Consider this statistic – according to a Netcraft Web Server Survey completed in December of last year, 266,848,493 websites are currently online. This number represents a 7 million increase in hosted websites over the last few months of 2010. Now, think about this number if you’re launching a new blog or website! It’s a little overwhelming to imagine your site could possibly get noticed…unless you are blessed with existing brand recognition, a huge advertising budget, celebrity endorsement, best friend who’s a skywriter, etc. You get the point…
With this challenge in mind, what steps should you take if you’re launching a new blog on a modest (or even a shoestring) budget? Since I’m doing just that, I’ll share a few steps I’m taking to promote my new blog:
- Identify your goal. My goal is to gain readership, educate visitors, and ultimately, generate leads for my Denver freelance business. But your business goal may be to develop a brand identity, promote research articles or engage current customers. Whatever the case, begin by understanding your objective because it will influence everything else.
- “Splurge” on the domain name. While this step may not be overtly promotional, using a unique domain name (www.mydomainname.com as opposed to www.mydomanname.blogextension.com) goes a long way to making the blog look more polished and professional. It is also an incredibly affordable splurge – costing around $12 or so plus a hosting package.
- It starts with content. You cannot gain an interested readership unless you are sharing informative content on a regular schedule. Posting every day isn’t practical for me in terms of bandwidth so I’m working on 2-3 posts per week. Determine what sort of schedule is practical for you and then do your very, very best to stick with it every week.
- Make it easy to navigate. Once I established my goals and roughed out some content, I thought of how I wanted people to sort through it. Categories should be descriptive and aligned with the content. Imagine how annoyed visitors would be if I had a category, “Great giveaways,” that instead had several posts about organic search engine optimization. Monthly archives are also common and straightforward when it comes to navigating a blog.
- Share it socially. Now that my blog is up and running, I’m in the process of linking it with my social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Depending on how engaged your social channel is, you might even ask them to share it with their networks, retweet or post a comment to help your blog gain a little traction. I would encourage you to pull the “social trigger” after the blog has been live for a few weeks, and you’ve had a chance to post some content and kick the tires for any mysterious glitches, configuration oddities, etc.
- Don’t ignore metadata. While metadata may be a little “old school” in terms of SEO, it is still a best practice to have a unique title, description and keywords for every post. Part of cutting through the noise of the 266+ million websites is getting your site returned in organic search results.
- The missing links. Whether I’m citing other articles, or better yet, linking to other pages within my blog or website, links are an important way to make each post more interesting. Additionally, as the blog gains readership, you might consider adding links to complementary blogs or websites – and asking for a link in return. Quality inbound links are a huge part of improving your site’s online search-ability.
While these seven steps don’t represent everything I’m doing to promote this new freelance blog, they do go a long way in getting started. In a future post, I’ll discuss some free tools that will help you analyze how your new blog is doing and where it could be improved. Now go post about something!