By Neil Patel
I’ve done marketing for 20 of the top 100 blogs on the web, and I’ve created 3 blogs for my own businesses that achieved at least 100,000 visits a month.
With Quick Sprout, it took me 4 years and 9 months to hit 100,000 monthly visits:
With KISSmetrics, it took me 1 year and 10 months to hit over 100,000 monthly visits:
And with Crazy Egg, it took me 1 year and 6 months to hit 100,000 monthly visits:
As you can see from the graphs above, the amount of time it took me to hit the 100,000 mark decreased. I went from being able to achieve the goal in 4 years and 9 months to 1 year and 6 months.
Luck has nothing to do with this achievement. I actually have a formula, which works every time. And if I leveraged it again today, I bet I could achieve similar results in less than 12 months.
Here’s the formula I use to get blogs to 100,000 visits a month:
Quantity is king
With Quick Sprout, I noticed slight gains when posting 2 pieces of content a week instead of 1. KISSmetrics only started to see big traffic increases when I started to publish 5 pieces of content a week. But with KISSmetrics, we went from publishing 2 a week straight to 5 a week.
This is why KISSmetrics had a much faster growth rate than Quick Sprout. In addition to that, we recently started testing posting 6 pieces of content a week instead of 5.
When we posted 5 a week, we had 422,885 visits a month.
When we tested posting 6 articles a week, our traffic went up to 501,573 visits.
By posting an additional blog post each week, we were able to increase our blog traffic by 18.6%. My experience of working with 20 of the top 100 blogs showed that if we published 3 pieces of content each day (21 pieces a week), we could easily get our traffic to over a million visits a month over time.
When posting in high frequency, make sure you are still maintaining the quality of your content. Writing a lot of blog posts that are low in quality won’t help you see a big increase in traffic.
The simplest way to increase your traffic is through infographics. This has worked well for blogs like Mashable, and it’s what caused a huge spike in traffic at KISSmetrics.
Within 2 years, we were able to generate 2,512,596 visitors and 41,142 backlinks from 3,741 unique domains from 47 infographics.
Just look at this screenshot of our traffic in August 2010:
And now look at our September 2010 traffic:
We went from 56,380 to 146,197 visits because of infographics. This strategy was so effective that we started to create an infographic each week to boost our overall traffic. Still, today, even if we don’t publish an infographic, old ones generate at least 50,000 visits for us each month.
If you want to copy this strategy, just follow the steps in this blog post. It will teach you everything you need to know about creating a popular infographic.
Write headlines for both people and search engines
The one thing that all three of my blogs have in common is that they all get a lot of search engine traffic. “Why?” you may ask. It’s because we write blog headlines that appeal to both people and search engines.
Just look at the Crazy Egg blog. Last month, we had 127,373 visits from search engines. All because we write headlines for both Google and people.
In the short run, you won’t notice much traffic from this strategy, but within 6 months, you’ll notice a nice increase in your search engine traffic. From that point, you’ll continue to see increases quarter over quarter.
Cover trending topics
Our biggest traffic days tended to be those when we covered major events within our niche.
For example, with Quick Sprout, when I covered Google updates like Panda and Penguin, I saw a surge of traffic. The same thing happened when Hummingbird was covered on KISSmetrics.
We also saw similar traffic trends when we blogged about Apple’s marketing around its events.
The beautiful part about these surges is that when they are over, your traffic is still a bit higher than it was before the spike.
If you are interested in covering trending topics, you can use Google Trends to see what is hot. Make sure you don’t write on just any topic. The content needs to be relevant to your niche. With a quick search on Google Trends, you should be able to get a good idea on what is increasing and what’s decreasing in search volume.
Write in a conversational tone
Have you noticed that I get over 176 comments per blog post on Quick Sprout? It’s because I write in a conversational tone.
Sure, you can use tricks like “top commenters” to try to boost your numbers, but by making your blog posts sound like a conversation, instead of an essay, you’ll invite more comments from people naturally.
You can create the same effect on your blog by:
- Using the words “you” and “I” within your content.
- Asking questions throughout your blog post.
- Making sure anyone can understand your content…In other words, write for a 5th grader.
- Keeping your paragraphs short and to the point.
Comments are a great way to increase your readers’ loyalty. If people continually comment on your blog, it means they are reading your content, and they are more likely to share it via the social web.
Having multiple authors on your blog, instead of just one, decreases comments and engagement as your readers don’t have a chance to build a connection with you. Just look at the Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics blogs. We have multiple writers, and most of them don’t write in a conversational tone. As a result, those two blogs get far fewer comments than Quick Sprout’s blog does.
If you take my friend’s blog (he ripped my design…you can too if you want), you’ll see that he only gets 2,000 visits a month, and yet some of his posts have 13 comments. That’s because he writes in a conversational tone.
And if you are thinking about using Facebook comments to increase your engagement and social traffic, don’t. Every single popular blog I’ve worked with always receives more Google traffic than Facebook traffic. With Facebook comments, the comment text doesn’t get indexed by Google, which means you will get less search traffic.
Collect emails through offers and opt-ins
All the blogs I’ve created have a common trend… email is one of the biggest sources of traffic.
For the month of November, emails made up 18% of the traffic to Quick Sprout, 6% to KISSmetrics and 4% to Crazy Egg.
Those percentages may not seem high, but there are two good reasons for that:
If you want to collect more emails from your blog, follow step 2 in this blog post. It will teach you everything you need to know. Plus, you can just download the WP Lead Magnet plugin. Those are the tactics I use on Quick Sprout, and they work wonders.
Once you have an email list, you should blast it with your new blog post every time you publish it. Why? Because it will drive traffic, create more comments and, best of all, generate social shares. Email subscribers are 3.9 times more likely to share your content than your other blog visitors.
Content marketing doesn’t have to be a hit-or-miss game
The most important element of a blog post is its headline. No matter how good your content is, if your headline sucks, very few people will read the post.
In most cases, content marketing is a hit or a miss: your content will be widely read or just ignored. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You can use tools like Social Crawlytics to see what sort of content has done well on competing blogs. For example, if you had a marketing blog and you wanted to see what was hot on Quick Sprout, you would just type in www.quicksprout.com and see a table that looks something like this:
You can then sort the data by social site or by total count. In essence, it will show you all of the popular blog posts and their headlines. If you look at the top 5 posts, the advanced guide to seo, content marketing and growth hacking are 3 of them. That shows that if you create advanced guides and use similar to mine headlines for marketing-related topics, you too can get a lot of traffic.
In addition to finding topics and headlines that work, you can use formulas in this blog post to come up with attractive headlines. That post will teach you how to use opinions, create a sense of urgency or evoke curiosity within your headlines.
Build up your social media profiles
Another commonality among all three of the blogs I created is that they all get a lot of traffic from social media sites. In the last 30 days:
- KISSmetrics received 36,862 visits from social sites.
- Crazy Egg received 5,976 visits form social sites.
- Quick Sprout received 25,350 visits from social sites.
How are we able to achieve these results? It’s because we build up our social profiles. You can do it too if you follow this strategy:
- First, tackle the social media low hanging fruit through these 12 steps.
- Then, follow the steps and data in this infographic to maximize your Twitter traffic.
- Accept all of the friend requests on Facebook and then follow these steps to maximize your Facebook traffic.
- Lastly, make sure you are publishing your posts during peak hours so you get the most social engagement.
When building up your social profiles, you have to be patient. It typically takes 6 months to see consistent social media traffic to your blog.
In addition to focusing on major social media sites, consider leveraging smaller ones in your niche. For example Inbound and Growth Hackers are two social sites that focus on the marketing niche. In an average month, Inbound drives around 1,700, and Growth Hackers around 400, visits to my site. It may not seem like a lot, but it all adds up.
Within a few months of launching the Crazy Egg blog, I was able to grow it to over 30,000 visits a month. Do you know how?
No, it wasn’t through SEO or even social media. It was through partnerships. The first partnership I went after was the Smashing Magazine Network. Because we were included in their RSS feed, we were able to get from them 22,181 visits a month.
The cost for this was $0. All we had to do was place a badge on our blog that stated we were in the Smashing Magazine network.
It’s not the only network on the web… before that, I was part of the 9rules network. There are a lot of blog networks out there. You just have to find the ones your space.
But don’t stop with blog networks. You can also share your content with other blogs in exchange for them driving traffic back to your blog. Business Insider has taken posts from Quick Sprout such as this one. I asked Business Insider to link back to my blog within the post, which they gladly did.
Popular blogs like Business Insider are looking for more content. If you provide it to them, they won’t have an issue linking back to your site and driving thousands of visits to you.
To get these partnerships, you have to continually reach out to popular blogs in your space. Most won’t accept your content or let you join their network, but for every 10 blogs you hit up, at least 1 will say, “yes.”
It may have taken me years to get Quick Sprout to 100,000 visits a month, but it shouldn’t take you that long. When I started Quick Sprout, social sites like Facebook and Twitter weren’t as popular as they are now.
You have more sites and partnerships you can leverage today than you ever had, and people are craving more good blog content than they ever did before.
Why not give it a shot? Follow the steps above, and you should hit 100,000 visits a month in no time.
So, what other tactics can you use to get to 100,000 visits a month?