10 Ways to Increase Website Traffic: Grow Your Blog + Make More Money
Want to increase website traffic to your blog? We’ve outlined 10 strategies with actionable tips you can start implementing today to reach a wider audience, make a bigger impact and increase your revenue with SEO, social media, PR, marketing and more. Make more money from your online business and get more traffic to your blog!
If you’ve been following R+R for the past year, you’ll know that we’ve been diving deep on all kinds of content about how to make a full-time income from blogging. We’ve addressed how to start a blog, affiliate marketing, sponsored content, how to know what to outsource and delegate, and have been publishing our popular monthly income reports since January 2018.
What we haven’t addressed yet? Traffic.
It’s typically one of the first things people think about when monetizing a blog, because more traffic = more people clicking your ads, buying your products, purchasing from your affiliates and joining your email list.
And while traffic IS important for all of those reasons, it’s certainly not an end all, be all. I think creating genuinely helpful content and authentic engagement are the most important foundations of running a sustainable blog.
From there, increasing your traffic can become a focus to help you scale your impact and your income… and who doesn’t want that, right?
But more traffic doesn’t always mean more money. There are a surprising number of bloggers who get hundreds of thousands of pageviews every month but have not optimized their site for monetization. For example, one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Pinch of Yum, was getting 2.5 million pageviews per month and making $39,727.80.
Compare that to Root + Revel–in January 2019, we made $20,764.65 with just 228,519 pageviews. So don’t fret if you don’t have a million people on your site every month. It’s still possible to make great money without crazy high traffic.
It all comes down to RPM, Revenue Per Mille, or the revenue earned per 1,000 pageviews. When you look at RPM, you put the focus on optimizing your revenue as efficiently as possible, rather than just getting the most people to your site.
For example, Pinch of Yum’s RPM in the example above was $15.89, while mine was $90.87. If they had optimized their site to have my RPM, their income would’ve been $227,165.47 for the month. Pretty crazy, right?
Now this isn’t a criticism of POY–they are seriously some of my very favorite bloggers and truly amazing people–just an example that more traffic doesn’t always mean more money.
That said, I get it. We all want more traffic, myself included. So, in today’s post, we’re talking about the top 10 strategies you can use to increase your website’s traffic. No matter what stage of blogging you’re at, you can always put time and energy into implementing or improving your traffic efforts.
So without further delay, let’s get into it!
Traffic 101: Understanding Traffic Sources
To really understand how to increase website traffic, you first have to have a basic understanding of the various types of traffic.
Let’s break down the different categories of traffic you’ll see when you log in to Google Analytics.
Under the Acquisitions menu, click Channels. There you’ll see these categories: organic search, social, direct, referral, other and email (refer to screenshot above).
- Organic search: People who stumble upon your site, usually through a search engine like Google. This is where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plays a critical role. The better your site is optimized for SEO, the more organic searches you’ll appear in and, thus, get more traffic.
- Social: Traffic that comes from any social platform, including Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Stumble Upon, YouTube, etc.
- Referral: Traffic that occurs when a user finds you through a site other than a major search engine. This can include anything from getting featured in a roundup on someone else’s blog, or writing a guest post, or really any link on another site that drives traffic back to yours (called a ‘backlink’).
- Direct: People that go straight to a specific page on your site, usually through a browser bookmark/favorite, typing a URL directly, or through other direct means, like if you have a PDF you send out to subscribers with links back to your site.
- Email: Traffic from email marketing that has been properly tagged. (Note: You need to set this up separately with Google Analytics campaign tracking codes, which I haven’t done–hence why my number here is so low.)
- Paid: Traffic from search engine that are the results of paid advertising via Google AdWords or another paid search platform. (Note: this isn’t shown in the screenshot above as I didn’t pay for traffic during this window.)
- Other: If traffic doesn’t fit into another source or has been tagged as “other” via a URL parameter, it will be bucketed into “other” traffic. This includes your RSS feed, Yummly and a hodgepodge of other (admittedly sometimes confusing) sources.
Now that you understand the different types of traffic, we’re moving on to reveal 10 strategies that will increase website traffic based on the three dominant categories from above: organic, social and referral.
10 Ways to Increase website traffic
1) How to Increase Website Traffic: SEO
You’ve likely heard about the importance of SEO before. As I mentioned above, the better your site does at optimizing SEO means that you’ll show up more in organic searches, which in turn leads to higher traffic as people click through to your site. Organic searches are my #1 traffic source (and is most blogger’s #1 or #2 traffic source, usually toggling with Pinterest).
So how do you improve your SEO? There are literally people who dedicate their entire careers to this, and it is a hugely complex, technical subject and–really–its own language. I’ve learned some basics that I stick to while continuing to pick up new insights along the way to help with my SEO.
Here are my top two recommendations for getting started:
1) Optimize your Keywords
I recommend you install the free browser extension called the Keywords Everywhere tool.
I use this to see the search volume of different keywords and combinations I’m considering, and then pick the one for my post that’s the best match based on keyword searches, usually aiming for a search volume per month of about 2,500 – 12,000. More than that, and your competition gets crazy (not that it’s impossible to rank, it just becomes increasingly difficult).
However, I have started playing with aiming for a lower volume on certain posts to see if I can rank for keywords that may have less overall searches–but that would still deliver relevant and interesting content to R+R–and where there is way less competition.
FOR EXAMPLE: Let’s take this Homemade Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte post.
Here’s a selection of some different keywords we could brainstorm when creating the post:
- pumpkin spice latte = 60,500 vol/month
- pumpkin spice latte recipe = 5,400 vol/month
- healthy pumpkin spice latte = 480 vol/month
- homemade pumpkin spice latte = 1,600 vol/month
- homemade healthy pumpkin spice latte = 0 vol/month
Clearly, just using ‘pumpkin spice latte’ is too big of a search and we’d never show up for that, plus it’s just not specific enough and the search results will inevitably lead to Starbucks and other big publications talking about the oh-so-infamous PSL.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, ‘homemade healthy pumpkin spice latte’ is too narrow and specific.
While I could go with ‘pumpkin spice latte recipe’, it’s still not really targeted enough. There are tons of recipes for this and my version is made with healthy, real ingredients, so someone who is just searching for ‘pumpkin spice latte recipe’ probably doesn’t care about the ingredients as much.
By contrast, someone searching for ‘healthy pumpkin spice latte’ would be a perfect match. Their intent is to find a healthy recipe, and this post delivers to that end. The search volume is smaller than I would usually go, but ultimately I went with this keyword as I’m experimenting to see if I can rank with something more niched.
However, ‘homemade pumpkin spice latte’ also has potential and is a very good match for the post as well, though doesn’t have an indication on if it’s a healthy recipe or not. I decided to plug the keyword ‘homemade’ into the post as well, just to see if I can perhaps rank for both searches.
To sum up: this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to keyword research, but I hope it gives you some insight into how it works. While there’s somewhat of a science to it, there are also some parts that are more intuitive and take concerted learning and growing over time to really get. Don’t worry, you’ll continue to improve and it will make more and more sense as you go!
2) Use the Free Plug-in Yoast SEO.
This plug-in allows you to insert your keyword from step #1 into your post, and then tells you how to improve your SEO. It’s a checklist that will remind you to include the keyword in your ALT text, in headlines, at the top of your post, etc. It’s a really helpful reminder of all the key points to try to hit with every single post to improve your ranking. Here’s an example:
To learn more about where you should put the keyword in your content (i.e. meta descriptions, alt text, titles and headlines, etc.) I highly recommend joining Food Blogger Pro as they have an amazing video course perfect for beginner bloggers about how to optimize your keywords.
2) How to Increase Website Traffic: Pinterest
Pinterest, falling under the ‘social traffic’ category, is my #2 traffic source after organic search. Pinterest is a must for any blogger, regardless of your niche. But it’s important to realize that Pinterest really isn’t a social platform, rather it’s a search engine.
Some of the most important tips for Pinterest:
- Because Pinterest is essentially a search engine, be sure to have keywords in your description. What might people be searching for that your post would answer? You can even try a few pins with different keywords to see which one is the most popular and then continue repinning moving forward with whichever ones seems to work best.
- Be consistent. A tool like Tailwind helps so you can schedule out pins far in advance and in batches at a time.
- You need to keep repinning! Be sure to keep your top few traffic drives on rotation and start pinning seasonal content 2-3 months in advance, so for example, holiday recipes in September and October.
We also recently experimented with doing some paid ads on Pinterest and while it’s still a bit too early to report ROI, I can say this: Promoted Pins are an amazing way to drive traffic to your website. Thus far, we’ve sent 35,029 clicks to rootandrevel.com spending $4,203.63.
If your only goal is to get traffic, this is a great ROI as the cost per click is so much lower than many other ads, like Facebook ads. Our average CPC has been just $0.12.
However, traffic for traffic’s sake is meaningless to me and unless that traffic is sticking around to become a long-term reader, signing up for my email list, buying affiliate products in the post, etc. than I have a hard time justifying the cost. But it’s a personal preference that each business owner will have to decide for themselves.
3) How to Increase Website Traffic: Social Media
While Pinterest technically falls into the ‘social traffic’ category in Google Analytics, we isolated it in this post as it’s really a different entity from the other social platforms in this category like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. which all act fairly similar to each other as far as traffic is concerned.
These social media sites can definitely refer traffic, but their inherent design is intended to keep people on the platform; NOT send them elsewhere. Someone watching Instagram stories, for example, wants to be watching Instagram stories. It’s going to have to be something SUPER compelling for them to want to swipe up to whatever post you’ve linked and leave their story watching.
That said, obviously some social posts do convert to increased traffic on your website, particularly swipe ups from Instagram stories.
Your referral traffic category in Google Analytics will show you the overall traffic generated from these platforms, but to gain a deeper understanding of what converts, I like to use tracking links like bit.ly or Pretty Links. This is a unique link you create that redirects to your post and you can see exactly how many people click that link.
This is helpful because you can start to identify trends to inform your content creation and editorial calendar. If all of your dessert recipes, for example, get a lot more clicks than your other recipes, then you know your audience loves dessert recipes and you should keep creating this type of content.
4) How to Increase Website Traffic: Guest Posting
One smart way to build your audience is to get in front of other people’s existing audiences that are in the same niche as yours. Your ideal readers are out there, you’ve just gotta find them! So why not take advantage of an opportunity to provide value and shine in front of a pool of people who are ready to hear just what you have to offer?
This is where guest posts come in, which also fall under ‘referral traffic’.
I try to write only for big sites that have a high domain authority, traffic and/or those that are willing to also include mention of the post in their email newsletter for added exposure.
Since I used to be a full-time journalist, I really want to ensure that anything I create is worth my time. Instead of being paid, in this case I’m compensated with referral traffic and exposure.
For example, here are some sites I’ve written guest posts for:
- Dr. Axe: How a Food Journalist Healed Her Digestion Woes Naturally, How I Reversed PCOS Naturally (No Medication!, and How an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Helped Me Reverse Chronic Health Conditions
- Naturally Savvy: Treating PCOS Naturally
- Mind Body Green: How I Healed My Leaky Gut Naturally
- Million Mile Secrets: Big Travel with Small Money Series
- Annemarie Skin Care: Reversing PCOS and Balancing Hormones Naturally
And here’s the corresponding traffic I’ve received from these sites over the past year:
- Dr. Axe: 8,114 (my 5th highest referral site)
- Naturally Savvy: 53 (my 116th highest referral site, for reference)
- Mind Body Green: 376
- Million Mile Secrets: 394
- Annemarie Skin Care: 1736
You’ll see that most of these numbers besides Dr. Axe aren’t very impressive, but at least at a minimum we’re gaining a backlink from a big and trusted site, which helps improve our SEO. Plus, you never know which clicks will convert into email subscribers and eventually buyers, so from that perspective any traffic is helpful.
When you’re starting out, if you can’t land guest posts at big sites like this, you might want to play with trading guest posts with other bloggers who are at about a similar audience size as yours. It may not deliver huge benefit, but if they’re in the same niche as you, you could gain some new followers and fans as the audience is already prequalified to enjoy your content.
But here’s the thing: your work is valuable and you deserve to get paid for it, or at least get some kind of compensation even if that’s in the form of a high-quality backlink. It’s probably not the best use of your time to write endless guest posts for other people without seeing some kind of ROI so use this strategy wisely.
5) How to Increase Website Traffic: Share Groups
Another strategy to build your audience is to participate in social sharing groups on social media. Typically, these are groups on Facebook or sometimes on apps like Slack. While the threads vary in their specific details, the general essence is this: leave a link, and get comments, likes and/or shares on that post in return for leaving comments, likes and/or shares on other peoples’ posts.
Threads exist for everything from getting blog comments, commenting on Instagram, sharing videos on Facebook, repinning pins on Pinterest, retweeting on Twitter, etc. This can be a great way to increase your overall engagement, as algorithms tend to boost posts that start getting engagement from the get-go.
In other words, if through the share group you get 10 comments right away on a new Instagram post, for example, it shows Instagram that people like your content and thus the post will likely now be seen by a wider audience.
Personally, I haven’t found share groups to be all that helpful. We do use them for some of our content, but feel like we’d have to dedicate a lot more time in these groups to really see bigger benefits. At the end of the day, I’m just someone who prefers real, authentic engagement, so I have a hard time justifying things like this that make it appear as though those posts are more popular than they really are.
While that’s my personal preference, some people really love share groups and have had crazy success with them, so I’m mentioning it here.
6) How to Increase Website Traffic: Paid Ads
First, I would hesitate spending too much money on ads if you’re not making money from your blog yet. As we talk about a lot, I’m a believer in spending money to make money, but simply paying to get traffic to your site doesn’t necessarily mean your income will go up (other than potentially a little bit from your ads that are paid by impression).
If you have a paid product to promote, I think it’s a no-brainer to try out some paid ads, since that’s easier to directly measure and see if you’re coming out with more money in your pocket at the end of the day.
As far as paid ads solely for the purposes of traffic, I recently did some paid ads with Pinterest, as mentioned above in strategy #2 and I’ve done a little bit of experimenting with Facebook ads. For fun I’ve played with promoting a few posts here and there, but to be honest, I’ve had no luck. I’ve also admittedly not spent a ton of time or energy trying to learn more about how to best use paid ads. So take my experience with a grain of salt.
Finally, I did experiment last year with paid traffic using Outbrain. While my pageviews went up, they weren’t converting to subscribers or spending more than a few seconds on the site. So I decided to stop the ads and see what would happen.
The result? My pageviews did drop, but guess what? My income was the highest it’s ever been! It’s such a great reminder that quality matters SO MUCH MORE than quantity. You can have tons of traffic, followers and likes, but what really matters is whether your readers are taking action: buying the product you recommended, signing up for your email list, connecting with you on a deeper level, heeding your advice to improve their lives, etc.
As you consider paying for ads, definitely keep this principle in mind! Don’t seek traffic just for traffic’s sake.
7) How to Increase Website Traffic: Sharing Websites
For food bloggers specifically, you can try to increase your referral traffic by submitting your recipe photo to aggregate sites that act as search engines for people looking either for a) recipes to make themselves, or b) publications in need of recipes to feature in roundup-style posts (this is great not just for traffic, but for backlinks).
Some people have tons of success with this and certain recipes seem to be magical for them, driving a big spike in traffic. For most of us, we’ll get a small spike when we first submit the recipe, and then it flattens out pretty quickly.
However, sometimes we may not get a spike at all, making this process frustrating. You can spend time on this task–some submissions are quick and easy but others are more labor intensive–and it may not even deliver any worthwhile results. Plus, sometimes your photos get declined and you have to resubmit, and may or may not ever get approved.
The best way is to test for yourself and see what sites are a match for your target audience and actually deliver traffic.
Over the past year and a half, we’ve tried submitting to all of the following sites: Foodgawker, Healthy Aperture, Finding Vegan, My Recipe Magic, Oh My Veggies, Tasteologie, Fave Healthy Recipes, Fave Gluten Free Recipes, Whole Yum, Fridgg, Epicurious, Recipe Lion, Dan330 and Tastespotting.
Ultimately, the only sites generating enough traffic to justify our time are Foodgawker and Fave Healthy Recipes (and Finding Vegan for any vegan recipes we create). Even then, it’s still a really small number for us, but since the submission processes are quick and easy, we’re keeping up with it for now.
Here’s the traffic generated over the past year from all of our sharing efforts:
- Fave Healthy Recipes: 1,676 pageviews
- Foodgawker: 1,493 pageviews
- Finding Vegan: 446 pageviews
Keep in mind that the majority of posts on R+R are NOT recipes, so these numbers would be a lot bigger if we were solely a food blog.
8) How to Increase Website Traffic: PR Media Pitching
Something we spent time on in 2018 was reaching out to online publications, magazine websites, big content sites, etc. to see if we could get any exposure in the form of recipe roundup placements, or food and health story features.
Not only is this great for backlinks (again, think SEO boost), but of course it can drive more traffic back to your site.
A few features I’ve landed through PR Media Pitching:
- Greatist: 9 Breakfast Recipes That Will Have You Sprinting to the Kitchen
- My Domaine: This is How a Foodie with PCOS Eats Her Way to Better Health
- POPSUGAR: These Keto Matcha Coconut Balls Double as Breakfast AND Dessert
- The Everygirl: 5 Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes That Make Weeknight Dinners Easy
You’ll see the traffic generated from these posts is actually better than the guest posting traffic (shown in strategy #4 above):
- Greatist: 6,049
- My Domaine: 2,352
- POPSUGAR: 662
- The Everygirl: 6,282
These sites are constantly coming up with new content, so if you can give them something relevant and helpful to make their job that much easier, they’ll often be excited to collaborate with you!
9) How to Increase Website Traffic: Podcast Guest Appearances
Similarly, another way to grow your exposure and potential traffic is through being interviewed on a podcast. The biggest pro of this strategy is that you build such a deep connection to those listening way faster than most other mediums because they’re getting to know you, relating to your stories, building trust and seeing you as an expert.
That means if they vibe with you and make the effort to follow you on social media, visit your site and engage with you somehow after they listen to the interview, then they’re more likely to become an engaged follower or raving fan.
Another benefit is, again, more backlinks to your site.
The cons of this strategy are that a) it’s hard to track the direct traffic or engagement you get from this as many people will hear you on the podcast and just type in your URL into their browser rather than clicking through a trackable link, and b) often times people listening to podcasts are doing something else–driving, cooking, working out, etc.–so they’re not able to follow up right away to connect with you.
In other words, you need to make a powerful impression, or they just really need to love something about you, in order for them to remember and take the time later to follow up with interactions.
I’ve been a guest on 23 podcasts in the last 2 years across the food, health and online business/blogging niches. I have so much fun sharing my story and meeting amazing people, plus the benefits described above, that I feel like it’s worth my time in the end to keep saying yes to interviews, even though there’s likely a minimal direct traffic benefit.
10) How to Increase Website Traffic: Email List
Utilizing your email list is an easy way to bring traffic back to your blog. You’ve already got engaged fans who are way more likely to be interested in your new posts and content, or they wouldn’t be on your list–so make sure you regularly reach out and let them know what’s new on your site!
We send three emails a week here at R+R: one weekly wrap up (highlights all the new blog posts so links back to the site in multiple ways), one bulleted list of things I’m loving (which is a mix of stuff, but a number of links are direct back to the blog), and one affiliate promotion (this one doesn’t usually link back to R+R but sometimes we include a P.S. with helpful related content they can find on the site).
It may not be a big number at first if you have a small list, but every bit of traffic helps! Plus, you’re obviously providing value to your audience here, which is priority #1.
Alright, there you have it–10 Ways to Increase Website Traffic to your blog. Before we leave, I wanted to let you know about a great resource for driving traffic: The Traffic Transformation Guide.
Author Lena Gott, founder of WhatMommyDoes and, more recently, the blogging resource school, Adventures in Blogging, where she offers multiple courses, eBooks and challenges about successful blogging based on what she’s learned over the past 6 years.
This is a 100+ page guide where Lena put together her top 21 traffic generation tips, theories and a list of what NOT to do, so you can apply what’s she discovered over the years to your own blog. While the book is more geared to beginners and newbie bloggers (and focused on growing traffic rather than monetization strategies), I did find some really helpful tips in the book, particularly about how to use Google+ to drive traffic, keyword research tips, harnessing the power of holidays and using analytics to grow your readership.
Lena also recently added a 40-minute Google keyword research & optimization training video to the bundle, where she walks step-by-step through the simple methods she uses to mine keywords and optimize her blog posts to rank high in Google results, which is an oh-so-important skill in blogging!
The Traffic Transformation Guide is just $79–get your copy here–you can also sign up for Lena’s FREE Blog Traffic Bonus Guide, which contains 3 solid traffic generation tips that aren’t included in Traffic Transformation.
What are some of your favorite ways to increase your website’s traffic? Let us know anything we missed in the comments below, different experiences you’ve had, or share one strategy from this post that you’re going to implement!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I've linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.