If you hope to get your blog in front of potential readers, fans, and (eventually) buyers/customers, you’ll need to develop a promotion strategy. In this post, I’ll be sharing 60 free ways to promote your blog.
If you followed my advice on how to create content for your blog, then you are acutely, painfully aware of how much time it takes to create high-quality, engaging content that’s useful for your readers. You’ve ticked your checklist: you’ve done your research, wrote a fantastic article (with headings and subheadings, too!), and included a smooth call to action.
But no one’s reading your posts.
How do you get those readers to read your awesome content?
You have to promote your posts.
“How do I do that?” you ask.
In today’s post, I’ll be listing down some ways to promote your blog. Note that there are a lot of tips here, and it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed by it all. My tip would be to take one or two ideas that you feel may be a good fit for you and your blog and test if they work for you. If not, then you have many other tips to try. It’s okay to test and fail than to never start at all.
It’s worth mentioning as well that these are free ways to promote your blog. Frankly, you’ll get better results faster with paid promotion, but they require quite a budget and continuous monitoring to get right. If you’re just starting, it’s much better to minimize costs at the beginning. We’ll get around to discussing paid promotions, but for now, we’ll tackle the free options.
Believe it or not, the design of your blog already has some elements in it that you can use to promote your blog. If you’re using WordPress like I highly recommended you to, some of these will be much easier for you, but I’m sure there are ways to do these in other blogging platforms. You can also leverage the content you post to promote your blog.
Social share buttons are seemingly a minor addition to your blog, but used correctly, it’s a powerful tool to increase your exposure and traffic. However, used incorrectly, it can actually hurt your blog.
As a general rule, use three social sharing buttons for the top three social sites Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and then include one for sharing to email. Depending on your niche and target audience, you might add one or two for other social media sites, like Pinterest or LinkedIn. Make sure they’re in a prominent spot on your page where your readers can easily see them.
Remember, though, that too many buttons increase the clutter and increase the possibility that readers will become paralyzed by the choices and just click away.
Aside from adding links to your previous posts within your article, you can also add a section at the end of your post that contains links to previous posts that are related to the article that your visitor is currently reading. There are WordPress plugins that can automatically display these for you, such as YARPP, so you don’t have to think about which ones to link every time you make a new post.
Include at least two relevant images in your blog post: one as your featured image and one somewhere in your post. The key here is relevance; that is, ensure that these images relate to the topic you’re discussing.
Why are visuals so important? A study has shown that 65% of the general population are visual learners. Featuring an image in your social media posts has also been proven to increase engagement. Another study, this time by Socialbakers, showed that 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook were photos.
Thus, images serve a double purpose. You can use images to capture your readers’ interest, and to promote your blog post on social media.
Quite simply, an infographic is a visual representation of data and information using different elements such as images, graphs, charts, checklists, etc. Like images, you can use infographics to capture your readers’ interest, as well as in promoting your blog post on social media. You can also give it as a free gift to readers who subscribe to your blog as exclusive content.
They look like they take a lot of time and work to do, and normally they do, but a lot of sites offer free infographic templates to make it easy on you. You can start using these ones from HubSpot.
Creating a controversy is one way to grab attention. Picking a side and showing that you’re different from the competition can gain you loyal followers that can make great future customers. Done artfully, you’ll be able to incite emotion in your readers while armed with solid reasoning.
The basic approach is to target something in your niche that is headed in the wrong direction. Do your research, discuss why it’s flawed, and what might be a better solution. Debunking myths in your niche is another way to go about it.
Another approach is to take a shot at a bigger, well-established competitor; that is, pick a fight. Create a controversial response to a popular post of said competitor. That will get a rise out of that blogger and their followers.
If you go this route, though, prepare for the backlash this will likely generate. Retaliation may come swift and may result in you being a pariah. If negative, even threatening, comments are things you don’t want to deal with, stick to the basic critiques instead of taking on another blogger head-on.
Promoting previous posts doesn’t mean just simply rehashing old content. It involves updating that content so it’s relevant and fresh again. Remove outdated information, add new developments, and push it to the forefront by updating the date (include the date when you originally posted it for reference).
You need to be selective when doing this. It is a more valuable use of your time to update and re-promote your most popular posts. This is not you being lazy—it’s updating the information on your blog so that it’s always relevant no matter when your readers stumble upon it.
When you’re going through a drought of ideas, the news can save you. It’s an easy way to add fresh content to your blog and be search engine-friendly as well. People tend to get interested in trending or viral content and search for it on search engines and social media. If you capitalize on this using an angle relevant to your niche, it is quite possible to get quality traffic.
The crucial thing here is the timing. If you take a long time to write, you might not be able to maximize on the popularity of that news item you decided to write about. Make sure to monitor your social media accounts and the news to know what’s hot right at this moment.
Besides Facebook and Twitter, Google News offers a good overview of news items that come from reputable sources and are updated every few minutes.
As long as you’re monitoring the most current news, you might want to keep an eye out for which public figure is trending and write about them. Aside from reaching people who are searching for them, you might actually catch the attention of that particular personality (or whoever’s handling their social media for them) and you might get a shoutout for your post.
Note: For #7 and #8, you’ll want to keep it related to your niche, or else you risk alienating your existing readers while trying to reach out to new ones.
Longer, more in-depth articles are ranked better by search engines nowadays. Why? When search engines index your site, they look at every single word, tag, and bit of information. They index your title, headlines, metadata, alt text (on images), etc.
Quite simply, the longer your post is, the more of it gets indexed. The more your post gets indexed, the better it will rank in search results.
It’s not all about length. The quality and frequency of your posts play a big part too in whether your blog post is successful or not. As a general rule, it’s better to post longer, high-quality content on a regular schedule (e.g., once a week, twice a month, etc.) than it is to post lower quality content daily.
Creating long-form content just for the sake of plugging in keywords just won’t work anymore. Modern bots look for context, synonyms, and related words in your post. If your content isn’t well-thought-out, all these elements are lost. Similarly, if you post too rarely, there won’t be enough information to index, and your blog will get lost in the mire.
I’ve touched on headlines when I wrote about how to create content for your blog, but for the purposes of promoting your blog, let me dig a little deeper.
The point of creating excellent content is for your readers to find it valuable enough to search for. You’ll need to help them find your content by making sure that your headlines use the words that your target audience is likely searching for. For this reason, the best headlines always focus on a keyword.
With that in mind, remember that the best headlines are:
If it makes sense for your post to follow one of these formats, go for it. Remember that sometimes, headlines are all your potential readers see because they’re all that gets shared in social media.
There are some bloggers who prefer to turn off comments on their blogs. They have different reasons, such as replying takes too much time, or it’s too difficult to weed out spam, or they’d rather engage on social media.
While these may be valid reasons, there are three reasons why reader comments on your blog are still important, especially when promoting your blog.
How you respond to comments (your word choice, your tone, how quickly you reply) will also show a little more of your personality as a blogger. Read your reply out loud before you post it just to make sure it’s how you want to be perceived. As a general rule, you want to make your commenters feel glad they took the time to comment.
Effective contests are a fun way to promote your blog. Give away free stuff or even cash in exchange for sharing your blog in participants’ social media or own blogs. You can even take this opportunity to ask them for help generating user-generated content.
A basic example would be hosting an Instagram contest where you ask participants to post artful photos with your blog (like from their smartphone, tablet, or laptop), and then tag you, mention your Instagram handle, and use the official contest hashtag. That kind of exposure should help boost your social media presence and spread the word about your blog.
If you can get sponsors for your prizes in exchange for promoting them on your blog, that’s even better. You offset the cost of the prizes, plus if your sponsors promote your contest on their social media accounts, that’s even more publicity for your blog.
Researching on statistics about high-activity days and hours as well as low-activity ones will help you strike a balance between the heavy competition during high-activity times and the fewer potential visitors during low-activity times.
Compiling related posts into a single in-depth ebook gives you multiple possibilities for promotion. It can serve as a content upgrade when you start building an email list. You can give it away for free to establish your authority in your niche (make sure your profile and links to your blog are prominent in the ebook!). You can even sell the ebook someday, if the content is substantial enough.
Search engine optimization is an often-overlooked aspect of blog promotion because it’s more passive compared to proactively promoting your blog. But SEO, especially on-page SEO, is actually a vital part of the whole marketing strategy. You still want your blog post to rank on that elusive first page of search results so that you’ll get organic traffic (that is, visits to your blog post from search result pages).
Keyword research is where everything starts. Keyword research is the process of researching and selecting words and phrases that users will most likely input into search engines when looking for a topic. Businesses use this for marketing entire websites, but in the context of creating a specific post, you’ll be looking for words and phrases that are related to the topic you want to write about.
The point of this exercise is to find a keyword that you can create your post around so that if a user searches for that particular keyword, your blog post will be on their search results (hopefully on the first page).
How do you do this, though?
I’ve written a step-by-step guide to keyword research if you want more details, but here’s a brief summary.
Good keywords strike a balance between how many times that keyword is searched (you can think of this as the demand for that keyword) and how many other posts match or have that keyword (your competition). If no one is searching for that keyword, it’s hardly worth writing about it. Similarly, if you have too much competition, it’s going to be difficult to push past them to get on the first page of the search results.
Try to use long-tail keywords (that is, a search phrase containing 3 or more words). They’re the most popular type of search (especially for Google), usually less competitive, and more likely to drive high-quality traffic your way.
The keywords you come up with are central to the next steps in your SEO strategy. Here are some ways you can optimize your blog posts for search engines.
You can read more details about basic on-page optimization in this article. But to summarize, cover the basics and include your keywords in the following parts of your post.
Make sure your keyword is within the first 65 characters of your headline.
This helps search engines better understand what your content is about.
If you followed my advice here, you should have an introduction in your blog post. Make sure your keyword is in there, particularly in the first 100 words.
Use your keyword throughout the post whenever it makes sense. Don’t just stuff keywords in the copy and hope for the best. At best, Google will ignore it and at worst, your blog will get penalized by lowering your ranking. Just make sure your content has some mentions of the keywords as well as synonyms, since Google now counts those.
Search engines look at your URL to figure out what your post is about, so include it here. WordPress allows you to edit this. An example would be: https://stoppingscams.com/your-keyword-here
This is a snippet of your post that Google displays directly below the URL. WordPress allows you to edit this as well, so make sure your target keyword is here.
In HTML, the alt attribute of an image is an alternate text for the image if the image can’t be displayed for some reason. It could be an error in the code, a slow or intermittent internet connection, or if the user uses a screen reader. This is called “alt tag” for short.
Keep in mind the original purpose of this attribute. Make the alt tag truly descriptive while naturally integrating the target keyword if you can.
A sitemap is simply a file that contains all your individual webpages’ URLs. You can create this through a plugin if you’re using WordPress (the most popular is the Google XML Sitemap plugin).
Why bother with a sitemap at all? This allows search engine crawlers, or bots, to index your content. The more pages that they index from you, the more trust your site gains.
Internal links are links to other parts of your website within the same domain name. They help your page’s SEO because it creates a tight-knit network of pages and posts, extends the time that users spend on your site, and provides clear routes for search engine bots to index your page (they’re also shown to pass “link juice” and authority throughout your site, which we can’t really dig into without getting into the weeds).
As with using keywords throughout your content, doing this haphazardly can hurt your rankings instead of helping them. Here are some tips for using internal links for SEO:
This seems like a no-brainer, but you’ll probably be tempted to insert as many internal links as you can in a post. Don’t give in! Only link to related posts that are helpful to your reader, like to give context or to expand on a point that is discussed briefly on your post.
“Click here” is the common anchor text used when linking to another page. And why not? It’s effective in enticing your reader to click. However, this may be an opportunity to use keywords related to that other post. See if you can use keywords naturally in the anchor text, and if you can, go for it! Again, do it with your readers in mind. If you use the exact same keywords to each and every one of your anchor texts, it’s going to look awkward and you’ll distract your reader.
If you update the URL for your posts for any reason, make sure that the corresponding links to it are updated. This is manageable if you have few posts on your site, but if you already have a lot, there are applications you can use to check your site for broken links. Screaming Frog SEO Spider is one of those. It does a lot more SEO-related stuff, but it’s very helpful for checking broken links, specifically.