The power of the blog should never be underestimated by web designers and web masters alike. These pages on a site can are multifunctional, and are both traffic pullers and retainers. They are also a good way of engaging with your readership, which gives your company or website a human face.
Of course, one of the factors that determines whether or not your blog succeeds is getting people to look at it in the first place. A lot has been written about this subject, but in my opinion only the basics have been covered. The aim of this article is to open your mind to different ways of pushing your blog, to attract traffic from unlikely quarters.
Social networking: Much has been written about spreading the word of your blog through this medium. There is a lot of justification in this claim, as one person recommending your site, carries a lot of weight with other potential blog readers. The following sites I have found to be the most useful for spreading the word.
Facebook – Not so much for telling your friends about your blog, though this always helps, but the power of Facebook advertising is nothing short of incredible. If the aim of your blog is to sell a product or service, then you should investigate advertising on Facebook rather than, in my opinion, Google.
When I advertised www.link-optimise.com simultaneously on Facebook and Google, Facebook pulled in an average of 80 hits per day, compared to 6 per day from the mighty G. The reason? Though your ad may appear as an impression with Google, it does not guarantee it is going to be seen by the public at large. To see the ad, a person may well have to click on the “more links” button, and then click “more”, to actually view the ad. Nobody does this unless they are trying to discover where exactly their ad is making an impression.
Facebook, on the other hand, puts an add right in front of your target demographics screen. They are just off to the right and good ad wording, in our case “Tired of being nowhere on search engines”, catches the eye. Though you could argue that an impression is wasted if it is not at the target audience, it is more wasted if it does not appear on screen at all. Considering an impression on Facebook has a target audience in the millions, can you really ask for a better place to put an ad?
You can also create a Facebook page for your blog, and if you are a regular reader, you will know you can link your WordPress blog to Facebook and vice versa.
Twitter. A very good site for telling your following that you have a blog and to draw attention to anything that is new on the blog, whether it be a new look, article, picture, or page. It is also good for letting people know there is a blog and it is yours. If you think of twitter, think of blog promotion. As with all social networking sites you can link them together, so linking twitter to your Facebook page for your blog, is highly recommended. That way updates on the blog page of Facebook, appear as tweets on twitter automatically.
Digg and Delicious are two other good social networking sites. Every time you upload something new on your blog, you can bring attention to it via Digg. A good choice of words and a good following on Digg, can generate readers of your articles which is what you want. If you are a clever user, you can write about a similar article to one that is already popular via Digg, and capture the same readership in the process.
Delicious is another good site which works in a similar way. The difference being that it brings attention to an entire page, rather than an article, picture, or film. This site is especially popular with designers who use it to showcase their work. Delicious is not limited to works of design however, and showcasing your articles on this site are always a winner.
Technorati. This is a great way not so much of spreading the word, but to generate links to your site, which is what Google analyses when working out where to put your blog following a search for your site on a search engine page. See back links below.
There are other social networking sites, that cater for a more specific kind of blog, or artistic works. My Space is perfect for musicians, as is blip.fm for music lovers. There are hundreds of social networking sites, and they all have their niche. Take time to explore and to enjoy them.
Use WordPress for you blog.
The advantages of WordPress as the platform for your blog has been showcased all over the web. Not only can it be customised very easily every hour of every day if you want to, it also has some great plugins for search engine optimization. I have found these plugins to be very good at generating that much needed search engine awareness, and to track my progress of my blog, as it battles for supremacy on the net.
Platinum SEO pack. Gets you noticed on Google and the like. Make sure you check the options.
Google analyicator. I have found this the most effective plugin for linking your blog to your Google analytics account.
XML sitemap plugin. This creates an XML sitemap of your blog, which is perfect for Google’s Webmaster Tools.
Another great advantage to WordPress is its ease of use. Not just for themes and plugins, but to upload content to it. This does not have to be the written word either. Photos, films, and sound files can all be easily placed on your blog, and then they are all there for the world to see. Clever use of the facilities offered by WordPress can make all the difference to how your blog appears to readers.
WordPress, can also be used to feature social networking buttons, so it is easy for readers to link to your other social networking sites, as well as subscribe to your RSS feed.
A quick note on search engine optimization and how it ties in with social networks and pushing your blog.
When you write an article or upload something to your blog, it is a good idea to use as many social networking sites as possible to spread the word an event has taken place on your blog. This can be a time consuming process, which is why it is important to link as many social networks together as possible.
What you write to promote your blog is very important. Search engines look for something called anchor text. This is text that is embedded in source code, that can be linked to similar words on your blog, or what you write to promote your blog. I have found that on twitter, if I want to draw attention to myself as a freelance writer, a phrase such as “New article on Teahon”, the anchor texts will be, “article, Teahon”. This is ok, but it has not linked freelance writer with myself or my article. If I write “New article from Teahon, freelance writer”, then the chances are it will create the following anchor text. “Article, Teahon, freelance writer.”
When choosing words to push an article try and use ones that link what you do, who you are, and what you want people to know, together. It does not have to be Shakespeare, just meaningful and precise.
Further ways to search engine optimize
If you know anything about search engine optimization, then you are undoubtedly aware of a concept called back linking. This is the main ingredient for search engine optimization, and is in essence, external links to your website from others. Think of this as a voting system, that search engines use to rate your blog in the wider world.
Digg creates a good back link to your site, as does technorati. So be sure to push your sites on these mediums. If you want to increase popularity further, then you can post on discussion forums and blogs that are similar in nature to your own. If you are flowing this route, be sure to post constructive contributions, and not just rubbish like “Great post, thanks”. It is unlikely to get past comment moderation software if you do, and quite rightly so in my opinion.
Another good way of promoting back links is to submit articles to article submission sites. Ensure there is a link to your site from the articles, and you will have a good, solid back link to your blog.
A controversial route is to submit your site to website directories. Google, is reported not to like these and ranks them little in the way of solid back linking to your website. I paid a company to put my site www.teahon.co.uk, on a hundred website directories, and found that Google did not rate any according to Webmaster Tools data. Having said that, it did generate a lot of direct traffic, so was it a complete waste of money?
These are a good way to generate interest in your blog, and does not mean you have to fork out a bundle of cash either, providing you box a little clever. Many websites will donate prizes to you providing you mention them in your blog. How far this has to go will have to be negotiated by you, but in general as they are putting up the prize, a whole section of the blog for the competition could be a good idea.
It can not be overstated how important it is that your blog’s content engages with your readership. Stale content loses traffic and once it is lost, it is extremely hard to get it back. Ensure that your content, is relevant, accurate, and speaks to the reader or viewer. Try and promote debate with your articles without being obvious. The more people that join in the better. Remember, the content is what blogging is about. If this lets you down, no amount of promoting is going to keep people coming back for more.
There is no substitute for engaging, vibrant and interesting content. Content is King, everything else is nobles at court. Make sure you regularly update it to.
I have found these to be good ways to promote your blog, or website. They are all fairly easy to implement, and a little time, effort and careful choice of words, can really make your blog shine through from the crowd.
It is worth remembering that blogging is highly competitive in some areas, and only by promoting your blog in someway will you gain attention for it.
There are other ways to promote blogs, if you have some good ones, why not share them with us?