Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tuesday's Tip: Getting More Traffic to Your Blog, Part One

I'm going to deviate from tips about doing genealogical research or organizing genealogical files and address a topic that I think will be of use especially to new genea-bloggers. There are many new bloggers out there who've decided to start blogging, perhaps as a New Year's resolution or after family gatherings during the holidays have prompted them to take genealogy to a new level. The focus of these tips could also be directed at those who have been blogging awhile, but for one reason or another are in the background, not getting much reader traffic to their site. And I know there are always "oldies" who may have not considered some of the following points.

Wouldn't you like to see more people visit your blog? Wouldn't you like to have a distant cousin find your blog and leave a comment so that you can share research or break down a brick wall? Wouldn't you like to have someone more knowledgeable about genealogical resources in your ancestral locations tell you about a wonderful repository (online or off) that could end up being a mother lode of family history treasure? Of course you would! But first you must get readers to your blog!

I would like to preface my tips with a little walk back in time. Several years ago, I decided that I wanted to blog about genealogy. I had a genealogy website, but it took up quite a bit of time to update information and create pages for the different ancestors that I wanted to highlight. Bravejournal was my blogging platform choice at first, but it was unwieldy and almost as "clunky" to use as creating web pages. However, I did my best and started looking around for other genealogy blogs. There weren't any listed on Cyndi's List at that time. The only ones I could find were Dick Eastman, Randy Seaver, Craig Manson, and Chris Dunham, and while their posts were interesting to read, I didn't have a personal connection with any of them at that point. I kept blogging rather inconsistently until I discovered the Carnival of Genealogy. Here's where my blogging and readership took off, assisted by a switch to the Blogger platform. After blogging now for nearly three years, I've seen my readership slowly but steadily increase. I've had distant cousins contact me and been given assistance by fellow researchers. I've connected with my readers and other bloggers and my life has been enriched by our interaction.

So here is my first tip for getting the word out about your genealogy blog:

Get Listed

Go to Chris Dunham's Blogfinder and suggest that your blog be added to the list. The Blogfinder is the go-to place to get your blog listed, as it is where most readers visit to find new and pertinent genealogy blogs to read. Leave a concise but comprehensive description of your blog and list it under a couple of categories to which it pertains.

Next, go to Cyndi's List and add your blog by clicking on "Submit a New Link" in the left-hand column. Cyndi's List is like a card catalog of nearly all the genealogy websites on the Internet. Be sure to mention in the description field that this is a blog, so that Cyndi will categorize it with the other genealogy blogs listed on her site. If your blog is also locality-specific (writing about research on all the pioneering families in a specific township, for instance), your blog will also be listed on her site's page for resources for that locality. It does take quite a while for your blog to be listed (months, sometimes), although it will be in the What's New section of her site.

Speaking of locality-specific blogs, if you post a lot of genealogical information about an American location, you'll want to list with Linkpendium. Started by the same folks who created RootsWeb, Linkpendium is like a scaled-down version of Cyndi's List, with links to genealogical resources for American locations. They also have links for surname resources for global locations, so this is a great way to highlight the surnames about which you're researching and blogging. On every page, in green font, you'll see a link which says "Add your favorite Websites to this page!"

A few other ideas to get your blog featured in the genealogy corner of the Internet is to list it with USGenWeb, USGenNet and WorldGenWeb sites, as well as on pertinent message boards and mailing lists, such as those you find on Ancestry and RootsWeb. Cyndi's List also has great links to message boards and mailing lists. You'll need to know how to use these before leaving messages about your blog on them. I do have a syllabus on message boards that I can send you if you email me, and will be creating one on mailing lists for a presentation next month.

Now you have a week to get yourself listed all over the Internet! ;-)

Other posts in this series:
Part Two: Participate
Part Three: Comment and Allow Comments
Part Four: Create a Profile
Part Five: Join Social Networking Sites
Part Six: The Redux
Part Seven: Check It
Part Eight: Learn

Part Nine: Bookmarks, Feeds, and Subscriptions


Julie Cahill Tarr said...

Another fantastic tip! You are the reason I started blogging. It was your blog that I found when searching for genealogy blogs and it inspired me to create my own. Thanks so much!

A. Spence said...

Wonderful tips...I'm working on this now!!!

JoLyn said...

Thanks for the advice! I've been blogging for only about three months so these ideas will be very helpful. Thanks!

Greta Koehl said...

You're absolutely right about Chris Dunham's Blogfinder; I have used it many times to find interesting new blogs. I used to bookmark them (and still do), but it's even easier just listing them on my own blog and then navigating from there to see new posts (also made easy because Blogger shows the latest post and when it was posted - greatly reduces the time needed to read "the latest").

And thanks for the tips on listing with Cyndi's List (I didn't even know we could do that) and message boards. You're one of the people who make the Genea-Blogger community into a fun, freewheeling "Genealogy School"!

George Geder said...

As usual, excellent post and tips!
That's why I have you in my Google Reader; so I don't miss anything!

I got some updating to do, since I changed from Wordpress to Blogger last year.

"Guided by the Ancestors"

Amy Coffin said...

Excellent ideas! I also have my blog URL in my Twitter profile, my Facebook profile and my email signature.

Miriam said...

Thank you all for taking the time to read and leave your comments. I really appreciate it!

Amy, you're ahead of the game! ;-) I'll be talking about some of those great ideas you have in the next few weeks.

Susan said...

Thanks for the tip Miriam! I'm sitting here thinking," of course! why didn't I think of that" So I'm off to get my blogs on the lists you suggested, and of course I'm still working on getting all my records digitalized!
Sue Edmister

Miriam said...

Sue, I have a lot of work to do to get all my records digitized. One of the reasons I kept putting it off was because I didn't have a good system. Now that I've found one, I can whittle away this big chore a bit at a time without a lot of trouble or thought.

T.K. said...

Thanks so much, Miriam, for the syllabus... syllabuses... syllabi? -ae? Ay! Whatever! I've just had a look, anyhow, and I can't wait to put these ideas to use. Fun!

The ideas in your post are great too... I'm going to email this one to myself and leave it unopened in my Inbox until I'm moved and settled into a new place.

You're awesome, girl!

Thomas MacEntee said...

You rock! But I've already told you that before! You were even able to teach on old dog like me new tricks!

Tina Sansone said...

Congratulations! You’ve just been honored with the Proximidade Award by Gtownma's Genealogy.

Judith Richards Shubert said...

I'm learning soooo much from you Miriam. Gonna start on putting my blogs out there, starting NOW. I had no idea you could do some of these things.

Miriam said...

Thank you, Tina!

Cindy said...

Wonderful tips for the "newbie" bloggers (being me :-) Thanks so much for sharing!!!

Dee said...

You are a god-send! Thank you for the sage advise.

Miriam said...

Thanks, Dee. There are 11 posts in the series, and I realized that the last couple of posts may not be linked on the previous ones. I'll fix that later, but just be aware.

Happy Easter!