I recently blogged about why companies should blog and also why blogging is a great way to start your social media marketing efforts. Once you start blogging, you will soon want to increase the number of website visitors and RSS subscribers as well as get the word out about your blog. The problem, though, is that if your blog isn’t set up and maintained right, you could be promoting your blog to a transient audience. Whatever the purpose of your blog, you almost certainly want to reach as large an audience as possible, so here are 8 insanely simple tips for marketing your blog and increasing subscribers:
1. Start thinking in terms of key phrases
For each category of content that you want to blog about, start thinking of content ideas and associating them with keyword phrases. Use keyword tools (Google AdWords Keyword Tool is often recommended but I often simply use Google Suggest) to research niche key phrases and check out the competition. Avoid choosing the most popular keywords as these will already be covered by high-ranking bloggers, and you are unlikely to achieve high search engine rankings with these. Instead, choose a more specific, potentially long tail key phrase; include it in the blog post title and the body of the post. Better yet, optimize your blog for SEO with Scribe using this target key phrase.
2. Brand your blog
Customize the appearance of your blog with a logo and page template that separates you from other bloggers. If you use a common template, such as a WordPress theme, customize it with unique images and colors. Keep the colors and theme consistent throughout your blog and any other associated content that you produce. The aim is to create a unique brand that subscribers will eventually feel familiar with over time, which WordPress allows you to easily do. Don’t forget to also use interesting and relevant photos in a consistent way as eye candy on each blog post. Better yet, include an educational video on each blog post, whether your own or created by someone else, as a way to add further value to your blog posts.
3. Don’t make your visitors think
Keep it clean and simple, and include a sitemap and friendly help pages to guide visitors around your blog. Most of the popular blog hosts have various types of plug-ins and options that allow you to create customized menus to file your content into categories; use these options to organize your posts and links to related content. Don’t forget to add a blog search bar!
4. Make it shareable
Set up buttons on your posts that visitors can use to share your content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Google+ and other popular social networking sites, and add an ‘Email this’ or ‘Tell a friend’ option. Include RSS subscription options for your site, and submit your RSS feed to reputable directories. My recommendations on my Top 15 Social Media WordPress Plugins for 2011 post included DiggDigg for your social buttons and Feedblitz for RSS subscription management (and more!).
5. Build quality backlinks
Submit articles to article directories, write guest posts on other popular blogs, contribute to popular forums, and so on. These are all good ways to get quality backlinks and build your profile with online communities. Avoid using paid-for link building packages or similar schemes as search engines do not value low-quality links, and in many cases it can harm your rankings. Since you’re already involved in social media, simply sharing your blog posts with your followers is the easiest and most organic way to build quality backlinks.
6. Post regularly
The amount of posts you make will depend on the topic of your blog; if your blog aims to keep up with current news events, you should be posting several times a day, but a general interest blog may only be updated two or three times a week. The most important thing is to keep the timing of your posts consistent. Don’t make five posts in one day then nothing for several weeks. Once a week is the minimum you should aim for. From there, try two or three a week. If you don’t have enough content to last you for a month, don’t start blogging until you do.
7. Comment on other relevant blogs
Make sure that your comments are helpful to the blogger, or add something useful to the topic. Don’t spam or post links on other people’s blogs. If your comments are valuable, and give the impression that you know what you’re talking about, readers will click through to find out who you are without the need for underhand tactics.
8. Respond to comments
Allow readers to comment on your blog, and always respond to their comments. Remove any spam links placed in your comments section, but try to resist the urge to remove comments from those who simply disagree with you. Instead, respond in a friendly and courteous way; this can be difficult, especially if someone is being aggressive in their point of view, but it is also an opportunity to show your professionalism. My recommended comment management plugin for WordPress is Disqus.
If you follow the above blog marketing tips, you are well on your way to building a lasting community of visitors who will subscribe, comment and engage with you on many levels.
Any other insanely simple tips that I missed?