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How to Promote Your Blog and Increase Your Traffic
The Basics of Promoting Your Blog
Everyone wants to promote their blog, whether you want feedback on your posts or you need to cover server costs with ad revenue. You may have started blogging to share photography, cooking recipes, or to promote your own business. There are a few secrets you need to know before you get started.
If you already have a blog or website, these simple tips can help you to increase your website traffic. The basics include: referral traffic, social media traffic, SEO and ad campaigns. These are the top ways to promote your blog and they will all be covered in this article.
Why Blogs Fail
Before we go any further, let's talk about why blogs fail. Most bloggers get started thinking that they can make money blogging, or that if they post awesome photography of their latest triple chocolate cake, readers will magically appear.
Many bloggers also put way too much emphasis on Google keywords. I know because I've made the same mistake. If you are a beginner blogger, and you are publishing on WordPress or Blogger, please stop worrying about keywords and keyword density, because they are just a tiny, tiny piece of how Google ranks your page. If you have a PageRank of 0, as all beginner blogs do, then Google keywords won't do much for you.
So bloggers everywhere will spend hours researching Google keywords, optimizing their posts and meta tags. They eventually realize that after weeks of hard work that they still don't have any readers or subscribers to their blog. Don't make the same mistakes I did!
How Blogs Get Found
So how do people find a new blog? I can tell you right now that I have found the best blogs that I enjoy because other blogs I already read were linking to them on their homepage sidebar. Another way I found great blogs was by searching for "Top 100 Food Blogs You Should Be Reading" or "Best Blogs of 2012." The chances of your blog ending up on those lists after just one year might not be that high, but you CAN start interacting and commenting on those blogs and building up relationships within those blogging communities.
The Power of Backlinks and Referral Traffic
One of the best ways to show up in a Google search is to have backlinks from higher-authority websites that link back to your homepage. So how do you get these valuable backlinks?
As I described in the previous section, one way to get back links is to participate and comment on other blogs that are somewhat related to the niche that you are writing about. If you post quality comments, the blog owner will most likely come to check out your blog, and might even link back to you if you build a relationship with that person.
Please remember that buying backlinks is easily recognized by Google, and your website will probably be penalized if you do so. Buying backlinks can cause a website with a PageRank of 4 to plummet back down to zero in just one day - so be careful!
Another way to get quality backlinks is to your goal is to get featured in a major newspaper like the New York Times, and you achieve this goal, then the New York Times will link to your website. At the time of this writing, the New York Times has a PageRank of 9. The best ranking your site can get is a 10, which is actually rare. Right now, even the Google homepage itself has a PageRank of 9. You would expect that it would be a perfect 10, because Larry Page from Google invented PageRank, right? Well, that's just one example of how complicated the Google algorithms are.
How to Promote Your Blog on Social Media
Take a look at the picture at the top of my article. I started my blog in January. It didn't take me very long to get up to over 400 unique visitors in the first month, and over 2,000 unique page views.
I had doubled my unique visitors at the end of March to 800, and my monthly page views increased to 3,300. This is really solid growth for a brand new blog. So how did I do it? I was good at promoting my blog, without being too annoying on Twitter or Facebook. Here are a list of some things that I did to achieve growth:
- Twitter: I was active on Twitter for a few months before I had my own website. I figured out what types of people were interested in the same topics, and I followed them. But I didn't stop there - I am very engaged on Twitter. After just a few months, I already had 800 followers. I regularly Tweet, retweet, and have conversations with my followers on Twitter. This is not only a great way to increase your following, but the best way to maintain it. Once you start blogging, people already know you and trust your tweets. Just make sure that all of your tweets aren't about you and your blog posts. You need to post other relevant information that people are interested in as well. You don't want to appear to be spam. A good rule to follow is to post one thing about your blog, and then a useful article that relates back to your niche from another source. Rinse and repeat.
- Facebook: Facebook is a great way to promote your blog among your existing network. Just make sure you don't overdo it, because friends might get sick of seeing your posts all the time unless it's something that really interests them.
- StumbleUpon: This website is a great way to submit your posts, but keep in mind that most StumbleUpon users are surfing the internet similar to the way you change channels on TV - they are on a link for an average of 30 seconds or less. This could negatively affect your bounce rate, which affects PageRank - but if you have great quality content, there is a chance that it's a great way to get noticed online. My blog gets a lot of traffic from StumbleUpon, but I have good copy with quality photography that draws people in.
- Reddit - A lot of people come to me asking how they can get on the first page of Reddit. They may have even tried posting their website in the Reddit forums already. The truth is that Reddit is a unique community of individuals who participate actively and look down upon users who simply register an account to promote themselves. You should spend a few weeks learning how to use Reddit before you start submitting your own work, otherwise you could experience a backlash from Reddit users. This would be counterproductive and a waste of your time.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is something that will matter more the longer you own your blog. Keep in mind that Google doesn't like new websites. If your website is just a few days old, you won't show up in Google searches because you only have a couple of pages on your website and little content. If your website has been around for awhile and you've been posting every week, you have some readers and want to grow, then you can start thinking about SEO.
When my blog was new, I only got a small fraction of readers from Google searches. Most of my traffic came from social media and blog communities that I had joined. I also got great referral traffic from comments I left on other blogs that I admired and visited regularly. After another year, my website was old enough to be more trusted by Google, and more people started to find me through searches. I went back and optimized keywords in the first two sentences of my posts as well as my blog post titles.
It is also advantageous if your blog post permalink (web address) matches your blog post title and a couple of keywords in the first two sentences of your post. Keyword density is also important - this is the number of times that the keyword you want to rank for in Google is mentioned in all of your blog posts.
Keep in mind that what matters more than people finding your website through Google is having a loyal customer base - people that already know your brand and will return to your website by directly typing your website into their web browsers. When you get more direct hits than Google referred traffic, then you have made a name for yourself.
Once you have been blogging for awhile and you have great backlinks, you can always run a Google Adwords campaign or Facebook campaign. Check to see if when you registered with your website host if Google Adwords funding was included in your sign up package. InMotion hosting offers $75 in Google Adwords campaigns when you sign up for a basic launch package. Google Adwords may help your business to grow, or help your blog rank for certain keywords, but keep in mind that these campaigns can get expensive. They might not be worth it for a personal blogger. Facebook campaigns in my experience have been relatively helpful. I have had good luck with increasing the amount of likes to my business page, which helps to drive more traffic to my site. The amount of likes you can get for $15 aren't very high (think 30-40 clicks per $15 campaign), but every little bit helps.
Stay Tuned for More!
I hope these initial tips have helped you understand how to get more traffic to your blog. It's not an easy task, but if you keep these secrets in mind then you will maximize your efforts and have more time to spend writing great blog posts! I will post more articles in the future on how to get more traffic to your blog and how to maintain that traffic. Please let me know if you have questions! Thanks for reading.