If you have a website, you want people to read it. This is the whole premise behind SEO, Internet marketing and content marketing, which are essentially all names for the same thing. You’re taking advantage of your own skills and the myriad tools and systems online to grow the number of people who visit your blog and read your content. What you do with them when they’re there – to make money or serve a cause – is up to you.
There’s a lot to be said about creating excellent content, and many guides have been written on the subject. For now, start with the basic tips.
- Understand your audience. Learn their needs and desires, so that you can create content that they want to see.
- Understand how your audience searches for content. Take advantage of that knowledge by optimizing your content for specific keywords.
- Understand how your audience reads content. Format your content with bold segments, subheadings, bullet lists and other formatting tweaks to make it as readable as possible.
- Understand what else has been written. Strive to make your content as original as possible, so you have as little competition for user attention as possible.
Optimizing your content and optimizing your site are one and the same. There’s a lot you can do to optimize your site so that it appears in search results ranked as highly as possible. Make sure your code is clean and free of errors. Make sure you’re staying within Google’s prescribed webmaster guidelines. Make sure you’re creating unique meta titles and descriptions for each piece of content. Make sure your site isn’t duplicating content, and that you’re not posting thin content.
The point of SEO is to get your site noticed by the search engines and by influential people. Once you’ve gotten their attention, you can use it to grow your site.
You can share your content all over the Internet, but you need to be careful about how you do so. Sharing on social media is a good idea.
- Use Facebook for short and medium length posts and to establish a central hub for offsite communications.
- Use Twitter for timely and short-form communication, and for immediate, fast-response customer service.
- Use LinkedIn for professional networking, interacting with groups and hiring potential freelancers or employees.
- Use Google+ to boost your SEO, including local SEO. Also use it for long-form communication and as a supplemental blog.
- Use Instagram for images and short videos, to showcase a casual side of your business.
- Pick up and use any other social media site that your audience uses, or that you think you can use to build an audience.
You can advertise in a few ways. You can invest a small amount of money in pay per click advertising, which gives you immediate returns without a lot of long-term gain. You can use slower organic advertising through guest posting and newsletter marketing. You can also buy guest posts and ad space, but those trends are falling as they decrease in usefulness.
PPC is a big skill to learn, and it’s highly dependent once again on learning your audience. The more you know your audience, the better you can target your ads to attract them. You can also limit people outside of your audience from seeing your ads, restricting who is exposed.
Email advertising is not a great way to pick up new readers, as by definition the only people on your mailing list are people already interested in your blog. It is, however, great for maintaining incoming traffic through the ups and downs of SEO.
Analytics and Split Testing
Use Google Analytics. You can use other tools – and you probably should – to supplement GA, but Google’s tool provides far too much valuable information in such a convenient package that you would be insane to skip over it.
When all of the above points mention understanding your audience, analytics are how you learn about them. You can see everything from their location, race and gender to their click behavior and their interests.
Put analytics to use and test everything. Write a blog post about a subject and see how it does. Cover other subjects and see how they do. Focus on the most attractive subjects. Target ads and measure their success, then adjust their targeting to increase that success.
It’s all about experimentation, iteration and adaptation. You have the ammunition with GA, Facebook Insights and the dozens of other tools available. You just need to put it to use for your own benefit.
If your business has a local physical location, you can take advantage of a lot of local advertising. This includes profiles on Yelp and other business directories, the use of local keywords, and a focus on mobile local searches.
Viral Lightning and Social Bookmarks
Some social networks are less networks and more bookmark directories. These sites – like Reddit, Delicious and Digg – fulfill their own niche in the web ecosystem. Reddit, in particular, is one of the most popular sites on the web right now. It’s also the source of a huge amount of the content that goes viral. Even if Reddit doesn’t create much of that content, the number of users and their culture of reposting and sharing means anything can go viral.
You have a lot to learn before you dive into one of these communities and start advertising. For one thing, such direct and blatant methods will get you blocked. Secondly, you need to learn how and where to post your content for maximum exposure.
Blog Networks and Guest Posting
Another way you can integrate yourself in the web culture and society is to make friends with other bloggers. Find blogs in your niche that you’re interested in reading. Approach the blogger and inform them that you have a similar blog. With luck, you two can strike up a partnership, referring content to each other and linking back and forth.
You can do this a little more officially through guest posts on sites you don’t have a close relationship with the owner. Guest posting in exchange for links or for cash is a negative factor for SEO, but guest posting organically with value in mind for both your audience and the audience of the host blog is a valuable proposition.
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