Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How To Increase Traffic By Promoting Less

Most traffic building strategies out there go something like this:

1. Leave a comment on other blogs. Make sure the comment adds value to the discussion

2. Participate in forums. Again, leave comments, start discussions, answer questions

3. Build relationships with other bloggers. Send an email. RT their tweets. Comment on their blogs, etc.

4. Social Media. Participate on Twitter, Facebook, Stumble Upon, etc.

These are all fine and dandy. But what would happen if I stopped doing ALL of these things? Will my traffic crash? Will I be missing out on a traffic bonanza by not utilizing these strategies?

I actually think the opposite will happen. I think my traffic will increase. Here’s why?

‘Sincerity’ Is The New ‘Value’

The problem that I’ve always had with the above strategies is that they are fundamentally not sincere.

Wikipedia describes sincerity as : the virtue of one who speaks truly about his or her own feelings, thoughts, and desires.I would take it a step further and say that sincerity involves no ulterior motive for expressing ones feelings, other than to speak truly about them.

At the core of most of these traffic-building strategies is an expectation and an ulterior motive. That expectation, that ulterior motive, is traffic of course.

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to increase traffic. I want more traffic just like anybody else. But recently I’ve found myself promoting my blog through comments, forums, etc. and what I’ve found is that attempting to add value to these conversations is difficult sometimes. So difficult that I either waste time trying to think of something valuable to add, or I make a half-ass attempt and leave a weak and ultimately benign contribution.

Only Contribute With Genuine Intentions

Tiring of this I made a new resolution that I think will actually increase my traffic and readership. Here it is:

I will only comment, email, blog, and generally contribute to the blogosphere if I have something sincere to say, and with an understanding that I am doing it because I genuinely feel compelled to, and not because I expect something in return.

This of course means that I might be commenting less, tweeting less, participating in forums less, etc. etc. But I think that when I do contribute it will be a genuine contribution that will add value to the conversation and ultimately readers will respond to this more positively.

Will my traffic sink? Who knows? But I think that my contributions will be more interesting, informative, and add more value than before. And that can’t hurt.


  1. I agree! I get so overwhelmed trying to keep up with reading great blogs, but having to comment on them all of the time, and trying to stay in touch other ways that I feel like I'm not really enjoying the content the speaks to me. I recently took a few weeks off from my blog and was worried that traffic would drop because I wasn't posting as often and because I wasn't in touch all of the time with other bloggers, but to my surprise, my traffic had actually increased without my interference! I've attempted to follow a similar idea to yours, and I'm starting to enjoy it all once again...

    Thanks for such an honest post!

  2. I'm so glad you wrote this, and to be honest, the post I'm working on for tonight touches on the same topic. For some reason, I have been judging the success of my blog based not only on traffic, but on the amount of comments on each post.

    I'm done with that. And with the pressure it causes.

    I'm also done with leaving comments on blogs just to get a response. I think blogging would be much more gratifying for me, and other food bloggers, if we were all more sincere in our comments. Who cares if you get 100 one-word comments on a post? Personally, when I get a well thought out, genuine comment, it makes me feel ten times better than reading a simple, "yum."

    I have decided to make the whole act of blogging much more personal and honest, and hopefully that will take off some of the ridiculous pressure I put on myself. Thanks for the post!

  3. I must admit when I come across a blogger who comments on every post, on every site across my genre my first thought is "get a life". It does reek a little of a sheltered life and desperation to promote their posts.

    Allison - though "yum" is shorthand for saying,' I read it, I loved it and I wanted you to feel good about what you wrote'. There is always a place for genuine praise - even when you are in a hurry :)

  4. I love this post. As a new bogger, still, I was disheartened to feel I was not contributing enough. Not adding to the conversation enough. And sad on a low traffic day.

    But it was all too much. Espcially social media. It makes me feel like I have ADD. I decided it is better to put my time and energy into great posts.

    And in just the last few days, I have found a few places where I can truly, sincerely respond. I had adopted your approach of fewer, but more thoughtful comments. It feels good.

    And traffic is increasing.

  5. I couldn't agree more with you. I can see clearly if a comment is sincere or not at my blog, so of course others will know as well.
    Here's an honest one for you: I really like your blog!

  6. Here, here! I'm glad to find people are thinking quality instead of quantity.

    I find asking questions at the end of my post solicits genuine comments that add value -- and helps me formulate ideas for future posts.

  7. Thank god! "If you don't have something valuable to say, don't say anything at all." A good rule of thumb in many cases. :)

  8. I'm glad this post resonated with many of you. I was a bit worried about this post, but it looks like people 'get it'. Thanks for sharing everyone!

  9. Great point, Danny. It is easy to forget that all the networking is pointless if it doesn't contribute value to yourself and others. I have found the balance to be somewhat difficult to achieve.

    I skim lots of blogs and only comment if I honestly like the post AND have something to contribute. I think it gets me more loyal readers for sure, but I think I get less comments because of it. From what I gather people think I stopped reading their blogs when I really haven't.

    Interestingly though, I've seen other blogs increase in comments much quicker that I have, but I notice those same people comment on every post in every other blog I read.

    Not only do I not have time for that sort of behavior, I do not want to be that person. But as you hypothesize, though it decreased my number of comments at first, I am getting more traffic and links lately and comment count has started to climb again.

    Still love my Twitter and Facebook interactions, but those are 100% genuine.

    Cheers to authenticity!

  10. Danny, so glad you wrote this. Our food blog is relatively new and every time I read advice about how to bring more traffic to the site it's all about leaving comments on other blogs, blah, blah, etc., yet it's so hard for me to bring myself to do do that. It feels so fake and forced--me no likee that. I'm hoping that my content will be exciting on it's own without me having to whore myself out.

    I think it's natural for any blogger to want feedback and get excited when people comment (I'm the same way), but I'm a huge blog reader and very rarely a comment leaver. I think most readers are like that. :)

  11. I agree with you Adrianna, it's kind of difficult to promote oneself by leaving comments and participating in forums just for the sake of getting traffic. It's more like self-serving despite the effort. For all you know, people won't even check out on you.

    Danny has a very good point in this post. Bloggers (whether in food niche or not) should practice more sincerity in posting comments or responding in forums. that way, readers can truly feel what you are saying and probably will get inspired by your thoughts. you'll never know, eventually readers would want to know more about you.