What’s that you say, your blog is nice and all, but you want to kick up its popularity a notch (or two, or ten)? Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you how. As I have been writing online for USA TODAY since the Internet Stone Age, circa 1997, this topic is something I have studied for years.
First lesson: Content is NOT king.
So yes, what I am not going to tell you are things you already know and have heard a dozen times before, like:
- Write what you know
- Follow your passion
- Use keywords
The truth is that if you want explosive growth for your blog, there is more to it than that – a lot more. Simply put, there are two parts to creating a successful blog: the front end and the back end. The front end has to do with how you create your content and present your blog. The back end is how you get people to notice it. Let’s look at both:
Yes, your content is important, but it is prince, not king. For our purposes, I am going to assume you have a dandy blog, interesting and well-written. That’s the starting point. But a well-written blog and $2 will get you a cup of coffee.
Here is what is more important if you want explosive growth:
1. Have compelling headlines
Blog headlines are probably more important than the actual post itself. Like advertising headlines, they HAVE TO GRAB YOUR ATTENTION! See? A great headline gets you noticed. It is the vital, first step.
Example: Here at OPEN, my friend and colleague John Jantsch wrote a very popular article entitled, 7 Insanely Useful Ways to Search Twitter for Marketing. Yes, it was a great column, but come on, “insanely useful”? Who wouldn’t want to read that?
I am still jealous of that headline.
2. Plug in some video
This is Web 2.0 kids, you need more than just another 300 word post. You need video. People click on videos, and even better, videos are great for SEO and are easy to make and post.
Watch this excellent five minute tutorial. The essence of it is that you can create videos quickly with your smart phone, post them automatically to YouTube, dictate in some keyword-rich descriptions, and then post them to your blog. It’s simple, fast, compelling and SEO-laden content.
3. Bring in guest bloggers
By having guest bloggers blog on your site (and vice versa, see below) you not only offer your audience added value, but you also get exposed to the various blogger’s audiences. That creates new readers.
4. Use some tricks
A few tricks of the trade will equal traffic and links to your site:
- Offer free stuff: People love free stuff. Offering a free e-book, or download, or mp3 will create goodwill, readers, and forwarding.
- Link up: One key to blog growth is working in concert with other bloggers. As such, the more you link to them, and other sites, the more they all will link to you.
- Have a contest: Running a contest (with the winners getting free stuff) works.
Getting People to Notice Your Blog
More important than how well you blog is how well you get your blog discovered. Here’s how:
1. Guest blog
See No. 3 above. Blogging on another site not only exposes you to that writer’s readers, but also puts that all-important link to your site on their site.
2. Comment on other blogs
Again, this exposes you to the new community and creates links back to your blog. In addition, there is an etiquette in the blogging community that if you comment on another blog, that blogger should comment on yours. Comments from other bloggers builds buzz and creates dialogue with your regular readers.
3. Drive traffic with updates
No, you need not blog every day, but when you do blog, you can drive traffic your way by posting the update to a site like pingomatic. Services like this send out automatic updates to blog directories (like Google blog search and Yahoo) that your blog has been updated.
4. Link to Twitter and Facebook
Services like Feedburner and Twitterfeed automatically update your Twitter and Facebook accounts with every new blog post. It’s like you are three places at once.
Of course your blog content is important, but these things are crucial to your blog’s success.