Building traffic to a blog is not an easy task to undertake. It takes much time and more effort.
I had sent 200 word descriptions about promotion techniques I was using, but couldn’t provide more details. You can find details about the techniques I had sent to Daniel.
1) RSS Reader or Email Subscription
I use Google Reader and thought it would be easy to make visitors subscribe to the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that 99% of readers don’t know about RSS. I tried to educate them, but it didn’t work.
I started using WWSGD plugin for Feedburner’s Email Subscription. Conversion rates were high with email subscription option was displayed below the post.
About 95% of Happy Schools Blog readers subscribed to RSS by Email and I figured using Aweber for News Letter will be more effective for increasing the RSS count for the Blogging Idol 2 competition.
I had to spend $19 per month, but let’s see how I can use it going forward with all the new subscribers. I’m thinking about promoting affiliate products using the new letter.
2) Conversion Rates
Conversion rates were around 8% for the pop over form. To get those conversion rates, I tested 4 different types of form templates.
Forms with image offer better conversion rates. I tried using several pictures and decided to go with a picture with 3 students discussing (Happy Schools blog is about students).
Conversion rates were as high as 30% in a few landing pages. I have exclusive contents for students, but gave access only to portions of the information.
For the remaining information, they have to sign-up for the newsletter. Instead of providing just teaser information, I gave access to almost 60% of contents and remaining 40% after sign-up.
I could have done it in another way, but to get readers to trust you, you got to provide more information. Content is King! 60% of content is not like incomplete information, it’s useful by itself.
For instance, if I had information on 100 colleges, I gave details about some 60 colleges through blog posts. That’s already more than helpful to most students.
2) Visitors Category
I have observed and divided visitors into 6 groups. Visitors in Group 1 would visit my blog for another 3 to 4 years.
Visitors from Group 6 will visit in a maximum of 1 year and the traffic is seasonal. So based on the season, I write contents to attract and retain visitors.
Group 1 – Pre-GRE exam stage. Readers who are in the process of deciding if they want to study in the U.S.
Group 6 – Students who have completed graduate studies in the U.S. and are just starting a new job. This group focus more on immigration- and visa-related issues and tips.
Likewise, I also target students applying for Fall 2009 semester apply from October 2008 to February 2009, so I tend to write 3-4 articles geared toward those visitors and 1 or 2 articles targeting other groups of visitors.
Following these different strategies had helped me a lot to keep increasing the traffic every month.
3) Below Post Subscription Form
I basically used WWSD Plugin with Aweber’s newsletter subscription form. Message displayed was customized so readers will feel the need to subscribe to the newsletter.
4) Free e-book
I had written an e-book few months back and gave free access to download the ebook before the competition, but after Blogging Idol started, I provided access after subscribing to the newsletter.
Traffic e-book generated is less than 2%, but Average time spent per page and number of pages viewed by visitors form ebook is much more then visitors from Search engine.
5) Document Sharing
I got a list of websites where documents can be shared. I uploaded the e-book in those sites, the trick was to upload the same e-book with different titles that contains important keywords.
I can see many visitors are adding the e-book to their favorites’ list and profile.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the driving force behind having a huge number of visitors in any online site. Ten months back, I was not aware of what search engine keyword optimization is all about except for its function in helping drive huge traffic.
So I spent 3-4 weeks learning SEO and used Google Keyword tool to get the keywords that could drive traffic. I didn’t go after the big guys who are already well established.
I used different countries’ Google Data Center to find which sites ranked and how I could get listed above those sites under radar. Access to keyword country data would help me a lot!
At least 1 post in a week will make keywords optimized. For long tail keywords, I answered readers’ question as posts and those questions include long tail keywords.
7) Spending Time with Visitors
I spent weekends chatting with site visitors. I needed to find at least reader from each college or university, establish a good relationship with him/her, and that will help me reach as many schools as possible through word-of-mouth.
I also receive many emails through referrals. I ask the students to pass the information to their class mates and friends in other colleges throughout the U.S.
8) Free College Admission Counseling
I give free college admission counseling to students applying to grad schools in the U.S. The helpful advice I provide costs more than $1,000 if students go through other service providers.
That’s huge money saved for students. In turn, I get more new visitors; that’s more than enough for me.
9) RSS Feed Image
Most of the readers are not aware of what RSS is and how it helps increase site traffic. Having a huge image will encourage them to click on the huge Animal Feed Me Image.
Actually it didn’t help much in terms of more visitors in the short run, but in the long run it can increase awareness about this blog.
10) Social Media Profile
I recently started using Twitter. I also created a profile in Facebook. These sites help me to reach out to students in countries other than India.
These online forums and social media platforms provide a good source of traffic for this blog.
All the promotion methods can help a lot reach the ideal number of visitors, but it’s really the contents that will make them hang out longer.
I have subscribed to so many feeds by spending a few minutes in their blogs and I just ended up deleting their feeds after a few weeks.
So what’s important is not only being able to add new visitors, but what’s most essential is the strategy of maintaining quality of contents that will keep them interested and become regular site visitors.
I hope everyone finds this information useful. Good luck with your studies and job-hunting.