My blog’s traffic grew 10 times larger in less than a year. I want to show you how to have the same success.
When I became the content director for LDS.net, one of my company’s long-time underused sites generated about 65,000 hits a month. Within less than a year, the site generates more than 700,000 hits a month.
Generating a traffic revolution for your blog has never been easy, but it is doable. We grew by integrating CoSchedule into our process every step of the way.
1. Find Your Audience
When we talk about website growth, we are talking about people.
We wanted more people to take time out of their day to read our posts. You do, too. When we spend so much time looking at bounce rates, session numbers, and growth trajectories, it’s easy to lose track of the humans at the heart of our work.
If you want those numbers to increase, you can’t afford to look past the people. Fittingly, Google Analytics can actually be the easiest place to learn about the people on your site.
Google Analytics will help you identify six attributes of your readers:
- Acquisition Site
Use those tools to see which of these attributes go together most often to create sketches of the kind of reader on your site.
For example, we identified a 59-year-old female from Cedar City, Utah, who clicked on one of our links from Facebook on her two generation old iPhone. She’s family focused.
We found all that information on Google Analytics.
It started sounding like a well-rounded person who we could actually get to know. You can probably imagine this woman in your head.
After that, we used CoSchedule’s 8-step process for developing a reader persona to flesh out this woman’s story. Give your persona a name. We did this three times to match our most common types of readers.
Every week, my team and I read through each of the personas to ask how well we’re meeting their needs.
For each article we release, we make sure it’s written to one of our readers.
As we grew, we wrote new potential reader personas, then attempted to attract them to the site. When it worked, we added the personas permanently.
Our growth occurred from attracting more of our current audience and by adding additional audiences. Writing personas during this time allowed us to personalize our growing audience.
2. Plan Your Content
I’ve worked with around forty writers in the two years since our site first launched. And most writers seem to have one major personality trait in common: We thrive under deadlines.
Writers often make the perfect the enemy of the good, and without a method to help, we will dawdle around trying to write a masterpiece.
CoSchedule solves this problem.
We plan our content by targeting our primary persona and the content type that we want to write. We use six primary content types on our site:
- How to
- Ultimate guide
We create new articles directly onto the CoSchedule calendar and start with the title that identifies our persona and content type. For example, “Stephanie Torres-Q&A”
The topic comes next. Often, once we know our reader and content type, we know exactly what that kind of reader will want. This helps you get the best ideas with the least amount of time brainstorming.
If you don’t immediately know what article topic you want, move on to the title. CoSchedule has a fantastic list of the most successful blog title structures.
If you need more ideas, it’s time to brainstorm. Everyone on my team is able to generate ideas by using at least one of CoSchedule’s four brainstorming ideas.
The beauty of this method is that as soon as you have an idea, it’s already on a calendar ticking down.
3. Title Your Articles
If you didn’t use one of CoSchedule’s title structures, then you need to nail down a title before you start.
Certain titles work better because they promote a type of content your reader wants.
Ask yourself this: What does my reader want to know?
Start with a successful title, and then quality content will follow.
There is no better headline analyzer available than CoSchedule’s. I know because LDS.net looked everywhere for one.
Take your time using the tool. It can be tempting to start with one title, and play only with variations of that. We brainstorm at least ten title variations and then run them through the headline analyzer.
Since the headline analyzer keeps track of your previous titles, we can easily choose those that perform best and try many variations of those until we have winning title that will perform well.
One of our early successes was the article, “Mormon Jokes That Will Make You Smile.”
We began with a number of article titles we thought would sound good. Titles like:
- The 29 Funniest Mormon Jokes
- 29 Hilarious Mormon Memes
- You Need to See These Mormon Memes
- LDS Memes That Will Have you Rolling in Laughter
- 29 Mormon Jokes to See Right Now
- 29 Images to Make You Smile
We were able to see immediately which of those title structures had potential and which didn’t. The advantage of having so many initial ideas is that you can mix and match to find combinations that work.
And even though we didn’t know the final number of jokes we would use, we didn’t hesitate to use a placeholder number in the headline analyzer.
Eventually, we tried the final title which scored an impressive 87. Unsurprisingly, it was the biggest hit we’d had on the site to that point.
4. Use A Task Template
About one week after we started using CoSchedule, I wrote to ask them if there was a way to create a task template. There wasn’t, but they promised they would integrate it soon.
Today we use task templates on every article we publish.
The advantage of task templates is that as soon as we have an article idea, everyone who will need to work on that article instantly has tasks on their to-do list to ensure that the article is out on time.
As an editor, this is a huge organizational burden taken off my desk. No longer do I need to bother writers with regular emails; instead, I can just check in on any overdue items.
Here is our 6-Step editorial process:
Step 1: Content Quality
This editorial step covers tone, research accuracy, and writing problems such as using cliches, and clarity. There are plenty of tips on the CoSchedule blog to help you perfect your content quality:
Step 2: Organization
We make sure that the introduction and call to action are written according to our best practices, and ensure that presentation is as simple as possible.
Step 3: Readability
We understand that web content gets scanned, so we want to make sure that our images, headlines, and captions do a good job of keeping our readers engaged.
Step 4: Proofreading
On our team, we make sure a person besides the writer and editor proofreads the writing to ensure that we don’t get stuck in a trap of reading what we thought we wrote.
Step 5: Search Engine Optimization
We integrate our keyword while ensuring our tags and meta descriptions are up to par.
Step 6: Visual Design
This step covers integrating images into the article, as well as preparing a featured image and social media images.
We use three different task templates that slightly alter these six steps depending on the type of content we are publishing. Infographics are seen multiple times by our design director, for example, while ultimate guides require an earlier start.
If you work by yourself, or on a smaller team, task templates can be a great way to reflect your own personal process. I set a task template on the articles that I write so I won’t forget to complete an outline, conduct interviews, or do proofreading.
5. Send to Social Media
Once you have a valuable piece of content, it’s time to find an audience.
Before using CoSchedule, less than one-third of one percent of our traffic came from social because promoting content regularly took too much time. Today, more than fifty percent of our traffic comes from social.
One-click social sharing from our CoSchedule calendar has saved us so much time, we now personalize posts to best take advantage of each social network.
CoSchedule also makes resharing content a breeze. We always intended to reshare content, but a week later, you’re often on to the next post. Being able to plan out three month’s worth of shares at one time has allowed us to maximize each article’s content.
Plus you can use the task template to remind people on your team to share the article!
6. Keep Improving
Perhaps the most important thing we do is that we always try to improve. The CoSchedule blog consistently has useful and thought-provoking content. We always pass around the blog posts with our team and make changes based on the advice we read.
No matter how much success you have with web content, you could be doing better. And in this industry, best practices change all the time. It’s essential to stay connected with industry leaders so that you avoid falling behind.
For example, soon after we released our Mormon Jokes article, CoSchedule published a blog post about how to grow your email list. We used this advice to start our own email list, reshared the article over email, and generated a 10% bump in traffic.
By integrating CoSchedule into every step of my publication process, my site grew by leaps and bounds.
What CoSchedule products have you found success with? How have you integrated them into your site’s workflow?