December 29, 2010

14 strategies to grow your blog’s audience

Giant sequoia at Mariposa Grove, Yosemite (photo by JD Lasica)


Tips on optimizing your online presence by building links & making your content more valuable

Guest post by Rand Fishkin

I‘ve gotten to spend some time recently with folks who run small, personal blogs. Many of them have asked me whether SEO, in particular link building, is an activity they can take on to help grow their online presence.

I sympathize with the challenges – from reading many of the guides and posts about link building, you could be forgiven for feeling “in over your head” or that “only real businesses can do this kind of stuff.”

This post is intended to provide answers specifically targeted to organizations and individuals running their own blog, personally or semi-professionally, on how to engage in activities that will draw in links from other sites and grow your potential to rank in the search engines.

Generic directories aren’t your best bet

1Thinking of spending a few dozen or a couple hundred dollars on a generic directory listing like Yahoo! or Best of the Web? For personal bloggers, my advice would be to save your money. These directory listings may provide some small amount of value, but there are dozens of different activities you could engage in that cost less or have higher return on investment. Generics are also extremely unlikely to send you direct traffic, and what’s more, Yahoo! only lists 46 personal blogs now; it might be hard to make the cut.


Not worth the $299 for personal bloggers

Even directories like the long-neglected Open Directory Project have such long wait times, tough criteria and poor acceptance rates that it’s barely worth submitting these days. There may be a few exceptions here and there, but on the whole, I’d urge personal bloggers to shy away from large, subject-agnostic directory sites.

Note: These generics may make sense for larger operations and sites, depending on your goals.

Niche blog listing sites can be much more effective

2Don’t give up on directories or listing sites entirely. For personal blogs, particularly those with a targeted niche, there are a lot of good places to create listings or fill out a submission form. For example, here are some blogs in specific niches I’d encourage you to check out. You can find these types of sites quite easily through searches, but looking at the link profiles of other blogs in your niche that perform well in the search rankings can also provide a lot of value.

You can use search queries like “niche+blogs,” “niche+bloggers,” “niche+blogs+list” at Google or Bing or try Yahoo! Site Explorer or Open Site Explorer – plug in the blogs you’re most jealous of (or most similar to) and you’ll often find a few dozen to a few hundred opportunities.

A few well-targeted searches can reveal hundreds of link opportunities

3Finding quality, targeted directories and lists can be a good start, and may bring traffic as well as better search rankings, but if you get creative with your searches, you’ll often find even more specific and sometimes valuable opportunities. Think of these queries on three levels: overall blog topic (similar to the suggestion above), category theme (of or related to one of your primary, consistent topic areas) and post-specific (related to an individual piece you’ve authored or are considering writing). Continue reading