This is a guest contribution from John Stevens of Hosting Facts.
If you want tons of traffic, you better be ready to pay for it, right?
Besides the obvious – share content on social media, connect with influencers, invest in SEO – there are dozens of clever hacks you can implement to get more traffic for free.
In this post, I’m going to share 7 unusual tips you can use right away on your blog to get more traffic and shares, without spending a penny on advertising.
1. Turn your images into an imgur.com album, and share it on Reddit
If you’re like most bloggers, you probably share your posts to a relevant sub-reddit, collect some upvotes and call it a day.
But what if I told you that you could get twice, even thrice the traffic through a simple hack?
Here’s how: by turning your blog posts into Imgur.com albums.
Imgur, for the uninitiated, is an image hosting site founded by a redditor. It is now one of the fastest growing websites in the world, thanks in no small part to its close integration with Reddit.
More importantly, Imgur has evolved into a platform of its own with a thriving community where people shares images and albums.
You can use this to your advantage by turning your blog posts into images and sharing them on both Reddit and Imgur.
This tactic works due to two reasons:
You get traffic from two sources – Reddit and Imgur’s user-submission gallery.
Redditors are more likely to upvote an Imgur link than a link to a website. Imgur, for instance, consistently ranks as the most submitted domain on Reddit.
Here’s an example: the site KickAssFacts.com frequently turns its list of factors into visual albums and shares them on Imgur and Reddit.
This album earned close to 350,000 views:
Follow the steps below to use this method.
Step #1: Turn blog posts into images
Start by turning your blog posts into images.
Not every blog post would work with this tactic, but if you work in any consumer-focused niche – say, cooking or photography – you’d be right at home.
This template from KickAssFacts is a good place to start – an illustrative image with white text and a black outline. You should be able to do this MS Paint or any other image editor of your choice.
If you’re not comfortable with image editing, you can even simply use images and write your content in the image description box on Imgur. This album of photography tips is a great example:
This tactic works best with list posts. Thus, if you have a blog post about “7 Lighting Tips for Photographers”, you would turn each of these 7 tips into separate images.
Do remember to add a watermark to your website URL at the bottom of each image.:
Step #2: Turn images into an album
First, make an account on Imgur.com by clicking here.
After you’ve made an account, sign-in and click on “Upload Images” in the navigation menu.
On the pop-up screen, click on “Browse Your Computer”, then select all the images you made in step #1.
Make sure to select “Create an album” and click on “Start Upload”.
Once you’ve uploaded the images, click on “Edit image titles or descriptions” in the right sidebar. Here, you can add sources or text to each image.
If you’re making a claim, it helps to add a source. It’s also a good idea to include a link to your website at the bottom of the last image in the album. This way, people who’ve seen your album can click on the link and check out your site.
Step #3: Submit to Imgur and Reddit
Once you’ve added all titles and descriptions, click on “Share with the community” to share the album on Imgur.com.
You can also add a title and choose a topic on the next screen.
Next, copy the “Share Link” under the “Share this Album” tab on the sidebar:
Use this link to share the album on a relevant sub-reddit on Reddit.
This way, you’ll get your content before two massive platforms – Reddit and Imgur – with half the effort.
2. Reshare your content on social media multiple times
If you’re sharing your content on social media just once, you’re missing out on a lot of traffic.
Your users are in different geographic locations and will check their social media at different times. Your followers living on the other side of the world will likely miss your content if you only share it on your time.
Not all your followers (regardless of where they live) are logged in a same time and might miss your post.
According to Wiselytics, a tweet has a half-life of just 5 minutes. That is, after 5 minutes, a tweet reaches only half its audience.
The solution is to repost your content multiple times spread out over several weeks.
Different social media channels demand different reposting schedules. Here is what buffer recommends:
Since tweets have such a short half-life, you’ll have to reshare your content thrice the first day itself. For other channels, reposting after a week is good enough.
Mashable, for example, shares its content multiple times to make sure it reaches as many readers as possible. This tweet was first shared on April 27, then reshared:
Cracked.com frequently reshares its old content under the hashtag #CrackedClassics on Facebook:
3. Tell readers exactly what you want them to do with your content (link/comment/share)
Suppose you spent a good amount of time creating quality content. Now you’re starting to get some traffic. Your readers are even staying on your page long enough to read entire articles.
But there is one problem – they come, read and leave, without performing any action.
This is a problem faced by most bloggers and it has a surprisingly easy fix:
Ask readers to perform an action, and
Make it as easy as possible for them to do it.
You’ll be surprised to know how many of your readers are happy to share your content if you explicitly ask them to.
For example, ViralNova doesn’t just stick a couple of share icons at the bottom of its posts. Instead, it asks readers to “Share on Facebook”:
Aplus.com ends its posts by directly asking readers to share the content with their friends:
Similarly, Neil Patel ends all his blog posts on Quicksprout by asking his readers to leave comments.
This helps Quicksprout get an average of 176 comments per blog post!
On Buffer’s blog, they end each post with a bunch of questions and ask readers to share comments.
It’s important to remember that something that might be natural to a blogger – clicking an icon to share content – might not be quite as intuitive for most of your users. They need to be told what to do and how to do it.
By directly asking readers to do something, you can easily get 2-3x more shares or comments.
4. Create shareworthy headlines
80 percent of your readers will only read the headline, not the article.
Yet, most bloggers dash off a headline within seconds even after spending hours working on the article.
The result? Low shares, poor CTRs and a perpetual lack of traffic.
The solution is to create more shareworthy headlines.
These are headlines that make readers want to stop and say to themselves, “I want to read this”.
Here are two ways to do this:
A. Generate curiosity
If you can get readers to say “I wonder what happens next?”, you are almost guaranteed more shares and traffic.
All curiosity-generating headlines usually have two things in common:
They make the reader wonder why something is happening.
They make an exaggerated claim, but don’t include the resolution in the title itself.
Upworthy’s blog is a great example of such headlines:
If you read the last headline, you’d probably wonder why the photo of the 93-year old woman is going viral, and you’d click through.
Be wary with outright clickbait titles though, and over-using them. It can be one of the fastest ways to turn readers off.
B. Use exclamations and power words
Power words are words you don’t generally come across in everyday speech. Think of words like “spectacular”, “stunning”, or “dangerous”.
It’s the same with exclamations like “Oh My God!” or “Wow!”. Since you’re not likely to see them used often in normal conversations, they grab your attention when you come across them.
This is why including at least one exclamation or power word can make your headlines much more shareworthy.
Buzzfeed is notorious for doing this. For example, in this headline, the “Oh My God” immediately grabs the reader’s attention.
Here’s another example from Buffer. The words “secret” and “confession” drive clicks like moths to a flame.
Use CoSchedule headline analyser to gauge the quality of your headlines. It gives you an overall score based on how unique, emotional and powerful your headline is.
ProBlogger’s post on “7 Tips to Help You on Your Way to Blogging Full Time”, for example, scores an A+ grade.
5. Incentivize your readers to share or sign-up for your email list
Offering customers an incentive to get others onboard is a time tested growth tactic used by established companies and startups alike. Dropbox, for instance, used incentives in its growth stage to get 60% more sign-ups.
But that’s for tech startups and service businesses. How can a blogger use incentives to get more shares and emails?
Here’s an example from none other than Bill Gates:
Gates offers an incentive – donating a flock of chicks to needy farmer – for every action a reader performs on the blog.
Your incentives don’t have to be quite as dramatic, of course. You can get equally strong results (well, almost) by giving away information.
Here are two incentives you can use right away:
A. Offer a prize through a giveaway
A giveaway is a simple contest where you give away a prize to contest participants chosen at random.
Josh Earl used this tactic to grow his email list by 3,418% by giving away a copy of Sublime Text Editor (that costs just $70).
B. Offer information in exchange for emails or shares
This is something most bloggers are already familiar with – offer an incentive of information to get emails or shares.
This could be a downloadable guide, a PDF version of an article, or even hidden content in a blog post.
Backlinko.com, for example, offers readers “content upgrades” in exchange for an email:
VideoFruit does the same by offering readers a “swipe file”:
Yet another way is to use content lockers to get more shares. You simply hide part of your content behind a social lock and incentivize shares by giving away valuable information.
Over to You
Getting more traffic without spending on advertising isn’t hard, but it isn’t a cakewalk either. By taking advantage of these unusual hacks, you can quickly get twice or even thrice as many readers, shares and subscribers.
Here’s what you should take away from this post:
Take advantage of untapped channels such as Imgur.com to get more traffic to your site.
Share your content multiple times and ask readers directly if you want them to perform an action.
Use incentives to get more shares and subscribers.
Spend at least half as much time on your headlines as you do your content.
Which of these hacks have you used on your own blog? Let me know in the comments below!
John is the CEO at Hosting Facts, a startup he created to ensure consumers can find clear, unbiased facts about web hosts.