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Growing Your Blog Readership Organically — Without Spending on Ads

Learn the top three strategies for building an audience for your blog content, including platforms to use and how to avoid common pitfalls.




You're regularly publishing high-quality and original articles that speak to the interests and needs of your target audience. You know that, over time, this will help boost your site's ranking in Google search results, thereby bringing traffic without your need to spend money on advertising.


However, while you are waiting for Google to bless you with its approval, it can help to be proactive about putting your content where it can be discovered by those who will appreciate it. In this article, you'll learn why this strategy works, the main platforms to consider, and how to avoid common pitfalls.


1. Sharing Links on Social Media

You already know that the quickest and easiest way to get people to notice your latest articles is to share links to them via social media. Depending on who your target audience is, this may include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other platforms.


Copy

  • When sharing a link, you want to be including copy that compels them to click it. There is no set length, but you want to leave out any fluff and get to the point.

  • Facebook and LinkedIn have character limits that are more than enough for the purpose here — convincing people to click the link.

  • Twitter is an excellent place to start because its 280 character limit forces you to be concise. Note that within this limit, you'll need to allow space for the link (all links are counted as 23 characters) and any hashtags or emojis you'd like to add.

  • Pinterest requires a title for each "Pin" (under 30 characters recommended) and a description (make the first 50 characters catchy and add up to 500 characters in total, which should be plenty).


Hashtags

  • Format: Generally, leave hashtags at the very bottom of your post so that they don't impede readability.

  • Number: Hashtags don't look good. Using too many can make your post look spammy. Since Twitter's character limit is the least, it is recommended to use two. For the others, use up to five.

  • Relevance: Take the time to research the most popular hashtags that are relevant to the post. Don't try to hijack trending hashtags that aren't connected to the topic or you'll run the risk of being flagged for spam.


Visual

  • Link Preview: If there is an attractive image contained within the blog post, then it should show up as a link preview. If in doubt, check by using the testing tools provided by Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

  • Stock Photo: If your post doesn't have an attractive image that will compel people to click, then use one from a free stock image sites such as Pixabay or Unsplash.

  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 ratio works well on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. On Pinterest, tall/vertical images tend to perform better.


Instagram

With over one billion monthly active users, I can't get away without mentioning Instagram since it is a key distribution channel for a significant number of high profile blogs. Since the only clickable link is the one in your profile bio, you'll need to figure out how you want to approach it.

  • One Link: One strategy is to update your bio link with the URL of your latest blog post. Then, whenever your blog is updated, post an image or video with a call to action to click the link in your bio. Alternatively, just leave the link to your blog's top page in your bio and tell people to check it out.

  • Landing Page: There are various services (Link.Bio, LinkTree, etc.) that provide a link that you can use in your bio that leads to a simple landing page with a menu of links. One of these could be your blog or your latest post. Another variation of these tools recreates your Instagram feed and allows you to link each image so that they become clickable (Have2Have.it, etc.).

  • Summary: Rather than trying to send people to your blog, another option is to post a summary of your article as the caption to an image or video. Instagram allows up to 2,200 characters per post, but if this isn't enough, perhaps publish a series of posts.

  • Quotes: Some brands find success in taking quotes from their articles and posting them as images. Simple tools that let you create such images include Canva and Pablo by Buffer.


2. Cross-Posting to Blogging Platforms

The Limits of Link Sharing

Where possible, it's best to recreate the entire article, otherwise known as cross-posting, re-posting, or (if you want to get fancy) multichannel posting. This lets people read the material within the site or app they're on. Due to their character limits, this is not possible on the likes of Twitter or Pinterest. However, it is on Facebook and LinkedIn. Plus, there are some other platforms you may find worthwhile considering for this purpose such as Medium and Tumblr.


The Advantages of Cross-Posting

Cross-posting your articles can result in several benefits, including:

  • Diversification: Relying solely on Google traffic is too risky because they can change their search algorithms at any time. Many of your ideal prospects are not going to be actively searching for keywords that correspond with your content. It makes sense to put your content where it can be reached.

  • Accessibility: People get comfortable scrolling through a social platform's site or app. Clicking on a link to go outside it breaks their flow. Furthermore, if they aren't familiar with the site, they may worry that it will be slow, bug them with pop-ups and ads, or have other issues. Providing a full copy of your article on their site/app they're on makes it easier for them to access it.

  • Discoverability: Different people prefer to spend time on different platforms. Making your content available in multiple places allows it so be discovered by those who might not otherwise come across it. The platform with the most traffic and users is not necessarily the most effective. Sometimes a niche platform can get your content noticed by high-quality prospects more effectively.

  • Branding: Where do you like to buy your coffee? If we liken social platforms to coffee shops, then Facebook would be comparable to McDonald's and Twitter like Starbucks. Everybody knows them, but they don't feel special going there. However, if an ideal prospect comes across your content in their favorite niche platform, then it shows to them that you're on the same wavelength. It's like meeting them in a stylish little indy gourmet coffee shop down an alley that is frequented by those who are "in the know."


Google and Duplicate Content

As a general rule, Google down-ranks sites that are full of content that has been illegitimately copied from elsewhere. Back in the day, bad actors would use various ways of stealing content from across the web and publishing it on their own site. This attracted search engine traffic which they were able to monetize with ads or affiliate links.


Nowadays, Google recognizes such tactics without penalizing regular folks who are legitimately making available copies of their articles via popular blogging platforms. Generally, as long as you include a link to the original source article, Google can figure this out. However, there is a special kind of link that explains the situation to Google explicitly called a canonical link.


Blogging Platforms to Consider

Below is a brief summary of some of the most popular blogging platforms that already have a built-in audience and social functionality. These are where you can reproduce your content and potentially have it discovered by your target audience. The platform(s) you choose will depend on the kind of people you're trying to reach.


Facebook Notes

Almost everybody has a Facebook account. However, if you are posting links to your blog articles on your Facebook page, they are unlikely to achieve much reach. This is because Facebook's newsfeed algorithm favors "native content;" meaning that which lives on Facebook rather than another site. Furthermore, people will prefer to stay within the Facebook site or app. Thus, you are better off reproducing your articles on Facebook using the Notes section of your page.


LinkedIn Articles

When on LinkedIn, a business-focused social network owned by Microsoft, people are looking for content that will help them grow professionally. The most popular influencers on this platform tend to publish tips and thought-leadership style pieces. If your offering is B2C, then you may want to rework your article to make it relevant to people's business and career aspirations.


You'll need to set up a profile. Take your time to do this and add as much detail as possible to give a strong first impression. If you have a company, go ahead and create a company page. Once you've done this, there will now be two places for you to post on LinkedIn; your personal profile and your company's page. However, currently, only profiles have blogging functionality.


Medium

Medium is a publishing platform where people post thoughtful articles covering a broad range of topics. If you're not familiar with the platform, I recommend you first spend some time browsing and checking out what kind of content people are posting in your field.

Once you get used to it, Medium is straightforward to use, and your content will look great. Each individual post has a settings section to insert the original post's URL so that Medium can generate a canonical link.


Tumblr

This platform has had its ups and downs over the years but remains popular among creative people, including artists, designers, writers, and photographers. It was recently acquired by the creators of WordPress (the world's most popular blogging software), and there are various plans to revamp it.


Similar to Medium, Tumblr also allows you to set a link to the original source post, thereby generating a canonical link tag for Google's spiders to recognize.


Others

There are, of course, other blogging platforms that could give your content exposure to the audiences you wish to attract. For example, if you wanted to attract the attention of artists, then you might consider blogging on DeviantArt or Ello. Or, if you wanted to reach cryptocurrency enthusiasts, then you might try Minds or Steemit. However, I recommend not spreading yourself too thin too soon.


Formatting

Once you copy your blog post to one of these platforms, some of the formatting will be lost and messed up. Go through and tidy it up before publishing. Be sure to add a link to your original article so that Google knows you're acknowledging that it's a copy. It will feel like a hassle to do this each time you publish a new post on your blog, but you'll soon get used to it and get faster. Just add it as another step in your usual workflow.


3. Publishing an Email Newsletter

Emails go directly to people. You don't have to worry about changing algorithms or platforms waning in popularity. Almost everybody checks their email daily. It's the best way to keep people coming back to your site or blog.


If you're in the marketing field, you've probably heard of the likes of Aweber and MailChimp. However, simpler alternatives you might like to consider are Revue and TinyLetter. Take your time to research and find an email newsletter service that fits your budget and goals.


Once you've got people on your list, the key to keeping them is sending newsletters that are a pleasure to read. You want your audience to look forward to the next one and be opening it with excitement and anticipation.


Resources

Implementing a content marketing program can take time. Learning new tools and platforms, then establishing new workflows can be stressful and distract you from your core business. If you lack the resources in-house, consider outsourcing to freelance specialists. Sites such as Conyac allow you to easily hire writers, social media managers, designers, and more on a flexible basis — all without the risks associated with full-time employees.


Conclusion

Whether you're starting a new blog or revising your strategy for an existing one, it makes sense to take the time to review your options. However, if you persevere and produce what your audience wants, the rewards can be more than worthwhile.

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