No one who has been involved in internet marketing over the past few years can have missed the industry’s heavily overused war cry: ‘Content Is King,’ which is loudly trumpeted at every event and conference as well as plastered across every SEO, social media and marketing website.
The online business world’s move towards inbound rather than traditional marketing, along with Google’s drive for quality content, are certainly both changes that benefit the casual consumer. Instead of being perpetually bombarded with pushy messages and products in which we have no interest, we can slowly meander through the websites of our favourite brands, enjoying the pictures, videos and texts designed for our illumination and entertainment.
This is undoubtedly making the Internet a better place, but with so much content swamping the search engines and social media channels, it is often quite hard for the little guys to get noticed.
One example of a particularly popular content-marketing strategy is to piggy-back on whichever new phenomenon is receiving a lot of attention in the media. This can be fairly effective with regard to traffic; however, forcing a link between your area of interest and a currently popular trend nearly always gives your post a try-hard tinge, a laboured and artificial feel. Titles such as ‘What Game of Thrones taught me about Microsoft Excel formulas,’ or ‘10 on-site SEO techniques that I took away from Thatcher’s funeral’ seem embarrassingly contrived, although they would not be at all out of place in the current digital-marketing space.
Luckily, alongside drawing incongruous comparisons with Britain’s favourite boyband, there are a number of other ways to help your posts receive attention. Through experimentation and research, I have picked up quite a few methods of increasing the reach and longevity of your work. I have created a list of those that are easiest to implement. Trying just a few of these, I hope, will help your posts to reach a larger audience.
i) The Power of Gentle Suggestion!
Facebook, to the average person, is a social rather than a marketing or content-circulation space. You can, however, use this fact to your advantage.
Ask your friends to like and share your content. Each new like will open it up to a range of new readers and potential sharers. Ask your friends to send it on to anyone they think might be interested.
However, if you want to keep your jumble of ‘friends,’ I would be careful about how you ask. Being continuously spammed by your mates is up there with the most annoying online predicaments….
ii) Brand Loyalty
Content Marketing is largely about building up your brand and keeping your clients engaged and interested. Despite a slowly growing sense of indifference to Zuckerberg’s social network, it is still the best network to support this process, due to its style and popularity. Building up your Facebook presence will strengthen your image and your online relationships. If you do this well, the visitors to your site will be endless….
The recent hashtag update for Facebook gives the network an extra dimension when marketing content. I will write a more complete post looking at the best ways to use the hashtag; until then, here are a couple of useful posts on the subject:
PerformanceIn: Facebook Hashtags: Boosting Your Content’s Reach
ZazzleMedia: Facebook Hashtags: What you Need to Know.
Here are some great guides to getting your content noticed and liked on Facebook…
Popescu: Guide to Sharing Content on Facebook
Econsultancy: Ten Ways to Advertise Your Business on Facebook
Wordstream: Facebook Marketing for Businesses
Google+ has already become the go-to social network for marketers and techies and has overtaken Twitter to become the second most popular social networking space.
In contrast to Facebook, people use this platform to create new relationships and interact with people who share their interests and while it is perhaps not as popular as Twitter & Facebook with brands and companies, it is possibly the best place for personal and professional development and marketing and is also a great place to get your work noticed.
Making posts ‘public’ means that anyone, whether they’re in your Circles or not, can see and engage with them.
Using appropriate hashtags will get your posts noticed by a larger number of interested people as they can be used to instantly convey the subject matter of that piece e.g. #SEO, #Social, or #CatDressedAsFrog…
In my opinion, it was the arrival of Communities that completed the Google+ victory as the coveted ‘King of Social Media Heavyweights‘. Similar in style to Facebook Groups, they are essentially smaller, closed-off networks of G+ users – forums for asking questions, having discussions and sharing content with people with similar interests.
On the plus side, unlike Facebook Groups, they seem to be fairly resistant to spam and are in general much easier to manage and maintain.
The Google+ team seem to be rolling out frequent changes aimed purely at keeping the community experience clean and enjoyable.
For an introduction to a strong Google+ Community, I highly recommend: Strategic Social Networking, one of the best digital Communities out there and one that I am fortunate enough to be a Moderator of.
The shared interest and narrower focus of Communities mean there is a much higher engagement rate. Community members will also be more likely to +1 and continue sharing.
Mashable: A Guide To Google Communites
SocialMediaToday: 5 Reasons to use Communities for Brand Promotion
ii) G+ Posts in SERPs
G+ posts themselves can also be shown in search results. This feature is slowly becoming more and more prominent. Getting your G+ post (with a link to your blog content) listed on SERPs will obviously get it more exposure.
Ranking of this type is determined by the amount of engagement with the post, as well as an individual’s G+ authority. Here’s an example of a G+ post listed in Google SERPS:
I originally posted the link above which was later re-shared by Ann Tran. Despite the fact that I found and posted the material first (and received more engagement), it was her re-share that was listed in the SERPs, because she has more Google+ Authority than I have.
This basically means to reach the most people possible you should:
a) Increase your G+ authority (through the number of Circles you are in and the amount of engagement you receive).
b) Get your content shared and posted by as many authoritative figures as possible.
iii) Google+ Hangouts
Using Google Hangouts to promote your work is easy. Simply join or start a Hangout on a topic similar to that of your post. The people who take part are highly likely to be interested in the subject. Suggest they read it, especially if it covers any points specifically touched upon in the Hangout. If you feel the other partakers are more advanced than you, simply ask them what they think or ask for their feedback. Hopefully one or two of them will like or share it.
Search Engine Journal: How to Integrate Google+ into Your Online Marketing Initiative
Social Media Today: Promoting Content With Google+
Twitter has huge outreach potential. It has over half a billion active users, with a further 135,000 signing up each day. It is also the easiest social network to reach people whom you are not directly connected to.
This is because:
-All Tweets, unless made private, are visible to everyone, meaning you can interact with any other Twitter user of which there are hundreds of thousands.
-Hashtags act as labels, allowing unlimited tweets to be ordered and grouped by topic, making them easier to find.
-Trends: on the left-hand side, you can see what it is that people are most searching for/tweeting about.
-The ease of retweeting.
The most retweeted tweet to date is Obama’s re-election victory photo, which racked up more than 800,000 retweets.
Increasing Your Reach
When tweeting about your blog post, here are a few tips that will help you reach the largest number of people:
i) Time Optimisation
Your followers are the people who are most likely to see, engage with and pass on your tweets. It is therefore important to find out what time of day they are most active. This can be done with a range of analytics programs. The diagram below is from Followerwonk, an affiliate of SEOmoz and my particular favourite:
This graph shows that my followers are most active at 13:00.
ii) Tactical Repetition
The graph also shows that even at the most popular time of day, only a small percentage of your followers (in this case 6%) are active on Twitter. This means that when you post your link, it will quickly become lost in the Newsfeed and never seen by the majority. It is therefore worth tweeting a link to your content a few times.
It is highly unlikely that the same people will see it more than once but slightly rewording your tweets will further reduce the chances of appearing spammy and annoying people.
According to marketing and Social Media titan Guy Kawasaki, repeating tweets four times is best. Each one gets about the same CTR and ‘why be satisfied with 600 clicks when you can get 2,400?Most of the large tweeting sources such as CNN, ESPN provide content several times as their audiences live in different time zones, have different working hours and Social Media habits.
Set up a Hootsuite account to schedule tweets to reach people in different time zones.
iii) Find out what your audience is most interested in
It is worth knowing what topic it is that your audience are most interested in and engaging with the most. A number of Wordclouds are available online, showing a range of things: ‘what people are searching for’ or ‘what people are retweeting.’
This one shows the most common phrases found in the bios of followers – a great indicator to what they are interested in and the subjects they will respond to. Once you know in which subjects the majority are most interested, write more content around it and emphasise its relevance with #hashtags.
There’s a variety of tools which are also great for finding out what people are talking about. Tweetronics is particularly good for discovering topics of conversation.
iv) Using Mentions to Increase Reach
Search for Twitter users talking about a subject related to your post and suggest that they have a read with an @mention.
It is also worth discussing or mentioning brands, people and products in your blog-post content itself as you can then let them know they’ve been mentioned in your tweet. If someone with influence in your industry retweeted your post, recommended it or simply said that they liked it, the response could be huuuuuuuge!
Due to its simplicity, Twitter has a large collection of tools and add-ons that will help you manage your outreach and increase your reach. Here is a list of Twitter tools used by marketing professionals.
And here is a collection of social media names worth impressing:
Forbes: Top 50 Social Media Influencers
TopRank Blog: Top UK Online Marketing Influencers & Bloggers in 2013
v) Optimising For Retweets
The general rule for optimising for retweets is to leave enough space for ‘RT @(your handle).’
For example: we need to leave at least 15 characters free in our tweets for: ‘RT @makeittweet.’
To fully maximise your chances for a retweet, however, leave as much space as possible. People (particularly seasoned Twitter users or brands) like to add to and change tweets before sharing them. If there is more space to play with, they are more likely to be retweeted.
Razorsocial: Promoting Blog Posts Through Twitter
This is quite a simple yet effective idea to bring fresh traffic to older posts that are slowly getting forgotten. In your new blog posts try to link to one or two older pieces as it will allow new visitors to discover older content that they would otherwise be unlikely to find. If someone new to your blog reads and enjoys a couple of past posts, they are likely to come back and check for more, subscribe and share…
Reformatting and Updating Aging Posts
Another way to bring a new audience to older posts is simply to update and add to them. Google likes new content, seeing them as up-to-date and current. Update date is given a great deal of weight when it comes to rankings, as can be seen in blog posts and news articles. Going back to old posts and adding a new paragraph or updating some stats will breathe life back into any dying post.
If at all possible, without feeling forced, when moderating your older posts try also to slip in a link or two to some of your newer posts. This will give the visitors to your blog a more complete experience and will help each and everyone to climb through the ranks.
Example: We have gone back and uploaded photos and pics to some of our older posts and have since noticed that many of them gained a few new shares and likes on the Social Media buttons.
A Social Bookmarking site is a service on which people can save or ‘bookmark’ a particular page, post, or even section of a web document. From here it can be seen, re-shared and annotated by third parties. Most of these services have a built-in voting system, with which popular bookmarks become more visible – and boring or rubbish ones, less so….
Some of the most popular examples of these services include:
A site worth a special mention is:
Although not exactly a social bookmarking site (it is described as an Inbound Marketing Internet Community), it works in a very similar way – although specific and exclusive to digital marketing content – perfect for me!
I have posted just several of my previous blog posts on there and as we can see in Google Analytics, it has brought through the third largest volume of traffic – certainly worth the time of submission!
Although these have lost nearly all their SEO value and, thanks to the dreaded Penguin updates, can often be more harmful to rankings than helpful, they will still bring people to your page and site. If you are particularly worried about low link quality, keep your text extremely generic or request a NoFollow.
The more niche the directories, the more relevant and ready-to-engage the visitors will be.
LinkedIn, ‘The Social Media network for professionals,’ aims to become the premier hub for content marketing in the next few years.
The very nature of the network means that the work posted and shared is, in general, going to be of a higher average standard than most other places on the web. People are looking to impress prospective employers and build a reputation, rather than (as is the case in so many other online arenas) gain a few easy likes, comments or followers.
While this unwritten rule helps to keep the general level of content up, it also means that it takes time and investment to gain any recognition (and therefore traffic, comments and shares).
You will need to spend a bit of time posting useful content related to the niche in which you are trying to gain traction. Ask questions, comment and, wherever possible, answer questions. You must get involved! Bumbling into a Group and posting a link to your content after no previous engagement is unlikely to lead to any responses at all.
Take your time with LinkedIn, always being humble and Helpful. While it may not be as good as the other Social Media networks for generating straight-up traffic, play the game well and you will build something much more valuable – your professional reputation which will, in turn, bring you a huge number of visitors.
Mashable: The Beginner’s Guide to LinkedIn
Social Media Examiner: How to Network Using LinkedIn Groups
Social Media Examiner: 5 Ways to Generate More Business From LinkedIn
To really cash in on internet-marketing capabilities, using video is essential. Youtube is the second-largest search engine in the world. Four-billion hours of video are viewed each month, while more than 72 hours are uploaded every minute, which translates into a mind-blowing decade each day! This is a source of traffic that you simply cannot afford to miss out on.
All of the really effective online & social brands are on Youtube. Have a look at some of these channels and the number of views they’ve attracted. Some of these you (or I, at least) would not associate with strong video content:
This is perhaps my favourite digital marketing channel: MozHQ.
Having strong video content will strengthen your blog’s brand and will help people to find your other blog content.
Before I started as an internet-marketing intern, I was looking for lectures covering SEM & Social Media on Youtube. I discovered Whiteboard Fridays on the aforementioned channel, and now SEOmoz blog is by far my favourite internet-marketing resource – proof that strong video content will bring people to your content.
Search Engine Journal: Optimising your Youtube Videos.
ii) Videos Appear higher in SERPs
Videos will usually appear higher in SERPs than written content, even if they are covering the same information. This is because Google, over time, has realised that they get a higher CTR – people prefer them.
The best way to use this to your advantage is to create an original video, embedding it on your blog, while also indexing it within Youtube. Make sure you let the viewers know the address of your blog and the subjects it covers, whether in the clip itself or in the ‘About’ section below (preferably both). This post explains how to create logos to improve your video marketing efforts.
A great example of someone using this effectively is Martin Shervington. One of my favourite posts: Search Engine Optimisation Using Google Plus
Comments and Forums
WARNING: This technique has to be used very carefully as these days it is considered to be the height of spamminess, the very worst of black-hat techniques.
The method involves placing a link to your post in a comment or forum. The difference between being a black-hat and a helpful Internet surfer is that you have to place these links only where they are truly relevant and helpful to those who will come across them.
Blog Comments: Find a blog post covering a similar topic to your own and post a link to your post, suggesting that people might find it interesting. Ask them for their thoughts.
Forum Comments: In similar vein, find a forum thread relevant to your post and simply post a link to your content.
A forum that asks a question that your post answers would be ideal. A forum thread dealing with the subject: ‘How do I promote my blog posts?’ would be an ideal place for me to promote this particular article.
Slideshare is a site that hosts slideshows. With the growing demand for varied content, particularly visual, the service has become more and more popular over the past few years, now receiving more than 65-million visitors a month.
In order to use it to market your content, create a slideshow outlining your main argument or perhaps delving into a complex issue touched upon in your post. Place a link in the slideshow back to your blog. When people discover it through Google or Slideshare they will hopefully follow the link back to read the original post.
Slideshares are also extremely easy to embed within your posts and they help to break up the text and keep things varied.
Social Media Examiner: Using Slideshare to Market Your Business
Emailing and Newsletters
Why not include a link to your latest blog posts in any subscription, periodical or mass email? A small link in your email footer advertising your ‘latest post’ will hardly be offensive.
Clients: If you work with businesses, promote your posts to those with whom you work. We have recently done a couple of White Papers on Insurance SEO & Paid Search, two research pieces that we recommended to some of our finance-related clients.
Outbound links and mentions
Particularly in the digital marketing sector, website owners will run frequent checks for links pointing towards their website so they can check their link-profile diversity, domain authority and sabotage any efforts of competitors to perform negative/black-hat SEO techniques.
Building links outwards to relevant and authoritative websites in a useful and constructive way will mean that when they perform these link-profile checks, they will discover your blog post. If your content is good, it will be in their interest to share it….
This social network is fairly new, yet has soared through the ranks, enjoying a 1000% growth rate throughout much of 2012 and is now one of the largest traffic drivers out there, beating out Bing, Twitter and even Yahoo, according to TechCrunch.
It is a particularly good place to spend time marketing your work if you have a lot of visual content. This, of course, lends itself to particular industries, notably retail, which naturally delight in showing off beautiful photos of their latest and most expensive products.
The best way to promote your blog posts on Pinterest is to create and utilise an original picture (preferably more than one) that conveys your message and makes your blog more visually appealing. This is more engaging for today’s consumers anyway. An example of a blog doing this very well is Social Mouths, one of my favourite SMM blogs.
A Couple of Tricks:
- Larger images take up more space across the Pinterest page and are therefore more likely to catch people’s eyes.
- Hashtags are searchable so pop a few relevant ones in the description box!
i) Community Boards
Another great tip is to pin to Group/Community Boards. These act in a similar fashion to Google Communities and will get your pictures more exposure.
ii) Building Your Brand
While Pinterest is not the best place to market specific blog posts, it is, like Facebook, a great place to build your brand reputation and fanbase, which, if maintained over time, will bring large numbers of visitors to your blog.
i) Google Image Search
Google image searches used to be a viable way of bringing traffic to your site. Recent changes to the search engine have forced this method, as an SEO technique, into almost total obsolescence. This is basically because people can now view (as well as save/copy) the full-size, high-quality image within the search engine itself. There is no need to click through to the original site. Google’s increasing domination of the web is grating on many, and this particular instance has been described by some as content stealing, which in a way it is….
Still a Viable Method?
You can still bring a small amount of traffic from Google Images, but it is no longer an exact science. Using interesting and compelling original photos and diagrams, along with highly descriptive alt tags, will hopefully pull through a small but highly relevant audience.
Creating infographics is a great way to get your blog seen by a larger audience. There is a huge number of infographic submission sites out there to utilise. Here is a good place to start.
Sociable: 10 Ways to Promote an Infographic
When sharing a link to your post on the Social Media networks, posting it alongside a photo or diagram, with an accurate & engaging description as a comment, achieves a much higher CTR than a pure-text post.
The picture to the left is an example of the kind of post people like to see. It has varied text, some of which is in bold and italics, as well as nice big picture.
Here is a link to the original post.
Posting a photo alongside your link increases the CTR by around 50%. While the accuracy of this stat may seem dubious, it is absolutely unquestionably true that visual posts receive more engagement.
Besides the usual author link back to your blog or social media profile, one of the main reasons guest posting is such a popular marketing technique is that it gets your writing and ideas in front of a new audience, hopefully drawing a number of them back to your site.
- Choose a subject you are very confident on so that you come across as an impressive authority.
- Pop in a few links back to a few of your best blog posts. If there are a few you are especially proud of, with subtlety, steer your guest post towards the subjects in question in order to link ‘naturally’ to them. This will increase the rankings of these, as well as bringing direct and relevant traffic to therm.
- Promote yourself! Whether in your author bio, in the footer or even in the post itself, tell this audience why you are a great writer in this niche and why they should go to your blog after this and read what you have to say.
Try BlogDash to help you find target sites in your niche.
Word of Mouth
In this digital age it is easy to forget about some of the more traditional methods of promotion. When you’re at a conference, a staff or client meeting, or even out with friends, ask them to read your post, give their thoughts and share it with third parties. In terms of reach, all publicity is good publicity.
Some Final Thoughts….
So there is an nice batch of easy-to-implement techniques that will help you to reach a wider audience.
Some essential points worth remembering:
Just one person sharing or retweeting your link, particularly if he/she is interested in its subject matter, could well start a chain reaction and lead to a hell of a lot more shares.
No matter how effective your marketing techniques, if your content is poor it is unlikely to be shared far and wide. The first and most important stage of content marketing is content creation. The less time you spend on this this, the harder and less effective all of the methods, outlined above, will turn out to be.
Some More Useful Resources
Social Media Today: How to Create Shareable Social Media Content
Content Marketing Institute: 42 Content Marketing Ideas for 2013
Justin Briggs: Technical Hacks for Content Marketing
Jeff Bullas: Promoting and Marketing Your Blog Post
Econsultancy: How to Write for the Web
Mashable: A Collection of Posts on Content
Jonathan Colman: The Epic List of Content Strategy Resources
Social Media Examiner: 5 Creative Ways of Driving More Traffic to Your Blog
If you can think of any other quick and easy methods of marketing your content, please let me know in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!