Nowadays, creating a blog is pretty easy thanks to web tools that are becoming easier and easier to use. Creating a blog that attracts a couple hundred or thousand visitors every day, however, is a different thing.
You will need the right tools, but also a strategy. If you push a website live tomorrow with a couple of articles on it and believe you will get traffic coming in quickly...think again.
If you don't have a real content strategy behind it as well as a promotion plan, your website will die pretty fast. To avoid this, here are three things you can do.
Your domain name
First of all, you need to pick a good domain name. One that will represent your brand, your website and also, you!
From an SEO perspective, it's not fun to change your domain name after already publishing content on your website. Especially if this content is already well-indexed in Google. For this reason, I advise you to spend some time doing some keyword research and define your website strategy to make sure that you will still like your domain name in a couple of years. You should take in consideration the following:
- The keywords included in your domain name. Brainstorm keywords that will represent your blog. Take the most important ones and pair them to create one that sounds well. For example, if you have a website about tourism in Ireland, make sure to include at least one of these two words in your domain name. This will help your visitors understand what your website is all about in two seconds. Keep it simple, and avoid any numbers or hyphens in it. This will only increase the chances that someone might make a mistake when typing it into their browser.
- Your domain should be short and on point. The longer it is, the more difficult it will be for people to remember it. The goal is to have a brand that is easily memorable. Let's take an example: If you have a tourism website about Ireland called DiscoverIreland.com or TourismIreland.com, people who visit will be more likely to remember it over names like GreenIsland.com or Emerald-Isle.com.
Define your content strategy
Your content strategy will be the heart of your blog. This is what is going to make your blog successful or not.
Internet users are connected online every day for many reasons. Most of them are searching for information about a defined topic. Famous blogs like Mashable and Techrunch have a very strong content strategy. And the content they post is what made them become some of the most visited blogs in the tech industry. So, how can you do it too?
First of all, you need to define precisely why you created a blog or wanted to create a blog. Do you have a specific reason, a specific objective? If we keep our example of a blog about Ireland, the main reason could be to help others develop an interest in touring Ireland by showcasing why they would want to visit.
Second of all, you will need to design your keyword hierarchy depending on your personas targeted:
Your keywords should match your website hierarchy. The deeper you go into your website, the more you will be focused on long tail keywords.
For our Ireland blog, the site in general will be targeting the keyword "Ireland." Then, we will have three different sub categories: Visit Ireland, Live in Ireland and Work in Ireland. All will target the word "Ireland," but will be a bit more detailed. Finally, in each of these sub categories, you will find detailed articles which aim to target long tails keyword in each of these sections. In "Visit Ireland," you will find "Visit Ireland in 1 week" or "Visit Ireland in 1 weekend." The URL for each of these sections and pages should also be pretty clear and reflect the name accurately. This will help Google understand the website structure as well as the user.
When you define the keywords relevant to your website, you will also need to think from an SEO perspective. Google Keyword Tool will be one of your best friends in this case. Ideally, you want keywords that:
- Are very relevant to your website;
- Have a high volume of monthly searches in the language and country targeted;
- Have a low level of competition (big brands or big websites already indexed for that keyword); and
- Nobody is bidding on in Google AdWords.
Note that this is a very high level overview of how your content strategy should be. You should also take into consideration your different personas (which are going to influence your website structure), the format of your content (How-to articles, "(number) reasons to" articles, etc.), the tone of your voice and the story you want to tell your visitors.
Your promotion plan
Finally, as soon as you have your content strategy done, you can think about your promotion plan. This is when it's time to spread the word about your blog.
Depending on the habits of your different personas, you will need to select the digital channels you want to promote your blog on. Most blogs use a mix of social media, email marketing and, sometimes, paid advertising.
First, develop a community around your website. You can develop it via multiples ways: Include a forum on your website to encourage user-generated content, increase the engagement around your brand and develop some content for long tail keywords.
Social networks are also a great way to build a community. If it makes sense for your personas, create a Facebook page or a Twitter account and start posting relevant content. Engage with your fans, ask them questions and answer their interrogations. If someone is happy about something, he or she will be more likely spread the word and contribute to your community's growth.
You should also look into setting up a newsletter for your blog. Have a module with a field where visitors can give their email address to receive all the new articles for free directly in their inbox. This a great way to build up a database for your blog.
Also, owning data is key. If you plan to make money with your blog later on, doing sponsorships or partnerships is a best practice, and having a database with name and emails of a targeted audience basically means you will be able to integrate your partner offers into your newsletter. This is a very powerful tool, especially if your data is really targeted.
If you have a bit of budget, you can also try running paid ads via Google or even on Facebook. Running display campaigns will help increase your awareness. Facebook ads are also working pretty well in general, and are usually cheaper than Google Ads. This is a great way to use the power of ads without spending too much money.
I hope these tips will be useful for your blog and help you build up your traffic. Don't forget that good content travels. Always prioritize quality to quantity; great quality content will always be recognized and shared more than basic, vanilla content.
Olivier Lacroix has been a digital marketer at salesforce.com since 2010. Currently, he is focusing on webinar strategy for EMEA. Based in Ireland, Olivier previously looked after the French Salesforce website, making sure conversion was high by updating and optimizing it. Outside of work, He likes mountain biking and photography. Visit www.olivierlacroix.com/en for more information.