Fessenjan (Persian Roast Cornish Game Hens with Pomegranate-Walnut Glaze).
There's a reason I left building traffic near the end of my series. I think it's far more important to build up your blog properly by setting certain standards such as being accurate, linking the right way, and giving credit where it's due. Once those aspects are in place, the quality of your content will shine through.
So how do you go about getting noticed so others can see that content?
Comment on other blogs. Most bloggers will click over to visit the people who commented on their blog. Maybe they'll like your blog, maybe they won't, but that's usually the first way people notice you. When I said earlier in this series that I dislike when people say, "That looks good." I didn't want to imply that I don't appreciate receiving compliments. I think we all love getting compliments. :) What I meant is that a bland comment like that does nothing to inspire someone to want to click on your name to see your blog. And the reality is, that like people who deluge bloggers with requests for link exchanges, comment-whores deluge blogs with comments so that you'll eventually visit their blog. Or you'll visit because you feel guilty that they're always leaving comments on your blog, even if those comments are exactly the same each and every time.
In her post about giving tips for increasing blog traffic, Michelle of Bleeding Espresso said,
"Now, go visit blogs and get your blog name out there by leaving quality, insightful comments (more than just “Great post!” is advised), and people will get curious and come and visit you...Now please don’t take this to mean that you should be visiting blogs willy nilly and leaving your mark like a dog. Too graphic? Ahem. Then how about this? Take time to read the posts of your fellow bloggers, carry forward an online conversation, and you will be rewarded with more visits."I'm not so great about visiting blogs and leaving comments. I usually let others initiate contact. So if you're like me in that respect, you don't have to go about leaving lots of comments everywhere, just make sure you respond to the comments you do get so the commenter will want to return.
Banh Tom (Vietnamese Shrimp and Yam Fritters).
Submit to FoodGawker and/or TasteSpotting. There's a slew of other food photo sites out there, but those are the two big ones. Initially, that's the only way I had spikes in traffic. I don't know if the demise of the original Tastespotting dispersed the readership, but traffic from those websites doesn't affect my blog as much as it used to. Or perhaps it's because the current editors don't like my pictures as much? :( I upload less nowadays. I view this as a good sign though since I continue to get steady increases in readership based on my content, not because of any placements.
Don't take things so personally if your photo was rejected. My top photo of fessenjan? Accepted by TasteSpotting, rejected by FoodGawker. The photo of my banh tom (Vietnamese shrimp and yam fritter)? Accepted by FoodGawker, rejected by TasteSpotting. Yet Google fessenjan or banh tom and I'm on the first page. It's great to see my photos appear on those sites, but the success of the recipe itself shouldn't be dependent on placement.
Participate in food blogging events such as Weekend Herb Blogging or Weekend Wokking. (Of course, I had to plug my own blogging event.) When I hosted WHB #135, I gained several new readers who discovered my blog because they were submitting entries. While those incoming links helped increase my blog's ranking, I participate in food blogging events because they're just plain fun. Where else can I get 14 fabulous recipes for coconut? I give full credit to the blogging event and creator, briefly mention what the event is, and include a logo. You can always tell who participates because they actually enjoy it because they include all of that info too. Those who submit to food blogging events for the links are the same people who link to recipes by saying they got it from "here." They do the bare minimum. Be courteous. Do you want others to link to your blog with the bare minimum? In that same spirit, if you're submitting to a food blogging event, please remember to thank your host. Round-ups take quite a bit of work and I'm always surprised when people don't thank the host. After all, you got a link and a nice mention, doesn't that deserve a comment or thanks?
Bee and Jai of Jugalbandi have a calendar of blogging events if you'd like to see which ones you'd like to participate in. Other events may be found on Is My Blog Burning? and Sticky Date. Food Blog S'Cool has an awesome calendar with various food blog events and their deadlines. None of them are complete, so check all for links to different food blog events. You could easily go every day and submit to a different food blog event, but don't spread yourself too thin on the quest for links. Regular participation in a few key events is actually better. For example, if you want to host Weekend Herb Blogging, its creator, Kalyn's Kitchen gives preference to active contributors. I've had requests to host from people who've never participated in Weekend Wokking, or have only participated once. I can't help but think they want to do it just for the links.
We all like getting links, but let's be courteous about it. Please? See my previous post about Giving Credit: The Right Way to Link, Copyright, and "By," "Inspired," and "Adapted" for the right way to link.
Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties).
Do you have your ping function turned on so Google and other search engines can find your blog? In Blogger, look under "Settings" and then the "Basic" tab. Make sure "Let Search Engines Find Your Blog?" is set to "Yes."
Then learn how to pay attention to your stats. I use StatCounter.com. Some people use SiteMeter or Google Analytics. Stat counters are important for you to look at where your links are coming from, which posts are popular, and where people are clicking around on your blog.
Marvin of Burnt Lumpia recently said he gets excited to see a comment until he realizes it's a comment on an old post. Don't dismiss old posts. In the Google search engine, it's not how old the post is that matters but what its importance is in overall page ranking. My nem nuong recipe, which TasteSpotting and FoodGawker both rejected by the way, continues to get hits every single day and is the first hit on Google. The recipe is more than a year old. I sometimes still get questions on it. And if that's the recipe and page in which people find my blog, that's their first introduction to the site. So it pays to respond to comments, even old ones. For popular posts, I've even gone back and updated them with better photos.
Sometimes if an old post is getting hits, I go back to include a new relevant link. For example, an old post from last November of just pictures of loofahs on the vine was linked by a forum on how to live green. I clicked over and saw that they mentioned you can make your own loofah sponge. Since I had posted about this very thing recently, I went back to that old post and included a link to my recent post. That's one extra page view for each person who clicked on over from the initial old post.
Google measures your page ranking based upon how long someone lingers on each post. This is called "bounce rate." You want to keep visitors from "bouncing" or exiting your blog. The more posts you have, the more pages get indexed into Google, and the more likely a visitor searching for a recipe or any other subject will find your blog. If they like that post and find it useful, they stay and read. Then they click to another page, and another page, and before they know it, it's been 4 hours. You've just hooked in a new reader and lowered your bounce rate, thereby increasing your Google rankings.
How do you build up your blog's traffic? Do you comment a lot? Participate in food blog events? How often do you look at your stats? Do you go back and edit old posts?
- How to Start a Food Blog
- On Blogging and Food Blogging
- Choosing a Blog Host
- Picking a Name: Be Clever, Original, and Memorable
- Posting: Frequency, Topics, and Accuracy
- Giving Credit: The Right Way to Link, Copyright, and "By," "Inspired," and "Adapted"
- Your Online Identity: Blogging Interactions and Comment Policies
- Photos: Photography Tips, Storage, and Watermarking
- Design: Layout, Navigation, and "Above the Fold"
- Blogrolling: Will You Be My Friend?
- Building Traffic: Participate in the Community and Respond to Your Stats
- Measuring Success: Cheerleader or Nerd?
- Public Relations: Handling the Freebies and the People
- Monetizing Your Hobby: To Ad or Not to Ad
- Bottomline: Have Fun, but Protect Your Work
1 year ago today, pollo alla parmagiana (Italian chicken parmesan).