How to Get More Traffic on Your Blog – Why “Better Book Reviews” Aren’t the Answer

Hey, Ashley,

I’ve had a really hard time the past couple of weeks with my number of page views and blog traffic. I haven’t really changed anything from what I was doing before (when the traffic was at its highest). I was wondering if you had any advice for driving traffic to your blog?

Stephanie

Hi Stephanie!

I know some people may not want to hear this (because I used to always roll my eyes when I heard it myself), but the #1 way to get traffic to your blog is through interesting and original content.

Great book reviews just won’t cut it

I’ll be honest, in terms of a book blog, I don’t really believe that “great book reviews” are enough to drive a ton of traffic to your blog… at least not in most cases.

How many book blogs do you follow? How many of them mostly post book reviews? Probably all of them, because book reviews are the point of a book blog. But, as a blog reader, do you ever feel like you’re drowning in book reviews? Do you ever get just a little tired of reading them?

I do.

(But for all I know, maybe I’m completely alone in that feeling.)

There are hundreds or thousands of book blogs out there, and it’s really hard to make yourself stand out by doing what everyone else is doing (writing reviews). I’m not saying you shouldn’t write reviews, because obviously that’s the point of a book blog, but if you really want to drive more traffic to your blog then you need to think about how to incorporate something new and unique into your posts.

Original features win!

I bet my blog traffic would be half of what it is now if it weren’t for my Bitchin Book Blog posts. My BBB posts are like my gimmick. They give me a leg up in the book blogging world because I talk a lot about WordPress, coding, and web design… that’s not something a lot of bloggers know about or talk about. So, when bloggers want to learn about those topics, they come to Nose Graze.

If you can find a unique topic like that, it will do WONDERS for your blog. If you can’t think of a unique, regular feature, then I would recommend that you at least work on some interesting discussion posts. I find that discussion posts are hugely successful in terms of page views/comments. In fact, I personally often enjoy reading an interesting book-related discussion post more than I enjoy reading a book review.

Here are some examples of blogs with unique features. I don’t have access to their page views or statistics, but I’m willing to bet that these unique features give those blogs a big leg up in terms of traffic:

Not up for an original feature?

If you really can’t think of an original topic or feature, then at the very least, you can utilize social media to improve blog traffic:

  • Advertise your latest posts on Twitter, but don’t ONLY advertise. Also chat with other bloggers and be social on Twitter. I suck at this, but I promise it does help! Twitter is the #1 social media referral to my site.
  • Post all your book reviews on Goodreads, and link to your blog on every review. (Post the full review on Goodreads, but include a note saying it’s a review from your blog or something.)
  • Create a Facebook page and set it up so that your posts get automatically posted. You can do this with NetworkedBlogs.
  • Submit your discussion posts to StumbleUpon. I find that people on StumbleUpon don’t give a crap about book reviews, so I don’t bother submitting mine there, but StumbleUpon is GREAT for discussions, “interesting” posts, cool pictures/videos, etc. A great post can earn you A TON of traffic on StumbleUpon if it becomes a hit. My tutorial on how to make your own planet in Photoshop got like 15,000 views overnight once because of StumbleUpon.
  • Utilize any other social media sites that interest you (like Pinterest or Instagram).

Don’t use cheap tricks

I kind of consider giveaways a “cheap trick”. I’m not saying don’t have giveaways, because I have giveaways on my own blog. I just mean that you shouldn’t host tons and tons of giveaways because you want more blog traffic. Yes, giveaways will boost your traffic while the giveaway is running, but in my experience, giveaways do not equate to subscribers, long-term traffic increases, or returning visitors. People will come only for the giveaway, then hightail it out of there. That person won’t come back to comment on your posts, they just want to win something. And that’s lame.

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I'm a 27 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). I like to inject a little #girlpower into the WordPress development community by teaching women how to be coding badasses. more »

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38 comments

  1. I totally agree with you Ashley! Book reviews are the common thing across the board when it comes to Book Blogs, because hey, a book blog has GOT to have reviews right? And the points raised in a review will always have something similar to someone else’s review, so sometimes reviews aren’t the answer.
    I really think that your blog is great, take away the BBB series of tips, and it’s still good! But I think your BBB series really is what makes you stand out from most other book blogs and that’s a great idea 🙂
    I’m still on my way on finding an original feature that’s me, and I agree that a original feature is attractive and fun! You need something that will help you stand out from the crowd, because nowadays, there has got to be at least a 1001 book blogs out there!
    The giveaway point is actually really accurate. While it attracts traffic, it’s only because people want to win (not very nice) and after the giveaway is over, people tend to unfollow (not nice at all). And you can see if a blog drives traffic, especially when it has a high number of comments.
    Great post Ashley!

    Emily Drema recently posted: Stacking The Shelves: 18/08/2013
  2. Sometimes, I’m mean and wish that I have the same coding experience that you do so I can do this kind of post as well. But then, that would never work, as I suck at stuff like this.

    I don’t mind reviews if they’re for books I’m interested in, but books I’ve never heard of? Or I’ve already seen so many reviews for this all over the place? No thanks. I get bored.

    Shannelle (The Tracery of Ink) recently posted: Behind the Blog Monday: Living in a Book's World
  3. Yes! I personally dislike reading reviews. I’ll read them if it’s for a book I’ve already read or one I’m really curious about, but that’s about it. I literally just go through my reader every morning and usually “mark read” every single review.

    And yes, social media is also huge! I am not very good in this part of the blogosphere (especially Twitter) but I did at least make it so when my post is published a Tweet goes out and I was surprised to see how much traffic comes in on that alone. (I haven’t done anything about old posts.) I think Goodreads is one I need to work on as well.

    Great post!

    Asti (A Bookish Heart) recently posted: Bookish Review: The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness (Adult)
  4. Definitely agree with you on this point, I was quite disappointed to find that my reviews weren’t the reason I was getting traffic on my blog but mainly my discussion posts so it was saddening that reviews weren’t getting many views but happy to know that people enjoyed my discussions as well and that drew them to my blog.

    It is very difficult to stand out with just reviews unless you have a unique approach to your reviews or you’re pretty well-known already for them.

    Charlotte @ Gypsy Reviews recently posted: Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (#70)
  5. From my limited experience (8 months of blogging) this is 100% correct information. I find my reviews really don’t get much traffic unless the author RTs it but it typically only boosts things for a day. My Covers in Blocks and Blocks Behind the Blog features get some of the highest views. Great advice…now I need to check out StumbleUpon.
    Covers in Blocks

    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted: Interview with Demitria Lunetta Author of In the After + Giveaway
  6. Giveaways definitely do not correlate to active, commenting subscribers. When I initially started trying to really develop a following, quite a ways into my blogging actually, I joined some blog hops. While it DID get me a fair number of GFC followers, most of them only came for the giveaway. I think it did help in the sense that someone might be more inclined to follow a blog with 300 followers than 60, because we sort of trust others to be arbiters of taste, which is why seeing something on the bestseller list makes it sell more.

    Thank you so much for linking to my blog/feature. I’m planning to link up my reviews on GR and Pinterest once I move to my WordPress site. I don’t see the point when I know my URl will be changing. Great ideas, Ashley.

    Oh, and I can tell you that Cover Snark gets by far the most reviews of everything I post on my blog, though some discussion posts come close.

    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted: Review: Love in the Time of Global Warming
    1. You could still link your reviews now if you want. 🙂 It’s possible to completely redirect your Blogger blog to your WordPress one (so that if someone visits a review on your Blogger site, they get automatically redirected to that same review on your WP one).

  7. Excellent post, Ashley. I definitely agree regarding posting unique content and not just relying on giveaways or other gimmicks. I participated in a blog hop-type meme for a week, and while it was a good source of traffic, I felt uncomfortable with the nature of it, how the comments it produced seemed more interested in advertising their own blogs than any interest in yours, so I decided against participating in that meme. Maybe it’s just me, but I want to feel like I’ve earned my pageviews and followers through hard work and genuinely interesting posts.

    Nikki @ The Paper Sea recently posted: Book Review: The Day Before
    1. Yep, great point! I want to know that people are visiting my blog and commenting on it because they actually like it; not because they want free stuff or because they want me to visit their blog.

  8. Why yes! I totally agree here! I do however like to read reviews from books I am interested in reading, but I’m being honest and do not always read the full review any only a small part *shame on me*.

    I believe that your BBB gets tons of traffic as it attacks many bloggers who are not so awesomely talented like you :))

    And again, I’m being honest here, that I mostly come here to read your reviews and I might be the minority, but I find that you have such a similar taste to me that I love reading your thoughts.
    Plus, having been blogging since 4 years, many things you feature I might know already. Still I love your feature and often find something that is still new.

    Getting back to the point!
    I love having authors over for Interviews or interesting posts and they often get tons of traffic.

    Recently, our Super Six Sunday totally hits off and gets more and more pageviews:)
    Of course, my Discussed! Post always get the most comments.

    So I say, it’s good to find a balance in book Blogging, that is when I think you are on the right track.

    For example, I just found a blog where the last 6 posts were all Blog Tours!!!! Not a single “normal” review, not a single “normal” post. Needless to say I left without leaving a comment nor being interested what this bloggers has to offer.

    I do love Blog Tours (duhh…Kismet) but, only when not overdone!

    So… I think now I close my ridiculously long comment!

  9. These are excellent pointers. Most of the time, unless it’s a book I’m really interested in or a friend’s written the review or I’ve read and loved the book, I’d rather read a post like this or a discussion post or something funny and unique than reviews. I’m always trying to think up fresh content (although I often get stuck for ideas) and ways to advertise my blog without feeling like a pimp. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  10. This I knew and still manage to learn something. I’m still trying to figure out unique content, it’s not easy when you aren’t focused on the blog as much as you’d like to be 🙁

    Krys recently posted: Weekly Wrap-Up
  11. YES to all the things that you’ve said! To be honest, I am always dropping by your blog because I want to read your BBB posts. I am in a way addicted to them even if I couldn’t relate to some of them being not tech savvy. But at least I know where to go and what to look for when I come across problems in the future.

    Continue being awesome, Ashley!

  12. Agreed, Ashley – giveaways are sort of a wham/bam way of getting traffic, but I don’t think they get you RETURN traffic. I don’t want a once-and-done. I want regular visitors.

    Commenting on other blogger’s blogs with relevant things (not just “Come see my blog!”) and original content is really the best way. You hit the nail on the head. (Also I for one LOVE all your blog tips. :))

  13. Really great pointers! I was just commenting to my brother that twitter seems to be where most my followers are and where most my traffic is coming from, so I have to agree about that 100%. It is hard for me to be social on there though, initiating conversations can be difficult!

    I do love book reviews, though. I’m always wondering what people think of books that I’ve read, want to read, and haven’t heard of. So they do drive me to people’s blogs. But I’m a weirdo (and used to it lol)!

    Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun recently posted: Teaser Tuedsays | Dancing with the Devil by Keri Arthur
  14. Obviously you’re not alone in the drowning in reviews category, but I wanted to add my vote to that statement! There are so many reviews waiting for my attention every morning that I only skim most of them and even the ones I’m quite interested in, I read the first and last paragraphs thoroughly but skim a lot of the rest. I’m just interested in what they thought and why they thought that so I can decide if the book is for me >.>

    I didn’t realize StumbleUpon was good for discussion posts, thanks for that tip! *goes to post hers*

  15. I’m finding I like Twitter a lot. But Stumble Upon didn’t provide too much quality traffic – at least that’s been my experience. I’m going to start using Good Reads, has anyone had success getting people to their sites from Good Reads?

  16. I know I’m a little late in the game here, but I just found your blog. However, you give some excellent advice. I am new to book blogging…as in virgin new, no posts or anything, just some ideas. I am a little overwhelmed by it all. I started out just wanting to do this just for me, and if I happen to get followers, and some foot traffic then that’s just awesome. I just want to share my love of books, as I’m sure we all do. I like the idea of having a little “gimmick” something that sets me apart from others, and I like the idea of having book discussion. Anyway, thanks for all the advice, and stay Awesome!!

  17. Thank you so much. That last little bit about giveaway’s was something I was really wondering about. I want to host some soon but I want to wait and build up an actual community first. I have anywhere from 4 to 20 people looking at each post. I know it’s not alot but I have not been able to get any of them to comment yet, besides one or two friends that is. I don’t want to do giveaway’s yet and I was trying to figure if I should do them often or not. Also the legalities on them are something I need to look into more.

    I think I”ll just use them for very special occasions instead of like so many blogs I see. I had to put one FB page in my spam folder just from spamming me with giveaway’s and contests every twenty seconds it seemed. I don’t see what else they could have been blogging about with that many of them.

    I’m still trying to find my voice and what works for me. I’m also trying to figure out what else I can blog about besides books. You’re right, reviews are NOT enough. Aestas does a great job but they just post a bunch of stuff all the time. and they’re very good at what they do. I want to actually sleep some though lol 😀

    Jamie Pinson recently posted: That is so me!
  18. I really like this post, because ever since I moved to a self hosted site in the summer, my traffic isn’t what it used to be. I have recently started to do more than just book reviews. I have certain features I do monthly and weekly such as book discussions, book love promos of underrated books and book releases and more. So I think I will start working with Twitter more and even try out Stumble Upon. Thanks for this…its always great to try out new ways to promote your site for more readers.

    Renee (Lover of Romance) recently posted: Book Review-Wild Cat by Christine Feehan
  19. I’ve realised my book reviews aren’t my no.1 blog strategy quite a while ago, but this whole feature thing is new to me. I’ll start brainstorming ideas tomorrow and hopefully make it into my blog’s unique, amazing traffic magnet!

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