You’ve set up your new blog. You’ve written your first post. Now what? Will anyone even notice?
While a blog is a great starting point for your online marketing, in order to get the word out you also need to let people know about it. A blog is the essential content engine for your social media – but to build traffic and develop a community of readers you also need to promote that content.
The two most important things to focus on with a new blog are 1) posting regularly and 2) sharing your posts on social networks. But there are a number of ways you can boost your blog traffic and keep people coming back for more:
- Be findable. Think carefully about what you call your blog posts. The title you give each post will usually show up in the web address of the individual page your blog creates for a single post (its ‘permalink’). When you are writing titles and posts, think about search terms people might use to use to find your blog post, and include relevant keywords. Don’t do this in a forced or artificial way – just make sure your title accurately and succinctly describes your content. If you are using WordPress, check Settings > Permalinks and select Post name to make sure your title appears in the URL. I actually tend to choose Custom Structure and paste in /%category%/%postname%/ to include the post category as well as the title.
- Be relevant. Think about who you are writing for and the audience you want to attract. By keeping your content focused on what your ideal reader will find valuable, interesting, informative and/or entertaining, the right people will find you – and keep coming back.
- Be regular. You will get more traffic the more you blog. This is especially important when you start out and need to raise awareness of your new blog. Consider blogging daily for the first couple of weeks of a new blog, to start building up your content and giving Google more pages to index. Keeping up a daily blogging routine after that is unrealistic for many people – but try to post something new at least once a week if you can.
- Be topical. This depends on what you’re writing about – but if it is relevant to your audience and niche to write about something current, it makes sense to do this at least some of the time. If a lot of people are searching for a recent news story, if you have blogged about your take on it, it will help people will find you. This doesn’t necessarily have to be current affairs – it could be a write-up of a conference or trade fair you recently attended.
- Be subscribable. Enable people to subscribe to your latest blog posts. Your blog will come with an RSS feed as standard, meaning people can use feed reader software such as Feedly to keep up with your latest posts. Make sure you have an RSS feed icon somewhere for people to click on. But many people prefer to subscribe to the blogs they want to keep up with by email – I know I do. You’ll see one or two email signup boxes on this blog – at the end of posts and in the sidebar. You can also sign up to receive new posts by clicking this link. This is powered by Feedburner – a free Google service. Enabling email subscription ensures no one who wants to keep up with you misses a post – and also encourages click-throughs back onto your blog. It is also useful if you don’t blog prolifically, since people will still get your latest post without having to keep checking back for any new content.
- Be everywhere. This is the really important one for marketing your blog: promote your blog on social networks. Whenever you publish a new post, ensure it is posted to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Use a free service called Twitterfeed to automatically send the title and/or first bit of your post, plus a link back to it, to your Twitter account(s), Facebook profile and/or page(s), and LinkedIn profile. As you increase your followers, friends, fans and contacts, you will increase the reach of people you can promote your latest posts to. Consider other social networks too – even if you have to post manually. Pinterest is a great driver of blog traffic for example. But remember: if you want to be able to pin your posts to Pinterest, each post must include an image!
- Be shareable. Posting to your own social media accounts is one thing. To spread the word further, make it easy for your readers to share your posts on their social networks. Use social bookmarking buttons at the end of your blog posts to encourage people to ‘tweet this’, ‘share on Facebook’, ‘Pin this’ etc. I use a WordPress plugin called Shareaholic | share buttons & related posts (formerly the rather more catchy Sexy Bookmarks). Don’t forget that if you want people to be able to pin your posts to their Pinterest boards – even if you don’t want to be on Pinterest yourself – you must include images in your posts. Consider also the Facebook Like button (take a look at Facebook’s Social Plugins page for details).
A combination of what you write, how often you write, and how you promote your blog and encourage sharing will help increase your traffic and build a community of loyal readers. And don’t forget to keep an eye on your webstats to see how you’re progressing!
Thanks to @EwaJozefkowicz for asking this question on Twitter. If you have an online marketing question you’d like me to answer in a blog post, tweet me @jonreed or @getuptospeed – or use the contact form.