What’s the one stat that most bloggers care about the most? Is it page views, visitor location, referring sites or subscribers? I know for me and most other bloggers out there, getting more subscribers is a priority that is pretty high up on the list.
Why? Subscribers are people who have said they want to read or hear what you have to say. They want to stay in touch, probably because you provide value that improves their lives in one form or another. Subscribers are your constant traffic source when you aren’t being flooded with social media traffic and your Google rankings aren’t that great.
In this post, I want to look at a simple method I used to increase my subscribers that you can implement today. More importantly, this is something that is going to continue working for you for years to come if you lay the foundations properly.
Before you think you’ve heard it all before, bear with me. Keyword research can be time consuming, boring and often result in finding high traffic keywords with a lot of competition. That isn’t what I’m going to share with you today. In fact, this is all about finding keywords with ‘decent’ traffic and minimal competition so that you can easily start to rank in the top 20 results.
First of all, I want you to take a look at the most popular pages of Wikihow. These are the most popular ‘How to’ pages on the whole of the site and can be a great aid for inspiration.
What you should be looking for is “How To’s” that are related to your niche. I most regularly blog on the subject of personal development and self improvement, so I looked for things that could improve peoples’ lives in general. Whatever it is you write about, see if you can find any how to content that relates to your topic. You’ll notice that in the first few hundred results, most articles have hundreds of thousands of views. What this means is that although these articles may have had a traffic spike from the likes of Digg or Stumbleupon, to get that much traffic they are probably getting a lot of search engine referrals.
The best thing about search engine referrals is that they are constant and once you’ve put in the work to get them then the visitors are likely to keep coming for a long time. A particular page I found for example was ‘How to Make Friends’ which is perfect for my niche and also a topic I have some knowledge on due to frequent traveling and moving.
Now, once you have some ideas from the list, put your keywords into the Google External Keyword tool. You could of course just search for ‘how to’ but hopefully this exercise has given you some inspiration for niche-relevant phrases that you can use later in this blog post. Make sure when using this tool that you use the exact match feature so you can get a more realistic count for search volume.
Once you’ve found a keyword that is related to your niche, and a phrase that gets 1,000+ exact match queries per month then you are ready for the next part. As a side note, do a quick search on Google to check out the competition, or in other words, see how difficult it would be to rank for this phrase. What you are looking for is:
- How many sites in the top results have your phrase in the title
- How ‘strong’ the domains in the rankings are – i.e. about.com is very strong
- How many backlinks pages in the 6-10 positions have
It should be easy to tell with this criteria whether a phrase relating to your niche and ‘how to’ is going to be easy to rank for or not.
Creating an Ebook (Writing Time!)
Once you have your keyword you need to provide a solution, an answer. Most search queries out there are people looking for solutions to their problems or queries and they’ll often do quite a lot to get an answer.
In my case I decided to spend most of a day (Saturday to be specific) and write up an eBook on how people could solve what they were looking for, how to make friends. My eBook is 24 pages, although yours doesn’t have to be that long. The reason that I mentioned this should be relevant to your niche earlier is because you should have some knowledge on the subject as you are the one who is going to have to solve the problem.
I used Open Office (free) to create the eBook which has an export to PDF creator built in. It also keeps all backlinks which most PDF creators don’t, so I highly recommend it.
Setting Up Your Landing Page
I mentioned that I was going to help you increase your RSS subscribers and this is exactly what I’m highlighting now. First of all, you want to make sure that your landing page, whether it is a static html page or blog post is optimized well for on-site SEO. When I set up my ‘How to Make Friends’ page I made my URL http://www.pluginid.com/how-to-make-friends/ and the title only included those keywords.
One other thing I did on the landing page was create a simple graphic of the eBook for download to help people visualize what they would be getting. You can pay $20 on Digitalpoint Forums to get one of these made or if you have Photoshop do a quick search for eBook actionscript on Google and you’ll find some nice solutions. I actually made mine myself.
So, what I did here is put together a simple landing page showing off the new eBook, with its graphic and an email subscription box in order to receive it for free. This subscription box was linked directly to my feedburner email sign-up. I also mentioned on the page that this would sign people up for my regular updates but that they would not be spammed and could unsubscribe at any time (because this is true).
Getting Links & My Results
There are hundreds if not thousands of articles on how to get links so I’m not going to be going into detail here. Basically, for those with no SEO knowledge, links are one of the most important factors in getting a page to rank in the search engines. In theory you want to get as many relevant links as you can pointing to your page with the anchor text being the same as the title of your page ‘how to ….’.
Once you’ve done this, within a few weeks you should start to be getting traffic and feed subscribers. For me, the results were a lot more sudden so you could experience the same result. First of all, within a week of setting up the page I had already received hundreds of targeted visitors to the page:
(Over 2,000 now)
Bear in mind that most of this traffic came from ranking on the second page of Google. I’ve recently moved up to position 8 on the first page of results.
This traffic also led to an increase in feed subscribers. Remember that within 5 months of the site launching I had managed to grow to around 500 subscribers, not an amazing achievement but not bad either. Since implementing this however, I gained over 100 subscribers in just over a week, and it brings me new subscribers on a continual basis.
Now, don’t just read this and procrastinate; actually get out there and do it, and start creating your own results rather than being a spectator to the results of others. There is so much potential in this and I actually have another one lined up. The day I spent writing the eBook should benefit me for years to come.
Reader Comments (48)
Michael A Stelzner says
I find that Google is still my number one source of new subscribers.
I come up #2 for the phrase white paper
Still get 50 to 100 folks registering daily for my “white paper,” which is not all that different than an ebook.
Nice job on the article!
David at Animal-Kingdom-Workouts says
Thanks for the great article. I recently put up a new opt in for exercises that has been doing really well. I don’t have a proper blog yet, but that’s coming.
One question. How many backlinks did you get within those few weeks to get the results you got? Also, like you say, there are so many backlink strategies out there. Which one(s) did you follow?
Oh, and I’ve subscribed to your site too! I like your stuff 🙂
Joyous Living says
“I find that Google is still my number one source of new subscribers.”
We are multi-topic so it is hard to have just one focused niche to attract and hold onto subscribers…but there are a couple things mentioned in this article we already do. And they work well.
Mark Mac says
This is good advice for Food Bloggers like me.
Sonia Simone says
Really nice step by step instruction, thanks!
What a great outline – and there are so many things you can do to make it even more of a success. Promoting the crap out of it through social networking is just one method. This is something that could be a monthly thing which would really increase your readership substantially over time.
Sonia Simone says
Can I just say I’m having an unreasonable amount of fun looking through the Wikihow topics and adding “on your blog.”
How to Make Out on Your Blog
How to Get Rid of Acne on Your Blog
How to be a Gothic Lolita on Your Blog
How to Induce Vomiting on Your Blog
How to Calculate Pi by Throwing Frozen Hot Dogs on Your Blog
I will never run out of topic ideas again.
Scott Williams says
Good stuff, I really need to make the landing page happen. As far as subscribers… you can subscribe to my blog here:
Shameless plug; you did say subscribers was priority! 🙂
Nice article there Glen
Andre Thomas says
There sure are really some weird people looking for weird “how to” out there. This is an ingenious way to search for what people are looking for. I’ve never thought of going to wikihow to look for this kind of information.
That’s a great article! Guess what I will be doing htis weekend?!
this is great as I was just planning on doing soething like this!But I do have a question:
How did you link your subscription box to feedburner e-mail sign up in a way that it first sends the e-book and then your normal blog content?
J.D. Meier says
I really like the fact you did a walkthrough with a concrete example. There’s so much generic, bad advice around SEO. Context matters a lot and you set it well.
Sheila Atwood says
Ever since I have been reading you “Teaching Sells” reports I have been making a list of what I could teach. I looked at this list and realized it could be limitless.
Coach Kip says
Thanks for the great tips. From someone who was in the bloggosphere then out and now back in it is a great refresher. I like your site and you can count me in as one of your new subscribers.
I was a bit shocked to find that you wrote a 24 page eBook on a Saturday afternoon. Or was it a whole day?
Maybe I’m a slow writer, but it took me a good 6 months to think about, write and edit my Ebook “Overcome Anything”.
In her comment Anastasia said, “Guess what I will be doing htis weekend?!” I suppose she will also be churning out an eBook.
I suppose the aim is to graduate from speed-blogging to speed-bookwriting 🙂 However, words like ‘thoughtful’ and ‘thorough’ don’t go well with ‘speed’.
Thanks for the great ideas. I also love your site and the information on there. I just subscribed as well.
On the Money says
Great post – thanks. I’m about to produce a couple of eBooks and agree wholeheartedly about the marvel that is Open Office (especially when you’re running Linux!). For the cover shot jpgs, I’m thinking along the lines of putting the cover on full screen and making a jpg from that before uploading … any thoughts on this tactic … ?
Their are great tips in this post, thanks!, and as subscribers is a topic I’m struggling with at the moment, this article really hit home for me!, you know I sometimes feel a blog about hemorrhoid cream would get more subscribers than mine!;)
Mark Harrison says
Great post. Many people ignore the impact that an organic search on google for your site can have. Social bookmarking is all the rage but it is transient. Natural, organic search sticks around longer and will benefit your site in the long run.
I wish I had the talent to churn out best selling e books on weekends.But it is a dream worth following.
Every idea is first a dream and with a bit of talent and a lot of perseverance becomes a reality.
Will Lowrey says
This is a great post and an awesome actionable activity. On my site, I conduct case studies of online marketing and business development strategies. Eventually – I hope to put a number of success cases into a guide for something just like this.
However – I think this may be my next case study. I do have one suggestion for others trying this that might help: Consider marketing your opt-in page using EzineArticles. If, in your resource box, you add a link to your opt-in page, you can drive traffic pretty quick – as EZA ranks quickly and you can use a bunch of ‘one-off’ related keywords to get traffic there. Just an idea.
I will get started on this for my case study and we will see how it works!
As a new blogger, this is really good advice for me to follow. I have a lot to do this coming week!
New to blogging as well, thanks for this article, looking forward to more to come!
Glen Allsopp says
@David – I literally just used my signature on a couple of forums to get the backlinks. Then a few people in my industry also linked to it in blog posts, nothing special or out of the ordinary.
@Cassie – I completely agree, I’ve started using this in other niches and had a LOT of success, even more than highlighted here.
@Sonia – Thanks. Oh and yeah, I love some of those ideas. Shoot me an email when they go live 😉
@Puspanjali – Make the time, everytime you are going to write a blog comment just write more words in the eBook instead.
@ALL – thanks for the comments
This is a great practical example. I am going to go and try this on my own.
Jamey Bridges says
I really like the approach. You hammered out some serious great methods in this blog post. We have an Ebook that we have been sharing with our group,(real estate professionals) but I didn’t think about also using it to increase the subscriptions to our RSS feed as well. Definitely a good way to grow that count.
I have to say that digging into the “How to” pages is a really practical example of straightforward keyword research.
Tony Lawrence says
Subscribers are people who have said they want to read or hear what you have to say. They want to stay in touch, probably because you provide value that improves their lives in one form or another. Subscribers are your constant traffic source when you aren’t being flooded with social media traffic and your Google rankings aren’t that great.
But that’s not necessarily true. I have a few hundred sites that I did subscribe to, but that doesn’t mean I read them regularly. Some I may not have gotten to in weeks, some I may never have been to since the day I signed up! All RSS subscribers numbers mean is “this many people were at least interested enough to click subscribe”. It doesn’t mean they’ve ever read another post, if they have read more it doesn’t mean they read regularly.
Obviously Google Analytics tells me a lot more about your site than RSS subscribers does.
As a rather obvious example, let’s say Blog A has 5,000 subscribers but that number hasn’t changed significantly in a year. Blog B has only 800 but six months back that was 400 – which blog is doing better? I’d say B without any more data, but if we could look at Analytics and we saw that A’s traffic and unique visitors were actually growing at a much faster rate than B, we’d have to chalk up the poor RSS to some other factor.
Sudden increases from promotions may not mean much either. I may want your ebook but have little interest in your blog. I’ll click the link to get the book and I don’t necessarily unsubscribe – what the heck, it’s down there in my “I’ll read this stuff if and when I have nothing better to do” so it isn’t hurting anything. You may think you gained a loyal reader, but you haven’t.
I would say that if your numbers continue to climb WITHOUT a come-on like a free download, that is meaningful. That means you are writing content that interested people enough to subscribe. Bribes like ebooks may falsely inflate subscriptions.
RSS subscribers as a raw number really doesn’t say much at all. I know that goes against popular wisdom, but it is true just the same.
Great stuff. Never thought of looking for How To as keyword research. I’m sure this could be adapted to the wedding industry, so I see a day’s work ahead on this. thanks for a great post!
Very Evolved says
Glen – I think your best advice in this post is right at the end “stop procrastinating and do it”.
Even if all the points you presented don’t work for every site, actually getting out and trying them will teach you how to tweak them until they do work.
Nice work back over at PluginID too BTW.
Rajbir D says
Very useful information. I have no traffic and no subscribers. I could definitely try this.
Mike Reeves-McMillan says
@Yemoonyah: I had the same question, so I poked around at FeedBurner’s site and found this:
I used that to create this simple feedflare (hopefully the XML will come through):
A static FeedFlare unit that links to the free ebook
Adapt, naturally, for your website. (That isn’t a real link either.)
Paste that into a text editor, and save it with a .xml extension somewhere on your site.
Then insert it where it says “Enter or paste a FeedFlare URL” on the FeedFlare section of the Optimize tab in FeedBurner (assuming you have FeedFlare turned on for your feed) and click “Add New Flare”.
There should now be a link at the bottom of your RSS feed.
I’m going to give this a try, it sounds easy enough, though it’s a bit of a bait-and-switch tactic.
Mike Reeves-McMillan says
Nope, the XML didn’t come through, but you can probably figure out what to put where. “Text” is the text for your link and “link” is the URL.
Awesome post, definitely hit home. I’m thinking about partnering up with Elliot to start that hemorrhoid blog to increase subscriptions but none the less, keep the info flowing. Peace!
@Mike thanks a lot for answering my question, I appreciate it!
I will try this.
cleaning business Ev says
I agree with Tony Lawrence’s comments. I even removed my RSS feed on one of my sites and noticed no difference in traffic or conversions. I think very few people use RSS readers but bloggers do and seem to worship the whole idea.
REW Ryland says
Thanks for this Glen, interesting subject material and perspective. “…go out and do it” — these could be the most valuable five words in the post!
Dainis Graveris says
Very useful guide – I have been heard about this technique, just wasn’t aware how powerful it really is – thankS!!!
Man I wish I had found this blog a long time ago. For three days I have been dropping by and every post is full of amazing tipos and how to information.
I already use open office to write with but I do not use Photoshop.
I use Gimp. Is it possible to create an ebook cover with gimp?
I need something that is free.
Tony Lawrence says
@cleaning business Ev :
I think you misunderstood my comments. You definitely SHOULD offer RSS. I merely observed that a sudden jump in RSS readers from a bribe isn’t necessarily meaningful by itself.
The President says
Excellent “how to” on this topic, thank you. This definitely comes up in my line of work. Keep up the great articles (and keep em practical!)
Green Marketer says
I agree with Michael — Google has been one of my top sources of blog subscribers.
There sure are really some weird people looking for weird “how to” out there. This is an ingenious way to search for what people are looking for. I’ve never thought of going to wikihow to look for this kind of information
Sourish Nath says
Nice article. It would be of great help to bloggers. I haev been using keyword research tool but hardlly applying in my posts . This article is an eye opener.
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