While there are many strategies and tactics for building a following for your blog, it all boils down to one important fact: The amount of sustainable traffic you can achieve is proportional to the quality of your reputation. Work to build your reputation and the traffic will follow.
Use social media to drive traffic to your blog. How many times have you heard this before? At one point it was a novel idea, but now it is just part of Traffic Building 101.
The mechanics of actually getting it done vary according to the media used, but the gist of it is that if you get involved in conversations by providing useful information, people will check out your blog out of curiosity if nothing else. Continue providing relevant and useful information, and you will continue to get traffic.
And guess what? You’ll develop a reputation as someone who knows his or her stuff. More reputation means more traffic.
Does the inverse work? It depends. If you have a stellar reputation and you encounter a social media fiasco, some blog readers may give you the benefit of the doubt while others will quickly unsubscribe from your RSS feed. It just depends on how badly you’ve offended your audience.
If you’ve never gotten your act together, your blog provides little value, and you have virtually no social media reputation, it’s not going to make any difference to your blog following since nobody cares. No reputation — or a bad one — means little traffic.
How do you know if your reputation is good or bad? Some blog owners use Google Alerts to monitor specific keywords and receive an e-mail or an RSS feed of the results. Others use free or paid services like Reputation.com as a monitor that then sends them notifications. Whatever method you choose, pay attention to the notifications you receive.
At one time, spamming the Net with links from social media profiles helped sites rank better in search results. While it was easy to implement, blog owners have discovered that it’s far more difficult to undo. Google caught on to the practice and made adjustments to its search results. Blog owners that formerly engaged in profile spamming now believe they have a bad reputation and are being “punished” by Google. Whether it’s true or not, these bad links still remain and the blog owners have seen their traffic diminish due to poor search engine rankings.
For the majority of blogs, search engine rankings directly contribute to the amount of traffic they receive. Some SEO experts believe even the reputation of a blog’s hosting service can affect a blog’s rankings. The concern is, a legitimate blog hosted by a company known to accommodate many spam sites may be lumped in with the others and suffer as a result. Experts have a field day in debating the issue, but it’s widely agreed upon the best bet is to avoid questionable hosting services and stick to those with a good reputation.
The same line of reasoning applies to e-mail newsletter providers. It’s an established fact that e-mails sent by service providers with a good reputation are less likely to end up unopened in a spam folder. Newsletters are a bona fide way of cementing and increasing blog readership, but they only work if they are read.
There are numerous ways, both direct and indirect, in which your reputation affects the size of your audience. Work diligently to build your reputation and associate only with those who can contribute in a positive way.
Stephen Jeske is an avid outdoor enthusiast with a passion for coffee. He frequently writes on a variety of topics including consumer privacy issues and reputation management.