Twelve Ways to Increase Blog Traffic for Book Bloggers in 2014

Book blogging is hugely popular. Seems like everyone has a book and an opinion to share. All that competition may make it seem difficult to keep blog traffic flowing to your particular blog, but there are ways you can ensure you are getting the most out of your efforts.

Below are some tips I have discovered over the years that help get you noticed and to increase your blog traffic. You may already know about most of them, but it never hurts to review. There are twelve tips, one for each month of the new year. Hope they help, particularly if you made New Year’s resolution to spruce up your blog!

book-and-glasses(Photograph by Darren Lewis at PublicDomainPicture.net)

1. Keep your blogging address consistent, if possible

Have you ever clicked a link for a blog and it wasn’t there? Did you try to find it? What about if there’s a link to a new blog site, did you click through? Depends on the circumstances, but probably not. Nothing kills traffic faster than bouncing around the Internet like a ball.

If you are setting up a blog for the first time, the lure of free blogging platforms may be impossible to resist. Keep in mind, though, that free platforms may change their policies in the future or may not provide all the services you need. If you have to change platforms or decide to buy a domain, you will probably lose traffic during the move. You may also lose comments and/or content, depending on the circumstances. Consider getting the domain right up front and finding a reliable server. Having your own consistent domain is an easy way to hold onto your current traffic and keep on building. Added benefit:   you can have a website or two as well as a blog.

Do you know that savvy Internet users actually buy what is called “aged” domains? They look for domains that have been used in the past, no matter what the topic, and are now up for sale. The idea is that the domains will create a certain amount of traffic because of their prior use, decreasing the time it takes to start up. Consider looking for an “aged” domain, if you can find an appropriate one, all the better.

If you have to move, be sure to do everything possible to notify your community (see below).

2. Turn on smart, SEO-friendly URL’s

What does that mean? Left to its own devices, software will create URL’s that are seemingly random series of letters and numbers. Smart URL’s, SEO-friendly-URL’s etc. are add-on programs that transform those addresses into words that humans and search engines can understand. Depending on the software you are using, it usually only takes a minute to activate. Turning them on can both save you hassles in the future (because you can actually tell one link from another by reading it), and increase traffic because the search engine can use those words to send searchers to your site.

Note:  Usually smart URL’s are created from the title of the post, so choose your titles carefully.

3. Implement a plugin that counts traffic, such as WordPress.com Stats.

Although this may seem obvious, you need to see your traffic counts to be able to increase it effectively. Each way of monitoring traffic will be slightly different, so be sure to understand exactly what is being counted.

4. Organize your blog better than your closet.

Take a look at the physical layout of your blog. Try to view it from the eyes of someone who just arrived and is looking for a particular bit of information. How easy is it to find the search box? Do you have a search box? What about categories and recent posts? I’ve noticed that Blogger platform blogs often make it difficult to find “home” or the most recent posts if you arrive at an older post via a link or search engine. Go to an older post. Can you navigate to the front of your blog with ease or do you have to spend time scrolling around looking for recent posts?

If you are frustrated when you want to find a certain post in your own blog, it is time to organize. Creating tags and categories that help others find information quickly and easily is a real art, but it can be definitely worth the effort. Often the categories you created when you first set up your blog no longer fit (kind of like those clothes in the back of the closet) because blogs change with time. Search engines use these words to send visitors to your site as well, so it is important they accurately reflect your content.

Consider using static pages to give summaries and overviews, too. Take a look at blogs you admire and be aware of what it is about the physical layout that works (and what doesn’t) and then shamelessly adopt.

5. Sign up for social media such as Twitter and Facebook and share your reviews on sites such as Goodreads.

It is currently free, quick, and easy to sign up for social media. Once you have set up your Twitter account, search for terms like “book,” “kidlit” or “writing” to find tweets about topics you find interesting. Select to follow a few people at first to get a feel for the substance and style of tweets. Note: Twitter can get overwhelming if you follow too many active people at first. If you haven’t tried it before, ease in slowly.

Your Facebook experience will really be what you choose to make of it. Do you want to include all your friends and colleagues, or only a few relatives? You decide.

Once you have the accounts set up, there are ways to have your blog posts and tweets sent automatically to Facebook. Right now you need to prove that you are the owner of a blog through Networked Blogs, and once you have done that you can have the feeds sent automatically to your pages. Whenever you post on your blog, a summary/teaser appears on Facebook. Been meaning to do this, but haven’t taken the time? Don’t be shy to promote your blog at first. It may surprise you who is interested in a particular topic. After you’ve introduced it as wildly as possible, you can target your promotion in a more focused way.

6. Participate in book carnivals and memes.

Once you have your best face on, go out and meet your community by participating in carnivals and memes. See some for children’s book bloggers in the Resources for Youth Librarians page.

A blogging carnival is like a magazine, where people submit relevant posts to one site to be gathered into a single post. A meme is a looser gathering of posts gathered on the same topic, usually weekly. Most of the time a link is provided, with limited information about the post’s content.

Even if you don’t participate, carnivals and memes can be a great way to find other bloggers working in the same area.

7. Leave comments on other blogs.

Be sure to take time to read and leave comments on the blogs of other participants. It can be a fun way to meet new people and some will become regular correspondents.

8. Set up Google Alerts

Google alerts are easy to set up and can be used in two ways. First, set up alerts for your blog name. This helps you find links to and reports of your blog in yet another way. Once you find them, be sure to read a few posts, and if appropriate, leave a few comments.

Secondly, set up keyword searches for your main topics, which is a fantastic way to keep on top of what is happening in cyberspace.

9. Try new things.

Consistent content is important, but it is so easy to get stuck in rut, posting on a certain schedule about certain topics. Why not try out something new? Invite over a guest blogger. Post a photo essay. Write a poem and publish it for the world to see. See if you spark interest. If so, it may carry you in a whole new direction.

Publishing a particularly polished and well-researched post on an interesting topic may also attract traffic, even if it isn’t the main thrust of your blog.

10. Add visual interest to your posts and create traffic at the same time.

Have you ever done an image search to find a book review? If not, it can be a useful way to find the right book fast.

When you add the cover of the book you are reviewing to a post, make sure to give the file the same name as the book. That way search engines looking for the book can pick up your post.

You may be surprised that an image may attract people to a certain post. For example, a post about spider books near Halloween may attract more visitors if you include a visual of a large, scary-looking spider. For a long time the most popular post on this blog contained an image of Cheerios cereal. Go figure!

Adding an image to your post also makes it easy for readers to pin it to Pinterest.

11. Keep ahead of current events

Did you know that the searches for the keyword “trees” goes way up in December and again in April for Arbor day? Keep your radar tuned for upcoming events and holidays and plan accordingly. Chose books to review or create relevant book lists that anticipate those events.

12. Allow time for traffic to build.

Sometimes the search for traffic is just a matter of allowing time for people to find you. Visitors are more likely to return if they come to visit you site because they enjoy your content and voice. Allow at least six months for a new blog to attract attention, and in the meanwhile be sure to work on producing consistent and useful content.

So, there it is, all the wisdom I’ve gleaned about book blogging over the past four years.

Do you have any suggestions for book bloggers? How about any questions? Now is a great time to practice leaving comments 🙂

What’s New at Wrapped In Foil

wrapped-red-foil-wordsAnyone notice the new link in the navigation bar up there “Resources for Youth Librarians“? Wonder what it is about?

About two weeks ago I gave a talk about children’s book blogging/eResources to a group of youth librarians in western New York. I started a list and then the participants gave me many additional ideas. All the links are now compiled into a giant catalog that continues to grow each day. Anyway, if you are interested in blogging or social networks, you might want to take a peek. Please feel free to suggest your own additions.

Also, I have been doing a bit of housecleaning at the Wrapped In Foil website, which has lists of children’s book set in different states. You might want to take a look if you’ve never visited. I haven’t upgraded all the lists, but am making progress. I would love to add lists from other countries sometime soon.  Anyone interested in helping?

Have a great weekend!

Bloggiesta: Blog Cleaning Party Starts Today

Have you heard of Bloggiesta? It is running this weekend, September 20 through September 22, 2013.

The blurb:

In short, Bloggiesta is a blogging marathon revolving around ticking off those items on your to-do list and improving your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing. Our awesome mascot Pedro (Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organize) is ready to break out the nachos, enchiladas, drinks, mariachi music and whack a pinata or two! It’s nothing short of an awesome fiesta!

Bloggiesta is a cleaning party for your blog!

Part of the challenge is to create a to-do list. Sometimes just setting goals sends you on your way toward accomplishing them. My to-do list for this session are:

  • Get rid of the archive section in the sidebar of my blogs. It is long and doesn’t really help readers find information. – Changed it to a dropdown menu with one click – that was easy!
  • Possibly replace with a review archive page (remove old Cybils from 2011)

Wow, that small change almost got me into trouble. I found out my old WordPress theme wouldn’t let me change the navigation bar for some reason. When I tried to upgrade to the newest version of that theme, I lost the sidebar. After a frantic few moments, I changed to a better theme and everything is back. Whew!

  • Add a review policy to the About page. Really, I haven’t done this yet.

I enjoyed reading what others included in their review policies. I might have to tweak mine after a bit, but it feels good to have one in place. While I was there, I updated the entire About page.

  • Write and schedule at least five posts to get ahead for the busy upcoming weeks
  • Investigate Bloglovin’
  • Investigate copyright footers – unresolved
  • Do two of the mini-challenges

Have you checked out Alysia’s Post Brainstorming challenge? She has so many excellent ideas, I just can’t wait to get started putting some of them to use.

April’s favorite WordPress plugins is very helpful, too. I found out I could use a Collapsing Archive plugin instead of the dropdown archive I just created. Better Delete helps get rid of all those stored excessive drafts, as well. Several people have suggested Duplicate Post, which I use all the time for meme posts that have the same links and buttons each time.

Brittany’s Guide to GoodReads highlights her research into how people use Goodreads and points out some awesome and little-used features. I spent some time going through GoodReads after reading her post and trying out the features.

  • Read and comment on other participants Bloggiesta posts

See, setting goals was helpful already. I’m sure as I read through other people’s goals I will think of more things to add to the list.

If you’d like to try it, make your own to do list (great suggestions here) and sign up at the Bloggiesta Starting Line.

I’d love to hear from you if you decide to take the challenge, too.

Bloggiesta, It’s Like Spring Cleaning For Your Blog!

Have you heard of Bloggiesta? It’s a series of blogging challenges that are like spring cleaning for your blog and it’s this weekend, March 30-April 1, 2012.

The blurb:

Bloggiesta is a three day event where participants will spend as much time as they can working on fixing all those pesky blog related tasks…. all those things that you think “some day I’m going to clean that up, or change that around, or add that thing!” Everyone will post a “to do” list, or goals they want to accomplish and then all of us will work together to get our lists done. The fun thing is that we can cheer each other on, and learn from each other and have a blast doing it. It’s the perfect time to figure out that something you’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t know how… or to get caught up on reviews, or to fix your labels, or take control of your Reader… or do oh so many other things!

Edit:  Check the mini-challenge list for some fabulous blog-sprucing ideas.

I actually have four different blogs (yes, blogging is an illness :-)) and they all need a bit of sprucing up.

As for goals, I’d like to:

  • Back up all of them and find a way to create back ups that is easier to do so I will do them more often. Edit:  WordPress.org has information about backing up blogs – I am trying out the plugin Online Backup on my blogs – got it installed and it is backing up -Nice!
  • Find out to how to make my blogs Pinterest friendly

Joy of Joy’s Book Blog stopped by to let us know about her Bloggiesta Pinterest challenge. If you aren’t familiar with Pinterest, she has a neat how-to-sign-up post and she’ll even help you with an invitation. Check the comments for even more good advice.

See also her link to the  Directory of Book Bloggers on Pinterest at The Well-Read Wife.

Looks like adding a “Follow me on Pinterest” button and a “Pin it” might be good ideas.

Easy “Pin it” plugin for WordPress

  • Figure out Google Adsense (that says it going to expire this month) and how to use it effectively (as in work at all).

For this blog, Wrapped In Foil:

  • I would like do some book reviews that need to be done ASAP. Books, you know who you are!

Edit:  The Bluestocking Society has 5 tips for writing better reviews. Did you know there is html code for adding stars to your blog?

Melanie at Melanie’s Musings has 5 tips for getting those reviews done faster. I really need those!

  • Create a page/list of language-related children’s books for those studying a foreign language or trying to decide which language to take.

Edit:  Charlotte at Charlotte’s Library has an awesome challenge about adding pages to blogs. I did get some research done on this topic.

  • Decide if I should make any other pages to help people find relevant posts more easily.
  • Figure out how to send my reviews to Goodreads in a timely way (plus a couple of other places) -Wouldn’t it be great if there was an automatic feeder like Networked Blogs sends your posts to Facebook?

Edit:  Check Janice at Janicu’s Bloggiesta Goodreads Challenge. She has some great tips.

Comment:  I have been wanting to do a better job with Goodreads for awhile, but only had signed up for an account and never really used it. Today I tried to sign in to take part in the challenge. Goodreads immediately created a brand new account for me using my Facebook account and was contacting all my Facebook friends before I realized things were going wrong. It is funny now, but I was frantic for a few minutes trying to stop it. Now I have to try to delete the new account without losing my old one. Sometimes social media is a bit too social.

The good news:  I found some new friends.

Has anyone tried writing their review in Goodreads and then publishing it to their blog? How does that work for you?

For Growing With Science:

  • Consider whether or not to change the theme. It is an old clunker as far as the comments are in the header, no one knows how to leave a comment, plus the pages aren’t in the tabs correctly. But because it is a clunker, I’m really afraid to try to tinker with it by changing the css. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
  • Freshen up the science books for kids page and research more great STEM books that are coming out

Edit:  Did a blog post that I have been putting off about this and did some research.

  • Organize mystery seeds into one page of pictures with links to answers

Edit:  Oh well, this was an epic fail. Turns out thumbnails are too small to see. Well, now I know.

I should also clean up my sidebars

For Wild About Ants:

  • Write some of the posts I have been putting off. How about all of them?

Edit:  I posted and made a list of seven more topics to post about over the next few weeks.

  • Long term:  Learn to create videos to add more interest. Oh yes, I guess that would require getting a camera to take videos wouldn’t it?

For Eleven Point Pink:

  • Change the focus to gardening as well as photography. Add some new posts and add links to blogroll, etc.

Edit:  I did add a new post.

See, setting goals was helpful already. I’m sure as I read through other people’s goals I will think of more things to add to the list.

I’d love to hear from you if you decide to take the challenge, too.

Edit: What a great challenge! I had so much fun, met some wonderful new people and accomplished a lot, too. The biggest thing I learned was the usefulness of having goals and spending the time to work through them. It has been so energizing!

Hope Bloggiesta went well for you, too.

It’s spring in the desert. Time for spring cleaning!