1. Analyze the Source of Traffic
The first thing that I’d highly recommend you do when you realize that one post on your blog is attracting more traffic than others is to spend some time analyzing the source of the traffic. Where it’s coming from will determine what actions you need to take next.
- Is the traffic coming from search engines? If so, you’ll want to do some SEO on the post. You should also do some analysis of what keywords people are searching for that drives them to the post.
- Is the traffic coming from social media? If so, it’ll be more temporary so you’ll want to act fast and concentrate on converting visitors to subscribers.
- Is the traffic coming from another blog or site? If so you’ll need to act quickly, concentrate on getting subscribers but also build a relationship with the other site.
- Why does the post work? – this is an important question to ask yourself, particularly if you’re looking to write more posts like it. Is it the title of the post, is it the topic, is it the voice you wrote it in?
The more information you have on where the traffic is from and why it’s landing on your post the better equipped you’ll be to decide which of the following strategies you should take next.
2. On Page SEO
If point #1 shows you that traffic is coming to the post from search engines you are in luck. Search engine traffic is wonderful because it has the potential to send your post traffic every day for years to come. However don’t just sit back and feel good about yourself – ask yourself how you can take the traffic to the next level and drive even more search engine traffic to it!
One of the things you will want to do is optimize the post for search engines even more than it already is. Obviously you’ve done something right in terms of SEO – but how can you improve it even more?
Knowing the keywords that the post is doing well for in SE’s is important here. Once you know this you can highlight them to the search engine bots by bolding them, adding them to your post to increase keyword density, adding images that have those words as their name and in alt tags, adding them in headings etc. Don’t ’stuff’ your post with the words – but finding ways to naturally build them into your post can help it rank even higher for those words.
Again – don’t over do this. You’re already ranking well so just tweak the post a little.
Read more about on page SEO at Search Engine Optimization for Bloggers.
3. Off Page SEO
The other thing you can do to attempt to boost the search engine ranking of the post is to build a few incoming links to the post. Search engines see incoming links to a page as like a ‘vote’ – the more votes the higher it’ll rank (in general).
Note: The best type of incoming links are ‘relevant’ ones (ie from sites on a similar topic) and ones with the keywords that you’re trying to rank for in the link.
The first way to get some extra incoming links to the post is to link to it from your own blog/s. Find other posts on similar topics and link to this post from them. You don’t need to link to the post from every page on your blog – but do find at least a few other posts to link up to it from.
The second way to get extra incoming links is to submit the link to other bloggers. You might do this by pulling a few favors with other bloggers or by emailing them to suggest the post might be relevant to their readers. Don’t spam people and do keep the links relevant to the sites that you’re submitting them to – but any links you get can help give the post an extra boost.
Lastly – another source of links can be social media sites that you are active on. Even just tweeting the link in a relevant way to readers can add a little Google Juice. I’ll write more on social media sites in my next point.
4. Submit it to Social Media Sites
If the traffic to your post is coming from a social media site like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit or Delicious you’ll need to act a little faster to optimize the post. I’ll suggest some ways to do this below – but first you might want to see if there are some ways that you can ‘help’ the post become even more viral on social media sites.
For example – if the post is on the front page of Digg there’s a chance that it could also be growing on StumbleUpon or Delicious. Check this out and vote up the post on those services. Send the links over to others to give it their vote too.
You might also like to add a link or button to the post itself if it’s doing well on social media. For example – if I notice a post is starting to build momentum on Digg I’ll add a Digg button to it. This can often be enough to tip it over the edge and onto the front page.
5. Add Options to Subscribe
This one is important whether the source of traffic is search engines, another site or social media as it focusses upon converting your new visitors to the page into ongoing readers of your blog.
When I have a ‘hot post’ I’ll often add a link to the post that says something like ‘enjoying this post – get more like it via our newsletter’ and link to a page giving the blog’s subscriptions options. These links can do very well at the end of posts.
6. Add links to the post to other pages on your blog
Drive people deeper into your blog by adding links to other pages on your site. You can do this within the content of the post itself or at the end of the post as ‘further reading’.
The key is to make the link to your best posts and to posts that are relevant in terms of content to the hot post.
7. Optimize Page Loading
Hopefully you won’t need to do this because your page will already be well optimized – but if you’re getting ALOT of traffic (for example from Digg or some other large site) your loading times might slow down – particularly if you have a lot of large files that need to load.
I learned this the first time I got on the front page of Digg on a photography related post where I had 20 large images that needed to load. The page didn’t crash but I burned through a heap of bandwidth that day and probably lost a lot of readers who got frustrated with the slow loading images.
8. Monetize the Post
Personally this is not something I do straight away as I like to work first upon converting readers into subscribers – however if you have one post with a lot of traffic it could be wise to add monetization streams to that post.
For example – if the post is doing a lot of impressions you might want to add some CPM ads to the page.
Another technique is to add relevant affiliate products to such ‘hot posts’.
I would avoid adding too many of these to hot posts as you could end up putting readers off. My personal approach is to monetize sites by converting people into regular readers and letting their continued visits to my blog make money over a longer period. Sure you might be able to earn a few extra dollars by stuffing such pages with CPM ads – but those visitors will be less likely to return in future.
9. Improve the Post
Some bloggers resist updating their blog posts – but I think it makes a lot of sense to not only add new posts to a blog but to improve old ones. I’m not just talking about editing posts for SEO benefits – but editing and adding to posts so that they become more valuable to readers.
Here’s the thing – if you’ve got a post that is attracting thousands of readers to it but it’s and ‘average’ quality post – you’ll have a lot better chance of converting readers to be loyal if the post is of an ‘excellent’ standard. So look over such hot posts and see if there are ways you can improve them.
10. Write More Posts Like it
Finally – we’re onto Keith’s question and the idea of writing more posts like the one that is ‘hot’.
I think that this is a good idea – on a number of levels.
- Extend Ideas – write an update to the post, or another one that takes the ideas to a new level.
- Related Topics – if there are other topics of a similar nature write posts on these.
- Target Other Related Keywords – write posts that target related keywords to those being searched for to find the first one.
- Similar Voice – sometimes it’s not the topic that you write that attracts people but the way you write it. For example I chatted to a blogger recently who had an avalanche of traffic to a humorous post that they’d written (the first time they’d ever written in that style). They began to write more of these types of posts and saw continued success with it.
If you write a followup or related post to the first – make sure you add a link to it on your hot post.
What Have I Missed?
In this post I’ve shared 10 things that I do to popular posts (I should say that I rarely do all of them to the one post – each will be more important in different situations) but what have I missed? What else do you to to popular posts on your blog?