For a kid, a birthday can be the most awesome and terrifying day of the year. Presents! Cake! Attention! A party! But then…what if nobody comes? It’s a reasonable fear. We all saw it happen—kids whose invitations we stuffed in a pocket and neglected, whether thoughtlessly or intentionally. So we were careful with our own invitations. We were willing to do almost anything to make sure we wouldn’t be the kid left alone with too much cake and no presents.
That fear of throwing a flop of a party stays with us, and follows us online. It’s disappointing to say something incredibly witty on Facebook and get no responses. Or to write a useful, market-appropriate, well-researched blog post for your business and have no one read it.
It’s easy, we think, to tell a kid how to be a successful host. But expanding your online presence and reach is way more technical, right? It involves things like metatags and SEO and computer code wizardry far beyond the reach of the average user, doesn’t it? Partially, perhaps, but only behind the scenes. Though the stakes are much higher for a business trying to reach potential customers than for a 7-year-old trying to get friends to come to his party, the principles for being successful at both are exactly the same. And they’re not technical at all. So if you’ve written a great blog post and are wondering why it’s not getting any hits, consider how you’re doing on these four party basics:
- How did you extend your invitations? Imagine a kid standing by himself on the playground and mumbling, “I’m having a great thing that’s going to be really great. And fun. And great. I hope you’ll come.” What was that? What kind of thing? What are you even talking about? Posting a blog without doing keyword and search engine optimization (SEO) research is about the same thing. And will get the same result. Do keyword research to enhance your blog posts.
It’s always best to brainstorm the most common questions or terms people would use as a search query in regards to your product or service. Resources such as Google Trends, Google AdWords Keyword Tool, Hubspot’s Keyword Grader SEO Tool, and Wordtracker’s free basic keyword tool can help you advance your search. When you’ve identified which terms produce the results you want, incorporate those keywords into the article body. Give your blog a descriptive title, as well, and integrate long tailed key terms in it.
- Are you being social? The surly kid in the corner who doesn’t talk to anybody during the non-birthday seasons of the year probably isn’t going to get any guests at his party. In the same way you’d say to him, get out there! When you’ve published your post, promote it on other platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and so on. Consider joining blog aggregators (Newsvine and Alltop are good examples). These sites allow members to collect blog content topically, and will help users already interested in the subjects you’re writing about find you. Social bookmarking sites (Delicious and Pinterest are well known examples) are another good place to place links—and ask friends and content marketing colleagues to link—to your blog.
In addition, comment on other blogs, link to other blogs in your own posts, engage with and share content from other bloggers on your social media sites, invite guest bloggers to post on your site and be willing to be a guest on others’. Use and update your blogroll, which is a collection of blogs you recommend that can appear along one side of your blog.
- Are you treating your guests well while they’re there? If kids come to a birthday party and don’t have fun, they’ll go home early. Make guests to your site feel welcome the moment they arrive by making sure your site is, well, friendly. Have users (or friends) tell you what they see first, what they expect to see, and where they expect to see it. Make sure your site is easy to navigate and to search. And finally, be sociable and polite by approving and responding to comments as quickly as possible.
- Have you laid a great table? Your blog is the buffet; the posts are the dishes offered on it. Make sure everything is fresh (current), hot (interesting), and made with your guests’ tastes in mind rather than your own (topical). Make sure your offerings are well prepared as well, which means do thorough research on your blog posts. People can see quickly whose material is trustworthy and meets their needs, and will spend time reading your blog (and return to it!) if those requirements are met. And finally, keep putting new offerings out. To get noticed, publish often, and publish quality.
Building a great blog and seeing it get a good response is just as gratifying as your best birthday party. Keeping in mind the basic principles of both will make sure that happens. Good luck, and have fun!