Online Marketing Lesson 22: Blog Promotion

OnlineMarketingBanner_2

In this lesson, we are going to list some of the most effective promotional strategies that you can use on your blog. Notice that link building, traffic generation, and social media marketing strategies are covered in different modules of the program.

1. Write some content before promoting the blog

Many bloggers get excited when they finally manage to put their blogs live on the web, and as a consequence, they start promoting it as soon as the first “Welcome to my blog” post is published. This is a mistake because the visitors that you will manage to attract with your promotional efforts will be disappointed with what they find on the blog. You will end up wasting time and, what is worse, damaging the image of your blog.

Before you start your promotional activities, make sure that you have some quality content already published. There is no magical number of posts that you should wait for, but you need to be able to keep your first-time visitors busy for a while. Depending on the length of your posts, this could mean five or even ten posts published before you start promoting the blog.

Don’t be afraid to put your best ideas in those early posts either. They will have a very important role in converting your first-time visitors into loyal readers and subscribers.

2. Submit your blog to directories

If your blog is new, it would be a good idea to submit it to some blog and feed directories. Those won’t bring you an avalanche of traffic, but every little bit adds up over the long run. Additionally, many of those directories will follow their links, helping with your search engine optimization.

The first one that you should take the time to register at is Technorati. Despite losing popularity lately, Technorati is still the largest blog directory and tracker on the Internet. It will send you more traffic than the other directories, and it also tracks the mentions that your blog will get on other blogs. This last feature is useful because it allows you to see how your rankings improve over time.

3. Comment frequently on other blogs

Leaving comments on popular blogs inside your niche can be very effective at promoting your blog, especially in the early days. If you write a funny, insightful or controversial comment, the readers of that blog might get curious and click on your comment link to check out your website. And since these readers are interested in your niche, there are good chances that they will like your content too.

You need to be consistent for this tactic to work, however. This means that you should comment on many blogs and write many comments every day (e.g., 20 comments every day). There are two mistakes to avoid here. The first one is to write useless comments like “Great post!”. Your comments must add value to the discussion.

The second mistake is to use keywords or the name of your blog in the name field. Keywords should never be used, as they make your comment look very spammy. Imagine getting a comment on your blog from someone named “Buy Cheap Car Accessories”….

The name of your blog could still be used, but make sure to precede it with your personal name. For instance, instead of using “CarsBlog.com” in the name field, use “Joe Smith – CarsBlog.com.” Promoting a blog is about interacting with other people. That is why you want to always have your personal name there.

4. Exchange Blogroll or feed links

Many webmasters believe that link exchanges are obsolete, but that is not true. If done correctly, they can still be effective for promoting a website or blog. In fact, they can send you both targeted traffic and search engine juice. You just need to make sure that your link exchanges will not violate Google’s policies (and that of other search engines).

The first requirement for this is to exchange links only with blogs that are relevant and useful to your own readers. The second requirement is to use a natural anchor text. This means that you should use the name of the blog in the link, and not some keyword that the blogger wants to target. If you are still worried about getting penalized with a link exchange, you can use the rel=”nofollow” attribute on the links (and ask your partners to do the same). This will remove the sharing of search engine juice, but the links will still be useful to share traffic and brand awareness.

The most common place to put links is the sidebar of the blog. You could call them “Blogroll,” “Friends,” “Recommended Blogs” and so on.

Another place that you can use to exchange links is the RSS feed. Simply add a message at the bottom of your feed (you can do that with the RSS Footer plugin) with a link to your partner, and ask him to do the same on his RSS feed.

5. Experiment with paid advertising

While spending money on advertising is not necessary to make your blog successful, it can certainly speed up the process.

In fact, paid advertising is particularly useful in the first months of existence of a blog, because it can be used to let people know about the launch and to build an initial readership. For example, you could spend around $100 on Google Adwords and bring 5,000 paid visitors to your blog in the first two weeks. Provided that you have outstanding content already published there, many of those paid visitors will return to your blog in the future and perhaps even subscribe to your RSS feed.

Apart from PPC ads, you could also experiment with StumbleUpon Ads, Sponsored Reviews and direct banner purchases on other blogs.

TIP: Don’t send the paid traffic to your homepage. Instead, create a special landing page that will welcome those visitors and give them the information that they need to start using your blog immediately. Your goal is to convert those clicks into returning visitors and subscribers.

6. Guest blogging

When you guest blog, you basically write an article to be published on someone else’s blog. This practice is common in the blogosphere because it has benefits for everyone involved. The hosting blog gets a free piece of content. The guest blogger gets the opportunity to showcase his expertise or ideas to a new audience. The readers of the blog get to read an article from a different author.

Guest bloggers can also include a byline on their articles, with a link pointing back to their blogs. If you manage to guest blog on popular blogs in your niche, therefore, you should be able to attract new visitors, new subscribers, and also to improve your search engine optimization thanks to the highly relevant backlink that you will receive.

Here is how you can structure the process:

  1. List the blogs where you want to guest post.
  2. Analyze the first blog on the list trying to understand what kind of content is popular there.
    Write an article specifically for that blog.
  3. Make it something valuable, possibly a killer article.
  4. Email the article to the blog owner, asking whether he is interested in publishing it.
  5. If he accepts, you are are set, and you can move on to the second blog on the list.
  6. If he rejects, adapt the article to the second blog on your list and send it to that blog owner.
  7. Write a new article for the blogger who rejected you, and repeat this process until you have covered all the blogs on the list.

7. Release a report or ebook

Writing and releasing a report or ebook is another effective way to promote your blog. Sure it will take some time and effort, but the results are going to be worth it. First of all the ebook will allow you to generate traffic and gain more subscribers. Second, it will add credibility to your blog while serving as a useful resource to your readers.

If you are not sure about what topic to cover in the ebook, just take a look at some of your most popular posts and evaluate whether or not you could expand on one of those topics. Suppose you have a legal blog, and one of your most popular articles ever was about copyright law for bloggers. You could use that as a starting point and write an ebook titled “Copyright Law 101.”

Once you have the ebook ready, you need to decide how you are going to release it. If your goal is to generate traffic, brand awareness and backlinks, it would be a good idea to release it for free and include a direct download link on the page. After that, you will need to get in touch with the bloggers inside your network to see if they can help you promote the ebook. Remember that the higher the quality of the information in the ebook, the higher the chances of other bloggers linking to it and recommending it to their readers.

A second strategy is to release the ebook exclusively to people who will subscribe to your RSS feed or email newsletter. This route will not generate as much buzz, but it might be more profitable in the long run because it is easier to monetize RSS subscribers and email lists.

8. Promoting your killer articles

Your promotional activities should focus on two points: promoting your blog as a whole (i.e., by leaving comments on related blogs) and promoting your killer articles.
In the second lesson of this module we already covered the concept of killer articles, but here are some tactics that you can use to promote those articles after you hit the “Publish” button:

  • Email all the people in your network to let them know about the article.
  • Email the owners of blogs and websites in relevant niches and let them know about the article.
  • Ask a friend to submit the article to a suitable social bookmarking site.
  • Give the submission an initial push by asking other friends and contacts to vote on it.
  • Mention the article and link to it from your social networking accounts.
  • Link to the article from other blogs and websites that you might own.
  • If the article has a good chance of ranking high for a keyword, do some link building focused on that keyword.

Action Points

  1. Go through the strategies mentioned in this lesson and apply them to your blog.
  2. Keep in mind that timing is essential. Some of the techniques described work well for new blogs (e.g., commenting on other blogs), while others require a somewhat established blog to work (e.g., releasing an ebook).
  3. Remember to test extensively and to track the results. This is the only way to know if a certain strategy is working or not.

Navigation Links

Previous Lesson: Networking Strategy

Next Lesson: 10 Blogging Mistakes to Avoid