One of the biggest days for any Web publisher/blogger/whatever is when you publish that one story that either makes it to the Digg front page, gets tagged by loads of del.icio.us users, or even makes it to the holy halls of Slashdot. The feeling is great — traffic goes through the roof (probably so much that your server goes down), comments (and flames) come in hoards and your RSS subscriber feed jumps big time.
But if you aren't prepared for that day, then a one-to-two day traffic boost will be just that. Now, obviously you will not continue to get record numbers from one or two main sources for an extended period of time, but you can keep some of those visitors around. You just have to make them want to stay.
- Make your RSS feed autodiscoverable, or have a huge feed logo that no one can miss.
RSS feeds are how users are connecting to Web sites. Think of it more as a bookmark that will automatically get checked every morning. Your visitors may not ever come back with a standard bookmark, but if they see you have new content via your RSS feed, they'll check it out.
- Include related content in your posting.
Visitors coming for one thing need to know what else you offer. Whether it's related links in the body copy or a section of related posts in the sidebar or at the end of the copy, make it obvious.
- Be online.
When your site gets hit, make sure that you are there to facilitate any problems, whether it's the server going down, approving comments or answering questions. Drive-by visitors will see that you're not just someone writing from an ivory tower who won't get involved with the masses. You are the face of your site – be online.
- Make sure your site is sociable.
Slashdot pick you up? Make sure visitors have the chance to digg your post. Reddit? Del.icio.us? All the same idea. While the crowds at each of these sites are different, there is plenty of overlap for continuing pick-up.
- Edit your picked-up content.
There's nothing wrong with adding a "Welcome, diggers!" to the top or bottom of a post that makes it big. You don't know when your next golden content is going to come, so you've got just a few seconds to really sell your site.
- Follow up on your posting.
Stories don't die (even if they only have 36 hours to live online), but they do get pushed to the backburner. If your picked-up content is old, make sure that any new information is easily accessible, and if you come across new information, make it known.
- Got a newsletter? It has to be prominent and easy to subscribe.
There's a little more commitment necessary from a visitor to subscribe to a newsletter than to an RSS feed. If they are interested enough in subscribing, they have to be able to do it easily.
- Stay on top of residual effects in the blogosphere.
If the story is good enough to get a major boost from these guys, then it's good enough for the legions of smaller bloggers out there to talk about. And while they will not give you as much traffic as the big players, make sure you are aware of who is talking and what they are saying. Get involved if possible.
- Use the pickup in promotion to other sites.
There's nothing wrong with saying that the Digg community or the editors at Slashdot found your content compelling. Across the Web, users generally have a feel for which sites have good editorial taste, and if they chose you, don't be afraid to make it known.
- Don't become a one-hit wonder.
A pickup by any large Web site can do wonders for your traffic numbers, but you can't make a name for yourself online with only one piece of compelling content. Put out as much good content as possible and you'll begin to develop a brand name that visitors trust.
Obviously, content is king — that's why you got picked up in the first place. More compelling content means more pickups which means more traffic.
But when you do get that major traffic boost, make sure you are ready.