While nothing in blogging is certain, and there's no silver bullet that promises hits, here's a few things you can do to increase your traffic.
I might come off as youthfully naive about this whole "blogging" thing, since I'm not one to talk about personal branding or how to monetize your readers. However I've been around long enough to know that there are a few tricks to driving traffic to your site.
Tricks and traffic are the key words here. What follows is not a guide to being a better blogger, to writing more compelling material or getting your readers to engage on a deeper level with what you write. What follows is purely about the hits.
- Blog often: Not only does regular posting mean that your loyal readers will have a reason to check back often, thus helping your stats, but search engines like Google and Yahoo love an active blog. Blogging often isn't really a bad thing, and for the most part I try to post at least once a day though that's a target I rarely achieve. The upside of this is great blogs like Daring Fireball [df] that constantly has new content and the downside is just posting pictures of lolcats to keep a blog active.
- Title your posts well: The trick to picking a title for your post is to describe exactly what you're posting about. The title of this post describes very clearly what it's about. Poetry, lyrics from songs or other clever titles might be good for engaging readers but for the most part they don't bring in new readers. If you wanted to find a post about increasing your blog traffic, and I had taken a lyric from U2's "One" to title the post you'd never have found it via Google or another search engine. However if you'd stumbled onto this post looking for information about U2's hit song, you'd not stay very long.
- Comment on other people's blogs: Maybe the big time bloggers like Dooce [dc] don't have the time to swim through the blogs of all their commentors, but I know that I check out the site of anyone who takes the time to comment here, as long as they're not spam. Get involved in a few other people's blogs via the comments and you're more likely to attract people to your site. Of course be cool about it, spamming people's comments is just going to get them annoyed at you.
- Talk about stuff you want to read about: This is more a content issue, and I've been avoiding those since this really is about what gets you hits. However I find that when I blog about something that nobody else has blogged about, but that interests me, that's what gets the most hits. My post about wanting Super Socco [jks], a defuncy juice box drink that Dairyland produced in the '80s, remains one of my biggest draws in from Google even though it really does not contain much information at all.
- Be great: Most of this stuff will get you hits no matter what the quality of your content is. There's blogs that make a great deal of money from advertising that look like shit, and read even worse. That's great for them, and all the power to them, but if you look at the big blogs out there, the ones that get the highest amount of links and have dedicated readers, the common thread tends to be that they're great writers. You might be able to get to a lucrative place with some shifty SEO (search engine optimization) black magic, but that success could vanish tomorrow if Google ever updates their search algorythems. Someone who is absolutely great at this blogging thing isn't going to have to worry.
All of this might make me seem like some Jedi Master whose laid down his lightsaber to take up blogging. The truth is I don't follow all of this stuff, though I know if I did I'd have more hits. Again hits and readers are not always the same thing and it's up to you which you value more.
It's also worth nothing that as far as bloggers go I'm a nobody. In the fairly small Vancouver blog scene I'm mostly known for writing on someone else's blog [mbv] or interviewing other bloggers.