Bloggers and really anyone who runs a website can appreciate the importance of a great Google organic search ranking… heck, that's why there is an entire industry devoted to improving search rankings (SEO specialists). However, Google organic search rankings are not the only way that visitors find your website – and the rankings shouldn't be. Beyond the idea that you should never “put all of your eggs in one basket,” Google is far from consistent – and consistency and reliability are important.
Too many sites have been unwittingly turned upside down overnight when Google updates its algorithms. Not only do the algorithm changes mean needing to find how to increase your ranking with the new algorithm; it also means that your previously great search listing might now be all but invisible.
All of this considered, there are numerous ways to grow your blog and increase traffic outside of Google's organic search listings – here are three of them to get you started:
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Strategy #1: Passive Forum Marketing
Online forums have long been places for people to ask questions and exchange knowledge, making them an ideal place for bloggers to join the conversation. With the exception of Internet Marketing Forum, forum members are typically quite friendly and receptive to quality content, provided that it is helpful, relevant to the topic at hand, and trustworthy. Usually, forum moderators are okay with senior members including links within their content posts.
The key to making this tactic work is to avoid spam – note that we call this “passive forum marketing” – that “passive” is key. The idea is to be useful and helpful to the community – so while you may include links to your own content that is on-topic and relevant, you shouldn't do it in every post; do so only if a member is actively seeking help and/ or if it adds true value to a discussion.
This same tactic works to promote infographics or an epic blog post, or products that you sell; again, make sure it isn't too salesy and that it is relevant.
If you run a mommy blog, you may want to look in forums relevant to your readers' interests – childcare, cooking, or infant growth are all likely candidates. From there, you might share with forum members do's and dont's in breastfeeding or a family recipe, providing a link or two back to your own blogs for additional reading. Keep in mind that your contributions need to be relevant to not only the forum as a whole but to the individual thread. Be useful – don't be a know-it-all. And also, don't force your content where it isn't a fit or isn't asked for.
As for how to find an active forum thread, use the following search formulas:
“inurl:/forum + key terms,” “inurl:/vbulletin/ + key terms,” and so on. For example, if you run a gourmet cooking blog and have a new post with an amazing burger recipe, you might search “inurl:/vbulletin/ + burger recipe.”
Strategy #2: Learn the Art of Guest Posting
Guest blogging is a proven tactic for gaining exposure to new potential readers and directing traffic to your own blog. And, since the people reading your guest posts are already relevant to your own audience and topic, this tactic builds sustainable traffic.
Personally, I do this frequently for my own Web Hosting Secret Revealed blog and have had tremendous success. For example, I published this guest post on Blogging Wizard in April; the post somehow got popular, Mari Smith tweeted about the post, driving yet more traffic to my blog, not to mention helping me to secure new Twitter followers and grow my own reputation and presence in my niche.
As for how to make this work for you, the trick is to guest post on not just any sites, but the right sites. You want blogs that are already influential and that have a solid reader base that will read and engage with your content. Of course, getting read isn't all about your venue – you'll also need to write an exceptionally good post that shows an excellent understanding of your topic with a unique point of view; and beyond writing, you'll need to be able to answer questions left in the comments section and to engage with the readers.
But back to picking the right sites for your guest posts… Google PageRank and Domain Authority should never be a priority concern for you in making your selections – instead check potential blogs' existing posts to learn about their relevancy to your topic. Also, check the number of reads on numerous posts (if available) and check to see whether readers have left comments. Look into posts' social metrics; have people been sharing the content? How about the actual writer – does the blogger have active and well-followed social media accounts with the major players at a minimum? These are all indications of whether the blog is a good fit that is likely to bring you results.
Strategy#3: Smart Social Media Marketing
Most know by now that social media is important – but it isn't enough to simply be present; you must engage and remain consistently active and engaged with your audience. You must develop quality, well-targed content – and before you can actually drive traffic from social media to your blog, you need to give readers a good reason to follow you.
Learn from Shane Barker's post 5 Tips to use social media to increase blog traffic — the tips he provides are right on par.
AJ Kohn's #ididnotwakeupin posting on Google+ is another great example of a social media profile done right. Yes, in fairness, people tend to follow AJ anyways for sound SEO advice, but there are likely also many a follower who was attracted by the beautiful landscapes and images.
Make the most of your social media presence with the following tips:
- Timing – You could send the same Tweet at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and have two very different success rates. Find out when your audience is active and time your posts accordingly – here are bunch of free handy tools to get the job done.
- Headlines matter – Your headlines are what your audience reads first and is often the only factor in them deciding to read the rest of your post (or not). Make your headlines count – make them catchy and direct, keep them short, and don't get lost in cramming keywords where they don't fit. UpWorthy advises writing 25 headlines for each social media post, and while this may seem excessive, the principle is sound – the more you think, the better your headline's evolution and the end result.
- Use as many images as possible – Images help to paint the overall picture, but they also simply make your content more readable by breaking up large blocks of text. Just like graphics, such as infographics, flowcharts, and memes, it's proven that images used in posts help to attract more social media followers.
Now, Your Turn
Though these are just three ways to grow your blog and its traffic without relying on Google, there are tons of methods that work. Often times, it requires just a bit of creativity, though having a network of fellow bloggers certainly doesn't hurt, either.
What tactics have you used to grow your blog outside of Google? Share your own wins and flops below!