Blogging can be one of the most effective ways of both building your reputation, and building your web traffic through SEO. In fact, there are many who think that content marketing and blogging are the most important elements of an SEO program. I listened with interest to the most recent Brand Fast-Trackers podcast with Andrew Dumont of SEOMoz and he talks a lot about the importance of creating content. Also, the recent report on Digital Trends for 2013 from Econsultancy and Adobe notes that “the single most significant trend is the continued emergence of content marketing as a standalone discipline.”
So let’s say you are going to invest some time, and perhaps money, into creating content for your website. In most cases this will take the form of a blog. But it’s one thing to create the content, and another to get it out there so other’s actually find out about it and read it. What are some things you can do to make that content on your site more shareable? What can you do to get people to read it in the first place, and then pass it on to others?
1. Don’t just create content, create great content – This first one should be a no-brainer: plain ol’ everyday, run of the mill content generally doesn’t get shared. In order to get people to even want to share your content, make sure it’s good, if not great. Don’t just publish what everyone else is publishing. Create something that shows off your knowledge in a unique way, that comes from your own perspective. One note: horrible content will get shared, but for all the wrong reasons. Aim high.
2. Get it out there yourself – Don’t just blog and let it sit there on your site. Push it out. Before anyone else can find it, you need to market your own material. You will need to share it first. When my blog publishes early each morning, I have it automatically set up to post in quite a few places. It auto-publishes to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a few other places. That way, the folks who are already connected to me and my company will have the chance of seeing it. Additionally, I’ll then make sure it also goes out to Pinterest, Google +, some LinkedIn groups, and other platforms that make sense in terms of the content of my piece. Don’t be afraid to be self-promotional. If you don’t tell others about your work, who will?
3. Provide a simple sharing mechanism – Let’s assume you’ve gotten people to read your work and they like it, they might want to share it with their friends. But they won’t want to have to work too hard in order to do that. So make sure you have all the right plug-ins and buttons for social sharing. There are plenty of options out there, and I use some individual buttons as well as Shareaholic. You’ll have to determine which networks are important to you, but in general you can’t go wrong with at least promoting sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, and Pinterest. You might also want to make sharing easy on social sharing sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Delicious.
4. Printer friendly/email button - Some people might not share on social platforms, but they might want to email it to a friend or coworker. They also might want to make a nice PDF of your work to print out and give to someone. Sure printing is becoming a thing of the past, but there are still a lot of people who like to put their hands on a hard copy.
5. Allow comments – I think every blog should allow people to comment, not just because of the feedback mechanism, but because people might be more likely to share content on which they’ve left a comment. If they are part of the conversation, it’s an added level of engagement, and there is a good chance that once they’ve commented, they’ll share your content. Also, if they comment, make sure you comment back to keep the engagement going.
6. Allow for subscriptions – Whether you use Feedburner, Feedblitz, or some other subscription mechanism, allow readers to subscribe to receive all of your content via either email or an RSS feed. Sharing can be done from within an RSS reader, and emails can be forwarded.
7. Use images – This may not seem that important to sharing, but if you want people to share on Pinterest, you must have an image. Every blog post you write should have at least one image that allows for pinning. Additionally, that compelling image will travel with your post to Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites, and can actually draw people in. Also, make sure your image has some alt text for SEO purposes.
8. Ask them to share – You might not want to do this with all of your content, but there’s nothing wrong with a call to action that asks your readers to pass your content along to others. This is especially good if you have produced an e-book or a special video. Sometimes all you need to do is ask, and they’ll listen.
9. Make access easy – If you are producing something other than a blog, say a podcast or an e-book, make sure people can access that material easily. I still see sites that offer downloadable PDFs, and they also offer a link to Adobe Reader just in case that one person who doesn’t know what a PDF is happens to stumble by. But seriously, if you offer an e-book, provide easy links and instructions on compatible e-readers. If you produce a podcast, provide people with multiple ways of listening and downloading for a variety of devices, and explain to them how to do it. We often assume that everyone is as tech savvy as we are, but it’s just not the case yet. We’re almost there, but there are plenty of people who still aren’t in tune with all the technology and lingo. Do the work for them and make it simple.
10. Build a community – This takes time, but once you become part of a strong online community, y0u’ll have a group of people who are more than willing to share one another’s content. I’m blessed to be a part of such a community. Additionally, you can use something like Triberr to harness that community and the power of sharing. Of course being a member of a community means you’ll have to share the work of others, too, but that’s the point, right?
In the end, the most important thing is still the quality of the content itself. Create content that is worthy of being shared. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time. All of these other things won’t matter a bit if there isn’t anything worth sharing.
What other ways have you found to get more sharing for the content you and your business publish online?
- 4 Ways to Create Shareable Pinterest Images (v3im.com)
- Why Content Goes Viral: the Theory and Proof (seomoz.org)
- The Key to Writing Great Blog Posts (v3im.com)
- 7 Ways to Involve Staff in Your Nonprofit’s Social Media (social.razoo.com)