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My wife Lindsay and I run a food blog called Pinch of Yum. The blog is based around simple, tasty, and (mostly) healthy recipes. I’m a terrible chef, but I’m interested in all things Internet, so I’m the de facto IT guy for the blog. In September of 2011, I started writing a monthly report where I’d reveal the blog’s monthly traffic and income. In our first month’s report we made $21 and had 50,000 page views. In the most recent report the total was over $17,000 from 2,400,000 page views.

So what happened in between those two posts?

One of the most important things that happened was Lindsay continued to improve her content. Her pictures got better, her writing continued to become more and more engaging, and she tested all of the recipes and made sure that they were really good. Those are probably the most important things that happened. Those things all center around the content, which is the most important thing to focus on if you want to grow your blog’s traffic.

But if you’ve been blogging for longer than two days, you have probably already heard the concept that awesome content posted for a long time is what grows a blog. We all get that. That’s why today I want to share five things (that will help increase traffic to your blog) that you can start doing today to help leverage the content that you already have (as you continue to find ways to create additional awesome content).

1. Include your blog’s URL in your image’s alt text.

Pinterest has the potential to be a traffic powerhouse, especially if you understand the nuances of how it works. When an image is pinned from your site Pinterest will use the image’s alt text to populate the pin’s description. If you include your blog’s URL in the image’s alt text and someone pins that image, then your URL will be clickable when the image shows up in someone’s feed on Pinterest. Check out this post on Food Blogger Pro for a step-by-step tutorial.

2. Optimize your image file names

Are you properly naming your images? Many bloggers don’t change the file name on their images, so their images have file names like DSC_10293.jpg or IMG_3935.jpg. Take 15 seconds before you upload your photo and change the file name to reflect the subject of the image. If the DSC_10293 image is actually a picture of Downtown Minneapolis then change the file name to Downtown-Minneapolis.jpg. This will help communicate information about the image to search engines and give your blog a little SEO boost.

3. Keep an eye on broken URLs

If you haven’t yet setup Google Webmaster Tools for your blog you should do it today. It’s an incredible (and free) tool from Google that gives you tons of features to help maintain a healthy blog. One of the things it can do is show you when a site is using an incorrect URL to point to your site. This is a huge SEO opportunity missed, as back links are one of the most important ways to build your blog’s SEO. If I notice an incorrect URL in Webmaster Tools I’ll contact the webmaster of that site and ask them to update it. If I can’t get ahold of the webmaster then I’ll redirect the broken URL to the correct page using a plugin like Pretty Link.

4. Give away your content

This one is a bit counterintuitive. Our gut reaction as content creators is to protect our content and not let other people use it, but the reality is that the more people that use our content (and properly link back to our site), the better off we are in the long run. Do you have a food blog? Check out food sharing sites like FoodGawker or Tastespotting. Do you design? Submit to DwellingGawker. Want to take it a step further? Consider openly letting people use your content without getting your approval (as long as they link back to your site).

5. Include a link in your email signature

Okay, admittedly this one won’t drive millions of page views. That being said, it sometimes feels like I’m sending out 100s of emails in a day. I’ve started to include a link to the latest blog post in my email signature to help leverage those emails into additional traffic.

I’d love to share more, but I need to cut it off at five. If you want to learn more, you can get my free eBook: Ten Mistakes that Bloggers Make and How to Fix Them by signing up for the Blogging Tips newsletter on Pinch of Yum.

— Bjork, Pinch of Yum & Food Blogger Pro

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