Author Blogging 101: Linking for Traffic

by Joel Friedlander on February 13, 2012 · 17 comments

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When authors first get started writing a blog, they are mostly concerned with the same types of issues:

  • obtaining your domain name, hosting account and software installation
  • creating a focus for your content
  • establishing a publication schedule

Now you’re ready for readers. Or are you?

Most blog experts I’ve read make the point that there’s little reason to go after visitors if you’ve only published one or two posts.

Unless you’re a literary genius, or you’ve just posted a long-awaited sequel to your best-selling book, most blog readers will find little to read when they get there.

A better strategy is to establish your schedule and stick to it, posting your articles until you have five to ten blog posts up and your blog is beginning to “put a little meat on the bones.”

This will give new visitors (and they will all be new) a good idea of what your blog is about and the range of topics you’re going to cover.

Foundations, Evergreens, and Pillars

Whatever you call them, this is the perfect time to work on the posts that describe your field at its most basic level.

Some bloggers call these “foundation” posts, or “evergreen” or “pillar” content, and with good reason.

No matter what subject you’re writing about, you’re going to need these basic articles in your archive for a few reasons:

  • they are the building blocks on which your subject rests
  • they explain key concepts in your field that you’ll be referring to often
  • they demonstrate your grasp of the subject area and help lend authority to your blog

For example, when I started this blog I published a lot of blog posts about the parts of a book, how book distribution works, and so on. They are written to explain basic concepts and processes in book publishing, stuff that doesn’t change very often.

For a blog on pizza baking, you might start with a series of articles about different kinds of wheat used in pizza dough, a roundup of equipment, how to use specific tools like a pizza peel, and so on.

The idea is that these articles, particularly if they are well written and aimed at newcomers to your field, will eventually attract attention and traffic for people doing web searches on basic ideas.

Once you’ve got these articles in your archive, you’ll also be able to use them for internal linking, a great strategy that benefits readers and your blog’s search engine standings.

There are lots of ways to create this foundational content, but once you’ve got it done, inevitably you’ll be asking yourself the question all bloggers ask:

How will anyone even find my great content so they can read it?

Beginning the Traffic Flow

Once you’ve exhausted your email list, announced your blog to your family and co-workers, you’ll start wondering what to do.

Here are some ideas to get new blogs some beginning traffic. All of these are based on links and linking, and it’s important to understand the different kinds of links before you get started.

The internet is a web of links. You need links that point to your blog articles. These links have more or less weight, but taken together they form a whole network of sites referring back to yours.

You can control some of these links, others will come from other sites. The first kind are the ones you’ll use to start the traffic flow to our blog, but the latter are the ones that will establish your authority and push your blog up the search engine results in your niche.

Let’s look at the first kind of links in this article, the kind that are under your control. You can divide these into two kinds, and we’ll look at each separately.

Generic links

These are links through directories or other sites that don’t fall within your subject area. They can be very valuable, however, when you’re starting out.

  • Get listed in directories—this is an old strategy but it still works. There are lots of website and blog directories where you can submit your blog and it will be listed, with a link. Most don’t charge, and you shouldn’t pay for these listings, in general. Heres’a big list of blog directories, and you can submit to Technorati.com, Yahoo.com, dmoz.org and as many others as you like.
  • Claim your site on Alexa.com—This company aims to track all websites in the world, and you can submit your url here.
  • Social media accounts—Your social media profiles allow you to share links to your various web properties, so don’t forget to link to your blog from each one.
  • Submit articles to article directory sites like ezinearticles.com. You can include 2 or 3 links in each article, and they will travel with it when the article is reprinted on another site.

Targeted links

These are links you can place yourself that will result in traffic although many will have no search engine effect. These are for use by actual human beings.

  • Make comments on blogs—a standard tactic that still works well. You will have identified the top blogs in your subject area, so when a new article appears, try to leave a comment that adds to the the conversation. Do this often enough and regular readers will start to click over to your blog to see what else you have to say.
  • Participate in forums—there are lots of discussion forums online for almost every conceivable topic. Do a search on “[your subject here] forums” and you’ll find some. When you create your User Profile for each forum, you’ll be able to include a link back to your blog. Just as with blog comments, posts you make to these forums will build your brand, help establish authority and attract people to your blog, so make them good.
  • Leverage discussions in social media—sites like LinkedIn offer terrific opportunities to participate in targeted discussions, or to start your own. One of the keys is to explore the “groups” feature on these sites to find groups that are already talking about your subject. Just like in forums or blog comments, the quality and helpfulness of what you have to say will go a long way toward attracting people to your blog to find out more.
  • Participate in the reader-centered social sites—Destinations like Goodreads, Library Thing, Shelfari and others bring millions of readers together and offer discussion groups, blog networks and lots of other places for you to leave links for others to follow.

You Have to Start Somewhere

Even these three ideas will get you started laying groundwork for your network of links. Following 8 or 10 blogs, 2 or 3 discussion forums and a few targeted social media sites will keep you plenty busy for the first couple of months of your blog’s life.

It may seem like nothing is happening at first, but the most important thing to remember is to stay with it. Keep posting on your schedule and keep using these strategies to create links to your blog.

As people begin to click the links you’ve left, tiny rivulets of traffic will start to come to your blog. Over time, these tiny rivulets will combine into little streams, and the streams will combine into free-flowing rivers of visitors delighted to find you and your great content.

The next thing you’ll need to complete your linking efforts is the one thing you can’t do for yourself: incoming links from other authoritative, high-traffic blogs in your niche.

Look for it in the next installment of Author Blogging 101.

Photo by Hryck.

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    { 12 comments… read them below or add one }

    BubbleCow March 8, 2012 at 12:48 am

    My little tip is to leave comments on high quality blog posts. Google will see this as a link to your site. If you can sneak a link into the actual comment (like this — http://www.bubblecow.net) then this is even better. :-)

    GAry

    Reply

    Karen Hampton February 19, 2012 at 3:59 am

    I’ve read some of your other articles and find them most informative. I’m sure they will help me a lot on my road to being published. I started my blog to establish a regular writing schedule (Mon. & Thurs.) for short essays on personal topics. I strive to make them interesting, informative and/or amusing. Then on Sat. I do an accountability blog to keep me focused on the long range goal of getting plublished. I do see however that I have a lot to learn in the process. Thanks for your help.

    Reply

    Pete Abela February 14, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Hi Joel,

    For someone like me just establishing their blog, it’s a very timely post. My takeaway from it is PeoPLe (Patience, Persistence & Links)!

    Thanks again.

    Pete

    Reply

    Louise Behiel February 13, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I had to blog a couple of months before I had any sense of what I was doing or what I had to say. I feel like i’ve hit a topic and a pattern that has to do with my work life and my field of expertise. and i’ve realized that 2 posts a week, not 3 will work best for me, because of the topic and my time. thanks for great ideas.

    Reply

    Turndog Millionaire February 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Great Article Joel

    You always seem to get in there just before me though. I’m doing a post on Blog SEO tomorrow and i discuss links quite a bit, and guess what? I come at it from a similar angle as you :)

    Maybe one day i’ll get post just before you ha

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander February 13, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Hey Matt, there’s a solution to that problem: contribute a guest post here, that way you can get the jump on yourself.

    Reply

    Turndog Millionaire February 14, 2012 at 3:43 am

    I’d love to do a guest post sometime. Is there anything in particular, topic wise? I’ll write something up over the weekend

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

    Reply

    doug_eike February 13, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Good suggestions, especially the one about the forums. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply

    karensdifferentcorners February 13, 2012 at 7:46 am

    For me, I don’t keep a regular schedule, but I try to blog at least once a week. I don’t sit down and plan what I want to write, week to week, my blog ideas are sometimes triggered from other’s blogs, or a tweet someone posted, or just sharing other’s links, but most of the time, when a blog idea gets into my head, I have to get it written, because, I can’t seem to accomplish anything else until it’s done.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander February 13, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Karen, that’s interesting. Your blog is a very personal one, while Jane’s (first comment above) is more of a business blog. Each blogger and each blog have their own requirements, and it just helps to show that you need to find the tempo, the schedule, the rationale and the readers that suit you the best. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

    Reply

    Jane Rutherford February 13, 2012 at 1:17 am

    The problem with starting a blog is that you (or, you know, *I*) want to do all those things at the same time and it sometimes feels like there’s not enough hours in a day to do that and write and work.

    I think what new bloggers should do at the very beginning of their blogging adventure (it’s something I did myself) is to set up a roadmap for what they want to achieve in the long run. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, there’s no way you can fit everything that’s on the list into your day (I, for starters have maybe three, four hours of free time that I can use for my blog – the novel will not write itself, after all).

    Try setting a plan for the whole year, ask yourself where you want to be in two years and what you want to do during that time. It should give you some idea of how much work you need to put in.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander February 13, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Hi Jane, thanks for your comment. I agree it’s more efficient and can save you a lot of thrashing around if you know what you want your blog to do and work towards that goal. Sometimes you need to get out there and see what it feels like first.

    On the other hand, unless you plan to blog more than twice a week, I think it’s very achievable. Doing just 15 minutes of “marketing” activities in the evening will accomplish a huge amount if you keep at it over time.

    Reply

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