How adding one plugin boosted my blog traffic by almost 700%

by Mack Collier

That graph is the hourly traffic here on Saturday, New Year’s Day.  There’s a pretty obvious spike that happened at 2pm, and raised the traffic level for the rest of the day.

But what triggered that spike?  This tweet did:

@TweetSmarter currently has over 225,000 followers.  Within the 1st hour of @TweetSmarter RTing the link to my post on Five Reasons Why No One Likes You on Twitter, I got 363 visitors here and 36 RTs.  In 60 minutes.

On New Year’s Day.

But that post was written about 18 months ago.  So how did @TweetSmarter find it?  My guess is they saw it at the top of my blog under Popular Posts.  That is a plugin that I added here several months ago that pulls the 5 most popular posts here (based on views, I believe), and links to them.  Here’s the plugin I use.

This is about the 5th time this year that a major site/tweeter has linked to one of the 5 posts served up by the Popular Posts plugin.  Each time has resulted in a major traffic spike, which means more awareness and visibility for this site.  My combined traffic here in the WEEK before New Year’s Day was 573 visitors (76 visitors on New Year’s Eve), and the traffic for JUST Saturday was 575 visitors.

All from adding a simple plugin.  Not a bad deal.

The bigger lesson here is, don’t bury your blog’s best posts.  If certain posts are resonating with your readers, find a way make sure that NEW readers can find these posts as well.  Maybe it could be via a plugin or widget, or maybe it could simply be by linking to your older posts, when you write new ones.  Remember, most blogs have a high percentage of 1st-time visitors, so you want to let them see your good stuff.

{ 17 comments }

Charity Hisle January 3, 2011 at 9:50 am

What a great tip Mack! Thanks for sharing!

Mack Collier January 3, 2011 at 4:13 pm

You’re welcome Charity, when I learn something, I share it ;)

Cynthia Bailey MD January 3, 2011 at 9:56 am

This is impressive. I love the idea of not loosing old content that’s still relevant. This is another great way to keep it alive. Thanks Mack

Gabriele Maidecchi January 3, 2011 at 12:28 pm

You actually reminded me of something I wanted to do since ages, and that’s, putting a “best of” list on my blog.
Thanks, at least now I know I have been procrastinating over a good idea for far too long :p

Mack Collier January 3, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Yes and I think placement on the blog is key as well. My Popular Post section is always up high so you can usually see at least part of it Above the Fold when you arrive here.

Mihai January 3, 2011 at 1:02 pm

The title is great, and really got my attention, but unfortunately this tip is not for long term …and that’s what I’m looking …tips that can be applied long term.

Mack Collier January 3, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Hey Mihai, this is actually about the 5th time over the last 6 months that this has happened to me. Someone will stumble upon my blog, see the Popular Posts, then link to one of the posts listed there, and a sudden flood of traffic results. The last time it happened it was started on a link from someone on a message board I had never heard of. Then the time before that it was in someone’s feed on Friendfeed. So it’s a good idea to list your most popular posts on your blog so they can be easily discovered by 1st time visitors.

DK January 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm

This is interesting, Mack.

We’ve been talking a lot about how to reshape our blog to make it easier for people to find ‘the good stuff,’ as you put it.

No doubt you’ve heard of the new Skype apps for mobile devices. This and the kinds of other new technology developments happening now make me wonder if there might be more elegant solutions for creating content and dispersing it online than there were in, say, 2006, when we got our blog going. Will plugins become passe?

If someone were starting a blog today, what platform would you recommend, and why?

Thanks!

Brankica January 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

This sounds like a great idea. It is so cool to have so many visitors, especially on New Year’s but I wish the numbers just stayed like that and never go down, lol.
I just read your post on 5 reasons why people hate those users on Twitter and you are right. It is a great post, by the way.

I love finding popular posts on blogs as they are usually the best ones. The funniest thing is when I feel like commenting on them, I do it and then feel stupid when I realize that the last comment on the post was published 6 months before mine :)

Leslie Fine January 3, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Mack – Great info. I’m going to try to use the Popular Posts plugin for my blog. It’s interesting how certain posts attract much more attention than others – even those that are similar to each other. Just getting started with blogging, and I’m a bit overwhelmed with how much I have to learn! Thanks.

Neicole Crepeau January 3, 2011 at 7:14 pm

This is great info, Mack. Thanks! I manually created a popular posts section for my blog, but now I’m going to add the plugin.

RinatisDinoro@SmartAboutThings January 4, 2011 at 2:46 am

Downloaded the plugin, still not very sure how to use but will get the hand of it :D

Shailender @ India Darshan January 4, 2011 at 4:11 am

Nice Info and I have downloaded the plug-in. Let’s hope it provide the result quickly.

Cassie Holman January 4, 2011 at 10:58 am

Great advice! Are most popular posts determined by number of blog views or number of commenters?

Rob Berman January 5, 2011 at 10:54 am

Mack:

As soon as I had 10 posts I added the Popular Posts plug in. Many posts later it serves me well. I just added a Popular Posts tab on my site as well. That is a bit different. I listed and described my most popular posts from 2010.

Rob

susie@newdaynewlesson January 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I wonder what I am doing wrong-can’t get it to work.

Neicole Crepeau January 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I’m having trouble, too. Using the Wordpress Thesis theme. I’ve installed the plugin and added it to a sidebar, but isn’t showing up. If I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

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