Technical Blogging, Part 4: Traffic

Updated Aug 17, 2021#career#writing

Writing content for your blog is hard, building and maintaining traffic for it even harder, especially critical when you want to make money from blogging.

Every blog has various sources of traffic going into it. While all traffic is important, you should only focus on dominant channels like organic traffic, referral traffic, and direct traffic.

Most popular blogs have approximately 85% organic traffic, following by referral traffic (5-10%), direct traffic (5-10%), and other insignificant sources like emails and paid traffic.

Consistent high-quality content is the most deciding factor to traffic. This post focuses on other aspects that might affect or harm your blog traffic in certain ways if not aware of.

Organic traffic

Organic traffic is a free traffic channel refers to visitors that land on your sites from unpaid search results through search engines. Google is dominating with 92% market shares according to StatCounter Search Engine Market Share Worldwide - April 2021; you can safely ignore other engines like Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, DuckDuckGo, etc.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the visibility of website pages on search engines in order to attract more relevant traffic. To make your site easier for search engines to crawl, index, and understand your content you should:

  • Make sure you content can be crawled - Search engines index public material on the web, your content must not be blocked by robots.txt, noindex directive, or behind authentication.
  • Make sure sitemap is properly generated - You might not need a sitemap if having small site comprehensively linked internally. In most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap, and you’ll never be penalized for having one.
  • Set canonical URLs for duplicate pages - A canonical URL is the URL of the page that search engine thinks is most representative from a set of duplicate pages on your site. If using a sitemap, specify only canonical URLs in the sitemap.
  • Never return success codes (2xx) on error pages - Returning a success code, rather than 404/410 (not found) or 301 (moved), is a bad practice when it tells search engines that there’s a real page at that URL.
  • Change page URLs with 301 redirects - This is the best way to ensure that users and search engines are directed to the correct page. The 301 status code means that a page has permanently moved to a new location.
  • Help search engines understand your page - Provide essential page-level meta-tags, inline directives, or structured data to help control how your site’s pages will appear in search results.
  • Be aware client-side rendered web apps are not SEO-friendly - Even Google said their Googlebots can crawl JavaScript powered apps but the indexed results often unpredictable. Static rendered or server-side rendered sites are best friends for blogger.
  • Make sure same content on desktop and mobile - Starting July 1, 2019, mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for all new websites by Googlebot. If your mobile site has less content than your desktop site, consider updating your mobile site so that its primary content is equivalent to your desktop site. Almost all indexing on your site comes from the mobile site.
  • Keep a simple URL structure - Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans when possible, readable words rather than long ID numbers.

Referral traffic

Referral traffic refers to visitors came to your site after clicking hyperlinks on another websites rather than search engines. Following strategies both gain referral traffic and build inbound links which are critical to SEO rankings:

  • Start guest blogging - One of the powerful ways of building inbound links and business relationships. Remember to use canonical URLs if you plan to recycle content from your site or vice versa.
  • Submit to aggregator sites - Submitting your site to a free or paid aggregator sites under a particular category, be aware of spam sites might cause a bad impact on your site.
  • Answer online questions - Actively comment on blogs, forums or answer questions on Quora, link back to your site with related content.
  • Engage social networks - Social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are natural contenders for bringing in referral traffic. It’s fine to share a link to a page that simply needs a bump in traffic.

Direct traffic

Direct traffic refers to visitors came to your site by manually entering the URL into browser or clicking on a bookmarked link. A healthy amount of direct traffic is a good indicator that people are aware of your business and what it offers.

  • Secure a good domain - Short and easy to remember domain is more likely to be shared via word-of-mouth and typed directly in browsers.
  • Run offline marketing campaigns - Consider promoting your website through methods such as print advertising, coupons, business cards, brochures, or conferences.
  • Build brand awareness - The more return visitors your website has, the higher it’s direct traffic will be, largely driven by visitors that are already aware of your website.