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How To Promote Your Blog – A Systematic Approach: The Initial Promotion Strategy

If you are unsure how to promote your blog, then this article is for you. You’ll find there are many people out there with blogs, specifically in our industry, but many of them are struggling to get comments and traffic. There are 3 main reasons for this:

  1. They did not take the necessary steps to set up their blog correctly with an Initial Blog Promotion Strategy
  2. They do not have an Ongoing Blog Promotion Strategy
  3. They do not blog consistently.

I’m going to address these issues one by one and give you a systematic approach, so you will know step by step how to promote your blog.

How to Promote Your Blog – A Systematic Approach

I’m going to make an assumption here that if you are trying to promote a blog, that you have a self-hosted wordpress blog. You are not using a blog hosted on wordpress.com. Your site is hosted on a domain that you own, meaning you pay for hosting through a hosting provider like HostGator or Dreamhost. Nor are you using a Blogger.com blog or a Drupal or Joomla site. It’s not that Drupal or Joomla are bad; I’m just not as familiar with those formats and want to stay in my area of knowledge. Self-hosted wordpress blogs are pretty much the standard for our industry for their ease of use, flexibility, and expandability, so if you are not using one I suggest you do so as soon as is practical.

The blog promotion strategy will be broken into two phases, as well as two articles. This first article will cover Phase 1, the Initial Blog Promotion Strategy. This is a one-time event that occurs before you begin blogging regularly to make sure you have the necessary plugins installed and you have taken the appropriate measures to make sure that your blog is ready for promotion.

The followup article will cover Phase 2, which is the Ongoing Blog Promotion Strategy. This is a checklist that you will complete each time you write a new blog post to make sure you get exposure, traffic, opt-ins, comments, shares, and decent search engine rankings. I am not going to go too deep into SEO in this article, but I do plan to write another article of my top recommendations to optimize your blog posts for search engine visibility. With that said, let’s move to Phase 1.

Promoting Your Blog – Phase 1: Initial Promotion Strategy

  1. Set up a ping list: A ping list is a list of websites that listen for new content on the web. One of your first actions should be to set up your ping list by copying the list of ping services that WordPress provides. You can find a good list to start with at wordpress.org. Once you copy that list you paste it in the ‘Writing’ Section of your WordPress blog settings. On your dashboard go to Settings>Writing and then paste the list in the box titled ‘Update Services’ and that’s it. Now every time you publish a new blog post, each of these services will be notified and you will start to see traffic to your blog.
  2. Set Up Feedburner: Feedburner provides a way for your users to subscribe to your new blog content. You want people who enjoy your content to come back to your website, and Feedburner gives them a way to subscribe to your blog and be notified whenever you publish new content. This brings you more traffic than if they had to remember to check your blog themselves. To set up Feedburner just go to feedburner and set up an account. You will have to submit the URL of your feed which, in most cases, will just be yourdomain.com/feed. There are other configuration options to play with but, by submitting to feedburner, you’re pretty much set for your readers to subscribe to your new content.
  3. Install a good SEO Plugin: There are several free and paid Plugins that help you ensure that each blog post that you publish has certain attributes that make it more appealing to search engines. I am currently using WordPress SEO by Yoast, which is a free plugin. Another good option is SEO Pressor, which is a paid option but offers more functionality and automation. These plugins help you ensure your on-page SEO is in order.
  4. Submit your RSS Feed and Blog to Directories: The purpose of submitting your RSS Feed and Blog to directories is the same as maintaining a ping list. You submit your RSS feed and URL to notify various the directories that your blog exists and to keep them updated with your latest posts. These directories are browsed by people who are interested in the type of content you have to offer. The important part of this process is to make sure you submit to the proper category, to match your content with your audience. A quick search of Google reveals an abundance of blog and RSS directories available to submit your site and your feed. There are both free and paid options. Some sites will require a reciprocal link. There are also services that will submit to these directories for you which can be a good deal, if your budget allows.
  5. Register for Social Bookmarking Accounts: Social Bookmarking is similar to the bookmarking you do in your internet browser, but instead you do it publicly on a website. This makes the pages that you bookmark public to the people who share your interests on that site. As a result, people with whom you have common interests can be notified of your new blog posts as you bookmark them. This brings traffic to your site since they share your interests and would probably be interested in what you’re reading or bookmarking. One tip to social bookmarking is to not just bookmark your own publications, so as to not seem self-serving. Be genuine in the articles that you bookmark. You should also bookmark articles from a variety of sources, not just your own. It’s also important to reach out and network with people on the social sites, so that your built-in audience grows and you get more traffic. Some of the most popular social bookmarking sites are stumbleupon, digg, reddit, delicious, Diigo, and hubpages. Social bookmarking sites are gradually being overtaken by Facebook and Twitter as the goto sharing sites, however they are still useful for getting traffic.
  6. Sign up for a Social Bookmarking Automation Tool: There are tools that automate submission to the many social bookmarking sites that you will be posting content to. One of the best out there is Onlywire. Using Onlywire cuts down drastically on the time required to login to each Social Bookmarking site and manually post your bookmark. After you’ve set up your accounts at the different social bookmarking sites, you can pretty much update all of your bookmarks at the push of a button. There is a free version and a paid version of Onlywire. The main difference is the free version is capped at the number of monthly submissions. It’s a good idea to start with the free version until you get used to the platform and you have all your accounts set up. Once you begin to promote your blog regularly, you may want to upgrade to a paid version.
  7. Get an Autoresponder Service and set up Blog Broadcast: One of the main ways you will get repeat traffic to your blog is by sending your email subscribers a Blog Broadcast. There are a few main choices for autoresponder services. One of the most popular services used by network marketers is GetResponse. I personally use Aweber, however and it suits my needs fine. They are pretty much equivalent in terms of features at each price point. Once you have picked a service, you will have to place an opt-in form on your website that you will use to capture your subscribers’ email addresses (or name and email). You will need to have a giveaway of some sort in order for most people to give you their name and email. The giveaway needs to be something irresistible to the prospect, like an audio mp3, or an ebook or video that gives them valuable information. You could also provide a tutorial that teaches them how to solve a problem they are facing. Once they opt in to your list and give you their email address, you can send them Blog Broadcasts through your autoresponder service. A Blog Broadcast is simply an automated or semi-automated email that can be sent to your subscriber list that contains the content of your blog post. You coordinate it by linking your autoresponder service to your blog’s RSS feed; then it begins listens for new blog posts. Once it is notified you have written a new post, it can send the post out to your list automatically. A better way, and the way that I use it, is to have the emails queued to send, but I have to actually release the email to my list before it is sent out. This gives me the ability to customize the emails a little more so that they read better, and to personalize them more for my subscribers. I do not recommend setting the blog broadcast to fully automatic.

Blog Promotion – The Rest of It…

In this article we learned about the Initial Strategy of blog promotion. We established the preliminary setup actions that you will perform up front to make sure your blog is set up to communicate with the sites and services it needs to as you publish your posts. In another article we will look at an Ongoing Blog Promotion Strategy, which is your day-to-day routine of the steps to take after you publish each and every blog post. Having a sound Ongoing Blog Promotion Strategy gets you maximum exposure with your target audience. A good strategy will help you increase your traffic, get quality links, and boost your reputation and authority with the search engines. Happy blogging!

Promotional Strategy – The Good, the Bad and the Foolish

Promotions are a critical component of increasing sales, pretty well regardless of category. But are all promotions effective, not just in the short term, but in their broader effect on various aspects of the brand or the business? The answer has to be “no.” A simplistic approach to promotional strategy can actually be harmful and it is indeed the strategy that is so frequently flawed, even if the execution is professionally implemented.

This opens up a whole raft of fundamental issues concerning the business positioning, brand identity and credibility, price positioning and the flow on effects throughout the value chain. The latter, in particular, cannot be ignored if there are resellers involved, because the same issues affect them and their relationship to the supplier and to the brand. Conversely, if only direct online selling is involved, the potential harm is at least restricted to the marketer,

Evaluating cause and effect

The term “win-win” is frequently heard, mostly in the context of one-on-one negotiations. It is certainly a valuable concept where it allows both parties to conclude that, even if not absolutely equal, tangible benefits have accrued mutually. Unfortunately, the broader concept of cause and effect is less well understood and there is often scant recognition of the complexities that may be created even with the best intentions.

Appreciation of cause and effect is probably one of the most important factors in devising promotional strategy. The outcomes must be considered from the viewpoint of each and every stakeholder in the value chain. A promotional idea that appeals to, say, the reseller, can easily backfire if it contravenes the manufacturer’s carefully developed brand positioning. The converse is also true when a manufacturer, perhaps overstocked in a particular line, decides to run a promotion without considering the effect on reseller inventory, or on end-user brand perceptions and so on.

Techniques affecting business and brand considerations

In addition to the value chain issues, business positioning, brand identity, credibility and price positioning cannot be overlooked insofar as promotions can have strongly positive or negative effects.

If the brand identity is largely irrelevant because it is a “me too” copy, there may be merit in promoting price deals, so long as the margin is not eroded for whatever stakeholders may apply. However, it is difficult to raise a price, once a low benchmark has been established. Better by far to offer an inducement in the form of a redeemable voucher or coupon, not forgetting the mechanism for redemption and if any problems will be created for distributors etc.

“With purchase” offers are much safer because they do not erode the perceived value of the promoted item. The key is, of course, value perception, not just for the item to be purchased, but for the giveaway as well. If the giveaway is seen to be rubbish, or inappropriate, it may do more harm than good.

“Win this prize” may have appeal and there may be contra possibilities. The downside is that for one winner, there will be many losers so numerous supplementary prizes may be needed to boost the apparent chances of winning something worthwhile.

Appraising the concepts

It is worth remembering that many promotional concepts are developed and sold to clients by professional promotional firms. They have their own objectives and these may not always meet the criteria of the client who can easily get carried away by the slickness of the concept and the presentation.

To devise a sound promotional strategy for a specific business, there is much merit in preparing a detailed chart and/or document defining the probably outcomes for all parties. Having to justify the issues in writing frequently helps to eliminate many of the notions that cannot stand up to scrutiny. It may also be value in discussing these factors with some selected stakeholders before planning goes too far. Care should also be taken to include stakeholders of strategic importance in key market segments, not just due to the amount they purchase.

In summary, promotions can work brilliantly if every aspect of the strategy and implementation is evaluated and executed well. The traps for the unwary are, however, both common and potentially serious.

Do You Know This 1st Website Promotion Strategy? Local Search Marketing

Website promotion strategies exist all around you when you open your eyes to the palace of possibilities. One of the most effective internet marketing strategies to capitalize on right now is local search marketing. More often than not in today’s world, your general market keyword has hundreds of thousands if not millions of competing results when you search in Google and other search engines.

How do you compete against millions of search engine results?

Well, Mr. or Mrs. small business owner, I offer to you if you are open to it, a new insight. I propose to you that you might be asking the wrong question. A more effective question might be, how can I change the game so my message has a chance of being heard above the noise online?

When your prospects, customers, and clients search for you online (and more than 80% of them begin their search online by the way, so how much is it costing you not to have an effective website promotion strategy?) more often than not, they search with a local intent. What that means for you is when someone searches for something like “Chinese restaurant” and they live in Chicago, IL, chances are they do not want to find a restaurant in Los Angeles, CA.

Would you agree with that statement?

So, the way you gain a competitive advantage so you, the small business owner, has a chance to compete, is to add a local search modifier to your keyword. Chinese restaurant now becomes “Chinese restaurant Chicago” or “Chicago Chinese restaurant”.

Now, we are on to something because not only do you now have a better chance at competing, you just became A LOT more relevant in the eyes of Google and other search engines.

Behind every keyword is a human being and inside of every human being using a keyword to search is an intention to find more information or solve a pressing problem. Without getting too in depth into keyword research strategies, simply keep the previous sentence in mind as you craft your website promotion strategy, whether that is by yourself or you hire a small business marketing consultant to do the job.

Another question to ask yourself is, “how far is my prospect, customer, or client willing to drive to take advantage of the product/service I offer”?

The answer to that question is different for different markets. A person might be willing to travel farther to visit a specialist doctor then they would to visit a Chinese restaurant.

Other local search marketing strategies are getting your business listed in the local business center of the major search engines. Before doing that yourself, make sure you research optimizing your listing for maximum results. Getting listed in other online directories under your industry category as well as reviews from your customers and clients can go a long way towards helping your website get found online when your prospects, customers, and clients need you most.