Promoting anything means building a buzz, making sure you have a quality product and getting it front of as many eyes as possible. Gaining notoriety for a blog is no different, and building up a following takes a combination of tenacity, ingenuity and, obviously, good writing. We would like to share some tips on blog promotion that may not get you thousands of followers overnight, but they will definitely get you headed in that direction.
Make Quality Content!
I’ll get the most obvious one out of the way first. I know this isn’t directly a promotional activity, but in a way, producing great content means people will promote your content for you. Yes, it’s that mantra you keep hearing whenever the conversation turns to SEO, social media or any other kind of online marketing strategy — make good content. What in the heck does that really mean, though? If I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be as follows: Make content that is interesting, useful, shareable, compelling, rare, well-written and thoughtful. There are probably hundreds of ways to do this that may or may not involve writing.
In any event, you have to make an impact on your reader. Whatever your niche, if you want to have an easier time promoting your blog (and perhaps monetizing it), you must make the content a priority. Here are some ways that you can begin to develop that elusive “quality content.”
- Make infographics.
- Conduct interviews with successful people with whom your target audience can relate.
- Do research (both secondary and/or primary).
- For this one, it may mean setting up experiments to test hypotheses, reading other research reports on a topic, drawing your own conclusions from real life experiences, documenting a process or anything that involves uncovering information on your own.
- Share interesting images and video (that you have made).
- If you have work that occurs in the offline world that you blog about, share those processes (i.e. artists, mechanics, builders, engineers). Whatever it is that you do, document it and present it in an appealing way.
- Let your personality show through in your writing (and if you can’t do that, find someone who can and be their friend).
The idea here is very basic. If you have a blog that you want visitors to come and see, you have to give them a reason to do so. In general, people are very busy in their everyday lives. They have a set amount of hours in each day for browsing the Internet and they aren’t going to waste those precious hours on content that was produced by someone who doesn’t really care about who is reading it. If you can provide something meaningful, you will be rewarded for it.
Syndicate your Content
Now that you are producing the very best content the web has to offer, you need to spread it around. I know what you are thinking: “But Matt, you said if I wrote good content, people would just share it.” Yes, that is true, but you still have to put in some effort to ensure all the stellar content you make can be found by as many people as possible. Here are ways that you can syndicate your blog content in order to promote the blog as a whole:
Share posts on social media accounts
This concept may not be the traditional and true meaning of a web syndicate, but you are basically doing the same thing on a manual level. Set up profiles for your personal or corporate brand (or use accounts you already have), and share your posts each time they come out. You can use a tool like Hootsuite to automate this process for some of the major platforms. By doing this consistently, you can let people know about new posts that you have written and drive traffic to your blog. You can also start a conversation on these platforms and ask people what they think. Interaction on social media is great for your overall SEO strategy. Below are some specific things you can do on different social accounts to share your content.
- Facebook: Share posts on your business and/or personal accounts, and encourage followers and friends to share them, as well.
- Twitter: Schedule out the same post on Twitter using Hootsuite or another program of your choice for 1-2 postings per day during the interval until you have a new post.
- Pinterest: Make a board on your Pinterest Business or personal page just for your posts and pin each post to it.
- LinkedIn: Share a link to new posts in your status updates and also share in any groups to which you belong.
- Google Plus: Share your posts publicly on Google Plus (because public posts are crawled and show in SERPs)
Set up a feed
Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, feeds are a great way to allow people to connect with your content. They will automatically get updates when you have posted new content. You can also use these feeds to stream your blog posts automatically to other properties like a Facebook application or another website.
Social bookmarking sites have many users, and they represent another online opportunity to get exposure for your posts. Create accounts on StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Delicious and Technorati. Share links to your posts on these sites.
Promote your blog on other properties
If you have a website, other web profiles or business listings, you can promote your blog there, as well, via a link and icon. If you are setting up a blog for the first time and you have a website, it is best to host the blog in a sub directory or sub domain of your current domain. This way, you can rank for more keywords and drive traffic to your main website. Note that if you are setting up a blog and have a website, it is best to host the blog on the same domain.
Optimize your Blog for Search
For anyone looking to get better rankings in search, blogs have been a savior. They allow you to produce new content on a regular basis without making unnecessary changes to your website, and they also allow you to target more keywords on your domain.
If you have a standalone blog without a traditional website, you can do some more onsite optimization than blogs with a website.
- Optimize the pages of your blog for keywords you want to rank for. Place keywords in title tags, meta descriptions, and copy of the pages. Be careful here. Don’t go targeting a keyword on your “About Us” or “Contact Us” pages. Make sure the entire page is about the keyword and can be written to reflect that. If you don’t have any pages that could fit that mold, move on.
- Optimize each post for a target keyword and its variants. For example, if you are targeting the phrase, “leather coats Indiana,” you might also use “buy leather coats,” “leather coat,” “leather coats,” “leather coats in Indiana” and “leather coats for sale Indiana.”
- Place your main target keyword (the one you want to rank for the most) in the title tag first and also toward the front of the meta description. Sprinkle the keyword phrase and its variants throughout your copy (2% density is usually good). Be careful that you don’t focus too much on this. You want to write for readers and not for search engines.
There are a variety of offsite SEO tactics you can use to promote your blog. Backlinks is a primary one, and the more quality inbound links you have to your blog, the better.
- Reach out to related blogs or websites and ask them to link to yours.
- Approach other blog owners about guest-posting on their blogs and having a link back to your site.
- Make embeddable content with a link to your blog in it that people can share.
- Submit your blog to popular directories.
- There are also some more innovative backlink building ideas here.
Don’t Forget Offline and Miscellaneous Promotions
With all the neat stuff you can do with social media and SEO, it’s easy to forget about promotional opportunities that may exist offline or elsewhere . Some of these tactics may work and some may not, depending on your situation.
- Put a link to your blog in your company or personal email signature.
- Place a link on invoices you send to customers.
- Put a link in confirmation emails that customers may receive.
- Links on business cards are always handy.
- Put links on fliers, signs, promotions or coupons that you may hand out or display.
- Put URLs on company vehicles, clothing or branded extras (like bags, mugs, pens, etc).
- Think of any time where you have a chance to make contact with your customers, prospects and/or readers, and use that as an opportunity to promote your blog.
Promoting a blog is a lot of work, but there are tons of great tools and strategies to get you started. The important thing to keep in mind is that promoting your blog has two basic elements — making content that people will love, and keeping an eye open for opportunities to get that content in front of others. If you can do that consistently, you will build a strong following and high traffic numbers.
What strategies have you used to promote a blog? Which ones have you found to be the most effective?