We all know the importance of traffic to a travel blog, apart from its wonderful content and awesome photos whatsoever.
Even if you don’t rely on traffic to make money, having a blog with low traffic is really devastating, and at some point, you will lose your interest in blogging.
I come with a bad and a piece of good news for you! Well, they’re actually two pieces of news!
The bad news is, it’s NOT easy to boost travel blog traffic, especially if you don’t have any background in marketing (both traditional and digital), growth hacking, ow something like that.
But then the good news is, just keep calm and write more blog posts with great content, understand your audience, and be active on different social media platforms. It’s that simple to increase your blog traffic.
How I boost my travel blog traffic steadily over the years
Before showing you how I did all the traffic boosting tricks, have a look at my traffic statistic from Jetpack for WordPress. In case you haven’t heard about it or not installed this plugin yet, I highly recommend doing it now. A free version is good enough.
Jetpack and Google Analytics have different ways to collect and showcase data, but anyway, that’s quite OK for a quick overview.
As you can see, starting in June 2016, my travel blog traffic was… 38 views/day and spiked crazily in July and August, but they weren’t the real traffic.
I created this blog back in May 2016 and started to design the theme, write posts, and test my site on different devices and browsers. That’s why it looked like I did some growth hack at that time. Well, not that fancy, tho!
The “real” traffic came a year after, starting from April 2017, and it just increased over the years.
You may also notice that there are some months when the traffic is lower than the others. Well, it depends on your blog’s niche, i.e. what you write about. Mine is about travelling in Europe, and my readers come mostly from Vietnam, meaning they can only travel to Europe during some certain time of the year.
Anyway, from April 1st to May 1st 2019, I got 67.000+ page views. That is, for me, pretty awesome, especially when I didn’t have to pay Facebook or Google to bring me traffic!
But sure, it’s a lot of work! Let’s see what I’ve done to boost my travel blog traffic!
1. Invest in your content
In order to boost your travel blog traffic, your content must be worth reading and sharing. You can pay Facebook as much money as you can, but if readers enter your blog just to find it boring and lack of content, they will not come back, and you just threw your money down the drain.
Write lots of content (quantity) and make sure they are great (quality), then you can start promoting your blog without wasting your money and time.
In this very blog post, I will not discuss how to create great content for your blog. It depends on you, what you’re writing about, and what your audience want to read. It’s something you have to figure out yourself, mate!
However, there’s one thing I can say: Quantity takes time. Unless you write new blog posts every single day (and still have o make sure it’s a great piece of content), it will take you at least 6 months to have your blog look “presentable”.
Again, I cannot stress enough how SEO is crucial to your blog traffic. Yet I’m not any SEO-expert to give you any professional tips or advice. Instead, I will tell you exactly what I did.
In 2012 when I was a web editor, I was lucky enough to have a slot at some one-week SEO course that my company paid for all web editors to attend. At that time, SEO was not what it is today with all the algorithm that changes day after day, but the course DID help me a lot with my blog today.
I got the basic ideas of what SEO is and some practical how-tos, mainly by practising and reading other successful/professional bloggers’ tips about it. I was thinking about taking the “Adventure in SEO”-course by Lena Gott sometime in 2020 to boost my travel blog traffic and be qualified for Mediavine.
[More on that later]
3. Understand your audience
Understanding your audience is the key (among other keys, of course) to success in travel blogging.
Who are your readers? Are they men or women? Are they teens, in their twenties or older? Where do they live? And so on. All of these elements will help to imagine who your ideal readers are.
Normally you will attract readers who are like you. For example, a thirty-year-old-mother-of-two travel blogger (ME) will have the tendency to gain the audience in the same demographic group. And actually I don’t have any readers who are young men between 18 – 22 years old but older ones with family! See!!!
The best way to know who your readers are is Google Analytics. There, you’ll have all the information you need to understand your audience.
But what is the idea of understanding your audience?
To create content that fits them!
Let’s consider a blog post about travelling to Paris. Bloggers whose audience is mainly seniors will have a totally different approach to that topic than those whose readers are young women between 22 – 25 years old.
Also, female bloggers will have a different sense of aesthetics than their male fellows, showcasing by the way they design their websites (layout, colours, fonts, etc.). And as a result, they will attract like-minded readers.
So, understanding your audience is really a game-changer fact that will help to increase your blog traffic. The more you understand your readers, the closer you are to a successful travel blog!
4. Theme and speed
You would have never thought that your blog’s theme and its speed would have affected your blog traffic. Not until you experience it.
When choosing or designing your theme, bear in mind that it MUST be responsive, meaning it will change its layout depending on which device people are using to read your blog.
If you ever felt annoyed by reading something on your smartphone but it just had the layout of a website (think tiny letters and awkward horizon layout), then you will get my point here.
It turns your readers down!
The same thing goes for your site’s speed. If it takes people more than 15 – 20 seconds to load your site, you’re out!
I’m not tech-savvy enough to give you ant concrete advice here. Head to Google and search for “site speed test” and see what you can get from there. Until now I also struggle a little bit with my site’s speed on iPad, but still cannot figure it out how to fix it properly.
5. Use social media to gain exposure
You cannot blog without having at least one SoMe account. Come on!
Depends on where you live/where your readers come from and what you blog about, you will have to choose your SoMe platform wisely and know how to rock it.
Since my readers are Vietnamese/from Vietnam, I use Facebook as my main SoMe platform to connect with my audience and gain exposure by posting in different groups, commenting/answering questions, sharing my posts, etc.
I don’t use Twitter or Pinterest (not that much) since it doesn’t help in my case. However, as I write in both Vietnamese and English, Pinterest and Bloglovin are the two platforms I will have to focus more on in the future.
Using Quora is also a way to gain exposure. I’ve read some interesting and useful articles about using Quora (answering questions) to gain traffic to a blog, but haven’t had time to try it yet. Definitely should try it soon.
Here you can refer to what I’ve said before: Invest in your content! You should already have something to share, or actually, MANY things to share, before trying to gain exposure online.
6. Who are your competitors?
It’s not enough to understand who your readers are. The other group of people you have to understand is, surprisingly, your competitors!
Who are your competitors? What are their strength and weakness? What makes them better than you? What makes you more interesting than them? You name it.
If you consider your travel blog as a side hustle or even a business, you have to think business.
Or maybe you should think like Sun Tzu in The Art of War, “Know yourself and you will win all battles”.
You may know all the information about your competitors. But first and foremost, you have to understand what you have to contribute to your audience, what makes you more special than the others, why should they read your travel blog, not your competitors’.
The most common mistake people will make is that you will have the tendency to make some “replicas” of whatever your competitors are doing, even when you didn’t mean to do it. I mean, it’s OK to get inspired by other people in your field, but there’s a thin border between these two things.
Remember, you should understand them for the sake of creating better content, not copying.
Don’t be already a loser before starting the game!