Friday, March 16, 2012

Author Blogging 101: 11 Sources of Organic Traffic

by Joel Friedlander

When we talk about building an author blog, we’re talking about getting more visitors. For most bloggers, readership size will be the way they usually measure their blog’s growth.

Nonfiction authors will have more ways to measure the success of their blogs, like converting visitors into subscribers or buyers, but you need to have visitors—traffic—to prosper in almost all cases.

In the first article about blog traffic in this series we looked at three kinds of traffic you can get to your blog:

1. Organic traffic, that is traffic from links in content that somehow relates to your own subject matter

2. Search engine traffic, sent to your blog in response to people’s searches

3. Paid traffic, coming from advertisements or other links you pay for.

Now we’ll focus on many of the ways you can develop organic traffic to grow your blog, your readership and eventually your book sales.

Two Kinds of Organic Traffic

The simplest way to understand organic traffic is to divide it into two kinds:

 traffic from links you create

 traffic from links other people create
Obviously, the big difference here is that you can control over the first kind, but have little say over the second.

Since links that will send traffic to your site have to be on other sites, placing these links means you have to have access to sites that allow you to create a link.

This leads us directly to the best places to create these organic links, and there are a lot of them. Let’s have a look at some of the options you have, then we’ll be able to come up with a strategy that will start to bring in traffic right away.

But First, a Word About “Do-Follow/No-Follow”

There are actually two ways links can help you, and it pays to understand them before we go any further.

1. Visitors—Someone visiting another website can click a link that will bring them to your blog.

2. “Juice”—A link from a site with more authority, a higher rank with search engines or a longer lifespan can confer some of that authority to your site by linking to it.

However, due to a fair amount of abuse in the past by people trying to artificially enhance their site’s ranking, many sites now tag the links people leave in comments on a blog as “no-follow” links.

This means that none of the blog’s authority will “follow” the link to the site being linked to.

However, since we’re focused on traffic in this article, this makes very little difference. Visitors can still click these links and go to your site, with “juice” or without it. So let’s focus on those visitors.

11 Ways to Get Started Linking for Traffic

If you think about it, you’ll quickly see that social media presents the easiest opportunities to create links back to your site. That’s because social media always allows interaction, and it’s through the tools of interaction on the social web that we can build a network of links that can grow to a huge web, each node of which is a point of entry to your blog.

Doesn’t that sound exciting?

Take it from me, it is.

Here’s a list of some of the places you can be thinking about as great places to start your link-building campaign.

1. Blog comments—One of the best tools to start your link building because it can also help you develop your relationships with other bloggers in your niche. In most commenting systems, the link to your site is embedded in your name, but some also allow you to add another link that will pull in your latest blog post.

2. Guest posts—When you post an article on someone else’s blog as a guest author, you have the chance to link back to a couple of relevant articles on your own blog. You’ll also get to add an author bio with links.

3. Status updates—Facebook, Google+ and other social networks encourage you to share great content, and you need a link to direct people to that content.

4. Twitter links—One of the most popular uses of Twitter is to create a great short headline and combine it with a link. Responsive followers will re-post your link to their own networks.

5. Forum discussions—It seems like there are forums for every interest online, and finding a couple in your subject area can be a real boon. Posting useful content will allow you to link back, when appropriate, to your own blog.

6. Social signatures—Every time you create an account somewhere, you’ll be asked to complete your profile. Don’t neglect these opportunities to link to your blog, and don’t neglect your “signature” file either, which appears whenever you post something. Links in signatures can be creatively crafted and quite effective.

7. Google profile—Even if you don’t want to use Google+, you should have a Google profile. It only takes a few minutes but it’s well worthwhile.

8. Email signatures—What’s in your email signature? Do you link to your writer’s blog or mention a recent book? Think of how many emails you send per week, and you’ll see these links can help you, too.

9. Article marketing—Nonfiction authors have been using article marketing for years to expand their influence, raise their search rankings and draw targeted traffic to their sites. It’s not hard or very time-consuming, and you can link back both from the body of your article as well as your bio at the end. When these articles are re-published by others, the links multiply.

10. Online press releases—Even if your budget is challenged, you can use free press release services to spread news and updates about your books or linking your books to current events through well-crafted press releases. Links in the article and in the contact info section of the release also multiply when news sites or other bloggers pick up the releases.

11. New services—There are social sites appearing constantly online. We would all go crazy trying to keep up with them, but ones that catch your attention, that are becoming popular, deserve a look. Recently services like Instagram, and Pinterest have gained big followings. Each gives you an opportunity to put more links out in the big world.

Your Linking Strategy

The most important thing to remember about building this network of links is that it will take time.

Each of the places in the list above might only generate a few clicks, if that. It’s the cumulative effect of all those clicks that will eventually create a steady stream of visitors to your blog.

Some of these will take more time than others. If you’re trying to grow your blog, it’s a good idea to comment regularly on a select group of other blogs that have a lot of traffic, and where you can make comments that add to the discussion. That’s part of your basic blog marketing and networking, so it doesn’t require an additional strategy.

Getting into article marketing takes more time, but with a couple of dozen articles you can develop from your existing content, you can generate thousands of visits over time. Once the articles are done, it’s all automatic.

Forum and email signatures and social media profiles are quick to update. Change them when you have a special promotion or a particularly good piece of content to share. Otherwise, set them up and you’re done.

Guest posts and press releases are most often tactics we use in larger, strategic operations like a book launch or blog tour. But you can use them for special events and tie-ins to events that draw massive media exposure, too.

Getting Started on Your Link Campaign

As with everything else you do to market your blog, I think the best advice is to start with one or two things that are simple and repeatable. You’ll get the most effect initially by setting up all the static links like profiles and signatures, so do those first.

Then pick one tactic that appeals to you and spend 10 to 20 minutes a day on it. Don’t do this stuff for hours, because you will burn out and that won’t help you in the long run.

It’s amazing how quickly your network of links will grow with small, regular efforts. And every one of those organic links you’ve placed will be in content that appeals to the readers most likely to be interested in your own content.

You are building hundreds or thousands of doorways to your author blog, and as you grow more and more people will come through those doors to visit you.

Next up, we’ll look at the other kind of links, the ones you have no control over, but which can have the biggest impact of all.

.Joel Friedlander is a self-published author and book designer who blogs about book design, self-publishing and the indie publishing life at He's also the proprietor of Marin Bookworks, where he helps publishers and authors who decide to publish get to market on time and on budget with books that are both properly constructed and beautiful to read.

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