It’s the grand launch of your company blog. You’ve hung up all the decorations, you’ve got your playlist on and the buffet’s well stocked—but no one’s shown up to the party. Why?
The fact is that running a good company blog is not as straightforward as “build it and they will come.” Without a huge ad budget, the best results come from having a solid (and at some times sneaky) content strategy.
Here are four things you’re probably not doing that can help boost free traffic to your blog. With some hard graft and measure of patience, you’ll soon get that steady increase in organic traffic that every business owner wants to see.
Related Article: Content Marketing: 5 Tips for Better Brand Content
1. Listen to Your Audience
One reason why your blog might not be getting visits is because you’re just not offering content that people want to read. What’s important to you and your company may not necessarily matter to anyone else.
The biggest pitfall you can make with your blog is to make it too sales-focused. Yes, blogging is important for driving sales, but not in the traditional way. Instead of directly selling to visitors, blogging is a way to introduce your brand to new prospects through relevant and engaging content.
Image via Beverly & Pack
But what exactly is relevant and engaging? You may be able to inform this with your inside industry knowledge. But there is a more direct way to find out through clever use of social media—specifically, Twitter.
Yes, you definitely need a Twitter profile and you need to use it properly (but that’s an entirely separate blog post).
For help with discovering content topics, follow people relevant to your industry or niche. Use free tools like Moz’s Followerwonk, which allows you to search Twitter bios for relevant keywords to your audience. You can also snoop on other people’s followers for ideas.
Once you have your followers, use a Twitter feed management app like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to monitor what they’re saying. You can add custom columns with search terms to monitor specific issues.
2. Egobait Influencers
You’re probably thinking “what does this even mean?” Jargon aside, it involves including influential people in your posts in some way, hopefully encouraging them to share your content.
One of the big problems small companies have when they start out with content and social media marketing is that their few followers limit the reach of their posts. This tactic effectively hijacks more established accounts to spread the word for you.
Image via Rian Castillo
You can find influencers in the same way that you found people to follow on Twitter. Once you have targets you can set the bait! There are a number of options.
One way is to contact your influencer for an interview. This is best for ensuring they’re engaged with your piece, but you have to be aware that many may not have the time to answer your questions.
Alternatively, you can mention influencers in the piece without previously contacting them. This cuts down on the ground work, but there’s less chance that you’ll get a share.
In my experience the best tactic is to target as many influencers as possible in one piece, as this makes it more likely to get shares. The best way to do this is through a list, like this post on the top 10 alternative music festivals in the UK. Earned media is very important to brands, which encourages sharing. One of the influencers even paid to promote this post on Facebook.
Outreach can take many forms, but it’s essentially just telling people about your content. This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but there are certain tricks and free tools to make it much easier and more effective.
You should use outreach as part of your influencer strategy to make sure your targets know about the post. These people are often busy and contacted by 100s of people a day, so a simple email or tweet may not be enough to get noticed.
Image via David Ip
Before your content is published, make sure you engage with them across as many social media platforms as possible. Follow them, like and +1 their pages, and share their content where relevant. This gets you on their radar before you follow up with the email/call once you’ve posted.
You should also submit links to your posts on aggregate sites like Reddit and use Twitter to share your post directly with people whom you think might be interested. Get it in front of aa many eyes as possible.
Finally, there’s guest posting—offering content to another site with a view to getting a link back to your own. Always make sure to target sites with a higher Domain Authority than your own. You can use Open Site Explorer to check.
Everyone likes to get free stuff, so competitions are a great way to get people through the door.
The trick is to make sure you’re getting value for the prize. Anyone can give away a bunch of free stuff and get loads of entries, but what are you getting from it? You need to find a way to harness all that attention.
Image via Nathan Rupert
Consider the method of entry. What can you get people to do that will get traffic to your blog? Here are some suggestions:
- Get them to enter by sharing an article
- Get them to respond to a question, gathering data for an interesting blog post
- Get them to submit photos or videos, which you can then collate into a post
- Get them to provide an email address so you can add them to a newsletter
With all these suggestions you must balance the value of the prize with the effort it takes to enter. People are surprisingly lazy and will often need more encouragement than you might think.
The other challenge is to make sure people know about the contest. You can use all the above tactics in this post to help. Listen to your audience to find out what they want to win, involve influencers by offering a joint prize and outreach your competition to relevant people and sites.