There are two kinds of traffic, good traffic and bad traffic. As a California resident I spend a non-trivial amount of time finding ways to avoid bad traffic. Good traffic on the other hand is what website building dreams are made of. Having been challenged with finding a way to get 1000 page views to a colleague’s blog post with a $20 budget I set out to learn more about the elusive good kind of traffic.
Where to Begin
A quick Google search will provide listicle after listicle with tips and tricks on driving traffic to your website. It’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed with all the available advice. Since this is an exercise in empathy, I tried to put myself into a blogger’s shoes. The first question that struck me was, “Where do I even begin?” Once the slight panic subsided, I took a step back and considered what the goal of my site is. I likely started my blog because I wanted to share my thoughts, ideas or experiences with other like minded people. That means I don’t just want 1000 random page views for my site. Instead I want to reach the people interested in the topics that I write about, aka my audience.
Defining the Audience
A long time ago I worked on a product that allowed people to run ads to get more followers. In practice it’s a good idea. People want to get more views to their online identity space and why not run an ad to get more people to follow along? The problem was, there was no way to target the ads. So while the number of followers went up, there was no increase in the number of interactions on posts. This resulted in people feeling that they had wasted their already small advertising budget. With only $20 to spend, I can’t waste money and need to figure out who my audience is so I can target them.
For this experiment, I chose my colleague Ashley vonClausburg’s post, “Why Automattic’s remote design team is anything but isolating,” to try and get 1000 page views for. Ashley’s post is all about the trials and doubts she had when she started her design career and how working at Automattic pushed her out of her comfort zone. I often hear from designers starting their career or making a career switch that they don’t know where to begin so I know it’s a topic people are interested in hearing more about.
So who’s the target audience for Ashley’s post? I would wager that it’s people who are:
- New or aspiring designers
- Interested in remote work
- Curious about working at Automattic (Did you know we’re hiring?)
Now that I know who I’m trying to reach, I need a strategy to reach them.
Creating a Strategy
Is there somewhere on the internet where newly aspiring designers interested in remote work hang out? Perhaps, but my guess is that it would be more effective to target each group individually to see if one of those audiences gets more traction than the others.
With that in mind, my first approach to getting 1000 page views would be:
- Republish the post with a title that would resonate with people in the target audience. Better yet, I’d try posting the post with different names to see if one outperforms the other and use that information for a second pass at getting more views.
- To target new or aspiring designers, I would try sharing the post in different design focused communities There are a couple of designer Slack and Facebook groups out there where people often come looking for advice. The one’s I’d try first are Designer Hangout and Hexagon UX.
- For people interested in Automattic, I’d add a link to it on the Automattic design job posting pages and check in with the team running our social media accounts to see if we could share the blog post there.
- For those who are interested in remote work, I’d take a different approach and try to drive traffic by creating new posts around the topic of remote work that link back to this post. One would be, “What’s it like to Work Remotely?” with links to blog posts about remote work by people working at Automattic and at other remote companies. Another could be a round-up of companies that are entirely remote.
- Then because the $20 is burning a hole in my pocket I would experiment with different sets of Google AdWords related the three audiences. If after a couple of days one audience group was out performing the others I’d move the remaining amount of my budget into that campaign.
You’re never really done with the work of trying to get traffic to your blog. After trying all the approaches above, I’d use reporting tools like WordPress.com’s Stats page and Google Analytics to try and determine if one of the approaches was particularly successful in driving traffic to the post. Armed with those learnings I’d refine the process and try testing it again on a different post.
When I started writing this blog post, I thought I’d have a single answer for what to do to get to 1000 page views. It turns out there’s no generic one size fits all approach to getting more traffic to your site or blog. Just like when you’re designing a product or feature, you need to have a clear goal, well defined audience and strategy that tests and evaluates different approaches for you to learn from and iterate on.