This post by Dorie Clark and Daniel Vahab first appeared at Forbes.
If you want to attract a strong readership for your blog, it’s obvious that you need to create great content. But that’s not sufficient: amazing content that doesn’t get read might as well not exist. To build a thriving blog, you also need to learn to drive traffic to it.
So what methods do the experts use? We’ve compiled a list of 13 tried and true ways to build your audience.
- Incorporate social influencers into your blog posts (where relevant). Writing about, say, social media? If you cite a prominent example like Gary Vaynerchuk, it’s a win-win: your post has more credibility because you’ve cited a specific example, and the thought leader in question may be inclined to promote the blog among his or her communities, since it mentions them favorably. Same goes for any niche community, whether you’re citing socially-savvy surfers or sushi chefs.
- Add a link to your latest article in your Twitter bio and ask for retweets. Use your Twitter “real estate” by linking to your latest article in your Twitter bio. You can also drive social sharing by specifically asking others to retweet it. (If you create huge amounts of content, you can’t do this all the time, but it’s powerful when used sparingly.) Indeed, a study by Social Bakers of thousands of brands on Twitter found that users who asked their followers to “RT” their tweet received 73.48 average retweets per tweet. Compare that with just 2.09 retweets for those without a call-to-action.
- Send your article out in a blast email or newsletter to your contacts. If you have an e-newsletter (and it’s still one of the most powerful marketing tools today), include links to your blog posts. Your subscribers already like what you do; this nudge can remind them to check out your blog.
- Add a link into your email signature inviting people to read your latest blog post. Think about how many people you email on a daily basis, new and old. This simple practice reminds them you have a blog, and may intrigue them enough to click the link.
- Send your blog post to relevant people/organizations/blogs that would be interested in reading it and sharing it with their networks. You can simply send a message such as, “I recently published an article on the top apps for entrepreneurs and thought your readers might find it interesting.” Offer to reciprocate by sharing or linking to a relevant post of theirs. Daniel’s writer friend Brian Honigman occasionally emails him with a specific ask: will Daniel share an article Brian has written on social media? If Brian were to merely tweet out his article, many people (including Daniel) might miss it, but an email request cuts through the clutter.
- Send your blog post out to any person or entity mentioned. It’s not just social influencers – if you mention a local bakery or car dealership or a software company in your post, send them a link and alert them. It’s likely they’ll be interested in reading and promoting it, as well.
- Share your article on other social networks. Pinterest, Vine, Storify, Digg, Quora, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Care2 are just some of the many options for sharing your work.
- Share your article on social bookmarking sites. Plenty to choose from here, as well: Newsana is a new, good site, and you should also consider Paper.li, Delicious, Ebaumsworld, Newsvine, Scoop.it, Technorati, and more.
- Tweet your post multiple times, with different teaser quotes. The first time you tweet about your new post, merely make it the title of your article (“13 Innovative Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your Blog”). The second time, you can quote from the article or summarize key points (“Tip to increase blog readership – send a linkw to anyone you mention in your post”). For your third, you can pose a question (“Do you want to dramatically increase your blog readership?”). This prevents you from looking like a spammer, and different headlines may capture different readers.
- Leverage Google Authorship. As SEO expert Jayson DeMers has discussed, signing up for Google Authorship allows your author profile to appear by your posts and connects it with your Google+ profile.
- Utilize LinkedIn groups. Post the blog via relevant LinkedIn groups. You can join up to 50 groups and many have thousands upon thousands of members—dramatically increasing your potential reach. For instance, if you’re a woman in social media who lives in New York, you might consider joining the “Social Media Marketing” group, with over half a million members.
- Include visual content and videos. Study after study has found people engage more with images, infographics, videos, and the like. It’s a powerful way to get readers connected.
- Make your blog SEO friendly. Include a headline that users might search for in Google, such as a “how to.” Repeat keywords from your headline in your post (but not too frequently, or you’ll look like a spammer). And make sure to link to credible outside sources and think about how you can truly add value to the reader. What Google and other search engines seek to prioritize is quality information.
As you can see, it takes actual work to promote your article. But the good news is that there are more resources today than ever before.
Have you effectively used these methods to drive traffic to your blog? Do you recommend other strategies? Let us know in the comments section below.
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Learn more about her book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press) and follow her on Twitter.
Daniel Vahab is a journalist and social media community manager. His writings have appeared in Mashable, Yahoo! News, U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and more.