Before getting into the 10 strategies for driving traffic to your book review blog, I want to say two things.
First, this is a much-revised post from Books That Hook. I realized one of my points was redundant, and I added a new one in its place. I’ve also made some changes here and there. I hope you enjoy reading this new post.
Second, I want to lead into talking about strategies for driving traffic by explaining why numbers matter. When I say numbers, I mean either total followers or unique visitors to the blog.
Most of these reasons will probably seem common sense to anyone who has been blogging for a while. If you’re new to the book blogging world, maybe you haven’t heard these things before.
Five Reasons why Numbers Matter to Book Bloggers
- ARCs: If you want to be approved for advanced reading copies, you’ll need to list how many followers you have on social media. This information should be in your profile on Netgalley, Edelweiss, etc.. There are some publishing companies that will approve you even if you don’t have a lot of followers. However, many of them do look at it. If they only have a limited number of copies to give, they’ll usually pick the bloggers with the most followers and/or the highest feedback ratio.
- Tour Companies: Some blog tour companies also ask for follower counts. I’ve seen some that want to know daily hits and some that want to know monthly unique followers. Some will deny your participation just because they don’t think the author will get enough attention on your blog.
- Advertising: Authors aren’t likely to purchase advertising from you if you aren’t getting much traffic. It’s that simple. I know some people in the blogging community are anti-ads, but it’s each person’s choice. If you want to try to make any kind of money to offset operational costs, you’ll need a strong following and steady traffic.
- Getting Your Voice Heard: You might just want to be heard. I have asked myself many times, “If no one is seeing any of this, why do I bother?” I don’t have an answer for that except the Field of Dreams motto, “If you build it, they will come.” That’s what I’ve continued to tell myself.
- Search Engine Rankings: If you want to rank, you need to have people visiting on a regular basis. It seems like a catch-22 in a way because you need the search engines to rank your page higher in order for people to find you, but you need to have traffic before they’ll rank you higher. So, you’ll have to build your traffic in other ways until the search engines put you higher up. And then, even more people will come.
The bottom line about why numbers matter…
If you want authors or publishers to put their marketing efforts into your hands–which is what they are essentially doing whether you get a review copy, participate in a blog tour, or purchase advertising–you’re going to need unique visitors and followers.
I’m in no way an expert on creating a book blog following. For the last three years, I have tried different tactics with varying success. I feel like I’ve tried everything, short of passing out cards or posting flyers.
What I can tell you is what has worked and what hasn’t worked:
10 Strategies for Driving Traffic to Your Book Blog
Strategy #1: Memes
If you are just starting out, this is probably the best way to get yourself out there. A meme is a feature (created by a blogger who becomes the host) that takes place on a certain day. On that day each week, numerous blogs create a post around a particular topic and share their links. Here are some I have joined:
Waiting on Wednesday: you make a post about a book you are looking forward to reading
Feature and Follow Friday: you post about a different question each week; participants are required to follow the other blogs that participate
Stacking the Shelves Saturday: you post about new books you have acquired
Sunday Post: you post a weekly update about the on-goings of your blog
Strategy #2: Social Media
Sharing your posts to social media is a great way for existing followers to see what you are writing on your blog. If it catches their attention, they might visit the blog, which will help your traffic as well.
Asking for people to share your posts on social media is generally considered rude. I recommend against it. One way you can encourage people to share is by making sure you have buttons for that purpose near your content on the blog. There are plenty of good plugins to add these if your blog doesn’t already have them.
One thing that will get attention to what you share on Twitter is to include the @tag for a person an article is about. For example, if you were to tweet about me, you would include @jpschaper in your tweet. I would see this and retweet or like it. Of course, not everyone will, but it helps.
If you’re an Instagram user, make sure to create original images that catch people’s eye. I don’t personally use Instagram, but I know a lot of people do.
Also, make sure to have buttons people can click to follow you in various ways. Only include social media platforms you actually plan to share your content on. The buttons should be near the top of the page or in multiple locations, so visitors don’t have to search for them. It’s frustrating to want to follow someone and not be able to find the button to do so. I’ve run into this before on other blogs. That’s why I have the follow buttons in three different places on the site.
Strategy #3: Giveaways
I’ll be honest: I can’t afford to purchase items for giveaways. If you can, it’s a great way to get followers. You set up a Rafflecopter that asks people to follow or share about the giveaway in exchange for a chance to win the prize. When they share the link, more people learn about it. And the cycle continues.
On occasion, a blog tour company, publicist, or publisher might provide a copy of a book for you to run your own giveaway. This is a great way to have a giveaway that promotes your blog with little or no expense, depending on who will be responsible for shipping the book to the winner.
You can also sign up for tours that have tour-wide giveaways. The downside is that they usually don’t include any options in the Rafflecopter to follow your blog. The plus side is you can share these and people will come to enter the giveaway (assuming you have social media followers).
Another way to make giveaways drive traffic to your blog is by linking to them from the discussion boards on Goodreads that are just for that purpose.
It’s disheartening to have a giveaway that no one enters. If that happens, just save the book for another time, perhaps when you have more followers who will want to enter the giveaway or share about it. If you run the giveaway later, and you still don’t get any entries, then maybe it’s the book and not you.
Strategy #4: Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to a variety of methods that can increase the likelihood of your pages being found through search engines. WordPress has many plugins that can help you with this. If you’re on a different platform, there may be ones for those as well, but I am not familiar with them at this point.
There are a lot of different factors that affect your ranking in the search engines such as keywords, originality of content, outgoing links, incoming links, etc.. Still, it seems you can do everything right and still not get ranked very highly. As I mentioned before, visitor counts play a part in it too.
Search engines are necessary, but don’t give immediate results. Register your site with Google, Bing, etc. and then see what happens. It’s not going to produce awesome results until you already have a lot of people visiting your blog, but it’s worth putting yourself out there. If you don’t improve your SEO, though, it won’t matter how much traffic you already have. Make sure to use the right keywords, make the post readable, include images with alt tags that have the right keywords, and use both internal and external links.
Strategy #5: Link everywhere you can (within reason)
Every profile you have elsewhere should link to your blog. On Goodreads, Netgalley, Facebook, Twitter, etc. make sure you let others know that you have a book review blog and what the link to it is.
Also, participate in discussions on other blogs, and make sure to link back to your own blog if they allow it.
Warning: don’t be a spammer! Actively engage in conversations. Make friends. They probably won’t mind if you put a link in your comment. If it’s a forum, make sure to abide by the rules of the forum. Some places allow links, others don’t.
Strategy #6: Old-Fashioned Word of Mouth
Do you interact with other people who like to read? For instance, do you have co-workers or family who might want to visit your blog? Or, are you friendly with the librarians at the public library? If books come up in conversation, don’t be ashamed to tell people you have a book blog. They might pass the word along.
Strategy #7: Advertising
I haven’t tried this yet, due to my aforementioned brokeness, but it works for some people. You can pay to boost your Facebook or Twitter posts.
Strategy #8: Blog Directories
You can list your blog in directories. We have a directory we are starting here that you can sign up for. Or, do a Google search for book blog directories and you will find a few. Unfortunately, a lot of those are out of date and include hundreds of blogs that aren’t blogging anymore. Still, it probably won’t hurt to submit your information. Whether anyone can find your listing past all the other ones is another question.
Strategy #9: Blog Tours
Blog tours are a great way to get people to visit your site. The best part about tours is that many of the blog tour companies have large followings. They share about your stop on the tour, which gets people to visit. Some of my favorite blog tour companies to work with are:
The negative part of blog tours is market saturation. If every stop is posting the same thing, you probably won’t get noticed unless you are the first stop on the tour. I recommend signing up for something that will give you unique content. Don’t do spotlights or blitzes unless you really, really want to share about that book. Because, as I said, the same post will be on other blogs, and it will hurt your search engine standing to have duplicate content.
Therefore, I think signing up to do interviews, guest posts, or reviews are better than signing up to do promos.
Since we’ve been on this new website, I’ve tried to limit my promo posts to only those that have excerpts or giveaways. Yes, some of those are duplicate content, but at least they are giving something of value to anyone who reads the post. And I’ve been signing up more frequently for other kinds of posts that provide unique content readers won’t be able to find on another blog. I’m not saying I’ll never sign up for a spotlight post, but they’ll be rarer than they used to be on the old blog.
Strategy #10: Original, Quality Content
As I mentioned, original content affects your rating in search engines. And it gets people to share your posts. Another benefit of original content is it makes you a go-to source for information. For example, if someone wants to read an interview with a particular author, you would stand out to them if you are one of only a few who have an interview with that author.
Also, you want to make sure your content is appealing to your readers. Include images, but don’t overdo it. I can’t stand blog posts with tons of gifs or irrelevant photos.
Make sure your writing is clean, no spelling errors or glaring grammatical issues. If you want to be a go-to source, you have to present yourself as professionally as possible.
Do I Have to Do All of These?
It depends on your goals. If you are content with just expressing yourself, without concern for how many people see it, then you don’t have to do any of them.
There is no one-true-formula for creating blog traffic. All of these strategies, used in conjunction with one another, will yield better results than doing some or none of them.
What Do You Do?
Did I miss anything? Is there something you do that I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Edit 1/14/18: I’ve grandfathered this post into our new feature, Book Blogging Basics. More posts like this can be found in our menu under features.
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