This is a guest contribution from Jerry Low.
If you aren’t already blogging, 2016 is the year to start.
Blogging means improved visibility, more traffic, and more natural links. Keep in mind that 57% of companies that maintain an active presence on their blog have acquired a customer through blogging, and businesses that blog generate 127% more leads than businesses that don’t blog – those benefits are pretty impressive.
However, while blogging is still incredibly valuable, keep in mind that the blogging landscaping is constantly evolving, and in order to please your readers, you need to keep pace with the changes.
5 Blogging Strategies I’m Betting on This Year
To help you keep up with things, take a look at these five blogging strategies that I’m betting in 2016.
1. Master the Art of Guest Posting
There is no doubt about it: Guest-posting works.
It worked in 2013, 2014, and 2015. It will work in 2016.
An effective, well-thought-out guest posting strategy helped me drive thousands of new users to my site Web Hosting Secret Revealed (WHSR), and I saw a substantial increase in traffic thanks to the strategy.
However, the key to a successful guest posting strategy is to make your guests posts as helpful as possible if you want to lure in readers and entice them to click on the link in your author bio.
To maximize the impact of your posts, be sure to keep the following in mind:
Leverage the power of the curiosity gap
In order to get users to make the leap from your guest blog post to your website, you need to pique your curiosity. You need to make it clear that you have something of value to offer, and then make your reader wonder what types of valuable content could be available on your site. In other words, you need to make them curious enough to want to find out more.
When I am guest posting on a blog, I always like to use my own personal experience as an example for this very reason. Once people are familiar with a personal experience of mine, they are more likely to be curious about what other strategies and tips I can offer them, and therefore much more likely to investigate my website.
All in all, as part of an effective guest posting strategy, you should always make an effort to harness your readers’ curiosity and turn it into a propelling force behind driving more traffic to your website.
Maximize the value of the space in your bio by including a follow-up link.
A great way to maximize the full potential of guest posting and get more traffic to your site is by posting some kind of follow-up link in your bio.
For example, let’s say that you share tips on how to make money blogging in a guest post, based on your own personal experience with professional blogging. You might add in the guest post that there is a post on your own blog that explains strategies to minimize your tax bill on that blogging income, and put the link in your author bio. You’ll pique your readers’ curiosity, and will be able to direct them to your own site, where they can find information that is directly relevant to their interests and needs.
The bottom line is that guest blogging is a tremendously effective strategy. There is a demand out there for blog content, as Internet users spend three times as much time reading blogs and social media posts as they do reading email. Guest blogging is a great way to meet users’ desire for blog content and direct them to your own site.
2. Marrying Blog Niche with Other Topics
In order to expand your blog’s readership, it is beneficial to tie a topic in your niche into another topic. By merging two topics together, you’ll have more material for new content, which translates into a bigger reach on social media, an expanded readership, more links, and a more loyal following.
Expand your reach on social media
Chances are, if you are recycling the same points over and over again into different blog pieces, you aren’t maximizing your reach on social media, as you aren’t tapping into new audiences.
By marrying your niche with other topics, you will be able to expand your reach on social media, becoming visible to people who might not have a direct interest in your niche, but do have a direct interest in the topic you are marrying into your niche.
That means new talking points that will attract new readers.
Expand your readership.
By marrying your niche with other topics, you will be able to attract new readers. For example, let’s say you have a blog with tips, strategies, and information for aspiring professional bloggers. If you write a post explaining how to start a gardening blog, you will not only attract readers who are interested in blogging, but also readers who have an interest in gardening, but maybe not a direct interest in blogging. That is a whole new audience for your content.
Here are a few success examples that we tried at WHSR in 2015. We are certainly upping on this strategy this year.
What can you learn from the vampire diaries about keeping readers engaged – Copy writing tips + Vampire Diaries (drama)
Why a golfing blog may be more profitable than you think (and how to start one) – blog monetization tips + golf
5 reasons why a Sim City player could be your next social media manager – social media marketing tips + Sim City (PC game)
Keep in mind that bloggers in certain industries are more likely to link out to others. Marrying your niche with other topics actually helps to grow links naturally.
A more loyal following
Readers appreciate variety. They don’t want to be reading about the same things over and over again. They want your blog to be a source where they kind find information that is new, but still relevant and valuable to them. When you marry your niche with other topics, it opens your blog up to a whole host of new content ideas. That’s good news for your readers, who will undoubtedly appreciate your creativity and your ability to stand out from the rest. And a happy following translates into a more loyal following, which is good news for your blog.
So how you can incorporate this strategy into your own blogging efforts?
The key is to try to find unique and innovative links between topics that might not seem like they organically connect.
For example, what is your favorite game? Can you merge your current niche with the game? What about your favorite TV shows? Can you write about the lessons you’ve learned from the shows? With a little bit of creative thinking, you will be able to come with topics to marry into your niche in no time at all!
3. No More Comments
I am closing down the comment feature on posts at WHSR this year because I believe that it is simply counterproductive.
It takes a significant amount of time and energy to reply to all the comments received in a relevant and valuable way, and I don’t really believe it helps our readers much. The vast majority of the times, readers don’t come back just to read the reply to their own comment, and new readers are not digging into others’ old comments.
Furthermore, in most cases, little help can be offered in just one comment. After all, there is only so much space that a public comment provides.
To ensure meaningful communication with my readers, I much prefer email. It’s more personal and I can provide more information. Ultimately, the comments section simply isn’t adding value to user experience in a constructive and meaningful way—so now is the time to give it the ax.
4. Write Extremely Long Posts
Many bloggers think that short posts are better when it comes to capturing users’ attention. But shorts posts aren’t necessarily the best posts. Forget about 500-word blog posts. Extremely long posts are the way to go.
Instead of writing three 1,500-word blog posts, I am now encouraging WHSR bloggers to write a 4,500-word post instead.
The secret is that extremely long posts help readers for real, providing them with much more information. Furthermore, publishing extremely long posts gives us more talking points and more ground to promote on social media.
The down side of writing extremely long posts is that you lose some hurried (or lazy) readers. But in contrast, long posts always perform the best in engaging readers and converting visitors into fans.
5. The Power of Facebook
There is no denying it: Facebook is huge. It’s a social media giant, and it is bigger and more popular than any other social media site out there. Facebook has over 1 billion daily active users, including 167 million daily active users in the US and Canada, and close to three-quarters of online adults around the world visit the site at least once a month.
Put simply, you are losing out on a lot if you are not leveraging the power of Facebook Ads platform.
Of course, as many people have already pointed out, Facebook organic reach is decreasing. While this is unfortunate, it is absolutely no reason to give up on the platform. An excellent way to improve the visibility of your blog and drive more traffic to it is to harness the power of Facebook Ads.
It is incredibly easy to get started with Facebook ads.
Entry cost is very low, and it is incredibly effective as a marketing strategy, overall. As of April of 2015, the average click-through rate of a Facebook ad was 1.5 percent and the average cost per click of the average Facebook ad was $0.27, which is pretty good. And with an effective Facebook ads strategy, you will see results.
Numbers don’t lie, and WHSR has seen some pretty impressive numbers thanks to Facebook.
In 2015, traffic to WHSR from Facebook had higher-than-average conversion rates, better bounce rates, and the most pages per visits. That means that when using Facebook to direct traffic to the site, I’m not only getting more traffic, I’m also getting better traffic. The users are more engaged and more likely to convert. Of course, to maximize the impact of your Facebook ads, there are a few things that you should know.
To run better Facebook ads, keep these three easy tips in mind:
Keep it short and simple.
Research clearly shows that Facebook wall posts with less than 80 characters routinely see 60-percent higher rates of engagement than longer posts. So the best way to attract the attention of Facebook users is to keep things short, sweet, and to the point. For example, one easy way to write your ad copy on FB is by using this formula: Stop being stuck in [blank]! Get [solution].
Test different images.
Quiz time. Here’s an Ad set I ran to promote our blogging guide (this page).
Which of the above gets the most clicks in my recent Facebook Ad?
Was it –
A. An Asian girl looking slightly above towards audience, or
B. A picture of SOHO work space that (might) intrigue viewers’ emotion, or
C. A picture of an exotic animal that look into viewers’ direction?
The answer is A. An Asian girl looking slightly above towards audience.
Not a big surprise though – as studies have shown again and again that photos of people (females, especially) draw most attention on Facebook (and most other social media platforms).
What amazed me is the huge difference in results between picture A with the other two – In the ad sets I ran on Facebook, picture A were far better in term of engagement/impression (by 135%+ vs the loser), CTR (by 120%), and costs (by ~200%).
Moral of the story – Images will have a significant impact on the performance of your ad, so choose wisely.
In fact, images have had the biggest impact on the performance of all of my Facebook ads. You need to find the image that maximizes both click-through rate and conversions, and the best way to do that is through testing. Don’t just assume an image works. Always prove it by testing it. That way, you’ll optimize the success of your campaign.
Retarget your blog visitors using Custom Audience.
Remember, Facebook uses the relevance score to determine how relevant your ads are to their target audience. This score is a combination of a number of different metrics, including engagement, conversions, and click-through rate.
Facebook ad cost-per-click drops significantly with better focusing on the audience, as the higher the relevance score, the less it will cost to display your ad (the idea behind this is that Facebook wants to incentivize advertisers to only show content that is relevant to an audience in order to maintain a positive user experience).
A great way to maximize this relevance score is by retargeting your blog visitors using Custom Audience, enabling you to show ads to people who have visited your blog but may have left without engaging with your content or converting. Keep in mind that in order to do this, you will need to add a site-tracking tag to your website so that users can be identified via browser cookies.
All in all, just investing a little time and money in Facebook ads can lead to significant gains in visibility, so it is well worth your time.
Jerry Low is a geek dad who enjoys building web assets and growing business online. You can find out more about his work at WebRevenue.io/blog