July 10, 2016

A great post is worth nothing if not promoted

The greatest blogging advice ever given perhaps is to write great content. Google also says that the quality of content matters the most for search rating of a site. In the game of quality and quantity, quality always wins. Full stop.


Though nothing beats quality, promotion is very important. Important because blogging is not like having a diary and hiding it from others. Blogging includes not only composing posts regularly but also writing for others' eyes as much for oneself, engaging with others, sharing content with others... actions that amount to promoting the blog.
Think of a situation when you compose a masterpiece but nobody knows about it. On the other hand, a piece of slightly lesser quality is given a popularity boost so that it is seen by many. Now, this one gets known all over and appreciated. Nobody compares it with the one better than it but not seen. Whosoever likes it promotes it further. What is better?
When you want to earn money from the blog, promotion becomes even more important. In fact, when 'professional' bloggers talk about monetization, they say, blogging is 20% content and 80% promotion!

All good creations need at least a small boost so that they reach a critical level of popularity. Beyond that, quality will take it forward as more people will be sharing it and talking about it.

Promotion also is important to beat competition for attention. Since thousands of new articles are added everyday and thousands more are recycled, each article has fierce competition for eyeballs. Add to it competition from social networks, chat platforms, image and video sharing sites, and myriad apps. Without at least small promotion, a blog article has hardly any chance to get visible.  


You will find thousands of good posts on how to promote your blog just by typing 'blog traffic, promotion'. If you compile the tips, these might run into hundreds - some good, some commonplace, some from experts, some copy-pasted. 

Should you apply all the tips you see on the web? No. You should apply only the ones useful for you. You could say, what is the harm if we use all promotional tools in all cases. Common sense says that whether a type of promotion helps you or not, it will not hurt you. But in reality, that is not the case and that should not be the case. One, you will unnecessarily use your time and energy and possibly money in tools that are not useful for your type of blog. Two, some tips might actually hurt your blog if you apply these mindlessly.

We have seen that even after applying these tips (some of which look too good), most bloggers do not get the desired quantity of traffic; even if traffic surges, it is not relevant. Part of it is that most bloggers do not go into two vital aspects of blog promotion: A. targeting the right audience and reaching it through the right means; and B. maintaining quality and relevance of content

A.Target audience: the people you want to reach your blog

We need targeted traffic to the blog and not just numbers. Targeted traffic can come only through a targeted approach. For example, if your blog is used to inform people about weather of an area or a city's happenings, putting advertisements on global websites or optimizing it for broad keywords such as 'weather' or writing emails to followers across the globe will not only be waste of resources but it will also hurt as your followers in other places might get irritated. 

For very personal blogs, promotion might mean just making it popular among friends, relatives and colleagues. For a blog that is meant to showcase your talent as a techie or some other professional, you might like to promote it among the professional community far and wide. For a blog on your book, you would like to promote it among your fans and potential readers/ buyers. A fashion or food blogger would perhaps want the blog to be popular among women who would appreciate the garments/ trends/ cuisines and either buy your products or buy those advertised on the blog. These are just indicative examples. You will need to analyze who your target visitors are and what action you want from them. 

Use the best conveyance to reach the target audience

Reaching the target audience requires that you know what they are looking for and what are their surfing habits. Do they use search engines? Do they look at their email? Are they active on social networks or bookmarking sites? Do you need to chat them up?

For blogs with a limited target (e.g. friends), the potential readers can be reached directly or through a close-circuit broadcast. Yet, one has to be very disciplined in sending emails or updating one's social network accounts (e.g. Facebook) or broadcasting an update through SMS or chat. 

In most professional/ business blogs, the easiest and most productive means of reaching the target audience is to optimize the blog for search engines. This is called search engine optimization or SEO. 

Let's talk a bit more about SEO. Search engine optimization, of course, is one of the most important ways to promote the blog. It includes all actions you take on the blog [or any other website] so that search engines recognize it as a relevant resource of information or advice or solution that people look for. So, when someone searches for that subject, your website is shown on top of search results.

Genuine SEO experts will not promise you the first ranking on search pages, but will suggest actions that make your website more visible in search results. A huge number of SEO 'experts' have emerged who either do not know the science and craft of SEO or indulge in undesirable practices to get you a very high search ranking for a short time. This is called 'black-hat' SEO and we must avoid it. In the articles given below we have listed desirable or 'white-hat' SEO actions:

Off-page and off-line promotion are often ignored by bloggers. 

All blogs are not amenable to all types of promotion, in the same way all products of human use cannot be promoted in one particular way. As we discussed above, email, SMS and even person-to-person talk are sometimes better means of propagating news than the mass media and social media. So, when you make the strategy to promote your blog, don't ignore these. These are especially useful if you have a personal blog or you write about local matters or your blog addresses a particular social or professional community. 

B. Showcase the best on the blog in the best possible way

Once you know whom you should reach the blog and you have actually reached them, what do you tell them? Here comes the content. At this point, no trick helps you but the quality of content and its relevance to the 'client'.

Quality comes first. For maintaining blog's quality, one must write well-researched posts. It has also been found that long posts give the blog a higher value in the long run. So, have posts of over 900 words now and then, even if you generally write shorter posts. Include one or more images which should ideally help in understanding the subject better. Check grammar and punctuation at least twice before publishing a post. Write short sentences and short paragraphs; break big passages. Give a nice heading and one or more useful sub-headings. You can look at these posts for further guidance on improving quality of content:

Having the best content is one thing and showcasing it is another. We don't send to our beloved friends our most thoughtfully composed invitation inside a torn, dirty and stinking envelope, do we? So is the blog. If the blog is cluttered, its content is not readable or some pop-up keeps irritating the reader, the message is lost. So, give the blog a design that goes well with the subject. If you are interested, please visit these detailed posts:

Relevance is of very high importance. Your blog must be focused on the main theme, even if there are minor distractions now and then. Within the broad subject, focus individual posts on specific specializations. For example, if your blog is on skin diseases, individual posts can be on allergy, eczema, hair loss, etc; posts can be on skin problems relating to different ages; a post on home treatments, one on diagnostics, one on medicines available, and so on. Only then a person searching for 'children's skin diseases' will find your blog and only then will she be satisfied with the specific information she was seeking. 

Well, this may not apply that strictly to personal blogs or blogs meant to comment on all things on the earth - and over 70% blogs are of this nature. Even then, on individual posts focus on the subject you are dealing with, and give it a title that represents the subject. Writing abstract blog titles and post headings might give us a creative kick, but they don't serve the purpose a title or heading must serve. For example, on a post about a recent trip to Shanghai, you got a glimpse of Chinese countryside and you want to write about it. Focus on this aspect and don't mingle it with Shanghai's skyscrapers. Don't title it 'Shanghai, the modern city in communist China' or 'Cute, starry eyed children somewhere in a nowhere land'. 

Focus helps in many ways, including SEO. More than just traffic, it helps you gain reputation as an expert blogger on that subject. Many bloggers (food, fashion, travel, reviews of books/ resorts/ restaurants/ boutiques, etc) have reported about their getting big offers from companies in that area. You are also likely to get a big following once you are considered an expert, which is a reward in itself and might get you offers to speak or write on that subject.