How to Promote Your Blog and Increase Traffic

When it comes to blogging, the old saying ‘build it and they will come’ is certainly not true. Unfortunately, in order to get people to visit your site, you’re going to have to focus pretty heavily on a number of marketing activities and do a lot of outreach.

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If you don’t do this, then you may eventually start to see a couple of visitors trickle in after a couple of years – but that’s it. Really does take that long otherwise, because without building links to your site there’s no way for Google to find it. And if Google isn’t finding it and you’re not sharing links anywhere else, how can anybody be expected to see your new content?

This can be a very upsetting experience for a new blogger too – when you’re pouring your heart and soul into each new article it’s a devastating feeling to think that nobody is visiting!

So let’s take a look at how you can go about bringing more people to your site and what you need to do to get the word out… There are plenty of different methods, so get a pen and paper ready!

Search Engine Optimization

If you’ve done any reading on this topic already, then one method will have come up a lot: Search Engine Optimization, also known as ‘SEO’. SEO essentially means that you’re optimizing your site and your marketing in such a way that Google will be able to find it and match it with the correct searches that people are looking for.

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In turn, this requires a few different things, though the specifics of what SEO involves changes all the time as Google changes its policies and algorithms.

Backlinks

The first thing you’ll need to do is to work on your ‘backlinks’ profile. This basically means that you’re going to build lots of links point toward your site, placed on other sites around the web.

This is important because it serves two crucial functions. The first function is that it helps Google to find your blog in the first place. Google uses programs called ‘robots’ or ‘spiders’ in order to ‘crawl’ the web and find new content. In order to do this, they move from one link to the next. Once a site is added to the database it is ‘indexed’ but until that point, crawling is the only way that Google can find your page.

The other reason that backlinks are important is that they help you to demonstrate that your site is important. If someone links to your site, then the assumption is that your site must provide some kind of value and be an authority. This alone makes it a good candidate for Google to show to its visitors when trying to help them find information!

Note that not all links are made equally. Google considers some links to be spammy and others to have high ‘trust’. Sites with high trust tend to include those features in its ‘news’ section and those that have .edu domains, or that belong to important brands. If you can get a link from them, this will help your position a lot more than if you get a link from a site no one has heard of. But of course getting a link from Harvard isn’t exactly easy, so what do you do? The solution normally is to see this like a game of ‘degrees of separation’. In other words, if you can get a link from a site that has a link from a site that is a .edu site, then that will still help you a lot!

Content

The other big element here is your content and this means the quality, quantity and relevance of your blog posts.
When someone searches on Google for something, they are inevitably going to be looking for information or entertainment. In other words then, they are looking for content – and content is what makes the web go around.

Therefore, the more high quality content you have on your site, the more likely Google is to recommend it. And the more relevant content you have on your site, the more likely it is that Google will match your blog posts with the searches being carried out. This is where the idea of ‘keywords’ comes in.

A keyword or keyphrase is essentially the term that the users enters into Google when they are searching for something. Google will then look at its index and attempt to match that keyword to the content it has found during its crawling. If your page repeats that keyword a few times in key places and uses related language (such as synonyms) then there’s a good chance that you’ll be brought up as a suggested result and people will be interested in clicking your link. The more content you add as well, the more of these matches you’re likely to make by pure chance.

Most bloggers won’t take this strategy though and will instead identify a particularly popular keyphrase and then try to rank for that term. This involves very subtle repetition of that keywords but it’s important that this doesn’t negatively impact on the quality of your content. You should also attempt to use those keywords and related language in your headers and in elements of your code, such as for image names or alt tags.

You can use a number of tools – including Google’s Keywords Tool – in order to research the best keyphrases to try to rank for in your niche (based on their popularity and the amount of competition for that term).

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Other Factors

There are many other factors that can impact on your likelihood of ranking highly on Google. One example is the importance of having a site that is fast and also optimized to be responsive for use on mobile. If your site looks bad on mobile devices or takes a long time to load, then Google won’t want to show it to visitors. Make sure you try to use Google’s tools for PageSpeed Insights and Mobile Friendliness.

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You may also want to research more advanced topics such as ‘Rich Snippets’ and more.

Social Media Marketing

The next thing you can do to start spreading the word and getting more people to read your posts is to share your site on social media.

There are two key strategies here once again. This time, those strategies are:

  • To create a page for people to follow you on on social media
  • To post regularly to communities and groups with your content

In terms of making yourself pages, the key is simply to be everywhere. Make sure you have a strong and instantly recognizable brand that people will respond to and then have a Facebook Page, a Twitter Account and Instagram Account etc. The more different accounts you have – all linking back to your site – the more ways people will have to discover you.

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Don’t make the mistake of only focussing on the ‘big sites’ either. While Facebook is very important, so too are the smaller ones such as Instagram and even the less obvious options such as Snapchat or using live video streaming.

This also gives you the ability to try and promote a certain lifestyle and image. You want people to associate your brand with being fit and healthy, or wealthy and successful: whatever your image is. When people follow you on social media, they’ll be constantly reminded of your brand and this will help to build more trust, familiarity and authority in the long term!

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This should result in something of a ‘virtuous cycle’ where the more of a following you build on your site, the more it drives to social media and the more following you have on social media, the more it grows and funnels back to your site. Make sure that you have lots of buttons on your homepage displaying links to your social media and make sure that you link each social media account to the others.

Make sure as well that your social media provides real value. That means that you should be posting content that people actually want to read and that is relevant to your niche. One of the biggest mistakes that businesses in particular make is to create a Facebook page and then simply post occasionally about special offers and why their products are so great. This doesn’t give their followers any reason to stick around and in no time at all, they’ll begin their exodus!

Instead then, try to make sure that your social media accounts are a great resource for new, interesting information that people can look up regularly and that they’ll be excited to check out each day. Put it this way: if your social media accounts ever got closed, then your followers should be disappointed and not indifferent. Again, value is key and you should see your social media presence as providing a service to your loyal fans!

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As far as sharing content to groups and communities go, this is the other crucial aspect of social media. When you share a link with a Facebook Page, a Google+ Community or even a Sub Reddit, this has potentially to get exposure to a very large audience. This is then incredibly effective if that audience happens to be the precise niche you are marketing to. This is your ‘route to market’ and a single post somewhere like this can potentially result in thousands of hits overnight if you get it right. The key is to think about who your posts are for, as you write that. We’ve discussed this in more detail in the post on how to write engaging content.

PPC and Advertising

The other option available to you when it comes to growing your following of course is to advertise your site. And when it comes to advertising, the best option is by far PPC. PPC stands for ‘Pay Per Click’ and in turn, this means that you only pay for the ads when someone actually clicks and visits your page. You will set your maximum bid – how much you’re willing to pay for each visitor – and normally this will be somewhere in the vicinity of 20 cents to $1. This only works of course if you have a very effective form of monetization on your site, such that you know you’re going to be able to make money that you spend. This means you need to workout your average pay per visitor.

There are two big PPC platforms available for bloggers. One is Google AdWords, which allows you to place adverts right on Google’s search results at the top of the page. Here, you choose a keyword you want to target just like you would research keywords for SEO. The other big platform is Facebook, which has the advantage of allowing you to target users by their interests, location and other information. For instance, if you have a blog all about weddings – you could opt to target only engaged women in your area and that way make money selling wedding dresses!

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Neither platform is particularly better than the other and both have their strengths and weaknesses – it’s about choosing the correct one for your particular blog and campaign.

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The same goes for your marketing in general too. Don’t think of this as a choice between three different options but as a combination of strategies you can use together. The best marketing is content marketing, which means delivering consistent quality content to your users so that they want to link to you and so that they keep coming back. This has the side effect of helping you to rank well on Google and working well for Facebook too. And eventually, when you have a good product to sell as well, you can start making enough money to invest some more into your marketing.
And then you can look into more advanced methods too – like influencer marketing and guest posting for other blogs!