Blogging offers a way to connect with your audience and promote your services. As a small business, it’s a useful tool to compete with big players in your market.
A good blog encourages visits to your website, showcases your work, engages your audience and improves SEO.
That’s why blogs are often a key part of a content strategy. But ensuring the right audience reads your blog is the key to its success.
So here I’ll highlight some of the best places to easily share content online.
There are numerous ways to ensure as many people as possible are reading your blog posts, but we’ll be focussing on how to use search engines, social media, external websites and other publishing platforms to market your content.
Optimise content for search engines
When you’re researching and writing your blog posts, consider how they’ll perform in Google searches. While it can take some time to see the impact of blogging on your overall search engine ranking, putting in the effort to optimise your content early on can lead to it still being found for years to come.
How though? Well, you’ll need to do a bit of search engine optimisation (SEO).
SEO can seem overwhelming – but it’s something you can build on over time.
Google is the benchmark search engine you’ll want to optimise for. The two main reasons are:
- Google functions in a similar way to the other main search engines: Bing and Yahoo.
- Google is overwhelmingly the most popular search engine – it’s responsible for around 88% of searches in the UK, compared to Bing’s ~7% and Yahoo’s ~4%.
So if you focus on Google, you’re almost certainly targeting the greatest number of relevant searches.
To get you on the right track, there are a few simple things you can implement now to help your blog be found:
- Most importantly, make sure your content is unique and of a high quality.
- Produce blog posts longer than 300 words – at least. There’s no exact length, but studies suggest longer articles rank higher in Google searches than short ones. If you can, aim for 1000 or even 2000 words. But don’t waffle.
- Ensure the keywords you’re targeting appear in the first 100 words of your post, plus in your meta description and title.*
- Sprinkle keywords – and related keywords – throughout your blog, including any subheadings.
- Read and follow Google’s guidelines, you can find them here.
*Happily, WordPress has a couple of plugins that simplify SEO. Yoast SEO is one that’s widely used and offers some excellent learning resources.
Share content on social media
When your blog post’s SEO is up to scratch, and you’ve hit the “Publish” button, it’s time to start marketing on social media.
Social media is a quick and effective way to point people directly toward your new content.
To figure out your social media approach, try answering the following three questions about your target audience:
- What social media sites do they use?
- When are they on social media?
- How can you get their attention: what words and pictures will grab them?
If you can get your target audience to read and share your blog post, you’re on to a winning formula.
But if you frequently find people aren’t engaging with your content, it could be because they either haven’t seen it, or you aren’t grabbing their attention with your posts.
When should I share on social media?
Sharing your blog post on social media when your target audience is most active will make it far more likely they’ll see and engage with your content.
As a general rule, Twitter users are most likely to interact with your tweets during the afternoon, whereas Facebook users are more active around midday and after 7pm. However, these timings should be taken with a pinch (or handful) of salt.
There are plenty of groups who are active on social media at very different times to this, so it’s best to find out when your audience is most active.
You can test this by posting similar content at various times, and on different days, to see when you achieve the most views and best engagement. To narrow your options, it’s worth observing when your competitors and target audience tend to post updates too.
Tweets have a relatively short lifespan, so it’s beneficial to share the same blog post a couple of times a day on Twitter to increase reach. Posts on Facebook and LinkedIn tend to stick around and show up on people’s feeds for longer, so it’s usually fine to share your blog posts once a day on these networks.
Remember you can also use relevant hashtags to increase the reach and longevity of your social media posts.
Share content on external websites
Sometimes the right people will notice your great blog and ask to share it on their own website. This is good news because it increases the reach of your content – and therefore your business – by getting it in front of a new audience.
Most of the time though, you’ll need to do the asking.
It can take some research to figure out the best sites to share your content on. Usually you’ll want to target a blog or business that does something similar to you – but not one that’s in direct competition.
Aim high when choosing an external website to feature on, because links to your site from poor-quality blogs can affect both your SEO and your reputation.
Pitching a new idea vs republishing
If you’re pitching your blog idea to an external website, they’ll be more welcoming if it hasn’t already been published elsewhere. So it could be worth coming up with an entirely new idea, rather than trying to get a post republished.
If you opt to pitch a new idea, focus on websites that receive plenty of traffic and are good at promoting their content. This way you know your blog post will be seen by plenty of people – making your efforts worthwhile. There’s little point in going to the trouble of guest blogging for a low traffic site that’s not very good at sharing content.
When you’re ready to pitch your idea, try to keep it short and interesting. Include some detail of your blog plan and a few key supporting facts. Explain why your idea is a good fit for the blog you’re targeting, and include links to examples of your previous posts.
If you go down the route of getting one of your existing blog posts republished, make sure the site sharing your content agrees to include a rel=canonical link. This is very important to ensure Google doesn’t punish your website for publishing duplicate content. A rel=canonical link looks like this:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://your-website.com/original-blog-post/">
It tells search engines: “This post is a republished version, but here’s where the original post is.” The original post will be the one that ranks in Google – so you benefit from brand awareness and good SEO. And it’s win-win because the site you’re republishing on gets free, quality, content.
Share content on other publishing platforms
If approaching the editor of another site is too daunting, or you just can’t find an appropriate site to guest blog for, there’s an alternative. A number of publishing platforms have popped up, allowing you to freely share your content – without having to impress an editor.
One example of this is the website Medium. Medium’s been around for a few years now and is a self-publishing platform. You can create your own profile and publish as many blogs as you like. In theory, you could reach a wider audience than posting on your website alone.
LinkedIn Pulse is similar, and worth trying out if you’re keen on publishing lots of posts.
Sites like Medium can be good for brand awareness but, like guest blogging, your audience isn’t consuming your content on your website, making conversions more difficult.
More so, it’s a very bad idea to republish content from your own site to Medium. That’s because you can’t use the rel=canonical link.
At best, republishing a post on Medium would see the original rank extremely poorly on Google. At worst, Google could heavily penalise other pages on your website.
So if you do use one of these sites, you should aim for original content and encourage customers over to your own website with a few well-placed links.
As you can see, SEO, posts on social media, and external links to your site are easy ways to engage with your intended audience. To keep the ball rolling, why not encourage new visitors to sign up to your email marketing? That way you can send out a reminder when you publish a new blog, maintaining engagement in the long run.