29 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Blog Traffic

As I sat in holiday traffic backed up for a mile trying to get into the Lincoln Tunnel, I thought about how we as bloggers need to learn a lot more about traffic. Like children who put out plates of homemade cookies and glasses of milk for Santa’s midnight visit, we do all the right things to ensure that we will get the blog traffic we deserve. Or do we?

Just as all presents aren’t equal because some children get lots of cool toys and others get underwear and socks disguised as gifts, all blog traffic isn’t created equal. Here are twenty-nine reasons you might not be getting the quality and quantity of blog traffic you “deserve”.

Wrong address. Just as when inviting friends and family over for a holiday party, you may have given out the wrong address, you need to double-check your directions. Here’s what to look for.

  1. Incorrect or misspelled URL. Take care when sharing your posts and information. If you have a difficult to spell, overly long or confusing URL, consider an alternative.
  2. Not using Permalinks. Popular blogging software like WordPress can rewrite the URLs from each post so that they convey important keyword information to search engines. These so-called permalinks are not enabled by default. Check to make sure that your blog is using permalinks.

Content Wrong. Like giving the wrong present because you couldn’t tell what was inside the gift wrapping, your information may not be what visitors expect.

  1. Information isn’t relevant to visitors. While this can happen despite your best intentions, it’s important to make sure that your content is focused on the topic at hand.
  2. Search terms do not yield appropriate information. Are you inadvertently filling your post with off-topic search terms? Is your use of these terms confusing search engines?
  3. Titles not clear or consistent with content. How are you crafting your titles? Remember that online content, unlike traditional newspapers, needs to be very literal in order to be correctly indexed by search engines.
  4. Tweets not consistent with information. Are you tricking your prospects into coming to your site with misleading tweets?  Once tricked, you loose credibly and possible followers.
  5. Same content published elsewhere. Are you developing new creative information or are you just rewriting what others have previously said? You can’t publish mostly me-too content and expect visitors to stay.

Too many holiday decorations. As a result, visitors can’t find the path to your front door.

  1. Too many ads. Does your blog looked like a Christmas tree plastered with ads and affiliate offers?
  2. Too much clutter. Can readers find the content that they’re looking for? Are there too many widgets and other distractions on your blog?
  3. Can’t find the blog. Do you send visitors to your website homepage when all they want to do is read your latest blog post? If they do come to your homepage, is there a well marked path to the blog? Is your blog in your primary navigation?

Don’t get past entryway. Just as some people don’t open their front door to let visitors in, your blog may be just as uninviting.

  1. No links into other information. Visitors read your blog post and the information is compelling but sometimes they want more. Have you handcrafted links to related stories? Did you include other links to relevant or explanatory content?
  2. Nothing there. Does your title have a great hook but your content doesn’t engage readers? Did you fail to deliver on your promise of a good read?
  3. Everything of value is in the first paragraph. Did you give readers a reason to keep reading? Remember that a blog post is a story. It must have a beginning, middle and end.
  4. Content is difficult to consume. Like your Aunt Betty’s baked bean casserole, is your blog content a big, indigestible lump of prose? Can your post be broken into smaller, easier-to-digest pieces?
  5. Too many spelling and grammatical errors. While a blog post should feel fresh and immediate, more than one or two errors marks you as an amateur and diminishes your authority to speak on a topic.

Poorly designed website. Like friends who ask you to walk into the back of their house through the mudroom, does your blog’s layout turnoff the visitor.

  1. Blog looks amateurish. Did your son or daughter design your blog? Did you leave your blog’s default theme unchanged with no personalization?
  2. Type too small. Have you made your blog inviting by using a readable typeface that most readers find pleasant to read? This is particularly important for older audiences.
  3. All talk. Like sitting next to Uncle Sylvester who never takes a breath or lets anyone else get a word in, does your blog lack other points of interest like photos, diagrams or videos?
  4. No ways to share. Have you made it easy for readers to share your content with their colleagues? Can your blog posts be printed as stand-alone articles without all the sidebars and social sharing links that are useful only to online readers?
  5. Too much work to comment. Do you force your readers through a long or overly onerous registration process before they can leave a comment?
  6. Too difficult to register for RSS or email. Do you have easy to use buttons for RSS and email? Are they prominently displayed?
  7. Looks like a cookie cutter. Does your blog look like it belongs to other prominent bloggers in your niche?  How can you change it up to make it consistent with your own personal brand?
  8. Time to load is too long. This is often a technical problem. Make sure your images have the right resolution and size. If your blog is part of a corporate site, is the bandwidth constrained? Extra bandwidth headroom can be bought for unusually high usage times. Is this affecting other areas of your business?
  9. Design undercuts quality or seriousness of message. Is your blog design consistent with your goals? For example do you have a cartoonish look for a serious topic like finance?

No one’s home. A dark house is not very appealing (except to burglars). While you may use timers to have your house lights and lawn decorations go on automatically to give the illusion that someone’s around, your blog actually needs to show that someone is really home.

  1. Infrequent posts. Do you have a regular schedule to keep people coming back for more content?
  2. Poor response time. Do you approve and reply to comments quickly? Any reply, even a simply thank you, validates the reader’s interest and encourages his return and continued engagement.
  3. Posts don’t sound like they’re written by a person. Do you include any special details that give your blog posts life? Do your posts sound like boring press releases or are they filled with emotionless corporate-speak?
  4. No comments on any post. Realize that no one wants to be the first to break the ice. Can you invite friends or colleagues to leave comments?
  5. No tweets or social shares. Again no one wants to be the first to take action. Remember the wisdom of crowds. People like to follow the most viewed or shared content since others have validated that choice. Do you make it easy for your visitors to share your content?

Building sustainable traffic to your blog is both a science and an art, and it is not yet taught in schools. The right approach for your blog must be developed over time in a manner consistent with your brand, content and marketing goals.

Do you have any other suggestions for improving blog traffic? If so, please add your suggestions in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Here are related articles on blogging to help you build your blog and increase your traffic flow.

Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

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  • http://www.welcometojmart.com Josh Martin

    Great post, Heidi. Lots of good information here.

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Josh–Thank you for reading. I hope that you return for more useful marketing information soon. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://melindatodd.com Melinda @ Trailing After God

    These are GREAT tips! Interesting on the comments too. I hadn’t given much thought to being the first (though I do if I am entering a contest LOL because first never wins!). I will pay more attention to that. Commenting with real comments on other blogs helps too. Commenting in your niche’ is important.

    Blessings,
    Mel
    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Melinda–Glad that you found this content useful. As bloggers, we need to put ourselves in our readers’ mind to understand what guidance they may need to find the aspects of our blog that are most useful to them. Please come back. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.smick.net smick

    This was a great list. Quite a few things I need to apply to my blog. Writing by itself is nice, but readers make it all worth it.

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Thank you for stopping by. I agree that having readers gives bloggers or any other form of writer a sense of validation. Getting comments is proof that people read your material. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.cendrinemarrouat.com Cendrine Marrouat

    Thank you for this post, Heidi! It is really well written and informative. Some points are so obvious that most bloggers overlook them. So, it’s a great reminder to read them somewhere!

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Cendrine–Thank you for taking the time to read the post. It’s important to remember that sometimes the we forget to check for elements that are second nature or obvious to us. Bear in mind that what’s obvious to you, may not be obvious to everyone. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://sometimesithink-krissy.blogspot.com krissy knox

    Great post!

    Other reasons why you may not get much traffic:
    1. Nobody knows about your blog and you are doing nothing to “promote it”.
    2. You are not, as a blogger, attempting to network with other bloggers, and are not in social media or social forums, therefore you are not helping other bloggers to get traffic or commenters, and they are not trying to help you. Bloggers can help one another.
    3. Perhaps you are not commenting in other’s blogs. If you comment in other’s blogs they may come to take a look at your blog, and reciprocate with a comment. You may even gain a regular reader.
    4. Perhaps you are not guest posting. If you guest post, you will get others to come take a look at your blog after reading your post in someone else’s blog, and they may become a permanent reader of your blog, or at least come temporarily.
    5. You may not be using analytics of some kind. Analytics can tell you many things, and are very useful. One thing they could tell a blogger, for example, is the best time of day to post. Then a blogger would know when to schedule his posts. Google analytics works well, as do many others.
    6. You may not be using a course or other indicator to improve your blog and get traffic. There are many excellent courses out there. Darren Rowse has one, and has developed it into a book. I believe it is 31 Days to a Better Blog. Darren is at http://www.problogger.net if you want to check it out. He also runs a course in his blog from time to time. Hubspot also runs a program in which you can improve your blog called BlogGrader.
    7. After saying all this I have to say —

    the number one thing to make your blog great is to write excellent and interesting CONTENT. Nothing will beat this.

    However, if nobody can find your posts, then writing them was pointless.

    So do both — write excellent content — but promote your blog to get readers there!

    krissy knox :)
    follow on twitter: http://twitter.com/iamkrissy
    connect on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/krissyknox

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Krissy– Thank you for adding your thoughts to the conversation. While many of these points are covered in other posts on this blog, it’s useful for readers. The challenge for many bloggers is what is excellent content and how do I create it? For that, I suggest reading, How to overcome blank post syndrome. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://waynemcevilly.blogspot.com Wayne McEvilly

    Heidi -
    I have been looking forward to this post since early this morning & find it was worth the wait. I see some useful points to apply immediately – “Infrequent posts” – guilty. & sporadic concentrated periods of lots of material. I think my blog contains a lot of great material, but the subject matter is quite diverse – overall there is no central “theme” – kind of a collection – a curiosity shop of sorts. While I think that can work if you are sending the right tweets out to the right people, it has got to be “managed” and not just “totally intuitive” (LOL) -
    Anyway, thank you for the post-for me, its value was that it was quite thought-inducing and this will lead to some action.
    Wayne
    p.s. also appreciated your providing clickable links to related posts!

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Wayne–Thank you for taking the time to read this. One important fact for readers is to be consistent. If you just write when the spirit moves you, then readers don’t know when to stop by. Also, it’s important to focus on a topic that helps attract readers looking for specific information. Have a variety of interests? Try using more than one blog, just make each one focused. Glad that this posted helped. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://melindatodd.com Mel @ Trailing After God

    No music on your blog is one of my rules. I hate music on the sites. Not everyone is going to like your music and some bloggers bury the music player so far down the page or hidden altogether so that you can’t turn it off quickly. I like to think about where my readers might be reading from. Would loud music blaring be appropriate at work, in the library, on a bus, Starbucks, or other public arenas? No. So that is why I vote no music.

    Blessings,
    Mel
    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  • Scott

    Thanks for all the information last month I read your blog and I tried it it was great I have already started to see an increase in the traffic arriving and participating in my blog. Its going so well I was thinking of starting another one but using your info from the start rather then let frustration set in. Thanks much.

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Scott–I am so glad that i could help you. I appreciate you’re taking the time to let me know. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.stuff-about.com/ Africanlegend

    Great post, Heidi…..this is actually practical stuff that bloggers need to focus on before even worrying about making money etc. Do you have a blog worth reading and does it provide readers with what they are looking for? I am at http://www.stuff-about.com. Feel free to check it out and offer any tips etc. You run a fine blog!

  • http://www.appalachian-living.blogspot.com Becky Rogers

    I really like your post. Thank you for sharing information that is helpful to new and old bloggers. I am very new in the technology world. I am having to learn a lot of things about how computers, e-mail, blogs, social media…ect. work. It is a slow process but thanks to your posts I am picking up on more things.Will check back in with you sometime and tell some friends to check you out. Becky

  • GEZA

    About your posts : I am impressed first by the quality … then by the quantity.
    When do you sleep ?

  • http://www.webpagemistakes.ca/ S Emerson

    You covered everything Heidi.

    Clutter is the main reason I bounce off blogs. I use StumbleUpon to find new blogs to read or spread the word for. Some sessions there just isn’t anything worth spreading the word for because the blogger is more concerned about Adsense and advertising income (above the fold I might add) than getting into the topic of the post.

  • Joe Lee

    I thought blog design is not that important. Some of the famous bloggers don’t have fantastic designed blog Their blogs are just simple and clean, maybe using the default theme, but the blogs work.