Top 10 Blog Traffic Killers

Platform by Michael Hyatt

The following advice is from Michael Hyatt’s newest release, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. The book is one of the most comprehensive guides on building an effective platform I’ve seen. Both beginning writers and established authors will find excellent and insightful instruction.

Assuming you want to increase your blog traffic, there are certain mistakes you must avoid to be successful. If you commit these errors, your traffic will never gain momentum. Worse, it may begin to plateau or begin to decrease.

How do I know? After writing more than 1,200 posts and receiving almost 100,000 comments, I have made most of the mistakes you can make—numerous times. As a result, certain patterns emerged.

1. You don’t post often enough.

Frequency is what separates the men from the boys … or the women from the girls. You cannot build solid traffic without frequent posts. I have seen time and time again that there is a direct correlation between frequency and traffic.

2. You post too often.

Yes, this is possible too. People don’t need to hear from anyone more than once a day—unless it is a group blog or a news site. You would do better to focus on writing one really great post a day rather than several mediocre ones. The trick is to find your frequency sweet spot. For me, it is four to five posts a week.

3. Your post is too long.

I shoot for less than 500 words. But I often post up to 600-700 words. Sometimes more. You can get away with this if your posts are scannable—that is, you make use of subheads, lists, and other devices that keep people moving through your content.

4. You don’t invite engagement.

Engagement refers to a combination of page views, reader comments, and social media mentions. The posts that generate the most engagement for me are those that are controversial, transparent (especially about failure), and/or open-ended. That is why I try to end every post with a question.

5. You don’t participate in the conversation.

When bloggers don’t comment on their own posts and respond to their readers, it is like hosting a party at your home, making a brief appearance, and then disappearing. In any other context, that behavior would be perceived as rude or odd. The same is true in blogging.

6. You don’t make your content accessible.

I often get asked if I think people are reading less. The simple answer is no. In fact, I think they are reading more than ever. But they are reading differently. Readers have shorter attention spans. They are scanning content, looking for items that interest them.

7. You don’t create catchy headlines.

According to Brian Clark, who runs the must-read site CopyBlogger, “on average, 8 out of 10 people will read the headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.” This means your headlines are the most important thing you write. Fortunately, Brian has an entire series of posts called How to Write Magnetic Headlines.

8. Your first paragraph is weak.

This is critical. Assuming you have written a great headline, people will next read your first paragraph. You must use this paragraph to pull them into the rest of your blog post. Start with a story, a promise, or a startling fact. Many bloggers spend too much time trying to set up the post or provide context. Just get to the point.

9. Your post is off-brand.

If you are trying to build a platform, you need to find an editorial focus and stick to it. A tighter focus leads to higher traffic. This is why I have tried to narrow my own focus to four areas: leadership, productivity, social media, and publishing. If I want to write on something else (e.g., fitness), I do so through one of these four lenses.

10. Your post is about you.

Unless you are a megacelebrity, readers don’t care about you. Not really. They are about themselves. They want to know what’s in it for them. your personal stories can be a doorway to that, but in the end, the best posts are about your readers’ needs, fears, problems, or concerns. Always ask, “What’s the takeaway for my reader?”

There are other mistakes too; I doubt this list is exhaustive. But if you can avoid these, you will be well on your way to increasing your traffic and growing your home base.

If you liked this post, you’ll love Platform. Read more at Amazon and download a free sample.

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Michael Hyatt is the Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publishing company in the world and the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S. Click here to visit his blog.

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  1. Great tips. Especially about looking at each thing you do through a lens. Eventually you will talk about an array of topics, but if you always look through a particular lens, you should be ok

    I think I do ok with most of these, but I fail at some for certain.

    And I’m excited to get to your book too. I’m going to have an Amazon spree on Saturday :)

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  2. All good tips that I’ve seen modeled at your blog Michael. Under inviting engagement, I would add that negativity can really alienate readers and kill constructive dialogue. If I’m ever tempted to tackle a tough topic, I have tried to remember the word “redemptive.” I need to help all of my readers rather than leading one band of readers on a chase after another group of readers with pitch forks and torches.

    • Love the comment Ed. In my personal life and in my mind I am a pitchfork and torches leader by nature. I have strong opinions that I frequently foist on my friends and family. It’s fine, they love me. Most importantly, they stand up to me and call BS on me too. It works for us. On my little Genealogy blog where I’m trying to generate business this personality flaw is a killer. My mantra to myself is ‘FRIENDLY and informative’. I like ‘redemptive’ too. I want to invite discussion, not echo chamber sycophantism.

  3. Great tips Michael. All items I’ve been trying to implement into my blog. The toughest has been writing a killer first paragraph. Starting off always seems awkward. Any advice?

  4. Michael. I really appreciate this post. It is nice, succinct list to gauge all of my content against. I know where my strengths and weaknesses are on the list. In the blog reading I do for my industry I would say ‘off-brand’ is our biggest fault. Though not posting enough comes in a close second.

  5. Jane, thank you for this guest post! Michael, thank you for the succinct and loaded bits of info about an area I (Yours In Books) am struggling to get on top of. Does your book do all this great stuff and more? (No, I’m not a plant!) Sounds like a must-read.

  6. Helpful tips – nothing worse than someone who posts too much, I end up “unfollowing” or “unfriending” them.

  7. Terrific, concise, pertinent, and so helpful. everything a blog post should be! thanks so much, Jane!

  8. Right on!  I could re-write some of these for book signings, too. Emphasize number ten – everybody has a sign written across their foreheads – “It’s all about me.” Get your potential customers to talk about themselves. And listen.

  9. Great post! The suggestions of what to avoid are relevant and mistakes most bloggers make at one time or another. It’s wonderful when someone puts these tips out there for others to see before they have to make the mistakes. 

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  11. Great, Great, Great post. 

    Finding a balance of what you need to do, and have a live is very difficult.  I had huge number when I blogged every day, but it was killing me personal life.  Like you, I have cut myself down to five days a week.  I must admit, though… when I log in on a day that I don’t post, and see only 97 hits, my heart sinks.  I feel like I’ve failed.

    I need to get over that, though.  Everyone needs a life.

  12. Great Advise. Especially in such a competitive world. But I agree with Ed about ‘redemptive’. I think its fine to make a strong stand, but I think you can do it without mud slinging. I’m researching and come across negative content that has no class, it’s mercy delete for them.

  13. Thanks — this is a great list.  I’ve gotten better but have been violating number 1.  Whenever I post regularly, I watch numbers go up.  Luckily, I’ve gotten great reader response, so engaging with readers is fun.  I’ll be sharing your list on twitter.

  14. All good points – the frequency is key for us…we need to set a fixed time and start producing quality content as opposed to how it happens now…surprise by the word count – always ‘assumed’ more is better – but for sure..having a 500 word post daily will be more of an achievement than a 1500 article once a week. Thanks for the read.

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  16. Good stuff, Jane.  I’ve discovered these, too… the hard way.  Can’t keep my posts under 100 words, it seems.

  17. How did you manage to get those social media icons in the footer? I haven’t seen anything like that anywhere else. 

  18. Great guest post. You’re absolutely right on all of these, Michael. If you bore your readers, well, they won’t be your readers for long!

    I’ve got another one for you to add to the list: CAPTCHA. Add this plugin if you want your traffic to drop. I had to add this plugin a few weeks ago for just a few days, but it scared people off for quite a while. It was interesting because I didn’t make my blog any more difficult to read, just to comment on. But CAPTCHA sent people running in another direction.

    The lesson I learned was that I should make it as easy as possible for people to comment and then they will be more inclined to read my blog.

    I will try to follow your suggestions too, Michael. Engaging readers with exciting headlines, first paragraphs and content is great to increase readership.

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  21. I can relate to #2 in posting too often.  I had an entertainment style blog (Warcraft related) and built frustration trying to keep up on a daily pace with it.  I think I should  have posted 2-3 times per week and it would have taken the pressure off as once I wrote every day I felt had I had to maintain that pace.  Feeling the pressure that I should get something up certainly took away from the enjoyment of writing.  Live and learn:)

  22. Excellent pragmatic blog! I’m new to this and this has helped me. Thank you and keep blogging. Marianne

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  24. Excellent list, Michael. I’m guilty of several of those no-nos! I need to print this list up and tape it next to my computer!

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  33. thanks friend. its is essential to keep the readers at the same time we trying to build our audience… You have think it in a different way

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