(This is the fifth article in a five-part series about blog SEO. This series was published two years ago on HyperlocalBlogger.com with an emphasis on local blogs, but has been updated and rewritten for publishing now.)
You may have a terrific small business blog — and I hope you do! — but no matter how good it is, you’re making a mistake if you think that just writing good content with all the right SEO tactics is automatically going to bring in loads of new visitors. No matter how great your content is, you still have to promote it in other places.
I’m stretching the definition of SEO here, but we’re still talking about increasing readership and that’s the bottom line. Here’s a list of online and offline ways to promote your content.
Online Content Marketing
Social media/networking has become a primary way to promote a blog. That’s because it’s the number one way we (Americans) spend our time online. Late last year, Nielsen estimated that social media reaches 80 percent of US internet users — so it can be a good way for small business owners to reach them, too.
But social media shouldn’t be your primary online asset; instead, it’s something you use to promote your blog or website, and those are your primary assets. There are a ton of choices when it comes to using social media; what matters most is that find your customers on social media and interact with them where they are.
Pages are the primary tool that Facebook offers for business owners. If you’re ready to create a page for your local blog, here’s where to start.
When your page is setup, don’t just use it to drop links to all of your blog posts. Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm rewards content that users interact with, and a couple studies have shown that links don’t create fan interaction. Instead, try to start conversations with your fans. Post photos and/or videos that invite commentary and sharing. Be available to answer questions (and save those questions as possible topics for future blog posts).
Some more things to keep in mind as you use a Facebook Page to promote your small business blog, taken from previous articles I’ve published:
- Why We Like & Follow Businesses Online
- Why Fans Stop Liking & Following You on Facebook & Twitter
- Here’s Why Not to Buy Facebook Followers
- Facebook Content Ideas … Straight from Facebook
Lastly, don’t be like this Facebook page.
It’s a bit more acceptable to post links to your blog articles on Twitter, but just like with Facebook, it shouldn’t be the only thing you post. When a Twitter user is deciding to follow you or not, one of the first things she’ll do is take a look at your Twitter profile. If all she sees is self-promotional links to your blog posts, she probably won’t follow you. Make sure you’re “followable” on Twitter by posting a variety of content and interacting with other users.
Twitter has published a pretty good small business guide, and here are some other recent articles I’ve written that may help market your blog on Twitter:
- Buy Twitter Followers? You’re Not Buying Anyone Who Cares
- Listening: A Great Way to Market on Twitter
- 8 Common Twitter Questions from Small Business Owners
Unless you’re certain that your customers/audience are using Google+, I wouldn’t spend a ton of time on there (yet) promoting your small business blog. You can certainly use it similarly to how you use Facebook and Twitter, but Google+ has a very small audience at this point. There are, however, potential future SEO benefits from being visible and active on Google+. And, if you run a local business, Google+ is now where your local business page lives, so you’ll want to use that aspect of the service no matter what.
YouTube is the second-largest search engine on the planet; it gets more searches than Yahoo and Bing. If you’re creating video content — and why wouldn’t you be? — you should be sharing it on YouTube. Three quick suggestions:
1. Setup an account specifically for your blog; don’t use your personal account. People may want to subscribe to your blog videos, but not your personal ones.
2. Be sure to mention your blog name and URL in the descriptions of your videos so people can learn who the source is when they find your videos. You might also look into putting a small watermark on your videos that includes your URL.
3. Be sure to promote your YouTube channel on your blog, so that any heavy YouTube users know that they can subscribe to your channel and see your videos when they visit YouTube.
If you’re taking photos for your blog — and again, why wouldn’t you be? — Flickr is a great place to upload and share them. Yahoo has kinda ignored Flickr to some degree in recent years, but I have a strong suspicion that new CEO Marissa Mayer has big plans for Flickr.
As with YouTube, you’ll probably want to create a Flickr account specifically for your blog/business. But that really depends; if I were a real estate agent, for example, using Flickr from a personal account would be fine. Either way, when you share photos on Flickr, be sure to link to the blog post that’s related to the photo (if there is one).
Also, do a search in Flickr’s Groups section to see if there’s a specific group for your industry (pet lovers if you’re a pet store, bicyclists if you own a bike shop, etc.), town or neighborhood. I bet there is. Join that group and get involved in any interesting discussions that are happening (or start some yourself). Share your photos with the group. This is a great way to get your target audience to learn about your blog.
Other Social Media Sites
There are countless other social media sites — I didn’t mention LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon or Reddit, for example. The main thing, as I said above, is to find what sites your customers use and join them there as part of the community. There’s no sense in being active on a social networking site if your readers/customers aren’t there, too.
Offline Content Promotion
You can use pretty much any “traditional” marketing to promote your blog. Here are some worth considering:
- Make a print edition of your blog and distribute it around town. Services like Zinepal.com can turn your blog into a printable PDF.
- Advertise your blog URL on t-shirts or other pieces of clothing.
- Make special business cards just for your local blog
- Bumper stickers, pens, and other product promotion ideas
- Signs/flyers posted on local bulletin boards (like at the grocery store)
- Advertise locally, like sponsoring a Little League team
When it comes to offline blog/content promotion, the possibilities are almost endless.
This wraps up my five-part series on SEO for small business blogs. If you didn’t know what SEO was, I hope you learned a lot and have a better idea of how to start optimizing your blog for search engine visibility. If you already knew something about SEO, I hope I shared at least a few new ideas you weren’t aware of or clarified some things you weren’t sure of.
Either way, don’t ignore SEO.
As always, if you have any comments or questions about this article or the series as a whole, the comments are open.
(This is the last of a five-part series about SEO for local/small business blogs.)