nice post

    However, I dont think ‘bolding’ keywords does make any difference to Google.

  10. Thanks for the tips – I have a post on my football site, Gruffgoat’s Football Blog (http://gruffgoat.blogspot.com if anyone is interested in soccer specific stuff), that is attracting some attention and I’m going to try your Step 4 above with digg to see if it will grow.

    On a side note, I’ve read elsewhere that digging your own stuff is frowned upon – can anyone verify?

    I also have a question for Lenin – when you say rewrite – are you talking about republishing the same post – or rewriting an old post as a new one with updates?

  11. Thank you for this. I have one particular post which still attracts visitors even though I wrote it in 2006, on making concertina books. I had thought about linking TO it from my homepage, but not about putting links to other pages in my blog in the post itself, to get people to read the rest of my blog, so thank you. That is definitely something I shall implement.

  12. I’m wondering, how soon should an individual expect to see results once they have implemented the suggestions in this post?

  13. Thanks for the post. Especially the link to your SEO for Bloggers. I have been looking for a good quality article on that.


  14. Thanks for this article!

  15. I have a short post that has been attracting visitors but the link they click on in the post in no way rewards me if you know what I mean… I have to find a way to cash in on this post.

  16. Thanks for sharing the tips and advises on the post optimization. It is really nice to know how one can optimize / re-optimize blog posts to make best use when the post is getting more and more recognition by people / engines.

  17. I agree that most bloggers don’t like to update, rewrite or improve their previous entries.

    Thanks for the tip no. 9. You just gave me a good reason to check on my old posts and reconsider updating them.

  18. If I notice I have a page that’s really rocking I’ll review it first. Anything I could change for SEO to make it better?

    I add more tags around the keywords that are working for the page. I add something to the bottom of the page with the keys in it. I add links to other similar articles about the topic. I put links within the text that link to other pages of my site that have more info on those topics. I submit it to technorati, delicious, stumble, and facebook. I put it on tumblr.com. I go to google keywords and find the top key phrases around the subject and write 1-3 more articles optimized for SEO and link to and from that page that’s already cranking. I try to add a photo or video to the page because multimedia is better than just text. I make sure my ads are above the fold on that page and though I’ve not done it – I’ll start adding a Feedburner icon so others can subscribe – GREAT TIP, thanks!

    With all that said, right – if the source is Stumbleupon I may not do anything except optimize the page for ads as the traffic stinks!

  19. Thanks Darren – These are really good tips. One post that I get a lot of search engine traffic for isn’t a particularly good one. So I’ll definitely be improving it and also writing some more related posts, as you suggested.

  20. Thanks for these information tips. It help to increase the traffic.

  21. This is a great post, thanks for sharing some techniques on how to optimise a popular post.

  22. Thanks for the productive and concise information. Given I stumbled across your site via your Plurk http://www.plurk.com/user/problogger I’ll be reading more of your information at time permits.

  23. Thanks for another great article. Have been reading your blog for a long time. I follow most of the tips and have a top ranked blog for our clients.

    Keep up the great work…

  24. Great post Darren. There are about 3 tips here that I haven’t used, so I am definitely going to work with those.

  25. Thanks for sharing your article. For me the ways to optimize a popular blog post on a blog is to create quality content and with unique title.

  26. I cant believe I haven’t thought of this before.

    I regularly have posts pulling in 3000 – 10000 visitors daily but have never attempted to put my focus there. What an idiot!

    Thanks for the advice.

  27. I have just photos, not much text… :)

  28. This is such a valuable post as you’ve hit a lot of questions the average person has on the subject — bookmarking now!

  29. Hey Darren,
    What do you suggest bloggers do to Optimize Page Loading?

  30. Christopher – stay tuned, there’s a post queued that answers this in the next few hours :-)

  31. soontobeblogger says: 08/25/2008 at 7:13 am

    Great post, Darren!
    I used to overlook the importance of the image alt attribute, but here is another article that opened my eyes:


    It describes the importance of alt tags in a practical example.

  32. Re: #2, if you’re already getting traffic from search engines to a post, why would you need to risk losing that ranking by altering the content? Obviously whatever you’ve done is helping you rank for that keyword so it seems unecessary to change things. Great list though. Lots of good tips. Internal linking is a great thing to do.

  33. I am wondering the same thing as a few others… If you change the content won’t that also change how the search engines see your page? Is it possible that you could lose traffic instead of gaining it?

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