Ways to boost traffic to your D&D blog

One of the most appealing aspects of “Web 2.0” is its potential for personal interaction with content, and Web logs are a key element of that interaction. Since only a small percentage of readers take the time to comment on blog posts, a comparably large audience is required to have enough commenting readers for a rich, interactive discussion on a topic.

Since many RPG Athenaeum readers are bloggers themselves, its seems that discussing methods for increasing site traffic would be a valuable exercise, with the goal of getting enough readers involved to have authentic conversations about our favorite games – outside the boundaries of “offical” discussion sites moderated by the compaies that produce them.

This post will focus on free methods for increasing traffic, since most RPG blogs aren’t for-profit ventures with marketing and advertising budgets.

At present, the greatest single contributor of new traffic coming to this site is the RPG Bloggers Network. The network has been growing exponentially in recent months, and if your gaming blog isn’t listed there, your traffic will greatly benefit from your site being added.

Another method for incresing traffic is to list your site with Internet search engines. Submit your site to general relevancy-rank engines like Google, Yahoo!, Alta Vista, Dogpile, Lycos and others, as well as gaming search engines such as RPGseek.com. Note that by submitting to Google, your site will also be indexed for Google Reader, one of the most popular blog readers in use on the Internet.

Of course Google Reader isn’t the only blog directory in use; you’ll also want to submit to Technorati, Octofinder, Blog CatalogBlog Surfer, and Bloghub.

Another method of increasing traffic to your RPG blog, described in advice postings by RPG Blogging Luminaries Uncle Bear and Chatty DM, is to visit other blogging sites, leaving comments and using the posts of other bloggers as a springboard for your own ideas. By becoming part of the community, you become part of the conversation.

Have you employed other means to increase readership on your blog notmentioned here? If you have, please consider sharing your experiences in a comment to this post.

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20 comments on “Ways to boost traffic to your D&D blog

  1. Canageek says:

    You forgot the number one way: Post more. When I’m posting on a regular basis my hits go through the roof. Mostly from Twitter as everyone sees the update. Actually that is another good way: Tweet your posts. Everyone who is subscribed to my blog found it that was. Also do useful posts from time to time: My #1 post was a quick list of Keep on the Shadowfell map links I threw together quickly since I needed to keep track of them all anyway and wanted to keep myself posting. Embarrassing I know that the post I did in 30min gets more then the ones I spent hours and hours on, but hey, people are finding it useful, so how can I complain?

    Anyway, hope that helps.

    –Canageek

    • Mark says:

      Content, content, content. If your intention is to increase readership, that’s what they are seeking. You can optimize everything for search engines and group memberships but if you have nothing to new to read, they aren’t likely to return. Content is the new variant of location, location, location mantra espoused for brick and mortar businesses.

      Good content is an attractive force. People will link it, upping your rank in search engines with that metric such as Google. Once one link to you is in place, you really don’t need to submit to search engines. You can as a starter but it buys you little with modern relevancy algorithms. Interest specific search engines are a different beast entirely than the general ones. That’s a good idea.

      The real factor, in my opinion, is having content people want. Some of the most useful is not apt to get commentary. So you can choose content people want to discuss or content people want to consume. If you really want commentary, publish articles that are controversial.

      It all depends on what you want the tone of your site to be.

      • Canageek says:

        True, but even though I’m getting up a background of (what I think) are decent posts I find then when I’m not publishing new stuff the number of people visiting the site plunges. I mean, sure, if you are publishing trash no one is going to look at it, I think that is a given, but you can be publishing great stuff and no one will look at it if they don’t find it.

      • Alric says:

        Very true. Between you and Mark, I’m getting a very useful education about how this works.

      • Alric says:

        Very encouraging words, Mark. Sometimes, I’ve posted topics which I thought were pretty useful, but nobody commented; I figured that they were just uninteresting. Your point illustrates that there’s a possibility that folks liked what they read, but just didn’t choose to comment. While I’m not judging my success at blogging by how many comments I get, I’d still like to see folks expanding on what I post – kind of like they’re doing here, but this post is something of an anomaly that way…

        Thank you for reading, by the way.

    • Alric says:

      It does help, a great deal. I post pretty regularly, so I hadn’t thought of post frequency as one of the variables.

      Many thanks.

  2. max.elliott says:

    From the SEO side of rankings, I offer the following advice.

    DO:

    Post weekly, no matter what. The major search engines swing by every 14 days or so, and if you haven’t posted anything new you get bumped down in the queue. Go 30 days and get bumped to 90, go 90 and find yourself on the 120 day list.

    Cross-Post. Post your article everywhere. In places where you’re short on space post the lead-in. In other places post the entire article. Then link back to your blog. You’re readers will appreciate the effort of reaching them on their terms, the engines will like that you’re so often repeated, and it’ll only cost you some copy/pasting. There are tools to help you with this, like tweetdeck. At the very least, announce a new article everywhere.

    Format your articles with subheadings and make the post as well structured as you can. Make use of the h2 and h3 tags. Readers can look at your posts and determine the structure based on BOLD and such…. Search engines cannot.

    Link to other articles where required and format your links properly. This approach is rather new, but search around and pick the method you’re most comfortable with.

    Link to other sites and writers where it’ll make sense. Outward bound links look good, and the better the content you link to, the better your ranking will be. Look at it like riding their coattails. Then RIDE THOSE COATTAILS.

    Use keywords and be as verbose as possible, without killing your readers. We like to blink sometimes.

    Review your logs to find out what search engines are coming by and where they’re looking at. You can then adjust things a little for them, and maybe guide them in the right direction.

    MIND YOUR METATAGS. These things are still important and they need to be adjusted a bit for every pages content. The better they fit, the better the ranking. There are wordpress plugins for this, but I haven’t tried any yet.

    Use “robots.txt” and make it as permissive as you can.

    DONT:

    Use “Hidden content”. Google threw a fit about this a few years back and you can get banned from their and Yahoo’s listings for trying it.

    Use Flash and Javascript for your content. Trust me, as far as the engines are concerned you may as well have written nothing.

    FORGET TO POST. My wife queues up her posts a month in advance, just in case. The woman could die and her blog would run for weeks without her.

    Turn to the dark side. There’s lots of groups that’ll promise you rankings for $$ or to automate your ranking worries away. There are people that’ll tell you about “dictionary pages” and special “crosslinking deals”. Your rankings will shoot up and then 30 days later.. NOTHING. It’ll be so much better to use your own better judgment.

    Put garbage, private directories, testing zones, or automatically generated datapages in robots.txt as allowed, even by inclusion. The engines will only scan so many of your top pages, then move on. You don’t want to waste that on your PHP driven pokeman card collection database… Unless that’s what your site is about. Just forbid that crud right away.

    That’s what I have off the top of my head.

    • Canageek says:

      Most of that looks good but I know google has stated they do not look at metatags due to all the abuse of them dating back to the 90s.

      • max.elliott says:

        Then where do the page summaries in the rankings come from?

        They do pay attention, and the metatags are important _if formatted and used correctly_. People used to stuff 100’s of keywords, and copies of entire articles into the keyword metatag, so google changed the way metatags work. Google now only pays attention to the first 20 or so keywords.

        They are also used when Google displays the structure of your site, though I do not remember exactly how offhand.

        Did you know that valid yet normally undisplayed ascii characters in the tag will display as characters in google’s listings? I have a friend that puts a bullet point in front of his clients titles so they stand out amazingly well in the listings. It makes them look seperated out by google when they’re not.

      • Alric says:

        If this stuff isn’t your day job, Max, it should be.

      • max.elliott says:

        It was, until my wife started getting more work as a music teacher. Now I’m a househusband and office assistant for her. I get to clean the house, fix things, advise her on technical issues, and play with my kids all day long, so it’s worth it.

        I still consult every now and again, and my email inbox is always open.

        If you’re in KC and need piano or voice lessons, you can also get in touch with us.

      • max.elliott says:

        The title tag. Stoopid wordpress filters to dump to be able to sanitize tags properly.

    • Alric says:

      Whoa, Max, you really know your stuff. I’ll have to talk to you if this site ever gets gig enough to have advertising…

  3. jonathan says:

    Add

    – Content Content Content. Post Early. Post Often. You writting will improve over time.

    – Engage your readers. Ask questions. Give them a reason to come back.

    – Start a project that includes the community in which your blog is a part of.

    – Link to other blogs. Any blogger worth their salt knows when another blog has linked to them. This linking out will invariably be returned in time when the other blogs link back.

    – Use Facebook Notes to include your RSS feed. Zero work, everyone in your network will see your posts when they happen. This is similar to Feedburner’s TweetFeed feature for Twitter – which is also good.

  4. jonathan says:

    “you writing will improve over time”…

    LOL.. Laughing at myself…

    • Alric says:

      That happens to me all the time, whenever my brain moves faster than I can type – which is often, because i’m a poor typist.

      Thank you for your visit.

  5. Noumenon says:

    I’ve got a suggestion: name your blog something that doesn’t have foreign spellings like “naeum” in it! I was lucky I could find this place again.

    • Alric says:

      I kinda painted myself into a corner with the name. It is my first blog, and I didn’t choose the name with traffic in mind, and now I’m kind of stuck with it. You’re absolutely right, though. If I had to do it again, I’d choose an easier-to-remember name.

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