Blogging for Links and Traffic

by Eric Enge

"If you get enough positive votes in a short period of time, your article will then be moved to the home page of the site. Reaching the home page results in large amounts of visitors - thousands or even tens of thousands of visitors to your site. It also means that you will likely get a significant number of new links. Even if you do not get to the home page, you can still get some decent visibility to your site."

Blogs exploded on the web scene over the past couple of years, and are here to stay. They promote the exchange of ideas in a format that the web surfing public has fully endorsed. Blogs can also be an extremely effective manner for gathering links and traffic for your site. This article will discuss strategies for implementing a blog on your site that can bring the most benefit to your business.

One great place to implement a blog is on a content thin site, such as a basic e-tail site. It is very difficult to get other people to link to sites like this, because they are purely commercial. However, a well done blog on such a site can gather links, and the benefits of those links can flow through to the rest of the site.

Blog readers are not looking for commercials. They are looking to be informed and/or entertained. They are looking for compelling content from subject matter experts. Use an editorial tone, skip the commercials, and focus on writing content that people will want to read. Once you have earned the readers "trust" good things will begin to happen. Readers will begin to tell their friends, and other blogs will begin to link to you.

So start by thinking about what your blog is about. It should be highly relevant to the rest of your site. For example, if you have a site that sells books, you could implement a blog that contains book reviews, best seller lists, commentaries on various authors, and upcoming movies derived from books. The topic matter is highly relevant, and if well done, can develop a following.

Once you have a topic matter decided, you will need to think about things such as what software to use, and the web address where your blog will appear. We strongly recommend that the blog sit directly on your domain, with an address similar to: "www.yourdomain.com/blog". As for software to use, there are many good packages. Some of the most well known packages are: Wordpress, Typepad, and Moveable Type.

Once these decisions are set, you can begin to think about other aspects of the physical structure of the site. Most blogs have a column on the right where various links are listed. You can list key pages on your site over on the right. This is a form of commercialization that is perfectly acceptable (because it's not in your face). You can also write blog posts about things on your site, provided you stay away from turning it into a blatant commercial. Be careful how you do this so you don't cross the line and lose your readership.

Promotional Basics

One of the most important promotional techniques is to link to other blogs from your blog. Let them know that you are out there! If they support pingbacks or trackbacks, then use them. Need more information on what these are? You can find articles about these here:

So why would you link to other blogs? First of all, done correctly, it bring value to your readers, so they will come back. Second of all, once bloggers learn about you, they will link back. After all, they are trying to serve their readership too.

It's also important that you get listed in the various blog directories. In addition, you need to ping the blog directories whenever you put up a new blog posting. "Pinging" is a simple software mechanism to let the blog directory know that there is new content up so that they can come crawl the blog and find the new content in near real time.

There are services that do this. One of the leading services is Pingomatic. Don't worry - if you use one of the major blog software packages this functionality is built right into the software. In addition, you should submit your site to the various blog directories. While the pinging of these directories by your blog software may take care of this, it is useful if they know who you are.

Technorati is the largest blog directory. Technorati will begin to list your blog as soon as it receives its first ping from your blog software. However, you are not likely to get much traffic as a result of this. The next step at Technorati is to claim your blog. To do this, you will need to register with Technorati, and go through a process to prove that you do own the blog that you are claiming. Here is what the initial registration screen looks like:

blog claim page

Once you sign in, you will be shown a few different methods for claiming your blog. If you use one of the more popular blog software packages, you can probably do this automatically. But even if you don't, you can put up a simple blog post with a special tag in it that will complete the process. Once Technorati has acknowledged that you have claimed the blog, you can remove the post.

You also want to "tag" your blog posts using common Technorati tags. Once again, your blog software makes this easier. Most blog software packages allow you to sort your blog posts into categories. These categories are equivalent to Technorati tags, and are picked up by Technorati automatically.

In addition, you may want to use other tags for your blog that don't match up with defined categories. You can use the rel="tag" command to define additional tags. Simply include this in an href statement. For example:

<a href="http://www.yourdomain.com/[tagname]" rel="tag">[tagname]</a>

Note that if your anchor text is named differently than the trailing part of the URL, Technorati will use the phrase at the end of the URL as the tag, not your Anchor Text. Of course, you need to find some relevant content to link to. If you do not have a page with the desired name on your site, you can always link to the page that matches up with your tag on Technorati. Here is an example of that approach:

<a href="http://technorati.com/tag/[tagname]" rel="tag">[tagname]</a>

or

<a href="http://technorati.com/tag/[tag-name]" rel="tag">[tag+name]</a>

if your keyword is "tag name". Note that Technorati uses the "+" symbol to represent the space.

Tags are the basis of how people search for content on Technorati. Using our example of a book site, you would want to research on the Technorati site the tags that are most relevant to reading, selling, and buying books. You should organize your blog posts into categories that use these tags as the category names. You can then use the rel="tag" command for tags more specific to one post that do not merit their own category.

Now that your blog is set up, and you know how to tag your blog, you want to do more to promote your blog. Of course, you should include prominent links to your blog from elsewhere on the site. Let your current visitors know about your blog, and use it as a tool to deepen the relationship you have with the people that already know about your site.

Advanced Blog Promotion

The first step in advanced blog promotion is to learn who the major bloggers are in your space. Interact with them and let them know you exist. Put comments in some of their blog posts. Don't try to stuff it with links, as this will likely be seen as spammy behavior. Write a post about one of their posts, and link to it. While most bloggers will be aware of your link to them quite quickly, send them an e-mail to let them know you wrote about their post.

Write a post about them, personally. Most bloggers love to be talked about. It's a social medium, so be social. Approach this with an attitude of giving more than you get. This, along with great content, will cause these bloggers to link back to your blog.

In addition, there are "article voting" sites, such as Digg and Reddit. These are great tools for promoting your articles. These are sites that allow you to submit articles. Once submitted, other site users can read them and vote on them.

If you get enough positive votes in a short period of time, your article will then be moved to the home page of the site. Reaching the home page results in large amounts of visitors - thousands or even tens of thousands of visitors to your site. It also means that you will likely get a significant number of new links. Even if you do not get to the home page, you can still get some decent visibility to your site.

Make sure you are submitting quality content to these sites. They are "meritocracies" and poor quality content will not get anywhere. Also, learn the nature of the audience. Generally speaking, the readers of these sites are young and highly technical. Tailor your content to the audience to get the best results from these sites.

One of the keys to succeeding with article voting sites is to get positive votes from major contributors to these sites. All contributors have profiles, and there are many people who watch the profiles of major contributors to see what's hot before it reaches the home page of the article voting site. Once you get on one of these major contributor's pages, there is a good chance that the positive votes will begin pouring in.

Build relationships with these people. How do you do that? Be social. Make solid contributions to their efforts. Do it many times and build trust. Then when you have something good of your own to put in front of them, you have their trust, and a good chance of getting their endorsement. This can be a rocket ship to the stars for your blog.

Summary

The blogoshpere is changing rapidly. There are many opportunities for promotion of your blog, and it can be a great way to get the word out about your site. Blogging also gets you started in understanding how the Social Web works, so you can participate in its early stages.

One of the big benefits of blogging is that it can help you gather links to your site. For more information on getting people to link to your site, please check out these other articles:

But most importantly, embrace the social aspect of blogging. Relationships build success here. Make contact with the people that can make your blog a success. Deliver plenty of value to these relationships. In the beginning, plan on giving more than you get. You need to build this up slowly, and effectively. Over time, this should allow you to get a significant readership, and lots of relevant traffic.

About the Author

Eric Enge is the Founder and President of Stone Temple Consulting (STC). STC offers Internet marketing optimization services, including SEO, Social Media and PPC optimization, and its web site can be found at: http://www.stonetemple.com.

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