|You too can make your pageviews into a phallic symbol!|
Write five to seven entries a week. Make most of them 2-3 pages. Over half the entries should be original content of as high a quality as you can produce at that pace. (The other half can be a combination of trying to get people to vote on polls instead of just complaining about the results, link recommendations, personal updates, running gags, and threesome references.) Cross post everything. Annoy your friends. Post your own entries on Stumbleupon, (even though they discourage that) so that you can control the tags. Ignore the friends who threaten to "mute/unfriend/set you to "important only" if you don't shut up. Keep going even though you have days where 50 pageviews seems like a big deal. Avoid mobs of your friends with torches and pitchforks coming to kill you for your incessant self promotion. After a year or three, get back to me.
The main problem I see isn't that people working hard can't seem to improve their blog numbers. The main problem I see is that people who post infrequently and sporadically are looking for some kind of shortcut. There isn't one.
I mean besides porn.
First of all, my blog really doesn't do that well. If you live in The Ukraine, you might think England is a steamy place for a sunny summer vacation, but if you live in Belize, England is an overcast popsicle. In this analogy there are an awful lot of Belizes. If I self-promote for hours a day (two to three), I can get around 10,000 hits. It's a long, hard pain in the ass, and not in the good way. If I let things kind of go on autopilot without ANY self-promotion at all, I will get around 2500 hits. If I write an article and do some low level self-promotion (mostly just cross-posting on G+, Facebook, and Stumbleupon) I will probably get around 5000 hits. On a really good day, I make about $25 from writing.
So let's keep these numbers in perspective. I'm hardly the next HuffPo or Gawker.
Honestly, I don't have a secret or shortcut. I don't want to channel your dad or anything ("The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary, you little whippersnapper ") but there's just no substitute for working hard to produce good content. That's why blogging and e-publishing and the new dimensions of the publishing industry are still not yielding fruit to people who don't apply ass to chair.
I know a little about SEO because I'm the kind of guy who does my homework on the activities I partake in. (You should have seen me in the library with the physiology books the day I finally got a girlfriend. Though...um....maybe that's another story....) I'm much more interested in the writing itself, so I am more concerned about how much energy and time I'm putting into things that aren't writing--like SEO and self-promotion. I'm much more interested in finding the sweet spot where I'm doing the work I want and slowly growing than just getting "MOAR HITS!!!" no matter what. I also know that any attempts to "trick" SEO (like with keyword rich text) are met by search engines changing their search algorithms to ignore such tricks. Google prides itself on its ongoing ability to weed out bullshit and keep good articles at the top of a search.
This means the best advice I can give anyone (that will still be good advice in a year from now) is this: write good, high quality, original content as often as you can and on a predictable schedule. If you do that, your numbers will grow. Maybe not as fast as you would have hoped, but they will improve.
Check out the section in The Reliquary called Blogging About Blogging if you want access to all the insight I've gleaned. I'm not stingy with my insight.