You’ve set up a blog recently, haven’t you?
Congratulations on joining a community that is 1.6 million people strong and growing every second … literally!
This month, you can make a significant progress with your new blog.
If your blog is less than 1 year old, then it’s a new one. But does it really matter when you started blogging?
At this stage, it is not uncommon to feel some amount of trepidation since your future as a writer is uncertain.
Even though you keep your fingers crossed for literary greatness, part of you dreads the oblivion that has enveloped so many fellow wordsmiths.
After all, for every blogger that rises to fame there are roughly a dozen others that sink without a trace. Hey, that sounded so profound and poetic!
Jokes aside, what are some reasons that a blog fails to take off?
Poor content, lack of fresh perspective, flawed marketing strategy, failure to understand your target audience … any of these factors could be systematically sabotaging your blog.
However, the one thing that can truly sign the death warrant for an upcoming blogger is unreasonable expectation.
What do I mean? Let me explain. When most people set up a blog, they believe it comes with an automatic guarantee of success. It’s almost as if having a blog is their ticket to literary stardom.
Barely a few months into the endeavour and they expect a fan following that runs into several thousands or sales figures that add up to merry millions.
I am not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but that is an extremely unrealistic picture we’ve got here. No matter how good your intentions, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you start building such grand castles in the air.
In fact, carry on like this and chances are that you will quit in 3-4 months, disillusioned, bitter, and sworn off blogging for good.
Ambition is a positive trait; however, it’s also important to keep yourself firmly grounded and in touch with reality.
Nothing happens overnight, nothing happens in a few weeks, and nothing much is going to happen in a couple of months either. Blogging is an ongoing effort and it requires patience, a concrete strategy, and, of course, the right kind of SEO techniques.
On that note, let’s look at some practices that our experts at Addictive Media highly recommend. They will endear you to search engines and make you come across as a kindred spirit. To do so, we will start at the very beginning which, I have on good authority, is always a very good place to start!
The Content Still The Lord & Master
“Of course… the content! What a brilliant idea. Who would have thought that someone talking about optimizing a blog would touch upon the topic of content? A stroke of genius.”
All your snide comments aside, if you knew just how many people took content for granted, you’d be SHOCKED.
Bloggers focus on keyword, on page and off page optimization, linking, and a host of other technicalities, but forget the guiding principle that has made blogging such a well-loved pastime: ‘To offer read-worthy content to their audience’. Surprising how this simple idea can escape so many people!
Here’s the thing – SEO makes you discoverable; but your content makes you memorable. Offering anything less than original content to your readers is tantamount to cheating. And readers don’t like being taken for a ride.
Therefore, when you are creating content, ask yourself these questions:
- Is it unique and original?
- Am I updating my blog frequently?
- Have I supplemented text with relevant visual content (images, videos, slideshows, podcasts, etc.)?
- Have I proofread the article to ensure there are no typos or grammatical errors?
- Will my readers define the 15 minutes they spent reading my post as ‘time well spent’?
- Will they be prompted to share it on their social forums?
- Have I made the article engaging and interactive enough?
If your answer to most of these questions is in the positive, you are on the right track. Good for you!
Don’t Spend All Your Time on the Content
“What?? Where did that come from? Didn’t you just say content is all important?”
Calm down, restless masses. Yes, content is very, very important, but a new blogger has very little to gain from dedicating 90% of his time to creating content. Let me explain why.
You have just set up a blog and have a following of – let’s take an optimistic estimate – 100 readers.
Even if you are adding fabulous content night and day, how many people do you think will share the post with their friends? Not all of them; in fact, not even half of them. The real figures will be closer to 3-5%, if that.
So, you go from having 100 followers to 105 followers in a month. Not a spectacular leap. At this rate, how long do you think it will take for you to hit a double century? A year? Probably more?
What most bloggers do not understand is that the number of followers DOES NOT increase in direct proportion to the posts they are writing in a month. By itself great content won’t bring in readers; but great promotion and networking will. How do you do that? Read on to find out.
How do you do that? Read on to find out.
Make the Most of being a Guest
We’ve already established that in the infant stages of your blog, good content will only take you so far.
You have to promote your blog and to do that you must get out there and create a presence for it. No, sharing blog posts on Twitter or your Facebook timeline does not count as promotion and yes, there is another way to do that. Guest blogging.
If you want to see an exponential increase in the number of followers you have, convince another blog (with a size-able fan base) to send its readers your way. How? By finding out if they accept guest contributions from writers such as yourself. Simple, isn’t it?
Before you shake your head and dismiss guest blogging as a futile exercise, take a look at some of the ways in which it will add value to your experience.
1. Increased traffic: Guest blogging is a great way to brings readers from the host blog to yours. Search engines, too, place a high premium on these backlinks, which will eventually help you get higher ranks.
2. Credibility: When you are associated with a blog that holds authority, readers find it within them to trust you easily. Furthermore, you come across as an expert on the topic you are writing on.
3. Exposure: Even if all the people reading your post don’t land up at your blog, each blog post will bring you greater visibility. In addition to helping you reach out to a wider audience it will also increase brand awareness among your audience.
4. Networking: Guest blogging is an excellent way to meet fellow-bloggers, join new communities, and interact with like-minded people which can be an enriching experience in itself.
As you can see, you stand to gain a lot by giving guest blogging a shot. Whoa! That actually rhymed.
However, even as you are bubbling over with enthusiasm, I have to add one bit of advice here – choose your host blog very, very carefully. Factors like reputation, domain name, and search engine ranking are important, but relevance cannot be ignored.
For instance, a post on “How to Grow Petunias from Seedlings” will stand out (for all the wrong reasons) on a blog dealing with women’s cosmetics and make up. So, pick your allies wisely.
There are plenty of blogs that encourage content exchange purely for SEO purposes. Steer clear of such blogs. They might boost your rankings, but can harm your credibility as a writer.
Link Your Way to Success
We’ve discussed how guest blogging helps get valuable back links.
There is yet another way to use links to boost your blog’s ranking. It’s known as internal linking.
Don’t let this term scare you off. It’s pretty simple, really. What you do is link new posts on your blog to the older ones using anchor text.
For instance, let’s say you are writing a post on ‘5 Fun Exercises to Spice Up Your Workout Routine’ and one of the points being covered in it is Dancing.
If you have an existing post that talks in great detail about dancing as a form of exercise, the amount of calories it burns, etc. you could link it to your current article.
Why is this important?
The reasons are many:
- It will send more traffic to your older posts giving them a new lease on life.
- It engages your reader and guides them to other relevant articles.
- Since link juice flows from one page to another within your blog, it improves page ranks.
- Internal linking facilitates better indexing and crawling of your blog, which is good for SEO.
Again, relevance of the internal links matters a lot, especially for the reader. Being directed from ‘Fall-Winter Fashion Trends for 2013’ to ‘Top 5 Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids’ is not pleasant and nobody will appreciate being lead on this ridiculous dance.
Be Social. Be Interactive. Be Approachable
Like we said at the beginning of this article, blogging is an extremely social activity. And while social media is hardly the right tool to help expand your readership base, it can be used to engage your existing followers and foster close ties with your community.
There are different ways to do that, some of which have been mentioned below:
- - Participate in discussion forums and respond to queries posted by users. Choose the forums carefully. While the better ones can do wonders for your reputation, the bad ones can have an adverse impact on your image.
- - Encourage your readers to leave comments on your articles and make it a point to reply to them on a regular basis.
- - When tweeting about your blog post or leaving a link on your FB page, try to create separate value for your readers. Instead of using a snippet from the post itself, mention facts or information that doesn’t appear in it. It livens things up a bit.
- - Google+ may not be half as popular as Facebook, but the fact that it is closely linked to Google, which is only the most popular search engine in the world today, makes it your new best friend. Google indexes your page the instant you leave your blog’s link on Google+, allowing people to find it more easily.
- - Pinterest is fast becoming an important source of referral traffic. To tap into this social platform, you must have images in your blog post. If you do, you can pin the post to your personal board or on individual boards. The second option – pinning the post to a contributor board – brings increased exposure.
Get creative when interacting with your readers on social platforms. Just because something hasn’t been tried before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go.
Why tread the beaten path when there’s a world of possibilities in front you? Explore, experiment, and see how your audience reacts to it.
If it goes down well, good for you! If it doesn’t, switch tactics and move to something else. At any rate, you would have learned from your mistakes!
Before we say goodbye, I have a small observation that I’d like to share with you.
When finalizing a marketing/promotion strategy, it helps to remember that blogs are very different from static websites. Therefore, your approach towards optimizing them has to be different too.
By its very nature, blogging is a very social activity.
As a result, SEO for it goes beyond pandering to the whims of search engine spiders or finding a foolproof method to conform to complicated algorithms.
New Blog Growth Takeaway
The success of a blog depends on not just how well it is able to grab people’s attention but also how long it is able to hold on to it.
A good blog will speak to people whereas a great blog will engage them. A good blog will give its readers content they enjoy; a great one will excite their imagination and make people share the blog with their friends.
And, the only way you can get from good to GREAT is if you never lose sight of what really matters – your readers.
As always, leave a comment and tell me how you started to grow your new blog. I’ll reply and could even visit your blog to see how you’re doing.
About Author – My Name is Sharon Michaels and I am a design professional with over 6 years of experience in my pocket. A graduate from the National Institute of Design, India, my approach towards designing is unique and unconventional. The results are often stunning, even if I do say so myself! In my spare time, whenever I have any, I like to turn my attention to two of my other interests – writing and photography.