It is estimated that 300 million websites launched in the U.S. in 2011, and more than 70 million were blogs on WordPress alone. From a global perspective, WordPress currently boasts nearly 60 billion blogs, with an estimated 100,000 being added daily. And that’s just one blogging site. For the blogger looking to infiltrate a niche, build up a following, and eventually monetize an online operation, these numbers can be a little daunting. And yet, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of bloggers are not going to impede your rise to the top. Only a small percentage could be considered competition largely because most do not have the same aspirations as you. For many people, starting a blog doesn’t entail dreams of grandeur – most just want to write on a topic that they are passionate about in order to share with family and friends or connect with like-minded individuals. As a result, they won’t take the steps necessary to get noticed on a large scale. But if you want to raise your readership and gain ranking so that you can appeal to advertisers and affiliates, here are just a few ways to start gaining attention on the web.

The first thing you need to know is that it’s a little late in the game to think about picking a niche that is unique. If you think you’ll be the only one blogging about lederhosen, seed cataloging, or animals that appear to talk, you’re in for a rude awakening. Pretty much everything oddball and off-the-wall has already got hundreds or even thousands of devoted blogs. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t become relatively popular within your niche. It’s important to keep in mind that you may not oust industry leaders, especially if your subject matter is popular. No celebrity-sightings blog is going to unseat TMZ or Perez Hilton at this point. But you can definitely find ways to increase traffic and raise your rank with search engines.
The place to start is with great content. Thanks to Google’s most recent algorithms (Penguin), tons of blogs have been deposed due to a heavy reliance on SEO tactics at the expense of user-driven content. This is not to say that search engine optimization isn’t necessary, because it definitely is if you want any hope of competing with other blogs in your niche. But in addition to utilizing keywords, backlinks, and other optimization strategies you need to ensure that you’re churning out content that visitors find informative, entertaining, and engaging overall. A few cool graphics, some flash animation, and a slew of MSN emoticons from simply won’t do the trick these days – you need a lot more to impress savvy surfers and web-crawlers alike. As a bonus, though, stellar content will help you to retain readership, and the value of repeat visits and recommendations cannot be overestimated.
In addition, you should know that your work is never done when it comes to promoting your blog. You might think that it’s enough to contribute fantastic content and optimize, but the truth is that you also need to keep up with networking and utilizing social media if you want to continue to advance the cause of your blog. Expansion and growth may not be terribly difficult in the online arena, but you definitely have to put in the man-hours if you want to see results.