Irene, how can we get more people to read our blog?
I get this question (or a variation thereof) fairly often. This time it’s come from a colleague who’s recently initiated a new blog for her client.
This colleague has a background in editorial for the field she’s writing about, so this new blog has an engaging, magazine style to it. The blog is formatted well, includes nice photographs, and the content is clearly targeted to its audience. However, just four or five articles into the blogging endeavor, my colleague and her client are feeling like they’re throwing a party that nobody’s attending.
These quality blog articles aren’t yet bearing results in proportion to the effort required.
As I pause to articulate an answer for her, I’m hearing John Mayer’s “Welcome to the Real World” playing in my head. In our content-heavy, information-saturated world, it’s just flat-out hard to get anybody’s attention. It’s particularly difficult to get eyeballs on posts on topics for which there’s already a glut of competing content online. That’s the “real world” we’re living in.
And because I’m totally accustomed to dealing with the real world in order to work smarter, not harder, in business, I’ll start the conversation at the best place possible for this colleague and her quest for blog readership: the beginning.
First of all, what is/are the business objective(s) for this blog?
There must be clearly defined business objectives and desired outcomes from the onset to ensure you know what success will look like for this effort. Two of the most common biz objectives for blogs are (1) to support search engine optimization, aka SEO, strategies (the business’ website appearing higher in search rankings) and (2) to establish the brand as a voice of authority in its industry. Another objective I deal with often because I work with clients that sell through traditional distribution is (3) to create content that can be shared/repurposed by distributors and dealers/retailers.
If the goal is to support SEO, the tactics associated with blogging—frequency of publishing, inclusion of keywords, etc.—may be different or more aggressive from the tactics for establishing brand authority or creating shareable content for retailers. No matter the case, I must remind that quality should never be compromised for quantity. Poorly written, irrelevant content will ultimately hurt any brand’s reputation over time.
Presuming the goals are defined and the blog is worth reading, here are some ideas for getting more eyeballs on those posts.
1. Optimize every blog post for SEO.
For any content marketing endeavor, know thy keywords and search terms! Study your site’s Google Analytics to know what words and phrases are most effective in getting people to visit your website, and then incorporate those terms throughout your blog content—even in the titles. Likewise, use every tool available for further content optimization, including alt text for every photo on every post.
You can use third party tools to guide the optimization process. Yoast is a very popular WordPress plugin that guides you to optimize your article content, as well as all its metadata. It will score each post based on SEO and readability, serving as a helpful tool to ensure your blogs meet SEO criteria that may improve rankings in organic web searches (meaning more people may find your content when they search select terms).
2. Create a corresponding Pinterest board for every blog post.
Did you know Pinterest is more of a search engine than it is a social network? It’s true—and that means people actively use it to seek-and-find ideas and info they need on specific topics. When I review Google Analytics for my clients, I often find that Pinterest is the top social referrer of traffic to their websites.
To make the most of Pinterest’s traffic-driving capabilities, create a Pinterest board for every blog post you publish. Post directly from the blog itself whenever possible so that the link back to your site is present on all Pins. If you don’t have many images within the blog post, don’t fret; just get creative by either pinning other relevant images from the website, creating pull quotes graphics from the article and adding in the link back to the blog post. Pinterest captions can be brief, but they should be keyword rich because people are searching specific terms to find what they need within Pinterest. Pinterest pins often show up in Google searches, as well, so be very search term-minded with your Pinterest board names and caption content.
Additionally, use your blog posts to pin to your Pinboards on other topics, as well. Then track your Google Analytics over time to assure that the Pinterest-website connection is in full effect.
3. Repeat yourself! Share blog links often.
It’s not a new concept that a promotional message must be conveyed multiple times in order for audiences to be moved to take action. Back in the day, advertisers called it the Rule of Seven because of the widely accepted standard that it takes seven occurrences of an ad message to compel someone to make a purchase. Research actually varies on the specific number of message placements required (you can find reports substantiating anything from 5 to 12 times). Regardless, there’s no doubt that frequency is important to motivate audiences to do something about your marketing messages.
To get more eyeballs on your blog, plan to share the link to articles many times. Share the links on all your social media profiles, in email newsletters, within online groups that you and staffers may be participating—anywhere and everywhere people may connect with you online. And remember that you can share content with longer shelf lives well into the future. Repurpose posts into fresh link shares as long as the content holds merit with your audience. After all, cumulative viewing is a gift that keeps on giving!
4. Be a tease when you share the links.
Give people reasons to click! Don’t give away the farm every time you promote a blog post by stating the key points; people won’t click if they think they’ve already got the gist of the article. Instead, master the art of the tease. I’ve seen click-through rates increase by as much as 15% by employing more creativity in post promotions.
To make your promos more compelling, get creative. Try asking a question for which someone must click to the blog to find the answer. Directly invite the click with phrases such as “click now to see the latest and greatest.” Offer only a partial list to hint at the blog’s content, and then state that the full story is available by clicking. Use a specially created teaser graphic to add intrigue to your promotional posts rather than going with the default link preview image that’s generated when you’re sharing a link.
5. Consider pay-to-place on Facebook.
If you simply must score more eyeballs on blog posts and time is of the essence, consider spending some money on Facebook to make that happen. The lowest hanging fruit of all the forms of paid Facebook promotion is the “boosted post.” I don’t often recommend spending to boost posts, but—again—if you really need more quick engagement, it can be a reasonably effective option that lets you target people who follow your Facebook business page, their friends, or any group that you choose and for which you set the demographic parameters. You won’t have to spend very much to see results; even just $5, $10, or $15 can bring results.
6. Use passive cross-promotion tools to invite clicks to your blog.
You don’t have to sound trumpets and unleash fanfare to inspire folks to visit your blog. Even subtle tactics can aid your effort. For example, add a blog link to all company email signatures. Be sure the blog is included prominently enough in your main website navigation to invite clicks, and supplement with a click-through on your site’s footer, as well. Add a clickable blog icon alongside other social icons on your all email marketing messages. You can even add a blog icon to printed materials such as business cards and sales sheets to reinforce that it’s there as a resource.
When it comes to building blog readership, remember that these things take time. The digital world is weighted down in content, and the competition for people’s attention runs deep. However, truly good, relevant content typically finds its audience. While quantity—or number of subscribers or views—can feel affirming, quality almost always wins out in terms of earning measurable, meaningful results for your business.
Thanks for reading!
p.s. – These ideas may not mean a thing if you determine that blogging is not even necessary for your business to achieve its goals. Read my article for Floor Trends Magazine on this topic, as well.