There are a couple of components to driving traffic. They are:
The actual setup of the blog,
Keyword research and targeting,
Ongoing monitoring for keywords and identified blog feeds,
Social media promotion and blogger outreach.
All of these are very important, but monitoring and commenting are the keys to driving traffic.
There are also some other factors that play into the mix:
Who you are (commercial vs. independent blogger, due to the fact that many bloggers have their own commercial agenda).
How stimulating or controversial you are (do your posts spark discussion or outrage), or how inquisitive / conversational you are (some bloggers have a knack for getting the conversation started by raising questions and then keeping the conversation going. This requires dedication, vulnerability and passion on the blogger’s side because they’re saying ‘I don’t have all the answers’).
So, to answer your question, here are some things to try if you have not already.
Optimizing the technical setup of the blog: If it’s a commercial blog, it would be an ideal situation when the blog is part of the company domain. For example, company.com/blog. Let’s suppose that the company website has been around for awhile and this is an advantage over a brand new domain or a company.blogspot.com URL. If a company is going to invest in blogging, they might as well leverage this advantage and let the content and links that the blog generates boost the corporate website’s page rank and overall content footprint. Usually, a sub-folder (.com/blog) is better for SEO than a sub-domain (blog.company.com).
Making SEO more than just an afterthought: Also, you want to make sure your blog has some of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) basics. Each blog post creates a permalink. Make sure the permalink page uses a title tag that includes the title of the blog post. Also, tag and categorize the post with a category or tag name that is relevant but also part of your target keyword list (see next two items for how to discover keywords).
Keyword Research: Do some keyword research around your topic and figure out the relevant terms that attract the most searchers per month. There are some OK free tools out there for doing this: Webmaster Toolkit or SeoBook’s Tools and Gagets. There’s also a commercial product called Trellian which is what my SEO department uses.
Subjective Input: After you have developed your keyword list, give each of the phrases your own relevancy score. You can use a scale of .01 – 1.0. A 1.0 is a dead-on match meaning that this term is very likely to be a qualified visitor. You could give a broad general term like “game” a lower score (because it is likely that only a fraction of the people searching on this term are interested in your what you are offering). You can then use these scores as a way to adjust and filter against your search frequency and post frequency (see next item). You can use Excel to calculate by multiplying frequency by the score.
Blog and Social Media Community profiling: Once you have figured out your best list of terms, use Icerocket.com to check the post frequency about those terms. If the term is searched a lot and posted about a lot you know that if you optimized a post around that term then it is likely to attract a larger share of attention. You can also look at it another way. If the relevant term is searched a lot but not posted on a lot, that could be an opportunity to post about something that is of interest to searchers but does not have a lot of completion in the social media search engines like Technorati.com. This means that your post will stay in the social media searches longer because it’s not getting pushed down into obscurity, but generating a high frequency of noise around the term. Assuming that the term is a popular search phase, it’s likely to garner some extra traffic and attention due to the decreased level of completion in the blogosphere.
Content Strategy: Think about your audience. What are they interested in and what are the popular blogs that they are reading? Develop a profile of the bloggers who are reaching your audience. Read through their blog and look at who’s commenting and visit their blogs as well. Develop a matrix of the community and really try and identify the influencers and the active participants in the community. Create a blog roll on your site of these blogs that will help the bloggers develop an awareness of your site. Develop a strategy that will lead them to reference some of the work you’re doing (Admittedly, this is the toughest part but that’s the price we have to pay for greatness).
Timely Monitoring and Quick Response: Start monitoring all the blogs and important keyword on a daily basis. You should be on the lookout for blog posts that you can add value to by either commenting or posting about. If you see a post that you think you can add value to, comment now and write a post later.
Comment, comment comment: A good insightful comment on a popular or even not so popular blog can drive a significant amount of traffic and awareness to your blog. More importantly, comments will help you develop a trust within the community and with that blogger. Don’t assume one or two good comments are going to do the trick. It needs to be a consistent process that is guided by your monitoring. The earlier that you can spot a good comment opportunity and make a comment, the better chance you have of getting your thoughts into the mix and gaining some visibility and respect from the community.
Use blogging best practices for outreach: A lot of people talk about how gaining the attention of influencers and getting them to blog about you is a great way to generate traffic. Of course that’s true but some people look at influential bloggers as a PR opportunities (visualize a juicy sizzling steak) and try to pitch them using traditional media relations techniques. This might work sometimes but it could backfire. Developing trust through a comment is a far better approach than directly pitching a blogger to write about you. Then try and develop relationships with not only the big influencers, but some of the more passionate and lesser known bloggers by commenting and reacting and adding value to what they are saying on their blogs. Commenting on blogs is one of the best ways to direct people to your site. Make sure your comment adds value to what is being said.
Cultivate Inbound links: The ideal is when this happens naturally; you write a nice post and a blogger finds it and cites your page. That generates traffic and a link. However you can also give this process a nudge. This is a tricky area and it takes a certain chutzpa to do it but reach out to the bloggers and ask them to feed back to you on what you have written. You never know what they’re going to say, if anything, but I think that if you genuinely try to solicit their advices, it’s likely to lead to some link love down the road. I know that this also seems a little like you have an hidden agenda, but really you’re trying to be included in the conversation that’s going on, and sometimes you have to put your client or yourself on the line a little bit. Initially you may receive feedback that’s not entirely positive, but that’s something to build off of.
Social media networking: If you have not already developed a presence in the large social media networking communities such as MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, MyBlogLog, those are a great resource. Or, target more focused communities that focus on a certain industry. You can also engage in micro blogging with things like Twitter.
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