Your website is a major marketing tool. Want more website traffic? Here are 3 steps to update your site and gain more traffic along with assessing the results.
I’m veering off the Scrivener path for this post and sliding over to a topic that concerns most of us authors. Many of us just seem to think site traffic is bound more to fate than design but most of us want more of it, especially concerning reader discovery. While many resign themselves to traffic being requiring a charm, there are some steps you can take to increase your traffic by making it more search-able.
- Get your site graded at Website Grader. Far from grading for site traffic alone, this site will give you some insights about the weaknesses and strengths of your website (by the way, Story Empire grades out well since it’s self-hosted). Looking at this set me on a bit of journey one evening to improve my own site traffic. It’s simple to use – just enter your site URL. Here’s what it found about mine regarding traffic:
Create a sitemap. What’s a sitemap? It’s a way for search engines to be able to find your posts more easily. If your site is not properly displaying a sitemap, or it’s not registered with search engines, you could be missing out on searchable traffic to your site. Want to know more about sitemaps? Here’s a help article from WordPress that helps you determine what it is and how to use it. Also, for those who are, like me, hosted by WordPress, a sitemap is automatically created which makes this process much easier. Otherwise, check out this post about using sitemap shortcodes for your posts. Not using WordPress? Check your host about further sitemap information.
Register your sitemap on search engines. WordPress allows you to link to 4 search services that improve your standing for web searches and your traffic. These are found in your settings and can be easily linked. You will have to log into Google, Bing, Yandex.com and Pinterest, then add your sitemap information to each one, then take the information provided and add that to your settings back on your site. Each one is a bit of a process but it can start paying off with more traffic in a matter of days. Here’s more from WordPress about these settings and the specific instructions as well as the links to the various webmaster tools to connect them:
Bonus: For more information about site traffic, check out this blog post.
Now let’s take a look at how it changed my results:
First (not shown), I made this change in late August so my September number reflects a month with all those changes and search engine referrals. My site showed a 45% increase in visits for September. That’s pretty good numbers even though I didn’t post as many new blogs while I was busy working on a book release. I hope to see a larger improvement over the next several months as I plan to post more on my blog.
Next, let’s take look at referrers and see what actually happened from the screenshot above this paragraph. For example, the last 30 days I had 143 referrals from Google searches, my largest by far. But when I look a the summaries for the last 90 days, that number is just 292. That means that the last 30 days accounted for over 48% of my referrals from Google alone which is a big share over 90 days. In essence, the other 2 months averaged just 74.5 referrals over the previous 2 thirty day periods. So it’s clear the last 30 days total improved by over 68 referrals.
Now, take a look back up at the screenshot of referrals for a quarter. Those are some interesting sources. Note how large Facebook and others are below Searches.
Next, let’s take a look at the referrals for the current year. Search engines are the lion’s share of searches but other sources are also interesting to know.
There are several takeaways from these numbers:
- First, you need to improve your search engine results by registering your sitemap with them.
- Next, you need to make sure you have as many forms of social media sharing buttons, as well as social media notifications that are automatically sent out when you post (I have 5 configured for my site). But, WOW, the WordPress Reader is #2 ahead of Facebook!
- There are a few other referrers of note besides the obvious ones. Flipboard has an interesting following so sharing your posts there can be very helpful. It’s also something our very own Craig Boyack wrote about earlier in the year. It’s also something I’m working on improving.
- Next, there’s StumbleUpon which can really create a boom for your posts. You have to be careful with this one as you need to share other posts in the service but posting a lot of your favorites as well as your posts can really help your site traffic.
So, the conclusion is grade your site, then understand your sitemap and get it registered with search engine sources if not already. Next, know the long-term stats for your referrals and consider having a broader group of share buttons as well as using as many notifications as possible to social media. Likewise, consider posting to such sources as StumbleUpon, Flipboard, Klout (I don’t use this enough), Triberr, and any others you may find that curate posts. As a bonus, take a look at Attracta which is a service that can improve your traffic – many hosting services provide this one or something like it so make good use of any tools you may have through your site host.
Thanks for stopping by today. Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section and I’ll reply as soon as I can.