2 New Ways to Grow Blog Traffic

AJ Beltis is a blogger and content marketer for Toast, Inc. You can follow AJ on Twitter, @AJBeltis, and read his posts on the Toast Restaurant Management Blog.

If you’re a seasoned blogger, you likely know the basics.

Other articles on ways to grow blog traffic might cover the familiar ideas of choosing keywords for SEO, adding alt text to your images, or breaking up your body text for a more aesthetically pleasing post. And yet, despite everything the experts are recommending, your blog traffic is at a standstill.

What I am here to do is introduce you to two simple and worthwhile ways to grow your blog traffic you may not be familiar with.

At Toast, we’ve faced a similar problem in the past. We write for restaurant owners, managers, and experts. In a country with one million restaurants, we know our traffic today is just a fraction of what it will be in the future. Yet sometimes, it seems like our traffic has plateaued.

I refuse to accept that.

When traffic is at a standstill, we leverage a few strategies to grow blog traffic without spending a dollar. Here are two of my favorite and trusted ways to grow blog traffic.

1) Post in LinkedIn & Facebook Groups

There are millions of people that could be reading and subscribing to your blog, and they’re all waiting for your content to appear in their timeline or newsfeed.

Head on over to LinkedIn and Facebook and search for groups related to your business. At Toast, we searched for keywords like “food,” “restaurant,” “pizza,” and “full service.” We have found about 30 groups, some of which have upwards of 100,000 members. Employees of our marketing team have joined those groups, so we can post new articles as they go live.

Sometimes, the spike in traffic is negligible. Most of the time, however, we see great results. Let me draw you to a specific example.

One of the blogs I posted on a LinkedIn group this year was “Food Trends in 2016: What Restaurants Need to Know.” This post currently ranks 30th of all time, and has only been live since September. To put that in perspective, we have over 200 entries on the Toast Restaurant Management Blog.

The blog post performed better than usual with organic search and subscriber email open rate, but LinkedIn brought in the majority of views. At the time I write this post, over 77 percent of this blog’s all-time traffic is from social media, with over 90 percent of that social media traffic from LinkedIn.

Aside from views, we also saw a pretty big uptick in subscribers from this post. Check out the image below, which graphs blog posts driving the most subscribers during the week of that blog’s publishing.

I’ll bring up another example, this time with Facebook.

Last month, I noticed a huge uptick in traffic from a post I had written about bar management back in June. According to HubSpot, these views were largely from social media.

After my team did some digging, we found that someone had posted the blog on their own personal Facebook page. One of their friends then shared the link on multiple bartender groups on Facebook. The image below shows the (shark-fin shaped) spike in social media traffic, launching the post to be the fourth most viewed overall for the month.

Its views more than doubled last month, taking it to be Toast’s 26th most-viewed blog post to date.

See, there are communities yearning for your content all over the internet and, in these groups, they’re all huddled in one place. Once you find these communities, post your most-loved blogs, along with a question or conversation starter. Check back in when someone leaves a comment and continue to engage with them; this will keep the post alive in others’ feeds and ensure it is seen by even more people.

2) Partner with Industry Leaders

At Toast, we love working with successful restaurant consultants, chefs, and industry thought leaders. One experience with two of these individuals helped take Toast’s blog to where it is today.

Back in May of 2016, restaurant consultant and frequent Toast collaborator Donald Burns submitted a blog to us entitled “The 5 Real Reasons You’re Losing Restaurant Staff.” Donald is as passionate about this business as he is knowledgeable and wrote a great guest post. It was then noticed by well-known chef and author Chris Hill, who shared it on his Facebook page—and to all 100,000+ fans of his.

The post went totally viral.

To date, the post is our most-viewed blog. It has been read seven times more than the second most-viewed post. Additionally, it has brought in the most subscribers of any post, having brought in more than four times the amount of subscribers as the next post.

Note in the graph below that the blue and teal lines represent non-blog website pages.

This has solidified Toast’s relationship with both Donald and Chris, who continue to be advocates for our brand and have contributed to our blog and content. They in turn share that content with their social following—individuals in this industry who may not necessarily know about the Toast product or brand.

This adds credibility to Toast’s blog being the ultimate restaurant center. It increases subscribers and, ultimately, traffic.

With that said, seek out the best of the best in your industry to become contributors to, and advocates for, your blog. Reach out to 10, 20, 50 people—however many it takes until you find an expert willing to help out your brand.

Send them a brief email or tweet asking if they’d like to contribute to a post you’re working on. Build some credibility with them by showing how large your email, social, or blog audience is. If your numbers just aren’t there yet, give them some other facts to build your credibility and justify that helping you out is worth their time. This can be anything from funding, to company growth, to endorsements from known professionals. After gauging their interest, you could have them assist in a variety of ways—from submitting a quote to authoring an entire post. If they’re featured, they’ll be sure to share it.

Typically they will say yes, and we have found that they rarely expect or ask for compensation. Many industry leaders simply love the ability to express their own expertise to a new channel, which leads to a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Growing Your Blog Traffic

When everyone’s using the tried and true ways of growing blog traffic, those strategies aren’t nearly as special, are they? If you’re seeing stalled results from your usual tactics, try engaging communities on social media groups and reaching out to thought leaders in your industry. This will help you find new avenues for blog growth when you seem to have exhausted all of the traditional methods.

Want to read the posts that have helped our blog grow? Check out the Toast Restaurant Management Blog!