Attracting viewers to my blog

More visitors graphicsmallI’ve cooked and lived in the UK, Holland, Bermuda and America, and have been lucky enough to cook for lots of famous people along the way; it was this fact that led me to be invited to write a recipe column for the Sunday Mercury (part of the Trinity Mirror group UK) in 2001.

Five years later whilst goofing around, I was surprised to find my name actually came up in google search results. It turned out the newspaper sold their old copy to several archival services, so staying anonymous and robbing banks was now out of the question. 🙂

So I decided to try my hand at blogging and began in February 2006. My original blog ran until December 2015 and in that time got an amazing 20,000,000 page views.  However, it did have its limitations so I finally concluded I needed to move.

I began blogging on WordPress on St George’s Day April 2015 but continued my old blog to try an ensure my followers moved with me. My main WordPress blog is coming up on its 3rd birthday and so far has received 3,468,228 hits and 53,338 followers via NetworkedBlogs.  This blog gets around 2,000 visitors a day (around 4,500 views a day) but believe me it has taken a lot of work (obsession) to get to this point.

Stats March 2018

My blog is still a work in progress, I still want to monetise it and improve it further. But for now, my blog has to be balanced alongside making a living as a chef.

I’m constantly looking for ways to get my recipes seen more widely, so I have tried porting my recipes to other social sites, but bloggers need to take care where they share…

The point of any social media for a blogger is to bring visits back to your own blog, but it doesn’t always work out that way.  If you share the whole recipe on another site there is very little reason for the reader to click and go back to the source.  In the meantime, the site you share your recipes with will probably make money selling advertisements on the back of yours and many other bloggers work.  Worse still you are no longer in control of your work, so if you decide to take those shared copies down you may have a fight on your hands.

The Daily Meal 
For example, I shared 3 recipes with the daily meal, but only one had brought a grand total of 43 visits to my blog in almost 3 years because the other two were complete recipes. And without my permission someone shared 2 of these Daily Meal versions of my recipes on Pinterest, drawing visits back to the daily meal rather than my blog. In google results their version of my recipe ranked higher, which in itself I don’t mind, but the daily meal has a star rating system so on their site this recipe got 4.5 stars out of 5, but for some wacky reason it was showing up as 1 star on google, which of course is not going to attract viewers. I complained to the editors, then finally after weeks of not answering my email said I should take the issue up with Google.

Pinterest
One of the better places that I post links to my recipes, but it has its faults. I’ve received 2,175 click-throughs from Pinterest, but it also attracts people who feel they can take your photograph and stick it in their own blog, as part of their recipe.  Like other successful sites Pinterest does not spend enough money and manpower on the support, so getting in contact with them is hidden behind reams of faqs. They do have a DMCA takedown form but their response, and the time it takes could be better.

Facebook
In almost 3 years I’ve had 8,341 click-throughs from Facebook, giving me better results than even WordPress reader.  That said, like many social sites they are designed to keep readers on their site, not stray to a blog.  So people tend to like the photo/post inside of Facebook rather go and read the post on your blog.

G+
At the moment google plus is a bad joke, it always wanted to be the same but different than Facebook, yet it still can’t figure out how to get users to interact more, communicate more and make the site attract more active users. Google has 2.2 billion users,  only 111 million are G+ users and of those only 6.7 million have posted 50 or more posts. In other words, Google+ is only still there because Google has deep pockets. In my own case, Google+ has only brought me 853 click-throughs compared to Facebook’s 8,341. I still port my blog posts to Google+ but it is hard to quantify if this helps my blog in any way.

Instagram
I have shared a lot of blog photographs on Instagram but so far it has only brought my blog, 1,499 visitors.  It was clear early on that just like Facebook, Instagram does all it can to keep users from straying onto other sites.  Even worse than Facebook it only allows one clickable link at the top our profile.  I do have 1,072 followers but not many of them visit my blog on a regular basis.

Yummly
This site claims to be the biggest recipe site on the internet and perhaps it is, but it still serves its owners way better than the bloggers and chefs who share their content on Yummly. I have tried Yummly and must admit I am tempted by the thought of giving it another try, but it definitely has its downside.  In the space of 2 years, it brought this blog 624 views from about 20 recipes. Compare that with the 700+ views I have gotten from 1 comment left on the kitchn site.

My first complaint about Yummly is its poor search engine; for example, if I type in Baked Vanilla Cheesecake (see screenshot) an awful lot of ‘No’ baked cheesecakes appear in the results, which doesn’t help get your recipe seen.

Yummly Screenshot

This particular query brought up 15,867 results, so how will it help get your 1 cheesecake recipe seen?  Another complaint is the lack of control a contributing blogger has over their recipes once they are posted. You have to seek help from the admin and their response can be slow. So unless your recipe is particularly different in the use of ingredients, it is hard to see how an individual blogger can gain lots of traffic from Yummly, whilst all the time Yummly is using millions of blogger’s recipes to make money and selling access to the data they have gathered.

Yummly Development tools

Tumblr
I have tried Tumblr, indeed I still have an active account but I am no wiser how to use it or to get traffic from it to my blog. I share my blog posts on Tumblr and tag them and yet get very little reaction from other users.  I even spent a couple of fruitless months swapping emails with Tumblr support which is even more useless than the site.  Strangely enough, my Tumblr account still shows up on page 1 Baidu (Chinese version of Google) search engine results, if you search for Chef Kevin Ashton.

VK
One of the reasons I show up in so many search engine results worldwide is because I am always looking for ways showcase my blog on non-English and lesser known social media. One such place is VK which is Russia’s own version of Facebook, it even looks very similar. You don’t have to love the current Russian government to use an account in fact, I have even shared my anti-Putin feelings and so far my account is still up there! My VK account in itself doesn’t bring me much traffic but it does help me climb up the  Yandex search engine results.

Twitter
I have a twitter account which shares my new blog posts as and when they are published.  So far it has brought me 1,122 visitors to my blog, which is fine given the lack of effort and time I spend on Twitter.

My Conclusion
There is no magic formula to getting your writing or recipes up search engine rankings and thus seen by a wider audience, just lots of trial and error and hard work and some SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but money doesn’t guarantee results.

The biggest question I face is how to divide my time between being creative and banging the social media drum.  The reason I wrote this post was to share my own trials and tribulations of my blogging journey, please feel free to add your own feedback and experiences.  I know I ought to post more often than my work schedule allows, but I hope overall my blog posts offer something different, that is worth a read.

The graphic I created was based on a design from the site all-free-download.com

45 thoughts on “Attracting viewers to my blog

  1. This is very interesting, Thank you 🙂
    I have a teeny blog and am not on any social media, which suits me fine.
    However, the pitfalls you mention with various platforms out there are really worth knowing about for anyone wanting to earn something from their blog.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I have been doing this a lot of years as a freelance writer, mainly for other people. My own WordPress blog is only two months old, so I have a lot of work to do yet. I have had blogs on other platforms previously, some of which are still floating around in the weird world that is the INternet. The problem is, you just think you have cracked it and then social media trends change as people start using different sites or Google algorithms change and this alters the way blogs are page ranked. It is an ongoing battle of trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Exactly Liz. But there is something very addictive to blogging that keeps us all trying. I find the comments that people share with me give me a boast, when I feel the mountain is just too high to conquer. Even big name sites have difficulty remaining on top of google page one because the number of blogs continues to grow, proving money and even SEO expertise can get a site to the top but can’t keep you there for more than a couple years before trends and rules (like you said) change.
      Best Wishes
      Kevin 🙂

      Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks Neil, for your kind words I really do appreciate the interaction and feedback from other bloggers. Your blog gets lots and lots of comments which shows you have a growing blog with lots more potential.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Attracting people to your is usually easy, but you need to keep them and that takes work. Courtesy visits back to their sites, comments – a friendship actually develops. If you treat your readers like customers and expect them to just keep checking in to you – failure will follow.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Time is the killer and which ever way you go, it will always upset someone, I’ve been blogging for six months on WordPress and have almost 300 followers, My aim is to hone my writing skills and touch wood I appear to be succeeding!

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Thank you for sharing your story so freely. It is a relief to know I’m not alone stumbling around in the dark in blog-land. I’ve tried some of the same things you have, with pretty limited results. What has done my blog the most good is when I decided to blog more frequently. I started getting new followers from thin air when I did that. Perhaps WP rewards frequency? (But not too much!) My main goal has been to attract people to my website to buy my paintings. I’ve heard about monetizing a blog, but I don’t really know what that means.
    I thoroughly enjoy your blog, and look forward to new posts.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Now I’ve found you I’ll be having a good look around you blog (like you’ve kindly done on mine!). I do like to cook and I can already see some great ideas.
    I know many apply themselves as hard as you are, makes me feel even more guilty for patently not doing so and I’m not about to offer advice when your efforts are laid out so clearly here.
    Maybe just keep doing what you love, you never know what might happen to give you that boost in future and you’ll have deserved getting there.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. This was really interesting Kevin and I enjoy your articles very much. I’ve been writing my blog for a while now and the people who follow me on Twitter, Instagram, FB etc. are all quite different. I’d love my blog to be more popular and reach more people but I really set it up to share recipes with my daughter, friends and family. There’s something quite cool about being able to Whatsapp a link to a recipe to my husband so he can be getting supper ready whilst I’m on my daily commute back from London, or to share a link to something I cooked at the weekend that my friends now want to try. I’m not looking for my blog to make me rich and famous, just to share my passion for good home cooking so, whatever the stats, I’ll be keeping my #TheFridayRecipe going.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you Janet, not just for your kind words but I think you make some very valid and useful points about your own blogging experience. Food blogging isn’t just about stats, it’s about taking advantage of today’s technology to make sure we make time to eat. Ironically, due to long work days, chefs often have bad eating habits.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Your post is amazing , I usually see the posts about growing your blog like this or like that… I have tried also. But it completely depends on people’s interests that they will come to our blog and read.
    Finally I am focusing on my content , it will grow slowly but my readers will be genuine I hope so.
    😀
    Heyaaa… checkout my latest post . Inviting you for #aprilinvitations ☺

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Dear Prashasti, Welcome to my blog and thank you so much for your kind words. I definitely agree with you about focusing on the content.
      I will take a look at your invitation.
      Best Wishes
      Kevin 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  9. This is such an interesting read. The internet is so vast and as I approach 10 years of blogging I’ve noticed that this year I’m writing more regularly but receiving 1/4 of the hits from when I started and the blogging community was quite small. Social media is a tricky beast and the stats tell the real story of it. The likes I get on IG for a new post reflect a ”that sounds nice, good that you’re writing” but doesn’t mean ”I liked your story” as shown by the fact that some posts are entirely unread a week later. I’ve made my peace with the fact that I write because I like the process and I’m documenting family life and whether people read it is the bonus but not the reason for writing. I came off Facebook nearly 2 years ago to save my sanity and while I get lots more hits when my husband shares a post he particularly likes I just can’t bring myself to return. I constantly weigh up whether to keep doing it when my spare time as a Mum of 2 small boys is so limited. It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in my tussle!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much for your visit and for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      The ever expanding number of blogs on the internet makes it tougher for all of us to get noticed. In my own case, I don’t post enough compared to other food bloggers ( I currently have 6 half finished posts waiting for me to complete) but like you my time is limited, so all I can do is put a little piece of me in them to make them different. I have really enjoyed the feedback and interaction I have gotten with this latest post.
      Stay in touch
      Kevin :)`

      Liked by 2 people

  10. This July ill reach my first year I have not yet tried any social media I know I want to write but your stats is a point of envy N the things you write for various social media platforms is sage advice on growing for new ppl like me.wish you all the best and thankyou

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Srijana for your kind words they are appreciated. However there is a downside to being fairly high up in the rankings, people steal your stuff. This week alone I have been fighting with three rogue sites and threatening them with legal action if they don’t remove my recipes, articles and photos which is both time-consuming and frustrating when I would rather be finishing a new recipe post.

      The internet currently reminds me of the America Wild West of the 19th Century and the big players like Google and Facebook need to do more protect the creators of content like you and me.
      Please stay in touch,
      Best Wishes
      Kevin

      Liked by 2 people

  11. It’s generally getting high up in the Google search engine results that brings the most people to your blog I’ve found.

    The highest I ever got in a Google search engine result was #1 in a list of hundreds of millions of listings and it was sad circumstances that brought that about.

    It was when my dad died from cancer in June 2010 which immediately sent me into a crisis of faith that a good man like that could suddenly be taken away that I sat down and wrote a personal essay on the words from I Corinthians Chapter 15, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” and Paul’s comment that if there is no Resurrection, then our faith is in vain.

    Anyways the essay was a mixture of personal anecdotes about my dad as well as commentary on Paul’s words.

    I had asked the minister to read the essay aloud at my dad’s funeral.

    I didn’t want to do it myself because I knew I’d break down.

    Anyways after I wrote the essay and also posted it on-line at my blog, I got a call from the minister about something in the essay.

    For further clarification, I decided to go back to the Biblical text itself and since the computer was by the phone I googled O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

    I got the shock of my life when after having been on the Net for only 2 days, there was my personal essay on those words and my reflections on my father’s death there in the very first spot of Google listings at the very top of the first page.

    Obviously what I wrote must have touched a lot of people and my essay must have been shared on social media an immensely numerous amount of times for it to have gone to the #1 spot when I googled that phrase.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your most personal story. Writing an essay/eulogy about a parent to be read at their funeral is both difficult and yet rewarding, a chance to say goodbye and share with the audience your love for them. Obviously, your essay struck a chord with the many people that read it online and helped you share your dad with the world.
      My Respect and Best Wishes
      Kevin

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Pamela, for your kind words of support. I hope you saw my attempt to answer what was in the bag on your story “At the Station”. It was just after published my comment, that I saw you had already published the second half of the story. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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