As with static websites, the success of a blog depends on attracting a steady stream of new and return traffic. The difference is, blog promotion tools are slightly different, a bit more diverse, and largely much more effective.
Why? Because blogs are designed with interactivity and social networking ability built in. They are ideal both for developing relationships and for marketing your brand.
However, don't neglect standard promotional activities in favor of blog-only traffic generation methods. You can and should use both.
In fact, traditional marketing can become even more potent with a blog due to its nature.
For example, and most important, you will still want to utilize your email list, and use your blog to grow it, too. Ask readers to subscribe, and let them know when you post a new article just as you would with a new feature or product on a static website.
Of course, if you are prolific blogger and post every day, you’ll only want to alert them when you’ve published something extra special, or you can compile a digest — a list of new posts and excerpts — and send it out once a week.
You don’t want to overwhelm and annoy, but inform and share. However, do make sure you ask them to subscribe at every opportunity — on your sidebar, at the end of every post, on every page, and perhaps with pop-ups.
(But use pop-ups judiciously. Remember, you don't want to annoy. As you can see, at the time of this writing I use an unobtrusive bottom slide-up opt-in form on this blog, which is Ultimate Footer Ad. Since incorporating it, my optins have tripled.)
You don’t want to neglect keywords and basic SEO, either. I'm certainly no SEO expert, but I do know that choosing titles with strong keywords and using key phrases within your post is important to attracting new traffic through search engines.
Blog posts are indexed much more quickly than static pages whether your keywords are strong or not. Using keywords increases the odds that a page will rise to the top of the search engine listings as opposed to rank #65 with a phrase you never anticipated.
In addition, you will want to make sure your blog pings the blog search engines. Most blog software has this function built in, like WordPress, but it’s a good idea to double check if you are using an off-brand or an older version.
I only use three of them, since they, in turn, ping the majority of the search engines and blog directories out there whenever you post. And they do so automatically. This way, you don't need to ping a bunch of them since they do all the work for you. They are:
- Pingomatic.com (rpc.pingomatic.com)
- PingGoat.com (pingoat.com/goat/RPC2)
- FeedBurner (ping.feedburner.com)
In addition to emailing your list about new blog posts, you may want to consider submitting your blog posts to ezine directories, publishers, and even offline magazines.
Actually, you should consider hiring this out to a publicist, as I do. My articles are still distributed to thousands of ezine editors and publishers by my publicist, Anne-Marie Baugh.
Not only will it free up your time, a publicist will be able to monitor your blog, retrieve articles, and prepare them for submission. And they can target specific industry leaders and know how to entice the right magazine editors to reach your target market.
Make sure you utilize RSS feeds. Make sure your RSS feed icon is large enough that it can be easily found, and offer an email alternative for those who prefer not to use readers. Just like opt-in forms, make sure you add it to every page.
Near the RSS button, such as the sidebar, you can add your own opt-in form from your favorite autoresponder service (for instance, I use ARPReach), or use an RSS-to-email service like FeedBurner or FeedBlitz to increase subscriptions.
It’s preferable to use a third-party service, because they provide many extra features over simple blog notifications to help you promote your blog with little extra effort.
For instance, each time I send a new blog post update, I also add it at the end of my email list's autoresponder cycle so that future subscribers will eventually get the same notice — thus bringing new traffic to recycled, old posts, and giving them new life.
In conjunction with email lists and RSS feeds, you’ll want to create a separate landing page for subscribers. It's like your typical “About Me” page, but instead of promoting you or your products, you outline the different ways people can subscribe to your blog.
You can increase your responses by offering a “bribe” to those who sign up. This could be a free report, an e-course, or a special offer for those who join your list.
Another tactic I recommend for boosting your traffic is to submit your RSS feed to the various RSS engines like Technorati, and little-known or niche-specific blog directories.
Inexpensive software like RSS Submit will accomplish the job quickly and easily. This type of software will automatically submit your RSS feeds to all the major RSS engines. But if you prefer to do it manually, there are services like Pingler.com.
Next, use a social bookmarking and posting service, like ShareThis.com. By adding ShareThis, you allow people to bookmark your blog or blog post on a variety of popular social networking sites, as well as send the post/page by email to a friend.
Finally, you — or preferably someone else, be it a friend, client, or staff member, since some sites frown on self-promotion — should submit your posts to highly trafficked social bookmarking sites, like StumbleUpon, Digg, Facebook, Sphinn, PlugIM, and others.
Even if they don't frown on self-promotion, still try to get someone else to do this for you. Self-serving links are viewed poorly in the world of social marketing. It’s worth the effort to find someone to do so for you as the traffic you receive can be quite considerable.
This is just a sampling of the most used techniques to drive blog traffic.
Granted, there are other effective methods for blog promotion you might add to your repertoire. (If you have any, please share them!) But it’s best to start with a handful to get traffic flowing rather than overwhelming yourself with too many blog marketing tasks.
After all, your focus should be your content and, above all, your readers.
In the end, the ultimate traffic driver will always be fresh, good quality content — content that meets the needs and expectations of your target market.
Michel Fortin is a senior marketing specialist, renowned copywriter, and digital marketing expert. For the better part of 30 years, he's produced countless successful marketing communications and profitable campaigns that generated in excess of $300 million in sales. He's broken many industry sales records, including being instrumental behind the first ever “million-dollar day” online marketing campaign in 2004. He's worked with thousands of businesses and entrepreneurs around the world in a wide variety of industries on building their businesses, improving their marketing, and increasing their profits. He's a published author and often speaks at industry events. To connect with him, visit his LinkedIn profile where he is most active.