In this post, I’m going to show you everything we have done to grow the Time Doctor blog to over 120,000 visitors per month.
In the past year, the blog was read by over 1.3 million people, and is our best lead generation tool.
And when we started, we were just like everyone else.
We had no traffic, no money, and no connections.
But before I jump into the meat of this post, I just want to warn you:
Growing your blog takes a lot of work.
And it took us years of implementing these strategies to get to this level of traffic. It definitely didn’t happen overnight.
Quick Note: This post is quite long, so I created jump links so you can easily navigate the post.
So without further ado, here are the blogging strategies that have worked for us.
1. SEO Focused Content
In order to grow our blog to 120,000 visitors per month, we needed to escape the blogging hamster wheel of doom.
You know, where you spend hours writing content, promote it, get a spike of traffic and then it’s lost to the internet… forever.
Writing posts that has a traffic pattern that looks like this
It’s almost impossible to build a blog that way.
These days, we focus exclusively on SEO Focused content. Below is a breakdown of our traffic channels for the past year.
As you can see, 1.2 million people came via search. Dwarfing the amount of traffic we get from other channels.
Because Content Focused SEO is a huge topic, I created a free email series where you can get a lot more info.
But from a 30,000 foot view, here’s how it’s done:
Step 1: Keyword Research
First thing we do is pick a keyword that we can rank for AND makes business sense for us. We try to identify topics that will best convert readers into customers.
After all, traffic isn’t exactly the goal. Getting people to use our software is.
Step 2: Write a “Damn, that’s good” post
I know so many people focus on creating 10x content. But that’s subjective. I like to create content that makes people say “Damn, that’s good”.
Step 3: Build links
Finally, we promote the blog post using the methods learned in this post to get traffic and build links.
Again, SEO Focused content has been a huge part of the success of our blog. You can check out our case study where we go in depth into how we were able to use SEO Focused content to get to 120,000 visitors per month.
2. Share in Forums
Forums were a marketing hack that I always overlooked.
I don’t know why exactly.
I guess I just wasn’t convinced of the value of posting in forums. I don’t know why, but it seemed like it was just a waste of time.
But overlook no longer.
In October, I shared the post “101 Lead Magnet Ideas to Skyrocket Your Email List” to the Growthhackers forum.
And to date, the post has been seen 2800 times!
These views turned into over 700 visits to the blog!
Not too shabby!
Here’s how to do it (and this isn’t all that complicated 🙂 )
Step 1: Find a forum
Almost every niche and industry has them and they’re pretty easy to find.
All you have to do is search “niche/industry and forum” into Google.
For instance, I searched for “Dog Walkers and Forum” and came up with a fairly decent list of forums.
Step 2: What Content works best?
If the forum posts statistics, or some quantifiable metric (like upvotes), then take a few minutes to scan each post and see which types of posts work best.
One of the reasons my “lead magnet” post worked well is because the Growthhackers forum appreciates well researched, in depth, and long list posts.
It wouldn’t have been nearly as successful if I had just listed 7 or 10 lead magnet examples.
Step 3: What are the rules?
Some forums won’t allow you to post a blog post without first being an active contributor first. This is especially true in Facebook groups and sub-reddits.
So before sharing your post with the group, take a few minutes to understand the dynamic and what is expected of newcomers.
Step 4: Promote it
Once you’ve shared your post with the group, it’s time to promote it. Many groups have systems where people can upvote your post or provide some way to allow users to give a vote of confidence to your post.
These votes of confidence usually allow the post to be seen by more people. The more people who see your post, the more traffic you will get.
So, what we did was shared the forum post with a few friends and asked them to upvote it just to get the ball rolling. (Again, check the rules about gaming the system.)
Quick Note about promoting in a forum.
Each forum has its it’s own unique way of getting your post noticed. For instance, in the Growthhackers forum, upvotes help get more eyeballs to your post.
One of the strategies that I use is to ask is ask a few of my friends to upvote my best posts. I’ll say something like:
I just posted this on Growthhackers.com. If you like it, would you mind upvoting the post?
Figure out how to optimize the forums that you post in. Don’t game the system. But give yourself the best chance of success.
3. Email People You Link To
Just recently, I published a blog post called 108 Blogging Tools to Grow Your Blog Fast.
In this post, I link to about 90 different blogs and companies when I mention their tool. (I used some duplicates.)
This gives me a GREAT excuse to reach out to 90 different people.
I usually just use this email script:
Hey (first name)
I just wanted to let you know that I mentioned you in my latest blog post about blogging tools.
You can check it out here.
Some people will simply say “thanks”. Some people will ignore it. But you’ll also get quite a few people to share it.
So far, this has been the only promotion we’ve done for this post because we wanted to see how effective it could be.
Not too shabby for getting a brand new post off the ground. 🙂
Note: It’s very hard to track this strategy. So we decided we weren’t going to use any other promotion strategy while doing this. We did email our very small list and that got about 10-15 visitors. The rest all came from emailing people mentioned in the post.
One more thing: I like to externally link to 5-10 sites for every 1,000 words. I learned this from Neil Patel. So if you have a post that’s 3,000 words, that’s 15-30 people to email.
If you have a long list post like 108 Blogging tools or 101 Lead Magnets, then you have a whole treasure trove of promotion material.
4. Guest Blogging
In 2008, when I started my first blog, guest posting used to be my primary traffic strategy.
I’d write a guest post on Copyblogger or Problogger and get thousands of visitors and hundreds of email subscribers.
Man, I miss those days.
These days, guest posting is best served as a link building strategy.
Yes, I know that Google has said that guest posting for links is a “no no”, but we have found that writing high quality guest posts still works very well.
For guest posting, I would highly recommend using what you learn in this section and implementing it with a solid Parasite SEO strategy (next section).
Step 1: Find a blog to write your post
So, the easiest way to find a blog to write for is to use Google.
You can simply enter the terms:
- “Name of niche” and “guest blogger”
- “Name of niche” and “write for us”
- “Name of niche” and “guest writer”
And you’ll wind up with dozens, if not hundreds, of blogs who are accepting guest posts.
For instance, if I type in “Marketing” and “write for us”, I get pages and pages of blogs looking for guest posts:
Step 2: Pitch the editor
Now that I’ve found a blog to write for, it’s time to pitch the editor.
The first thing I do is look for blog posts that have been successful and come up with an idea around how to spin a new angle.
For instance, if I notice a blog post called “10 ways to nurture leads” gets a lot of shares and comments, then I might do something like “A Case Study on How I Nurture Leads”. (Totally made up and a bad example, perhaps, but you get the point. I’d write my article around lead nurturing.)
Then, I’d pitch them using this script.
And it works almost all of the time! 🙂
Step 3: Write a killer post
Now it’s time to write a killer guest post. It has to be really good! You want to endear yourself to both the readers of the new blog AND the editor of the blog.
You may not get tons of traffic from your guest post, however, if you do good work for them, they will be much more inclined to share a future post or partner with you down the road.
5. Parasite SEO
What is Parasite SEO?
According to Matthew Barby (where I first learned about this strategy), Parasite SEO is
“The goal of parasite SEO focuses on tapping into the authority of well-established websites to rank for competitive keywords and consequently funnel through the traffic to your own website.”
Let me show you what I mean.
There’s a blog called Codeinwp.com where they published a blog post called “7 Best Time Tracker Software Compared”.
After a very short time, this post actually ranked #1 and did quite well. (We’ve since built a few links to it to help secure it’s number 1 ranking.)
Yes, we helped a blog post on another website rank in Google. And it worked!
According to Ahrefs, this post gets 3100 organic visitors per month.
Now, I’ll show you where the magic happens.
On this article of 7 Best Time Tracker Software, Time Doctor is listed first:
Since this post has started ranking number one in google for best time tracker software, it’s driven between 250-400 visitors per month to our site (about 10% of that traffic converts to leads.)
If you’re just starting a new blog or launching a new product, Parasite SEO is a great way to help drive traffic in a very short amount of time by ranking your blog post on a high authority site.
6. Change your email signature
Think about this for a minute.
Let’s say every employee in your business turns their email signature into a call to action to your blog post. How many people will see it?
Let’s do some math:
Let’s say you have 10 employees. And each employee sends out 10 emails per day, five days per week. That means 500 people per week would see your compelling call-to-action.
Multiply that by four weeks per month and you’ll automatically expose your lead gen offer to 2,000 people per month.
For years, my boring email signature was a wasted opportunity.
In fact, it looked just like this:
Here’s the simple step-by-step process to turn your email signature into an opportunity to get your blog post more views.
Step 1: Create a Bitly link for your blog post
This step is optional. But creating a Bitly link can give you additional data and insights that you might not otherwise get.
However, I like to create a link just to keep track of the clicks that I get. It helps me tweak my offers over time and get a general feel for what’s working.
First, you’re going to click “Create Bitlink.”
Then, you’ll paste your blog post’s URL in this box:
Enter a title for your link (I usually just use the name of the blog post)
Then you’ll be able to copy your new Bitly link.
Step 2: Paste link in your signature setup
These days, all email services allow you to create a customized signature.
Since I use Gmail, I’d find the “Signature” section under the general settings tab. Here, I’d paste my Bitly link.
Step 3: Write a compelling call-to-action
Next, you have to give people a reason to click on your post by creating a compelling call-to-action.
To do this, you can simply write “click here” before the headline of your blog post.
For me, my call to action is “Click here for complete guide on How to Reach 1 Million People through Guest Blogging”.
Step 4: Link your CTA
Finally, make it stupid simple for people to click your link.
To do this, I hyperlink my entire call-to-action. That way, no matter where the person clicks, they’ll wind up on my blog post.
And that’s it. The whole process takes just a few minutes, is entirely free, and is a dead simple way to get more traffic to each blog post you publish.
7. Create a Referral Program
We all know social media shares drive traffic to your blog post.
However, even if your content is really good, less than half the people who visit your post will share it with their friends on social media.
But what if you give your readers an incentive to share your post? In other words, when they share it with their friends, you give them something in return.
This is known as an incentivized click trigger.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Create a complementary resource
On a previous blog, I wrote a post called “How to reach 1 million people through guest blogging.”
On a post where I show people how to get a guest post accepted on a popular blog, I figured a complimentary resource could be called “101 blogs accepting guest posts”. After all, once you know how to get your post accepted, it might make sense to know where to pitch your post.
Step 2: Create your referral campaign
Next, you’re going to head over to Entice’s viral marketing app, or another referral marketing tool.
Next, copy and paste the code into your blog post. (Note: Personally, I put this in the top 25% of the blog post in order to give it the most visibility.)
Buttons will appear in your post looking like this:
Step 3: Create a call-to-action
Next, you’re going to create a simple call to action. Remember, my complimentary resource is called “101 Blogs Accepting Guest Posts.” So I simply tell my readers how they can get access to it.
Once the person clicks either the Twitter or Facebook button, they’ll be asked to share the message that you created for them. This makes it as easy as possible for your readers to share your post with their friends and followers.
And finally, the reader will be able to download your complimentary resource.
8. Email your list
This is the obligatory “blog promotion” hack on the off chance someone reading this isn’t already emailing their list when they publish a post.
While you’re here, I figured I’d give you a template that works for me to help maximize clicks.
I just published a post called (title of post).
In it, we cover
- Point 1
- Point 2
- Point 3
By the end of this post you’re going to learn (what they’ll learn)
You can grab it here:
It’s short, sweet, and to the point. Of all the email tests I’ve run, this has been the most successful thus far.
9. Email people who never opened
You see, whenever you send out an email broadcast to your list, most of the people who receive it will never open it.
In fact, my broadcast emails receive at best a 35% open rate. (Most of them are even less than that.) Meaning that 65% of the emails that I send will never even be opened.
I know what you might be saying: I have a small list, this isn’t going to make a difference for me.
But if you have a small list and are just getting started, you need to scratch and claw for every single visitor and share you get.
Let me show you what I mean.
I send this broadcast email out when I ad a very small list.
It didn’t do that well. It got 23.8% open rate. (When my list was small, I shot for at least 30%)
So, a few days later, I sent the exact same email with a different subject and got another 8% open rate.
This brought the entire open rate up to a combined 30% and a click through rate of about 10%. (My ctr was still a bit low, but better than it was).
10. Content syndication
I just launched a new blog.
No traffic, no email addresses, no backlinks. No nothing.
If you’ve ever launched a blog of your own, I’m sure you know there is absolutely no truth to the axiom, “If you build it, they will come.”
Back on April 6th, I published my first blog post called “How to Reach Over 1 Million People Through Guest Blogging.”
And for more than three months, the post just sat there.
I was getting pretty much zero traffic.
It wasn’t generating traffic. It wasn’t collecting email addresses. It wasn’t being read.
In order to promote the post, I decided to republish the post on the popular marketing blog, SteamFeed (Now defunct). A strategy called content syndication.
As soon as I syndicated that one post to that one blog, I immediately started seeing a small (but steady) flow of traffic to the post.
So, let’s talk about how to get your content syndicated on a popular blog or publication.
Step 1: Write a killer post
This goes without saying, but the largest and most respected publications want to publish only the best content.
Their readers expect it. Their brand depends upon it.
Step 2: Find a blog to syndicate your post
In the business space, there are quite a few blogs that are looking for content syndication opportunities, such as:
- Business2Community: A popular multi-author business blog.
- Social Media Today: A popular multi-author social media blog similar to Social Media Examiner.
- Business Insider: A popular business publication. Having a relationship with an editor will help your chances greatly.
- BizSugar: Popular posts featured on Bizsugar will get published on Small Business Trends
- AllBusiness: A popular multi-author small business website.
- Huffington Post: One of the largest blogging platforms in the world.
If none of these work for you, or if you want more of a variety, you can always use Google to find additional syndication platforms.
You can use the search query: “This blog was originally published on.” This is because Google requires all syndicated posts to contain this message (or something similar).
Second, you can use the search query: “Sites accepting syndicated content.” Other bloggers have curated lists for you that will help you broaden your reach.
Step 3: Pitch the editor
Here’s the exact email script that I used to pitch my guest blogging post:
Subject: Syndicate This Post About Guest Blogging
Hi (name of blog editor),
I wrote the following post which details a step-by-step guide to getting a guest post accepted on a popular blog. I leave absolutely no stone unturned and I think that SteamFeed.com readers will love it.
Here’s the link: (include the URL)
If you enjoy it, I’d love to see it republished on your blog.
Step 4: Tweak your post
Some publications may want you to make some tweaks to your post so it’s not exactly the same as the post published on your blog.
Usually, I tweak the conclusion of the post in order to make some sort of call to action. And I tweak the introduction of the post to make it align more with the readers of the blog.
However, this takes a grand total of 20 minutes of additional work. So even if you’re pressed for time, it’s pretty easy.
11. Ask for Referral on Thank You Page
If you want more attendees and signups to your webinar, then this is the program you’ll need to set up.
Step 1: Create a High Converting Landing Page.
This goes without saying, if you want to get a lot of conversions, you need to create a high converting landing page.
Step 2: Create a Thank You page
in a third party tool such as Leadpages, Clickfunnels, or WordPress… or any page you can place html.
Step 3: Set up a referral program
to give away bonus content related to the webinar. When your webinar subscribers share your landing page, they’ll get the bonus.
I'm going to show you a screen shot of Reese Evans of Yes Supply’s set up.
As you can see, after signing up for the webinar, her subscribers are invited to click the social media buttons in order to get a bonus workbook.
This is the first campaign that Reese ever set up, and afterward, she sent me the following email and screen shots.
How cool is that? Her webinar landing page went "viral" through a simple referral marketing strategy.
12. Write Long Posts
At TimeDoctor, and on this blog too, we have a hard and fast rule:
No content under 3,000 words.
There are three reasons for this:
- According to Buzzsumo, content that is at least 3,000 words long gets more shares than shorter content.
2. Longer content is usually more in depth than shorter content. (Please note: try to avoid filler content just for the sake of making it long.) More in depth means we do a better job of solving the problem for our readers.
3. Longer content gives you the opportunity to link to more people, who you can then reach out to using the strategy in part 3.
4. Longer content gives you the opportunity to add more keywords to your post. The more keywords you can rank for, the more opportunities for traffic you’ll have.
5. Finally, longer content gives people the opportunity to stay on your page and engage with your content. Time on page is a strong signal for Google’s ranking algorithm. The longer people stay on your page and site, the more important Google thinks it is, and the higher it will rank.
13. Target Uncompetitive Keywords
At Time Doctor, we have a fairly strong site.
We have a fairly strong domain authority, a lot of domains linking to us, and a pretty decent size user base.
This means we can pretty much compete with any keyword that we want to go after. So, of course we go after highly competitive industry terms. We spend days writing these posts and months building links to them.
They’re important for our business and they make up a huge portion of our traffic.
However, we also write posts for keywords that have less search volume and are much less competitive.
These are posts that we simply don’t have to build links to. Because of our strong domain, we can write them and within a few weeks, we’ll rank in the top 10.
One quick thing: a lot of these low keyword difficulties have low search volumes. Don’t let that discourage you.
Let me show you a cool little post.
The keyword “Rescuetime Alternative” has a very low keyword difficulty and a fairly low search volume.
Yet, we wrote a post called “7 Best Rescuetime Alternatives”
Acquired 2 links to the post (which to be honest, I think came organically, so we didn’t do any sort of promotion at all).
The post now ranks first for the keyword and consistently drives 250-350 visitors a month.
Now, this might not seem like a lot of traffic because 300 visitors per month is a small number compared to the 120,000 visitors a month we generate to the blog, but this strategy is VERY easy to scale.
If you do this 10, 15, 20 times, these pages will soon make up a very significant percentage of your overall traffic.
14. Create Jump Links
Jump links give readers the ability to “jump” to the part of the content that they are most interested in.
For instance, we created a blog post called Free Timesheet Templates.
This post is ranked 1 or 2 for a wide variety of keywords, including Timesheet Templates and Timesheet Template.
Needless to say, it drives tons of traffic.
When we created this post, we wanted to make it a bit more user friendly. So we created a jump links.
And when you click on them, you’re taken to that section of the post:
One of the cool side effects, that quite frankly we weren’t expecting, is that these jump links started getting clicks on their own.
For instance, the link for “#weekly-timesheet-template” received 255 clicks in the past 90 days.
Not a huge amount of traffic. But for the 10 minutes or so it took to create the link, I’ll take it all day every day.
15. Create Epic Round-up Posts
A few years ago, round up posts were all the rage.
In almost every single niche, you’d see something like “50 Bloggers give their best traffic tips” or something like that.
They were an easy way to engage influencers. An easy way to create content. And an easy way to get shares.
The golden age of round-up posts has probably come to an end. However, there’s still the possibility to create something “unique”.
We created a blog post called “Employee Retention Strategies”.
Now, what made this round up post so unique were the people who actually contributed. We could have found small businesses and other industry insiders to contribute, instead we targeted some of the highest ranking people at biggest brands in the world.
If you’re wondering, yes this was grueling. Yes, it was a ton of work. But it paid off.
Check out the traffic it gets monthly (and this is highly qualified traffic too!)
The super interesting thing about this post is that it doesn’t particularly rank for anything.
Definitely a mistake on our end, but live and learn. 🙂
The post did get some insanely good domains to link to it, improving our overall domain authority, without doing any active link building.
16. Relaunch Existing Content
We have a blog post called Time Sheet Templates that we launched a little while ago.
And after some promotion, we were able to get it to rank #4 for the keyword Timesheet Template (search volume: 19,000), and #4 for the keyword timesheet templates (search volume 800).
From a traffic standpoint, the post was doing quite well, It brought in about 4,000 visitors per month.
We thought we could do a bit better, so we decided to relaunch the blog post in January of 2019.
In just a few short weeks, we more than doubled traffic to this blog post.
Some months, we get over 10,000 visitors to this single post. And the whole process took no more than a few hours. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Strategically Choose a Post
I know, duh! Right?
What we look for in a post that we want to relaunch is a few things:
- Where does the post rank? We typically look for posts that rank between 4 and 20 that we think we can move up to page one, or move higher on page one.
- How important is it to our business? While it doesn’t take a long time to relaunch posts, we still prioritize those that drive new customers to our business.
- Does it have links? Sometimes pages have a lot of links and still don’t rank on the first page. This usually means that the content doesn’t satisfy the user intent, or doesn’t adequately solve the problem the user is searching for, or maybe we didn’t have the keyword in the article for some reason?
Step 2: Update Existing Content
When we update existing content, the two biggest things we look to do is:
- We get rid of anything that is obsolete. Whether that’s charts, links, tools, advice, data, etc. and replace it with updated content.
- We make sure the post solves for user intent. If every other post in the Top 10 is list posts and we have a “how to” post, then we’ll rewrite the post to make it a list post.
Step 3: Re-Launch the Post
When we relaunch the post, it’s like we’re launching for the first time.
We email our list, we do blogger outreach, we’ll build a few links, and all that good stuff. We will even update the date the post is published so Google knows it’s new content.
17. Promote Using Quuu
Quuu Promote is a tool that helps you amplify content to a targeted audience.
You can have access to a list of industry insiders looking to share content. And before you ask, yes, there is a great chance that your industry is represented on the platform.
So we decided to give it a shot with our post.
So far, it’s generated over 1700 shares and 262 clicks. Not too shabby.
The total cost for Quuu is $40 per month. So that works out to be about $0.04 per click.
18. Leverage Partnerships
Being a SaaS company, one of the things Time Doctor does is build integrations with other tools.
This allows us to leverage partnerships with those other companies to drive relevant traffic to our site.
For instance, one of the tools we work with is called WorkflowMax and we are listed on their integration page.
In the past 6 months, that integration page has sent over 265 people to the site.
This isn’t tons of traffic by any means, but it’s extremely targeted traffic that converts to customers. If you look, you’ll see that 35 customers signed up for our software in that time.
Note: I get that not everyone can build integrations into existing products. This is an example I used because I was able to get concrete data.
However, in the past, we’ve partnered with companies where we’ve done joint webinars, co-sponsored content, and even did joint emails - where we emailed our list their product and they emailed their list about Time Doctor.
Partnerships are a bit tricky. But when they work, they can add quite a bit of revenue to your business.
19. Double Down on What Works
There are a lot of strategies here. 19 to be exact.
Some of the blogging strategies are going to work great for you. Others, not so much.
For instance, what works for Time Doctor, doesn’t work for Entice. Different stages of blogging. Different industries. Different levels of competition.
Time Doctor can easily pull in 10’s of thousands of visitors simply by writing a lot of low keyword difficulty content.
At Entice, we can’t do that. Our domain isn't strong enough for that just yet. Instead, we focus very heavily on creating SEO focused content that can be promoted in forums and on blogger outreach.
Over to you…
As a business owner and marketer, I know how much work it is to get traffic to your blog post.
There are no silver bullets or secrets to great marketing. You just have to embrace the grind.
However, with these strategies, you’ll be able to start to get traffic to your blog in a relatively short period of time.