21 Ways to Promote Your Blog (In 2019)

 

In today’s post, we’ve got Brian Dean from award winning blog Backlinko who will be showing us how to promote your blog in 2020.

In fact:

These are the same strategies that he used to grow his blog to 449,759 monthly visits.

Backlinko blog – Monthly traffic

Let’s dive right in.

1. Guest Post Bonuses

If you’re just starting out, guest posting is a GREAT way to grow your blog.

There’s only one problem:

It’s REALLY hard to get people from your guest post to your website.

In fact, one industry study found that the average guest post brings in only 50 visitors.

Average referral traffic from a guest article

The solution?

Guest Post Bonuses.

With a Guest Post Bonus, you don’t just toss in a link at the bottom of your post.

Guest post bonus offer

Instead, you offer people something that makes them WANT to visit your website.

For example, a while back I published this guest post on The Buffer blog.

Buffer blog feature

Yes, I had an author bio link.

Buffer guest post – Author link

But I also created a Guest Post Bonus just for readers of my guest post.

Buffer guest post bonus

And that single guest post brought in 471 visitors in the first month:

Single guest post traffic

And lots of those new visitors signed up to my newsletter.

Nice.

2. Publish Data-Driven Content

Data-driven content is BLOWING UP right now.

And for a good reason:

Content with data is a great way for your blog to stand out.

For example, a few years ago we published this massive search engine ranking factors study.

Search Engine Ranking Factors study

Overall, that post led to thousands of shares on social media.

Post shares on Twitter

And a ton of backlinks.

Search Engine Ranking – Backlinks

The only problem was:

This study was insanely hard (and expensive) to pull off.

There were servers. Crawlers. Data partners. Bugs. Problems. Millions of data points. And lots more.

Yes, data-driven content takes more work than a list post.

But it doesn’t have to be THIS hard.

For example, last year we published this study on voice search.

Voice Search case study

Make no mistake: this took a lot of work.

First, our CTO had to manually ask his Google Home device 10,000 questions.

Then, we transcribed the answers.

Finally, we analyzed the data.

So yeah, it wasn’t easy. But this study was about 20x easier than our big Google study.

And it still did GREAT.

In fact, we got a huge spike in traffic on Day 1.

Day-one traffic spike

And people still link to and cite our study all the time.

People still link to our case study

All anyone really needed to pull this off was a Google Home device and someone willing to put in the work.

We just happened to be the first to do it.

3. Update and Upgrade Old Content

Last year I started a Manhattan Project for the Backlinko blog:

Update every single post on our site.

It wasn’t easy.

But this mega project helped boost Backlinko’s overall traffic 25.71% compared to the previous year:

Updating content can help boost traffic

Now, 25% may not sound like a lot.

But that 25.71% increase = 410,322 more yearly visitors.

(Which is a lot)

With that, let’s dive into the steps.

First, go to the last page of your blog feed.

Go to the last page of your blog

Then, update and improve each post.

For example, I hadn’t done a big update to this post in YEARS.

The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging – Old version

Most of the strategies in my post still worked.

But a lot of the content was obsolete.

Obsolete content

So I went in and overhauled the post.

For example, I replaced old visuals and images.

Replace old visuals and images

Removed old strategies:

Remove old strategies

And overall, made the post MUCH more up-to-date.

The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging – New version

Finally, I pushed the changes live… and changed the “last updated” date on the post.

The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging – Last updated

Which boosted the overall traffic to that page by 85.22%.

Traffic boost from updated content

Rinse and repeat for as many posts as you can handle.

Depending on how many posts you have, this can take months (or even years).

In fact, it took me 6 weeks to update all of our content.

But, as you saw, it was totally worth it.

4. LinkedIn Syndication

LinkedIn now has 645 million users.

LinkedIn 645 million users

Despite those crazy numbers, I don’t see many people talking about LinkedIn.

That’s good news for you and me. Because it means LinkedIn is largely untapped.

In fact:

You can get some serious traction on LinkedIn simply by reposting your best stuff there.

For example, I recently reposted this post on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn article share

I literally copied the exact post word-for-word.

LinkedIn article

And despite being an old post, it got 3,800+ views.

Old post article views

This works because NO ONE is posting anything interesting on LinkedIn.

So when you publish something cool, you can instantly stand out.

5. Facebook Boosted Posts (With Retargeting)

It’s no secret that Facebook organic reach is basically 0% for most pages right now.

Forbes Facebook article

Which means that you NEED to boost your posts if you want them to get seen.

That said:

CPCs on Facebook are getting super expensive.

(Especially if you’re in a B2B space like I am)

Fortunately, you can decrease your CPC by 25-75% with retargeting.

For example, I posted this on the Backlinko Facebook page a few months ago:

BuzzSumo Facebook post

And I decided to use some fancy targeting options.

Which ended up costing $2.60 CPC per click.

Facebook Ads – High cost per click

Not crazy. But not a great ROI either.

So a few months later when I boosted this post, I decided to only boost it to people that visited Backlinko in the last 60 days.

SEO Techniques Facebook post

And because I targeted people that I KNOW would be interested in our content, our CPC was only .67 cents a pop:

Facebook Ads low cost per click

6. The Super Simple Newsletter

One of the first lessons I learned with Backlinko was:

Newsletters are a GREAT way to promote new posts.

Over the years, I’ve tested 25+ different formats and layouts for our email newsletters.

Email newsletter formats and layouts

And all that testing had led to one big takeaway:

Super Simple Newsletters work best.

For example, here’s a newsletter we sent out to the Backlinko community about a new post:

Backlinko newsletter about new post

No fancy graphics.

No long intro.

No images.

Just a quick intro and a link to the post.

And because our newsletters focus on the main message (that we just published a new post), our CTRs are 2-3x higher than the industry average for a list of our size.

Newsletter high click through rate

7. Cross-Pollinate Your Audience

As you may know, I don’t post very much on Twitter.

(In fact, I average around 1-2 tweets per week).

And despite that, I have over 87k Twitter followers.

Backlinko Twitter followers

My secret?

I ask new email subscribers to follow me on Twitter.

All set page asking for Twitter followers

In fact, I’ve had that CTA in place since 2013.

And that simple button has led to over 20k Twitter followers.

8. Collab With Other Blogs

Over the last few years I’ve worked with other blogs on infographics.

Collaborate with other blogs on infographics

Industry studies:

Blog post industry study

And case studies for the blog.

Case study for the blog

For example, I recently teamed up with Pitchbox for this industry study.

Outreach Emails case study

This collab was a win-win.

I got awesome data that I could use for a data-driven post.

And they got their product (and recently-revamped blog) in front of thousands of people.

9. Super Personalized Outreach

Have you ever received a generic outreach email like this?

Generic outreach email

You’re not alone.

More and more people are using blogger outreach to promote their content.

Bloggers who report "strong results" based on type of promotion

And as you’ve probably noticed, they’re doing it all wrong.

Specifically, they blast out the same exact pitch to hundreds of people.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that you can EASILY stand out.

How? Personalize every outreach email that you send.

In fact, the outreach study I mentioned earlier found that personalized messages got 32% more replies than those that used the same exact template.

Personalized messages can significantly improve response rates

For example, I recently found this broken link:

Broken link example

And realized that we had a guide that would make a PERFECT replacement.

So I sent out this personalized message:

Outreach email

And because I didn’t use a lame template or beg for a link, they happily added my link to their post.

Outreach email response

10. Eye-Catching Social Media Images

From A LOT of testing I can tell you that your social image makes a huge difference.

For example, we used to slap our social media images together at the last minute. Or use a random image from the post.

Last-minute social post image

Today, we create social media images designed to stand out on someone’s Twitter or Facebook feed.

For example, when we publish something with data, we feature a compelling chart:

Compelling chart

(And we resize the chart so it’s optimized for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn image dimensions).

And if we’re publishing a list post or step-by-step guide, we have our designer create something that will stand out.

Custom social graphic

This kind of thing takes a little bit of extra effort.

But in my experience, the increase in traffic that you get makes it totally worthwhile.

11. Turn Blog Content Into YouTube Videos

I used to start every YouTube video from scratch.

And it took FOREVER.

In fact, I used to spend 10 hours on a single 15-minute video.

(And I’d estimate that I spent 70% of that time on the video script)

Today, I base my videos on existing content from blog posts, newsletters and keynote speeches.

YouTube video content based on existing content

And it makes this process MUCH easier.

Note: I’m not straight up recycling a blog post into a video. That’s lame. Instead, I’m using bits and pieces of high-quality content as the basis of my script.

For example, this video from my channel is a mishmash of content from one of my ebooks, a newsletter, several different blog posts… plus some new stuff.

And because the video isn’t just a rehash of an old blog post, it’s racked up 111,473 views.

Original video content will rack up views

You might have noticed that I get a fair amount of comments on every post.

Fair amount of comments on every post

What’s my secret?

First, I ONLY publish world-class content.

(In other words, content that’s worth commenting on)

Second, I reply to pretty much every comment that someone leaves… especially in the first 48 hours after a post goes live.

In fact, according to our WordPress data, we have 29,142 comments on the blog.

Total comments on blog

And about 40% of those comments are me replying to comments from Backlinko readers.

So that means that I’ve replied to 11,656 comments so far.

That’s kind of insane. And replying to 11,656 comments takes time and effort.

But these replies show that I care about the people that take the time to leave comments. Even if it’s just a simple “Thank you”.

Simple comment reply

It also gives me a chance to answer questions that people have.

Answer a question via a comment

And at the end of the day, replying to comments is one of the main reasons that we’ve been able to build such an active community here on the Backlinko blog.

13. Write Blog Posts on NEW Topics

Does your niche have a bunch of entrenched competitors?

Trust me, I’ve been there.

When I first launched the Backlinko blog I was diving headfirst into the brutally competitive marketing space.

And I was a one-man show going up against HUGE competitors with dozens of employees.

So:

How did I stand out and get traction?

I published content on NEW topics that my competitors weren’t covering.

For example, one of the first posts I published on the blog was about YouTube SEO:

How to Rank YouTube Videos post

And another early post was about building an email list:

List Building post

These were two topics that my competitors weren’t writing about. Which helped my content stand out.

This is a strategy that I still follow to this day.

Last year I published this in-depth guide to Google RankBrain:

Google RankBrain SEO Guide

And because I was so early, this post didn’t blend in with the 100 other posts about RankBrain.

(Because there weren’t any)

Which helped my content really stand out:

Content that stands out

14. Podcast Bonuses

This is like the Guest Post Bonus strategy I talked about earlier.

But instead of creating a bonus for each guest post…

…you create a set of bonuses for each podcast you go on as a guest.

For example, when I went on Pat Flynn’s podcast, I created this bonus section for his listeners:

Pat Flynn podcast – Bonus section

And at the end of the podcast, I specifically mentioned this bonus section.

Which led to an influx of traffic…

Influx of traffic

…and more importantly, email subscribers.

With that, here’s the exact process.

First, create something that listeners of that podcast would want.

Ideally, your bonuses should complement what you’re going to talk about on the podcast.

For example, before I went on Pat’s podcast, I created this bonus section:

Podcast bonus section

This bonus section contained:

  • A quick case study
  • An on-page SEO checklist
  • And a swipe file of 25 high-quality link building videos and posts

Second, run it by the podcast host. Because you’re offering something super valuable to their audience, most won’t have a problem with it. But it never hurts to check in beforehand.

Finally, host the bonus section landing page on a URL that’s easy to remember and type.

For example, for my Pat Flynn podcast appearance, I made the URL: backlinko.com/pat.

Easy-to-remember URL

Then you just have to set up your email marketing platform to deliver the bonuses after they sign up.

That’s all there is to it.

15. Speak at Events

Speaking at conferences is a GREAT way to promote your blog.

But not for the reason you might think.

I’ll explain…

When I first launched Backlinko, I spoke at as many conferences as I could.

Brian speaking at conferences

In fact, I spoke at events in:

  • Dublin
  • Boston
  • Austin
  • Istanbul
  • Romania
  • Berlin
  • And lots more cities and countries

Did getting on stage in front of 300 people skyrocket my blog’s growth?

Probably not.

So how did these conferences help me?

Because I got to meet other speakers.

Meet the speakers

(Speakers that are leaders in the SEO and marketing space).

In fact, speaking at these events helped me create partnerships, mastermind groups, and friendships with really smart people.

It even gave me a chance to make an early angel investment in a startup.

Brian Dean early angel investment

And this wouldn’t have happened if I randomly sent these folks an email with: “Hey, do you want to partner up on something?”.

To be clear:

Now that my blog has traction, I pretty much stopped speaking at events. But that’s another story for another post…

But when I was just starting out, speaking at events was SUPER helpful.

16. Publish Posts at The Right Time

What’s the BEST time to publish a new blog post?

Well, BuzzSumo and I recently set out to answer this question.

And we found that… there isn’t really a big difference between different days of the week.

Average social shares by day of week

That said:

Every little bit helps.

And if you want to get more traffic and social shares from every post, publishing at the right time is KEY.

The thing is, the “best time” is different for every blog.

For us, we’ve experimented with publishing on Sundays at 12pm, Fridays at 7am, and Mondays at 2pm…

And we eventually figured out that publishing on Tuesdays at 11am works best for us.

But that’s not something any industry study or “best time to publish a post” article can tell you.

You gotta experiment.

This is something I did A LOT when I was first starting out.

For example, I’d leave comments that added to the discussion:

Comments that add to the discussion

Or just supported bloggers that I was rooting for:

Comment to support other bloggers

And this helped me get on people’s radar screens… without being a pushy jerkface.

In fact, these helpful comments directly led to a handful of guest post and podcast interview invites.

Sweet!

18. Create a Blog Alliance

A “Blog Alliance” is where you make friends with other bloggers.

(And “Blog Alliance” sounds a lot cooler than “make friends”. So I went with that 🙂 )

For example, in the early days of Backlinko, I’d go on weekly calls with Bryan Harris.

Call with Bryan Harris

And these calls were SUPER helpful.

Sure, it was nice to have someone to talk to about writing, hiring, tools, products, and newsletters.

But we also swapped specific tips and tactics that helped us both grow.

So if there’s another blogger that’s at about the same level as you are, send them a quick message like this:

19. Reader Case Studies

I LOVE reader case studies.

In fact, reader case studies were one of the secret weapons I used to grow my blog in record time.

Old case study posts

With that, here’s the step-by-step process.

First, identify a strategy, technique or tip that you want to highlight.

For example, back in the day I wanted to get the word out about The Skyscraper Technique.

Skyscraper Technique post

Second, find a reader that got results from something you talked about.

Finally, work with your reader on an in-depth case study.

In other words: they send you the details. And you write up what happened.

That way, it’s not a guest post. And the writing is still in your own voice.

For example, I worked with Chris Gimmer on this Skyscraper Technique case study a few years back:

Viral Marketing Guide

And that post did GREAT. It brought in 13,486 visitors in the first month alone.

Viral Marketing traffic

And people shared it on Twitter like crazy:

Viral marketing Twitter shares

20. Create Cool Visuals, Charts, and Images

You might have noticed that I tend to sprinkle in a handful of custom visuals and charts in every post.

Visuals and charts in every post

That’s no accident.

I recently discovered that these custom visuals get shared around (and linked to) without me needing to hustle with outreach.

For example, I asked our designer to create a visual of a page that’s optimized for voice search SEO.

How to optimize for Google Home

And because this visual helps people understand voice search SEO, lots of other bloggers have used it in their blog posts:

Other bloggers use Backlinko infographic in their posts

Bottom line? Include 2-3 visuals, charts or mini-infographics in every post. If the post does well, other bloggers will see your visuals. And a small but significant percentage will use your visuals in their content.

21. Double Down On List Posts

List posts are a blogging mainstay.

And they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

Our content study with BuzzSumo found that list posts got more social shares than any other content format:

Average social shares by post type

This makes sense if you think about it…

People love super tactical tips and tactics that they can use right away.

And a list post has a bunch of these tactics on a single page.

In fact, when I recently analyzed which posts brought in the most traffic over the last year, 4 out of the top 10 were list posts.

Four of the top-ten posts were list posts

Which is why I’ve published several list posts (like this one) in 2019.

List post examples

And I actually have a few more list posts in the works right now.

Speaking of lists posts…

Bonus #1: Start List Posts With Your Most Unique Tip

Here’s a mistake I see a lot of bloggers make with list posts:

They put the most important and helpful tip at the top of their list.

Why is this a mistake?

Well, when someone lands on your list post they’re looking for something new.

So you need to give them your most unique strategy right off the bat.

So instead of organizing your list posts like this:

Normal list post layout

Organize them like this:

Ideal list post layout

In other words, begin and end your list with strategies that your reader probably hasn’t seen before.

For example:

A few months ago I published this list post on how to get more views on YouTube.

Get More Views on YouTube post

And my first tip was a new way to create more effective thumbnails.

Use BOGY thumbnails

Of all the things you could possibly do to get more views, is this the most important?

Heck no!

But it IS a strategy that most people haven’t heard of before. Which means they’ll keep reading.

Then, later in my list, I outline strategies that make the biggest difference.

Strategies that make a big difference

Bonus #2: Add Tweetable Quotes To Your Content

This is an EASY way to get more people to share your content on Twitter.

Here’s how it works:

First, find a quote from your post that’s worth sharing.

In other words: a Tweetable Quote.

A Tweetable quote is a short, interesting quote that easily fits inside of Twitter’s character limit.

For example, this line in my 8-Step Content Strategy post is a Tweetable quote.

Tweetable quote

Then, add a “Click to Tweet This” link underneath the quote.

Click to tweet this

(BTW, I made this link using ClickToTweet.com).

When someone clicks on that link, they get a pre-written tweet with that quote.

That’s all there is to it.

And if your quote hits a nerve, people WILL share it.

Twitter shares of pre-written tweetable quotes

(Including lots of people that wouldn’t have otherwise shared your post).

And I can tell you from experience that these “bonus shares” really add up.

What Did You Think?

Now I’d like to hear from you:

Which technique from today’s post are you going to use first?

Are you going to publish more lists posts? Or leave comments on other blogs?

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

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