This is not one of those posts that restates the same damn advice you get in all the other “Grow Your Blog” posts.
I will not tell you to “write good content” or “promote your blog to your social networks.” That advice is so worn out, even the Amish roll their eyes whenever they hear it.
So I won’t share lessons from the Mr. Obvious School of Blogging. But these are five advanced techniques you should consider. They will either grow your readership, improve your search rankings, or both.
1) Find a deep niche. Not just a semi-vague niche — like “Italian cooking” — but a deeper one, like “gluten free Italian cooking.” While “food” is a hugely generic topic, and “cooking” is a little more specific, even a style of cooking is still too broad. But if you can get to one specific detail, you’ll dominate that market. While it may be a long-tail search, keep in mind that there are still thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people looking for that niche.
2) Create backlinks from other sites. Any search engine optimization specialist is going to tell you that backlinks are crucial to improving your search engine rankings. Yes, onsite optimization is important — keywords in the title, anchor text, etc. — but backlinks are the best way to optimize your site, because you’re telling the search engines your site is very popular.
The easiest way to generate backlinks are going to be via comments, but be aware that this is not a powerful way to create them. Comment links don’t have as much juice as a link on another blog. Write guest posts on other blogs, get people to reference you in other posts, and participate in forum discussions related to your blog’s topic.
If you can get your links on a site with a high pagerank (use WebRank Toolbar or other pagerank monitoring tools), all the better. Also, getting a link on a .gov website will carry more weight than a .info or .biz site, especially if that .info/.biz site is only a year old. (Google gives more weight to domains that are more than a year old, and have been purchased for more than a year.)
3) Create a secondary blog to create keyword-rich backlogs. The best way to control your backlinks is to create a second blog on a completely different platform or server, and point it back at your original site. Set something up on Posterous, WordPress.com, or even Blogger, and create content that is about the very same thing your site is about.
It’s important that you put new, original content on this second site. Don’t just run an old blog post through an article spinner, or make a few edits to a post. You need to write completely new blog posts. They don’t have to be terribly long: 250 words or so. But they should be about the topic of your primary blog, and should link back to that primary blog. (Be sure to link only a particular keyword or phrase. Don’t link to an entire sentence or extra unrelated words.)
4) Use article marketing. Article sites like Ezine.com and others are a great way to repurpose some of your writing, and build backlinks. The premise is the same as writing for a secondary blog and pointing it to your primary blog. However, unlike a second blog, you don’t have to put as much work into an article. Take an old post, rewrite and rearrange it, and then submit it to some article sites, all which will point back to your primary blog.
5) Submit to social sharing sites. The biggest spike in my blog’s traffic in the last year came when a post I wrote for my humor blog, “Understanding 7 Different Kinds of Humor,” hit the front page of StumbleUpon.com, and got 700 visits in 2 days. In fact, nearly 40% of my regular traffic comes from my StumbleUpon submissions, so anytime I write a new humor post, I always submit it to StumbleUpon.
This does two things for me: first, it builds a backlink from a highly-popular website (Pagerank of 8), and second, it introduces my site to a whole new group of readers. Many readers visit once and never return, but I have also gained a lot of regular readers who read my new posts or subscribe to my RSS feed.
Other sites like Digg, Delicious, and even Bloggers.com can all build backlinks and gain new readers as well.
While there are other advanced blogging techniques, these are the five I use over and over, whether it’s on my own blog or on our client blogs.
My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.
Photo credit: Svenwerk (Flickr)