How We Grew Our Blog's Traffic 5x in Only 12 Months - TheCollectiveMill.com

How We Grew Our Blog’s Traffic 5x in Only 12 Months

It’s not easy to consistently grow your blog’s traffic. Not only do you have to produce content tailored to the interest of your audience, but you also have to compete with an almost infinite number of other sources for their attention. Start rambling, or fail to convey the value of your blog quickly enough, and your audience has already gone off to check their Facebook messages or to watch the latest video from their favorite YouTube channel.

How, then, do you go about consistently bringing in a larger amount of traffic in such a competitive market? You need some sort of blogging business plan. In our case, the answer was to create and stick to a solid core of marketing processes.

In the past year, over at the Process Street blog, we’ve managed to quintuple (5x) our blog’s traffic. Plus, we were able to boost our email subscriber count by 319% by enacting a couple of repeatable marketing processes. These are:

  • Create Cornerstone Content
  • Always Research Keywords
  • Perform SEO on Everything
  • Build an Email List (Tactically)
  • Submit to Social Bookmarking Sites
  • Guest Post Often

So, if you want to start growing your blog’s traffic or audience, or just want to see how we did it (and steal the processes for yourself – don’t worry, we wouldn’t share them if we didn’t want others to benefit!), read on!

Create Cornerstone Content

This is perhaps the most important marketing process which we’ve enforced across the board; the focus on creating cornerstone content. This is the content which is indispensable to your site. It should be evergreen, summarize at least some of the value of your site and/or content, and provide a resource which you can often link back to.

The more accessible (or widely applicable) your cornerstone content is, the better it will organically rank and bring in traffic without any intervention on your part. This is because the more you (and others) link back to it from various pages or sites, the more Google will recognize it as a valuable resource.

For example, we released the business process automation e-book back in March. Not only did this give us a free piece of content which was highly relevant to our target audience, but it provided us with a valuable evergreen resource which could generate interest, traffic, and extra email subscribers (more on that in a second).

How We Grew Our Blog's Traffic 5x in Only 12 Months - TheCollectiveMill.com

Always Research Keywords

While it can be incredibly tempting to skip this step, I can’t stress how important performing keyword research is to the success of your blog. Targeted keywords should form the base of almost every piece of content you produce in order for you to stand a chance of attracting relevant, organic traffic.

I’m not saying that your process has to be super in-depth. We get by on a combination of Google Keyword Planner to analyze the bulk, and Ahrefs to focus down on our top candidates (with the odd smattering of another tool here and there). The main point here is just finding a keyword which has an acceptable volume, difficulty, and intent for the time and resources you’re willing to put into ranking for it.

Remember that balance too; volume, difficulty, and intent. Low difficulty and high volume may be tempting. However, if the intent behind someone searching for that keyword is vague, you aren’t going to see much value generated from targeting the term.

Perform SEO on Everything

Keyword research is all well and good, but if you aren’t also optimizing your content for search engines, any effort spent researching the terms to target will be for nought. You need to have a set SEO process to follow for any kind of content you produce in order to take a consistent approach.

For us, SEO isn’t a task in itself. We’ve worked it into various internal processes to the point where it’s almost second nature. Just from memory, in fact, a taster of our SEO process is that we:

  • Include the keyword as close to the front of our title as possible
  • Make our URL slugs the keyword of the content
  • Change the title and alt tags of our images to a variation of the keyword
  • Tag the keyword
  • Include the keyword in the first 100 words

Once again, you can’t let up on your efforts either. If you run your SEO process on one page and not the next, it almost defeats the point of writing that second piece of content at all. However, couple a solid and consistent approach to SEO with some killer cornerstone content to link back to, and you have yourself a killer combination.

Build an Email List (Tactically)

This might seem a little redundant to say, but stick with me; you need to have a tactical process towards building your email list. This means that you need to have a repeatable process which is consistently linked back to that singular goal.

What do I mean by that? The answer’s pretty simple. You have to create valuable content upgrades and distribute them carefully. For example, our main content upgrade (a piece of content which you have to subscribe to the blog to get access to) is the ebook I mentioned earlier. This results in the majority of traffic that goes to our main cornerstone content (the ebook) being naturally exposed to the rest of the blog’s content. This way, we essentially get more traffic per visitor.

How We Grew Our Blog's Traffic 5x in Only 12 Months - TheCollectiveMill.com

You shouldn’t go too crazy with these upgrades though. By all means go back to old posts and insert the upgrade as an optional extra. However, don’t try and force it into content which isn’t relevant. All that will do is either increase the bounce rate of your upgrade content (wrecking its search ranking). Or at best result in zero payoff for your time and effort.

Submit to Social Bookmarking Sites

Social bookmarking sites are another powerful factor in generating traffic which requires a little care and attention. If you submit your content to any and every site and subreddit, you’ll be classed as spam. (Our blocked quicker than you can say “dead post”.) If you employ due care, you can reap huge benefits from submitting your content to sites like Reddit and GrowthHackers.

First up, you need to pay attention to any special rules set out by the site itself. For example, a subreddit might ask you to “provide a summary of any article you’re promoting”. If you fail to comply, most likely your post will be taken down.

Second, you should surf the site you want to target to get a sense of the kind of content which does well on there. Just because you can promote your article on there, doesn’t mean you’ll get a lot of value from it or interest in general.

Finally, when you submit your post, make sure to keep an eye on the comments and try to engage with as many readers as you can. After all, the greater the engagement with your post, the more likely the social bookmarking site is to put it into the “Trending” pile. And if they do, it can end up generating a huge boost to your blog’s traffic.

Guest Post Often

The final marketing process we use to boost our blog’s traffic is admittedly a little indirect. We encourage our entire team to guest post whenever they aren’t working on content for the main blog. This benefits us twofold.

First, growing the list of sites our writers are featured on (such as the site you’re on right now) grows the influence of the writer, and therefore our blog. Second, every guest post written is a chance to get backlinks to our own content on a huge range of high authority sites. Much like with social bookmarking, however, you have to be incredibly careful not to alienate your target.

For example, you should only include links to content that is relevant to the topic you’ve pitched. Twisting an article just to include extra links is incredibly obvious and may butcher your relationship with the site. They may even strip the article of any and all links to your own content.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get out there, knuckle down on your key marketing processes, and grow your blog’s traffic! Feel free to suggest your own marketing processes which helped grow your own blog’s traffic in the comments. I’d love to hear how different our approaches are.


About the Author:
Benjamin Brandall
Head of content marketing at process.st
Personal blog: http://benjbrandall.com
@benjbrandall

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6 Comments

  1. Hi Benjamin!
    It’s great that you’ve shared your experience with us and I really appreciate it. These tips that you’ve followed can benefit many people. There is no uncertainty that cornerstone content can help to target a large number of audience to one’s website. Good work! Keep sharing!

  2. Great tips Benjamin!!
    Regarding submitting to Social Bookmarking sites such as Reddit – I have tried that in the past when I started my blog. Eventhough it was effective in getting traffic (significant spike on the first day it is posted), I noticed that the bounce rate was too high.
    One advantage is that I still get traffic from reddit even from posts I have submitted a year ago. However, the visits that come from organic traffic tends to stay longer on the website.
    Have you noticed this too?

  3. This is a great article! Thanks for sharing. I definitely need to learn to use keywords better. You nailed it on the head, it’s tempting to skip! I’m only hurting myself. Thank you again!

    – Leah from http://www.urban20something.com

  4. I am so excited to have found your site. Love your blog and I just signed up for the bootcamp…yay!

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