Steps to increase blog trafficThe want for more blog readers is insatiable – as it should be. Even if you manage to draw in thousands of readers a month, you will likely be thinking about how you can turn that into tens of thousands of readers. Then there are those at the other end of the spectrum, who see little evidence of even a handful of unique readers each month.

Regardless of where you sit on this particular spectrum, we think you’ll find these tips from the Content Marketing Institute will hold significant value. What they show is that you don’t need to perform miracles to improve your blog and get more traffic.

In fact, subtle tweaks can make a big difference when it comes to improving your posts (assuming your content is written to a good standard in the first place). Not convinced? Try these five tips and see for yourself:

1. Make your headline stand out

Leaving writing your headline until after you’ve written the main body of text makes great sense in some ways. It means you can shape it according to the words below it, rather than the other way round. However, by making the headline one of the last things you do, there is a tendency to rush writing it, meaning your headline – and therefore your content – is not as effective as it could and should be.

CMI suggests the most successful headlines comprise the following:

• Numbers

• Strong adjectives

• Smart rationale

• Instructional

• Beneficial

The message is that if you think a headline has little bearing on how many readers your blog is getting, think again.

2. Make a good thing better

As a content writer, you should never feel like you’ve run out of ideas. Why? Because there is so much inspiration to be found on the Web, meaning writer’s block shouldn’t come into it.

The trick is to build on top of proven ideas and seek to make them even more effective. Look for ideas which are not completely fully formed; where there is scope for improvement. Then consider doing the following:

• Set out to go into greater detail than the original author

• Incorporate visual elements to the content

• Identify areas which are scarcely covered and elaborate on them

• Bring in new information, stats and insight

3. Make sure your content is useful

People are more likely to consume content that has a practical value, i.e. it is informative; they can do something with it. That’s why, according to Hubspot, the most shared type of content is: how-to articles; lists; ‘why’ posts; and ‘what’ posts.

So, taking a look back over your content. Is it useful for your readers and in a form they’re likely to share? Perhaps the content itself is informative but it’s not presented in a way that’s practical for the reader to be able to draw useful points from the text? Just make sure it’s not salesy text that only serves to highlight how good your product is, rather than offer anything constructive to the reader.

4. Make your content ‘share friendly’

In the immediate vicinity of your blog, are all the social-share buttons visible to your readers? If not, they might not go to the effort of sharing an insightful blog post, hosted on your website, with their network. That will prove to be a big hit on the number of unique readers you’re attracting each month.

Also, consider making your images shareable, as they can still be linked back to your blog post. Adding tweetable quotes and sound bites is another fine tip from the people at CMI.

It’s also a good idea to leverage tools to your advantage, such as clicktotweet, which proclaims to be the “easiest way to promote, share & track your content on Twitter”. Enabling the free service means that when the reader clicks the highlighted text, a tweet of the highlighted text and a link to your blog post or page is created.

5. Make a point of asking for shares

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get” goes the famous adage. There’s a reason people of a certain age are still saying that to this day – it’s true. Therefore, don’t be shy in asking your readers to share your post with their friends. Not all of them will, of course, but you only need a handful to heed your request for it to be worthwhile.

CMI theorises that the Ben Franklin effect could come into play, too. If you’re unaware of what that comprises – as I was – it revolves around the idea that “a person who has done or completed a favour for someone is more likely to do another favour for that person than they would be if they had received a favour from that person,” as Wikipedia explains.

So, if it is to be believed the theory applies here, that means a reader is more inclined to share your post if they have done so before – even if you’ve yet to repay the favour. If that’s true, we just need to get the reader to share once and they will, probably, do it again at some point in the future.

What do you make of that theory, or any of the other tips presented here?