Back in the day, your homepage was your most important asset. It was the first thing visitors saw and it was what drove traffic to your business. You spent time and a lot of money constructing that perfect homepage. But, now research is saying that homepages are becoming obsolete and that single piece on the web is doing less and less for your business.
Where This is Coming From
Studies have shown that homepage traffic is on a steady and dramatic decline. As an example, NYTimes.com had less than half of their visits start on their homepage. The Wall St. Journal had 40 percent. Yahoo saw a drop too, hovering at about 24 percent for 2012, according to the National Law Review.
How This Impacts Businesses and Service Professionals
The study was focused on law firms - a group that focuses on their homepage to bring in more traffic and define their business services. So what was the result?
- Only 39 percent of the traffic law firms received was from the homepage.
- There is a 17 percent decrease in homepage traffic from 2012.
So What is Going On?
While these law firms are seeing a heavy decline in the number of visits to their homepage, they are still getting a lot of page views. But, these views are coming in through sideways surfing. That means that people are finding their site via other pages on the web and visiting the law firm. The two things that are increasing the sideways surfing not just for law firms, but for all professional services are social media and content marketing.
So My Homepage is Useless Then?
No, never. A homepage is still important for your website and your brand. Just because the number of visitors you're getting aren't through the front door doesn't mean you should throw out the homepage or ignore it all together. People who sideways surf do eventually make their way to your homepage, so you still need to put some effort into that. The homepage is also the most tracked page you'll ever have on your website. So ignoring it means you could be missing traffic in the future.
But, with these numbers on the decline, it's time to see where all of the traffic is coming from and how using that sideways surfing to your advantage could increase your website's traffic.
It's All About the Blog
Blogs are heavy hitters when it comes to traffic these days. Every blog you post is an opportunity for someone to find your site. It acts like a landing page and when visitors see it, they can be compelled to stay on your site and learn more. Look at your blogs as landing pages. They are there to attract and convert people into customers. If you have 20 blogs posted on your site, you now have 20 landing pages that give internet users another way to find your site. If you have 200 or more, you have even more opportunities for people to find you. Imagine the possibilities!
Wait, before you go out and write 200 blogs, you need to realize that a blog isn't an automatic traffic lifter. You have to use your blog right and market it effectively to really harness the power of these potential landing pages.
Create a Style and Tone That Matches Your Business
The content you put on your blog ultimately determines the personality you portray to your readers. If you are a professional service provider, getting cheeky and cute in your blogs doesn't really speak to your professionalism, now does it? But, that also doesn't mean you need to be so technical and boring that you put the readers to sleep either. Strike a balance between what you do and your own personality. Search Engine Journal recommends really speaking to the reader as if they are a friend or family member. This technique makes it a little easier to write in a conversational style. So, if you are writing on law topics - say the effects of a DUI - discuss those effects as if you were telling your niece or brother.
The audience you're writing for is the only concern here. You know your ideal client or customer - including their age, gender, income, etc. - so you have to write something that appeals to them. Before you write any blog posts, identify your style and tone. It is crucial that you keep that same style and tone throughout your content. If you're flopping back and forth, readers will see the inconsistencies and never know what to expect from you in the future - and that's not a good thing.
Now, we have told you that 200 blogs is a great way to generate more traffic, because that is 200 ways in to your website. But, don't you dare go and post 200 blogs today. Flogging the system won't get your blog and website anywhere. You need to set up a content schedule first. This outlines what topics you'll cover, how you will cover them and most importantly, when you will write them.
The jury is out on how many blog posts a person should release each week or month. While some say you should post consistently each day, others say a blog post per week is just fine. Daily posts do, however, help you get into the groove of writing and help set you up for a consistent routine. When you post daily, your readers know that they can log in or expect an email update from your website on a daily basis. That means your readers will keep coming back for more, because they know there is always a blog post there to see.
But, daily posting also has its downsides. It is easy to burn out or run out of topics when you post 7 days a week. Also, when you post daily, your readers could burnout as well. It's easy to get overwhelmed with a constant flow of informant hitting them daily. They might take a few days off just to digest everything they have read so far, and when readers stop visiting, the chances of them not coming back in the future increase too.
Okay, So How Often Do I Post? The key isn't how many blogs per week or month - it is just keeping it consistent. If you are going to post a blog every single day, then keep doing so. You don't want your readers to come back only to realize you aren't keeping up with the schedule. You need to be consistent and predictable when it comes to your blogging schedule. So, sit down and really think about how often you want to post and what you want to commit to before you start doing it. If you can't keep up with daily posting, but want to keep offering daily tidbits, you might want to look into outsourcing to keep it moving.
Be Engaging, Playful and Keep Readers Interested
No matter how often you blog, it can be hard to keep your readers engaged. But, engagement is crucial if you want people to stick around on your blog and website long enough to see what else you have to offer. Some ways to engage your readers could include:
- Using catchy, sometimes even controversial headlines. This makes people stop and think "did he really just go there?"
- Use a lot of visuals. There is nothing worse than a wall of text to read - or should we say nothing more boring. You need to break up the text with visuals that correlate with the text. Use video, Infographic, anything colorful and pretty to help make it a little easier to read.
- Add a poll or open up a debate. This is a great way to get more comments on your blog too!
Market Your Blog and Drive More Traffic
Now that you know what to do with your blog to increase your website's traffic, now it is time to get more traffic to your blog. Yes, the more posts you have the more likely search engines will find and recommend your site, but that doesn't mean you need to skip marketing those blogs. Mashable has some great, Google-friendly tips for increasing traffic to your website the right way.
- Use Realistic, Long Tail Keywords - While keywords aren't as important, long tail keywords are the things people are searching for. Mashabe recommends using a tool called HitTail, which helps you create long tail keywords.
- Stick With It - Your blog and your website isn't going to get instant traffic overnight, even if you have 200 or more blog posts out there. The longer you stick with it and continue to deliver excellent content, the more traffic you will get to your website. Keep it going for a few months - some experts even say it could take up to a year to get significant traffic numbers.
- Optimize - Use keywords and optimize the headers and body of your blogs.
- Use Links - Ethical link building is still a great way to increase traffic to your website. Link to high-quality vendors and other blogs in your niche. Just try to not link to the competition - if they have a better site you might have just handed them your next customer.
- Offer Value - Your blog is a place people are going free advice, so give it to them. Don't be cryptic or give them a little bit and then follow up with requiring them to hire you to hear more - that won't get you anywhere. Offer real value and information in every single post you put out.
- Don't Ignore Social Media -Promote every single blog post that you have on social media like LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. These are great ways to increase your traffic and boost your brand recognition.
- Quality, Quality, Quality - If your content is riddle with typos, grammatical errors or spelling issues, people aren't going to take you seriously. Can you blame them? Quality is key when creating blog content. And, when you have high-quality posts, Google will reward you.
- Encourage Experts to Post on Your Blog - Yes, you are an expert in your field, but there are other experts out there too. For example, if you have a law blog, why not have a featured guest post from a former attorney, judge or someone in the same industry that can offer insight and give your readers something else to take away?
So What Have We Learned Today?
You've learned a lot today about how your blog can complement your website. But, let's do a quick summary to make sure you take it all home.
- Homepages aren't as important. Yes, but remember they still matter. While the traffic on your homepage might be decreasing, that doesn't mean people won't see your homepage. You still need quality content on your homepage for those that find it.
- Blogs are driving more traffic to your website. Your blogs are individual landing pages and the more you have, the more likely people are to find your site.
- Spend time writing the blogs you publish. Don't just throw up 100 blog posts and hope for the best. Put some time and effort into your blogs. You want high quality, relevant posts that really speak to your target audience and keep them engaged.
- Market your blog the right way. There's no point in using blogs to increase your website traffic if people take one look at your blogs and run. Take your time making something people want to come back and read again.
Having a great blog is a start for increasing your site's traffic. It can help make your website viral, promote brand awareness, and most importantly, help your organization grow. Harness the power of your blog and get posting - you might be surprised at how much more traffic you receive just by posting a blog a week.
(Web traffic decline? / shutterstock)