I am by no means an expert on site promotion, but I am asked this question pretty often:
“I have a blog. Now what do I do?”
The basics of blog promotion aren’t difficult concepts, but the process requires time, attention to detail, and focus. Most of the things I’ll cover here are pretty common sense stuff about which many of us probably would never think twice.
Is your blog REALLY done?
Once you decide, “I’m finished! Now to promote my blog!” Take a step back for a moment and look closely at your blog. Are you sure that you’re really done? Before you can start any heavy-duty blog pimping, it always helps to make sure your blog is optimized.
What does this mean?
Optimization is pretty much any little enhancements that make your blog “friendlier” — whether for your readers, or search engines, or marketing, etc.
Things to consider:
Are you using the default template?
Every blogging software or service comes with one or more default templates. Most of them are nice enough to get you started, but using one would hardly set your blog apart from the others — especially if all the blogs look the same! With the number of free blog templates growing exponentially every day, there really is no excuse for using the default template on your blog.
Link decoration: to underline or not underline? That is the question!
This one is more of a personal preference issue, but I always advise blog owners to make links stand out in their posts. Whether you prefer underlined blue links or bolded green, it doesn’t really matter as long as your reader can see that it is a link. It should be notably different from the rest of the text.
Favicon? What’s that?
Have you ever noticed a little image by the web address in your browser’s address bar when you visit certain websites or bookmark a site? That’s a favicon. You can get one made very easily with the many free services available out there. I highly recommend adding one to your blog. When a user visits or bookmarks your site, that little image can help them associate and remember your site.
Can you be contacted?
A personal web pet-peeve of mine is not being able to contact a website’s owner. Make sure you have a contact form, email address, or something available so that your visitors can reach you. Feedback is always a good thing, so make it easier to receive it!
Are you feeding your visitors?
Every blogging software and service under the sun nowadays have any number of formats available for feeds (RSS, Atom, etc.). Make sure that your feed information is located in a prominent position on your blog! This is usually in the form of a link or button. If it is not immediately noticeable, some visitors won’t bother searching for it (and therefore, won’t subscribe)!
Try to keep in mind that your visitors may not be as familiar with your site’s layout as you are. Pass your link on to loved ones and friends, ask for feedback. Discuss any problems they ran into, such as problems finding specific content, getting lost / navigation issues, etc.
A friend of mine used to say, “Make your site navigation so easy a child could use it” — if needed, borrow a child! ;)
Ok, just kidding, but you see where I’m going with this, right?
Ok, done. Can I start linking now?
Yes, I think at this point you are ready to start promoting your blog. Take careful consideration though. You do not want to go crazy adding links to “every Tom, Dick, and Harry”, nor do you want to ignore the whole blogosphere. Let’s start small — build your blogroll.
What’s a blogroll?
A blogroll is a list of links to other blogs that you like. Having a blogroll allows you to feature a list of favorite blogs, usually in your blog’s sidebar. One might consider blogrolls to be a sort of new “link exchange” programs. The biggest difference is that all sites who participate benefit from the added exposure of being displayed on another member’s site. It’s a good way to gain new readers and repeat visitors for your blog.
It’s an unwritten rule that if a blogger adds your blog’s link to his/her blogroll, you should reciprocate with the same. Of course, everyone approaches this with their own blogging goals in mind. Sometimes it may simply be that you may not like a blog that links to you through its blogroll, and therefore choose not to link back. Whatever the reason may be, it is considered “proper” blogging etiquette to at least review each blog that links to you through its blogroll to decide if you’ll want to add that blog or not.
Blogrolls are often used to express connections between blogs. By having a blogroll on your site, you are telling your visitors:
“Here are other blogs that I like — check ’em out, you may like them too.”
“Here is my community — I belong to this group.”
(When linking to other blogs) “I like your site and I think my visitors will too.”
If you are new to the blogosphere, a quick way to get your bearings and branch out is by joining open blogrolls. An “open” blogroll is simply a blogroll that is open to new members. Some blogrolls are general, others are specific. Most will have a set of guidelines or criteria posted to allow you to judge for yourself whether or not you belong, or would want to join.
How do you find open blogrolls?
I enjoy adding blogrolls to many of my own sites. However, I found it increasingly hard to find blogrolls pertaining to certain topics and had yet to see a directory or index of blogrolls that are out there, available to everyone … so I decided to make my own: BlogrollDirectory.org
There you will find blogrolls grouped by topic or interest. Simply click the Location link posted and follow the directions posted on its website.
Now, on to Blog Directories!
Submitting your blog to blog directories is perhaps one of the easiest ways to gain exposure to your blog. Blog directories can often drive a good bit of “new” traffic to your site that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.
In the vast and infinite sea of the Internet, there are literally thousands of repositories and directories of links. Rather than try to list them all, I’m going to give you a few to get you started:
- The Basics: DMOZ (which fuels the Google Directory), Yahoo!, and LII
- A list of blog directories by topic
- Top 20 Essential Blog Directories to Submit Your Blog To
- Best Blog Directory And RSS Submission Sites
- Best Blog Directories: Free & Paid
Start with those and branch outward. The goal isn’t to spread your link around to anyone and everyone as fast as possible, it’s to garner quality repeat traffic.
Note: Keep in mind that some directories may require registration and/or a reciprocal link!
To be continued …
I’ll be posting Part 2 of this article next month, so keep an eye out! I’ll most likely cover topics such as SEO and social media, as well as any topics requested here.
As always, feedback and constructive criticism are welcome. Simply leave your remarks via the comments form below! :)