I’m on a journey of expanding the reach of my blog, and shared previously how organic traffic to the blog has increased not far off 6x over the course of 6 months. It continues to rise, with organic traffic for this month already 50% up on the same period last month.
I’m now aiming to ramp things up a gear – not just for organic traffic, but for traffic in general. Continuing to learn and explore how to promote my blog effectively is an exciting challenge!
Of course, I already have in place some of the required steps in place – or it’s likely you wouldn’t be here reading this! So far, so good…
But to further increase my traffic, more steps are needed…
It’s not enough to just create the content – that’s only half the battle!
Mastering the effective promotion of that content is also essential.
It’s the difference between a blog that gets just a trickle of traffic, and one that attracts hundreds if not thousands of views in just a few hours or over the course of a few days.
In other words, it’s the difference between a successful, visible blog – and one that might as well not exist.
… the key to building a super successful blog is just two things:
1. Content creation
2. Promoting that content
Kim Roach, BuzzBlogger.com
It’s not achieved overnight either.
It’s the culmination of lots of minor activities over time, all heading in the right direction, and ultimately leading to (potentially, at least) exponential growth.
You’re playing the long game and laying down the strong foundations that will support your blog in future – and in turn, your business.
#1. It helps me – it creates a personal checklist that lays down exactly how to promote my blog, with key steps for myself or an assistant to follow each time I click Publish. It consolidates what I do already with new steps I want to incorporate into my marketing activities.
#2. It helps you – by sharing this checklist, it helps you promote your own blog too! For transparency, I’ll let you know which steps I’m already doing and have some level of experience and expertise in, and which I’ll be adding going forward. Where possible I’ll add links to supporting resources to allow you to explore the step further.
But First … Your Content Must Provide Real Value…
Before I get started, there’s one overriding presumption – that you have created content that adds real value to your audience. It must engage and, generally speaking, provide a solution to a specific issue.
Without this essential element in place, trying to promote your blog will be many times harder and only achieve a fraction of the results it may have done otherwise. In case you’re unsure on this, here are 10 ways quality always wins.
Yes, creating such content is hard work and can take several hours (who said success was easy?). My own posts often take over a day’s work to create. And should probably take longer still…
If anyone tells you they create great posts in just an hour or so, they’re either lying and/or not worth listening to.
So it’s a significant investment of time – yours, or someone else’s. But the pay-off is that it repays dividends to your business for months and years to come.
Not just in the traffic it attracts directly, but also in all the other uses you can then put that content to via repurposing.
(The alternative? You miss out on all the significant benefits that blogging as a business brings you… and have to take harder and often more risky steps to achieve long-term traffic growth).
To ensure your content provides real value to your audience, and does so in an engaging format, you need to:
- Do effective research.
- Write at least 1000-2000 words (longer posts usually perform better – this one’s over 4500 words for example).
- Incorporate other media such as images and videos within your post (see 25 Top Free and Paid Stock Photo Sites to source images you can use).
- Add links to and quotes from other sites and individuals.
- And so on…
… And Then Take The Time To Promote It!
On top of the content creation, then there’s the promotional activity on top – and you get 10 key steps for doing that laid out below.
To maximize the value out of each post you create, many bloggers advise taking longer to promote it than it takes to create the content in the first place.
Some advise a 80/20 split for promotion/creation to achieve maximum results. In other words, for every hour you spend creating content, spend 4 hours promoting it.
For the average time-limited business owner using a blog to support and drive an effective marketing strategy for their business as a whole, the key is to systemize this promotion as much as possible.
This means using suitable tools alongside effective delegation to automate the promotion of content as much as possible. The goal is that it just happens as part of a regular process.
You get the same impressive results by working smarter – and without the heavy time commitment.
The good news is that as your blog builds momentum and traction, the promotion of your content gets steadily more effective.
- You’ve built relationships with subscribers on your list, and your list is growing. The same goes for your social audiences. They engage more readily with your content and they’re more willing to share it with others.
- Similarly, you’ve built relationships with other blog owners who add credibility to your content and periodically share it with their own communities.
- You’ve developed authority and credibility – further encouragement for others to share your content, and so the growth cycle continues…
So let’s cut to the chase…
What should you actually do to ensure your content gets the visibility it deserves?
Here are ten must-do steps for every post you publish…
Put just one of these steps into place that you’re not doing already, and it’s likely to have a significant impact. (Click here to download these steps as a free one-page checklist you can use each time you publish).
Ensure your post is keyword-optimized
This doesn’t mean every post should be keyword-led.
But when you choose a topic to write about, do some basic keyword research to see if there is an optimal keyword you can focus on to maximize the amount of organic traffic the post will attract in future.
For example, for this post I wanted to create some content on how to promote blog posts. So using Google’s Keyword Tool within Adwords, I looked for keywords relating to blog post promotion and promote blog post.
There were a relatively high number of monthly searches for how to promote your blog.
However, searching on Google with the keyword in quotes, there was also a high level of competition at over 360,000 competing results (at least in terms of trying to get a blog post ranked).
It would be challenging to rank a blog post with this level of competition and give it long-term visibility.
Instead I needed a keyword that would have a much lower number of average monthly searches, but with correspondingly low competition levels too so I would have a chance to rank longer term.
With dozens, eventually hundreds, of blog posts on a blog, the traffic really starts to mount up, as I’ve already been experiencing.
After a couple more minutes of research, I found the related keyword term how to promote my blog. It has 260 searches a month, which is roughly in line with my expectations for a suitable keyword to target.
Generally speaking, long-tail keywords which have 100-300 average monthly searches are more likely to have competition levels within an achievable range in terms of gaining visibility on the search engines.
Plus they have enough monthly traffic to make it worthwhile over the long term.
Sure enough, on checking the keyword on Google, it had under 50,000 competing pages. While nothing is guaranteed, it would be perfectly possible to start ranking for this over time and for the post to start attracting traffic.
Remember too that a web page isn’t solely ranked for the one keyword term you focus on. It ends up gaining visibility for a multitude of keyword terms that you won’t have even thought about.
Did you know there are nearly 500 million searches on Google every day for things no one has searched for before?
So keyword research does have its limits. But it does give you a rough idea of the long-term traffic levels from organic search you may be able to achieve.
[Want more detailed info on how to do keyword research? Download our FREE comprehensive guide on how to do keyword research for SEO].
Use a plugin like Yoast to guide you through optimizing your blog post accordingly for your chosen keyword.
One final tip.
You also need to maximize the click-through rate (CTR) you get when you are ranked. A higher CTR indicates relevancy, which can increase your ranking over time.
Your CTR can be increased by ensuring the Meta description you provide (via the Yoast SEO plugin as shown below) does a couple of things:
- Repeats the keyword at least once – words that match with the search keyword are shown in bold in the SERPs, boosting response. Try to get the keyword as near to the beginning as possible.
- Makes it clear your content delivers on what the searcher is looking for.
These techniques lead to a marked improvement in CTR when using paid search engine listings (via Adwords), leading to higher placement for lower cost.
The same principles apply to organic listings, and help push your rankings up over time.
Share with your email list
As soon as you publish to your blog, let your list know about it!
You can see an example of the type of email I send in this previous post, a part of which is also shown below.
You’ll notice I don’t just send information about the most recent post, but also include links to the previous three posts.
This means any single post gets exposure at least 4 times to my list.
You can also go further and ensure ongoing promotion of your content for new subscribers as your list grows.
Simply create emails linking to and promoting key posts, and add them to an autoresponder sequence that’s delivered to your list over time.
Share across your social channels.
Whenever you publish, ensure you’re sharing the content too with your social audiences.
That much is fairly standard. But it’s also important how you share.
Don’t just share the content once, share it multiple times over an extended period.
Social feeds, especially on Twitter, are by their very nature fleeting. By posting multiple updates, you’ll catch a higher proportion of your audience.
For example, schedule several tweets based on key points in your post to go out over the next several days or even weeks.
List-type articles such as this blog post (eg. 101 ways to..., 10 steps to…) make it easy.
You can schedule each point into a separate tweet and post over several weeks. Perhaps use a common hashtag to link them all together.
For other networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest, do something similar. Send out an initial update, and then send another one after say a few weeks. Pick a different image from the post for the subsequent ones to avoid duplication, and focus on a different point from the post – you’ll attract different segments of your audience.
Try also sharing to any relevant Groups you’re involved with on LinkedIn or Facebook. Don’t just post a straight link, or you’ll run into issues. See #10 below for the right way to approach this.
Finally, make it really easy for others to share your content too, by ensuring your blog has social sharing buttons available. You’ll be surprised how this starts to build up over time.
I’ve just started using a plugin from Sumome on this blog, with just this principle in mind. Whereas before I solely had sharing icons at the very bottom of each post, you’ll notice how these sharing icons remain visible as you scroll.
This step involves reaching out to other bloggers and social influencers in different ways, and seeing if they would be willing to share your content. Again, the quality and value you offer through your content are absolutely vital for this to be effective.
So far I’ve only dipped my toes in the water with this, and will be doing a lot more going forward.
Here are three main and potentially highly effective approaches you can use to start doing this.
Approach #1 – Reach Out To People You Quote Or Link To
For people you have quoted and blogs you have linked to within your post, simply contact them to let them know. Importantly, you can also ask if they’d consider sharing the content.
It’s flattering to know your content has been referred to elsewhere, and it helps build up their own authority and standing. A good proportion will be only too willing to share such content with their own audience.
Try connecting with them via email or a contact form on their site, as well as via Twitter.
Approach #2 – Reach Out To People Who Wrote Similar Content
This is where blogger outreach as a marketing tactic really starts to scale up.
Firstly, locate blog posts similar to yours. For example, search for the same keyword on Google, or use a tool like BuzzSumo.
Secondly, contact the bloggers to let them know about your post.
Don’t expect everyone you contact to do something – the majority probably won’t – but a proportion of those you contact may do one or more of the following:
- Link to your post, for example by adding it as a further resource to their own.
- Share your post.
- Comment on your post.
Even for those who don’t respond, all is not lost.
Try going back after a week or so, and leave a thoughtful comment on their post, together with a link to your own post as an additional suggested resource.
See #8 below for an extension to this approach that involves commenting on new, related posts as they appear.
This takes it one step further still. It involves you contacting people who have shared similar content to yours in the past.
If they’ve previously shared content on a topic, it figures they might do so again.
You simply make it easy for them by suggesting suitable content for them they may like to share in future.
In brief, you are:
- Looking for similar content that has already had a lot of exposure on social media.
- Locating the key influencers who shared that content.
- Contacting them to suggest your own content as content they might like to share
There isn’t room to go into this strategy in any depth, but Mark Trueman wrote an excellent post that outlines the process involved in some detail (as well as for Approach #2 above).
Promote the post on Facebook and Twitter, via their paid ad options.
I’ve experimented a bit with this so far, and will be doing more going forward.
I’ll be particularly focusing on posts like this one which have content upgrades available. This means a higher proportion of the resultant traffic will be converted into leads on my list, and makes it more likely to generate a positive ROI from the advertising over time.
Boosting Posts on Facebook
On Facebook, promoting a post simply involves clicking the Boost button for the post on your Page. You then pay a modest amount such as $10 to $50 to reach more of the people who have Liked your Page.
Organic reach on Facebook can be very limited, with updates only reaching a small proportion of your fan base.
Paying to promote your post allows you to reach a much higher proportion of your audience. That helps keep your business front-of-mind and attract interested prospects back to your site.
You can also extend the reach of your posts further by choosing to promote them to the friends of people who have Liked your Page. The idea is that these friends of your own fans may have similar interests, and therefore have some profit potential for your business.
There are also additional targeting options available, including geo-location capabilities.
If you’re promoting the post via a Facebook ad, the image should have less than 20% text. Use their grid tool to check.
If you’ve already updated your Page with a link to your blog post and the image is unsuitable for their paid ad option (as shown in the sample above), there is another option.
Simply set up a similar update using a different or modified image via their Power Editor. This so-called ‘dark post’ will only be displayed to those you’re promoting it to, and won’t show up in the feed on your Page.
Promoting Your Post on Twitter
For Twitter, you can promote a tweet (i.e. that links to your post) using various targeting options, including:
- Users searching for specific keywords
- Users similar to your own followers.
For some unknown reason, it’s not as straightforward as perhaps it should be to promote a tweet. There’s no option for example to select one of your tweets via your Twitter page and click a link to promote it.
Instead you have to go to ads.twitter.com, and create a new campaign, selecting the Website clicks or conversion option as shown:
Even then, it’s only in the final step that you actually select (or optionally compose) the tweet you want to promote:
You can’t promote a single tweet, but need to select at least three. Alternatively, if you choose the Compose Tweets option (similar to Facebook’s dark posts, these won’t post to your followers unless you specifically target them), you again need to compose at least 3 or 4 to add.
This helps with optimizing the campaign over time. Over all though, it doesn’t seem as user-friendly or as flexible as Facebook’s promotional options.
Use social sharing communities
Social sharing communities are based on reciprocation. You share content from other members of the community, while they likewise help your content to spread and gain exposure.
They sound full of potential, and I look forward to exploring them in more depth.
Here are three of the main ones I’ve come across that I’ll be using initially, along with a brief description of how they work.
According to the site, many top bloggers are users, including some I’m already familiar with such as Ana Hoffman, (@AnaTrafficCafe), Kim Roach (@mytrafficmentor, and quoted at the top of this post) and Kristi Hines (@kikolani).
It works via a credit system:
- Your credits earn you retweets, likes and ‘plus ones’ from active users – real blogger – who use the site.
- In turn, you earn credits by doing the same for others.
You basically enter your tweet into the system as illustrated below, and offer a certain number of credits in return for people sharing it with their own social communities.
The main drawback seems to be that it’s only targeted at those who blog on marketing and business topics. If that includes you, then great – but otherwise you’ll find it unsuitable.
I look forward to testing how effective this is, and making it a regular part of my own promotional schedule for blog posts.
It works in a similar way to JustRetweet, earning you credits each time you share other people’s content.
Here’s a quick video they provide that explains how it works, and how to get started with the site:
If you want more in-depth info in order to better master the system, they even have a free Udemy course that takes a couple hours or so to work through.
I like their honest approach about content. You can’t fake your way to authority and influence with sub-standard content – the better your content, the better results you’re likely to attract:
We don’t guarantee huge traffic or lots of shares. The virality is impossible to predict, so if we promised you a traffic boost, you’d know that’s shady! Instead, we put your content in front of social media influencers for them to share and if your content is good, it will pick up more and more re-shares giving you more and more benefits.
It also takes a little longer to get started with the site, but will be interesting to see how it compares with the others in terms of results.
As the name suggests, the site consists of numerous tribes, where a tribe consists of bloggers who write on similar topics. It works for all niches – you pick a tribe and start following it.
While you can share other people’s content and interact with the group, your own content won’t be visible to other tribe members initially.
Once you’ve proved your worth after this introductory period, the ‘Chief’ (and so the tribal analogy continues!) can decide to promote you to become a fully-fledged member of the tribe.
This is when your own content becomes available for other members of the tribe to see and potentially start sharing and engaging with.
I like this aspect of Tribberr, as it ensures a certain level of quality in the members of the tribe. You’re only allowed in once you’ve shown your commitment.
Repurpose the content
Always consider how you can reuse content you’ve created to further benefit your business.
For example, digital marketing expert Mark Shaefer (@markwschaefer) – one of the top marketing influencers on the web – has repurposed blog posts into “posts for other publications; popular Slideshare presentations; speeches, university classes and corporate workshops; posts for LinkedIn; discussion topic for a podcast; book chapters”, and even long-form updates for his Facebook feed.
If it works for him, why not you?
(See related content: The Ultimate List of 50+ Killer Ways to Repurpose Content and “Be Everywhere”)
Set up Google Alerts
This was an interesting tactic I heard about via QuickSprout’s Neil Patel and one I’m about to start using.
It allows you to continue Approach #2 – Reach Out To People Who Wrote Similar Content – see #4 Blogger Outreach above – on an ongoing basis.
Here’s how it works:
Set up a Google Alert for the main keyword of your post. Use quotation marks around the keyword to ensure the most relevant results.
Here’s one I’ve just set up for this post. (The additional benefit in doing this is that you should know as soon as Google has indexed your content).
Set it to let you know immediately – i.e. as-it-happens as shown above – because the sooner you respond, the more effective this tactic will be for you.
Look out for new results coming through that relate to content you are able to leave a comment on, such as a blog post.
Go to the post, and leave a suitable comment. You don’t want to leave a ‘go look at my post [url]’ type comment, or it will just get deleted or treated as spam.
Instead, post something thoughtful and helpful relating directly to the post. Write at least 50 words as a rough guideline, but simply make it the type of comment you would be happy to keep if it appeared on your own blog.
Towards the end of your comment simply suggest your own post as another resource that readers might like to take a look at.
TIP: To delegate the processing of these Alerts to someone on your team, set up a filter in your email to forward any incoming Alerts to them. Ask them to use a spreadsheet or similar for ongoing review. This also helps track which post each Alert relates to.
Link from other posts on your blog
For each new post you create, try to find at least a couple older blog posts on your own blog on which you can drop in links to your newer post.
This has a couple of main benefits:
- It helps your newer post get search engine visibility more quickly
- It encourages visitors to stay on your site for longer by making available other relevant content you have available.
Obviously, it gets easier the more posts you have on your blog.
It works the other way too. As you create your newer post, link through where possible to older posts to help promote those on an ongoing basis. You’ll find several examples of such links in this post.
Post to forums
Use this tactic with care. Ensure you are actively contributing in other ways to the forums you are a part of, rather than just posting self-serving links. However, when you take the right approach and have the right mentality, it can be highly effective.
The same technique can be used for Q&A sites like Quora, and aggregator sites like Reddit.
I’ve done some of this in the past and with good effect. In fact, it was one key way in which I first got started online. I now need to start doing this on a more regular, systemized basis.
Step #1: Find suitable forums.
Start with just two or three main forums relating to your niche or a site like Quora. (See our full guide on how to use Quora for business purposes).
Rather than forums that interest you, you need to find ones where your marketplace — the type of people you want to attract to your site — hang out. They may well be the same of course, but it’s an important distinction.
Step #2: Participate regularly.
Get into the habit of participating, contributing your expertise, and starting new discussions by asking questions that others might have the solution to.
This doesn’t have to be onerous in terms of time commitment, it might just be a few minutes two or three times a week where you make a couple contributions.
Don’t start posting links to your own content until you’ve been contributing over a few weeks and have a good history on the site in question.
This isn’t lost time:
- Time invested now will be repaid to you in terms of traffic and links in future. Again, you’re playing the long game which is where real success is built.
- Pay attention to your profile, plus any signature you’re able to add to your posts – this differs site by site. Links you add to your profile or signature will start attracting click-throughs to your site. For example, link through to a suitable squeeze page.
- By following the discussions, you’ll find it very helpful in terms of inspiring new posts you could write in future.
This is key. Don’t just post a few words and then your link. It comes across as spam even if you have more of a history on the site.
The trick is to use your blog post as the basis of a more meaningful contribution. Write a few paragraphs and ensure you’re adding real value (and so it makes sense within the context of the discussion) without people having to click on your link.
Then at the end of what you’ve written, add a link by offering it as a further resource.
There’s not room to write it all here, but I created a post on just this topic a couple months back that goes into the info above in more depth with some additional tips – for anyone interested, see http://…
Your primary motivation should be, quite honestly, to add as much value as you can to the community you are part of. This approach repays you ten-fold, with traffic, referrals, and engagement with your contributions.
If instead you approach it in terms of what you can get rather than give, your results will be much more limited.
So that’s 10 ways to promote your blog posts. Each one is very powerful in its own right and well worth doing.
How many of these are you doing already? Which one are you most excited about to try?
If you’re not doing all of them yet – like me – that’s great news! It indicates there’s vast potential to grow your traffic, possibly exponentially, over the next few weeks and months, and support your business with new leads and resultant sales.
As stated above, growing your blog is a journey. Incorporating just one of the steps above into your marketing strategy for your posts is another significant step in the right direction.
Other than that, let me know how you get on, okay? Or if you’re already doing one or more of the above, what have your results been like so far?