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How to Get Search Engine Traffic to Your Blog

“What is the best way to get Search Engine Traffic to Your Blog?”

Last week I spoke at a Search Engine Marketing conference in Sydney about my experience of blogging. As part of the presentation I was asked to talk about my tips on getting traffic from search engines. I thought I’d share a few of the points I made here:

1. Search Traffic has been an important part of my blogging

The amount of traffic that the blogs I’ve worked on get from Search Engines varies considerably from blog to blog but on my two current blogs I get 25-35% of my traffic from Search Engines (largely Google).

Here’s a chart showing how Search Traffic fits into the mix of my photography blog traffic (from a couple of months back):

search-engine-traffic.png

You can see that Search Engine Traffic is not the biggest source of traffic (social media takes that award) but it is significant considering the site gets over a million visits a month.

2. Search Traffic isn’t Everything

Looking at the above chart you see that if I was to only ever focus upon Search Engine Traffic that I could potentially be loosing up to 67% of my blog’s traffic.

One of the main points I made yesterday is that people shouldn’t become obsessed by Search. While it has amazing potential – I find that sites grow best when they have a variety of sources of traffic (including from Search Engines).

Here is another chart from the presentation which shows the four main areas that I put effort into when thinking about driving traffic – Search, Social Media, Community and Content.

balance-in-search-engine-traffic.png

Search Engine Optimization, participating in social media, building community and producing content are four important elements of building a site that gets (and keeps) high levels of traffic. When a blogger becomes obsessed by any one of them (to the detriment of others) the site can suffer (or at least not realize its potential). When the four elements come together a blog can grow quite rapidly.

3. SEO is Important

Learning the basics of Search Engine Optimization is important as a blogger. While most blog platforms these days come fairly well optimized for Google there are always tweaks that can be made. For example on WordPress the title tags that are served up by default can be tweaked to not show your blog’s name on each post on your blog (or at least to put it after the post name).

There are also a lot of easy ways to optimize a post for search engine traffic while writing posts. For example formatting images well with SEO in mind and using good keywords in titles.

SEO really does make a difference and bloggers who learn the basics can see significant increases in traffic. It is well worth investing time into learning it.

Learn more SEO techniques in previous posts on ProBlogger:

Highly Recommended – Also check out Aaron Wall’s SEObook for some excellent training on SEO. Consider it an investment in learning how to drive traffic to your blog.

4. Great Content is More Important than SEO

I felt strange saying this at a conference where SEO companies were pitching for clients and talking about the importance of building links to a site – but in my experience the most important thing you can do to build your blog’s search engine traffic is to write the most amazing, useful, authoritative and inspiring content possible.

Here’s the question you need to be asking while writing each post:

How can I make this the type of post that people will want to share with others?

Search Engine authority has a habit of coming to those blogs who consistently produce content that enhances peoples lives, meets needs and solves problems. If you create something that does some of these things it is quite likely that the all important links that your blog needs to build search engine authority will come as people link up on their blogs, share the link on social messaging and bookmarking sites, email their friends etc

While great content doesn’t automatically equal lots of traffic – if you produce it consistently over time and actively participate in social media and within your blog’s niche it has a habit of building your traffic and search engine authority.

I’m not anti using link building strategies (ie asking people for links) but I’ve never really done it (I may have once or twice in the early days of my blogging). I know some bloggers who spend many hours each month ‘building links’ but wonder what would happen if instead they concentrated on using that time to build linkable content?

Perhaps I’m a little naive – but Google is in the business of ranking the best sites highest. They want to rank great content in the #1 position – so, my aim as a blogger is to write that kind of content.

Further Reading on Writing Great Blog Posts – How to Craft a Blog Post – 10 Crucial Points to Pause

How do you Get Search Engine Traffic To Your Blog?

There you have it my philosophy and approach to getting search engine traffic on blogs. What would you add?

Do you do much Search Engine Optimization? Is it something you put much time into or just let look after itself? What SEO techniques have been most effective for you?

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Publish the best content and connect with other bloggers, big names in the niche. If they like your stuff and spread it, your SEO is halfway done :)

    Don’t you think so?

  2. It is definitely something that I think about when I am writing titles and proof-reading posts, prior to submission. It does not weight-in on what I write about, though.

  3. Well, I use wordpress for my blog which I know is the best blog platform and top it all over with All in one SEO pluggin. I refer this plugin to every other blogger who uses wordpress. This is the best SEO pluging i’ve ever found.

    Also I try to put in relevant content so that those who search get into my articles. That is, talking about recent events so that users search for the right keywords and land in my blog.

    I agree with you regarding “Great Content is More Important than SEO”. Sure if u don’t have good content than, just SEO won’t work.

  4. In a nutshell… Google Sitemaps, and pinging. This gets me most of my non-social traffic.

  5. I think every thing is good for your reader is good for Google too.

  6. Darren,

    Great post.

    One distinction that I teach is to make the 4 circles that you mention above reflect the market that you’re trying to target.

    For example, there are certain niches where the vast majority of it’s online presence exists on social networks, so of course you should focus more on that area of your marketing.

    But at the same time there are other niches, where they don’t seek their information from social networks for the most part, but they get answers from the search engines, in which case, SEO has to be a more important part of your marketing than social media.

    Of course then there’s every level in between, but the point is that basing your level of focus on any area of your promotion has to come from an understanding of your market first and foremost :)

    Thanks for a great post!

    Andrew

  7. My traffic is 18% referals, 54% search, 26% direct and 2% social. I am very much from the school of ‘build it and they will come’. Great content gets me every time, but I did find that I got an increase in traffic after spending time thinking about what I called my posts.

  8. Without Google I am dead in the water…

  9. It really just depends on what kind of traffic you are trying to get. Some people make their blog where all they are trying to get is traffic from search engines and not anything else. This really works well you are going for different keywords that there is not a lot of competition for but a lot of people search for that keyword. Then there are people that just use social media for most of the traffic also. It is hard to really have a balance between all the different places you can get traffic from.

  10. i also get pretty good number of visitor from search engine, and they really benefit me by adsense, because people that
    come from search engine i believe more likely to click the ads,
    but disadvantage is they rarely leave comment or come back to my blog, i dont how to make them stay, you talk about good content, and i dont know what people want to read because some people not like some other people.. i cant make both happy.

  11. The best thing you have published in a while. Great tips.

  12. If you think of your post as the answer to a question in the mind of a searcher, you will write a good post with natural SEO. With some keyword research and a little empathy, this gets pretty easy to do.

  13. Thomas (above) pretty much nailed it when it comes to blogging, sitemaps and pinging will do most of the work for you, I’ve written a couple of articles on what and how to ping with wordpress (link on my name ^ ).

    SEOmoz is also a great resource when it comes to deciding on title tags etc – well worth looking at.

    Darren – I’m glad that you gave an overview in this post rather than more specific examples (which weren’t completely accurate) in ‘how to herd organic search traffic’ – I think it’s more relevant to bloggers in this format.

  14. Love the 4-way balance model. SEO does seem to flow best from great content. I’ve had many an accidental SEO success through things I’ve written well and reached the first page of Google without even trying at times.

  15. Another useful tips, thanks for sharing.

  16. The main thing I tell all my blogging customers who hire me to do an SEO report on then websites is that they should be making their post title’s look something like a potential reader would search for in Google. Like you’ve done with this post! I’m sure you’ll now get a lot of traffic for people search for the exact words of the title.

  17. I also use the All in One SEO plug in for wordpress, and I also downloaded and use the Zemanta program, which suggest Tags, Keywords, links, and pictures.

  18. I do have to agree that having the best content on your blog/site will (in the long-run) be one of the best SEO tools one can have.

  19. Great, thanks for the graphics as well!

  20. Nice post and a superb blog too!

    I wrote about the importance of ‘other’ forms of Internet traffic recently – as it seems many blogs are becoming ‘machines that write for Google.’

    Google is great – but ANY blogger that writes it’s copy and headlines for a search engine – is going to produce copy that is far less appealing to humans.

  21. I use SEO to jump start my blog, and with my low page rank at start, I use the social media + SEO to get search engine traffic.

    I believe no matter what is our blog current main traffic source, blogger should eventually diversify their effort to drive more traffic with different methods, and Darren suggestion is the best proven method!

    Once the traffic is building up, we should shift our focus more on building quality content, it will spread even faster if there are quality content on it!

  22. What a timley article This past weekend I went through through my Blog (template, widgets and previous posts) then modified them for what I hope will provide better seach results (revamped some titles, changed opening paragraphs, added alt tags for all images and added title attributes for links)
    Now I will need to see if any of this works to improve my google traffic

  23. I tend to build links through social media sites and other various marketing methods. I tend to try and concentrate on writing good content as well as building links my self.

  24. I agree with you Darren!

    Learn basic SEO and spend most of your time writing quality posts.

    In my experience, the search engines come and go like sun and rain – you never quite know where you got them…

  25. I agree with writing good content in order to get better ranking in google. I also try to write for a certain target audience and promote it on certain social networking sites that attract that target audience. I find large sites like digg are not helpful when you are writing for female 20 somethings. They just don’t visit or even know about digg. Know your audience and figure out new ways to get your voice heard by them specifically.

  26. Great post! I am in need to beef up my understanding of SEO… Your Venn Diagram is golden advice for any new blogger.

    Thank you for posting this! I was just looking for advice on this.

  27. Thanks so much for this post. I’ve been reading SEO for Dummies and trying to figure this all out. I’ve had a really good response to my blog, but search engine traffic has so far been…well let’s just say it needs work!

  28. I use SEO wisely on my blog, but I refuse to write for keywords and I’m not a fan of ppc for blogging. I use the basics and just hope my good content and hard work over time will pay off.

  29. I admit that I tend to focus too much on just one or two areas and need to take a more holistic approach. Thanks for the reminder and helping me to get back on track! BTW, I was a social media visitor for this one, found out about it on Twitter.

  30. My blog has about 75-80% from search engines and I like the balance idea that Darren proposes. Guess it is about time to explore the use of social media.

  31. I have found that doing keyword research and giving your posts proper titles is an extremely important part of doing well in the search engines.

    What I mean by this is giving your blog posts titles that mimic phrases people will type into Google gives your blog a distinct advantage over people that may have titles that are more cleaver but less friendly from an SEO perspective.

  32. Theres just to much stuff to do with a blog, its all to overwhelming.

  33. ooh… i have 25% search engine traffic. 55% referring, 18% direct… i think that’s well balanced. although, i dont’ know how to translate this into your graph up top.

    as far as SEO, i use the site map, and the SEO plug-in on wordpress… tag all my images, and check up on what key words apply to my site every now and then.

    i probably should be more diligent with this.

  34. I get 75% traffic from social media. But I think traffic from social media won’t be regular. So I’m trying my best for a good SEO.

  35. Great tips on the SEO. I have had great success on my website SEO and have now just been able to start to get good search results on my blog site.

  36. If you build the greatest store in the world and there are no roads to it, you’re nowhere. As with everything, balance is the key. Create great content and it’s much easier to convince people to link to you, but you still have to make the effort to get the word out, especially early on.

  37. Had never thought that so much of stuff can be done with a blog. Very valuable post. The various links you have mentioned from your previous posts are also great…!

    Thanks!
    Himanshu
    Lifemojo

  38. I think I am in the same school as Tim Bowden above, The Kevin Costner Field of Dreams blogging philosophy, build it and they will come. That combined with izzat’s comment is where I stand. Most of my blogs are about monetizing with adsense, so the search traffic is the best.

    If I am going for comments and community building, like my LOA blog, then I focus on the social aspect.

    I firmly believe that the type of traffic you need, is based on the type of blog and the type of people you are writing for. It’s all about testing, learning and using what you have learned to know whats best for your blog.

  39. Awesome advice, Darren. Search engines can bring traffic to your blog, but great content is what makes readers stay. You can attempt to master SEO, and that will definitely help to increase traffic. However, with your attention to SEO must come a focus on content. Thanks for posting!

  40. After pursuing search engines for blogs pretty actively I have come to realize that sometimes its just not worth it. You’re better off writing great content and promoting it correctly.

  41. Ok, so I understand what everyone is saying about the blogs and how to get more traffic. But, bloggers care about one thing and that is hits (not necessarily turning hits into business). I took advice from some well know (at least thats what they tell me) people and we had our site rebuilt and completely turned into a blog. We are getting 4000 more hits a month than we ever had, but we have lost 95% revenue. In short, we get a lot more traffic, and make 95% less money. We no longer convert visitors into leads….SAD SAD THING

  42. Darren, I think this might be my new reference article when clients throw SEO SEO SEO at me. For the majority of my client base it’s really not massively important, content and social networking generate much more valuable traffic than the hit n run search traffic some of them seem to get.

    Thanks
    Mat

  43. Quality post, Darren. I agree with the concept – be balanced. Andrew Hansen has touched on an important extension of your concept too, and that’s understand our target market (the people) first and then make those 4 circles relevant to their current online presence. Very much like the POST (people, objective, strategy, and technology) concept mentioned in the book Groundswell.

  44. Glad you are willing to stand out from the crowd at an SEO convention and tell people how it REALLY is. I respect you for that

  45. I have the opposite problem – I get all search engine results and no traffic from other sites. I need the links from relevant sites. I am still trying to figure out to get that since this site is in a small niche.

  46. Thank you for great SEO tips. We get most of our traffic from Google and some from our Squidoo pages. Not much traffic for other sources though, I need to work on it.

  47. Getting more traffic is the major determining factor over whether your blog is going to be successful or not, after all it doesn’t matter how useful and informative your writing is, if no-one visits you’ll never know how popular your blog will be.
    ——————–
    oliviaharis
    consumer generated media

  48. Very useful advice on not to neglect other components of generating traffic. I’ve been relying more on one strategy lately. I thought that having some initial focus is key but I guess I’d better think about the rest for some balance soon. Thanks for the reminder!

  49. I am not doing too much SEO but use the All-in-one-SEO plugin along with some reasonable titles (I don;t do keyword research) for my posts.

    I have 40-45% of my visitors coming in from search engines.

    Ajith

  50. Very useful information. I am having my blog for past 1 year and no comment yet. This is helpful information to align my blog. Thanks.

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