Other Ways to Promote Your Website

image of blogger typing on laptop showing post title "How I promote my new blog posts"

Here's how to promote your website or blog.

When just starting out, I recommend three promotional strategies for your website: organic search, organic search, and organic search

Pay-per-click ads (PPC) and social media ad blitzes may seem attractive but are ineffective and potentially costly. Try these strategies after you have a track record and some profits you can draw on. 

Some gurus and freelancers will push PPC and social media strategies and campaigns, but resist their siren call. Until you have some success behind you (that may take up to a year) you are better served investing your limited time in developing high-quality, fresh, converting content using the techniques on this site. 

The risk of jumping into other promotion channels too early is that you can easily spread yourself too thin. 

Instead of developing and regularly publishing good content, you find yourself fumbling with various ad platforms such as Google AdWords and Facebook and chasing referral backlinks and posting commenting on other blogs that may rarely get approved. 

Those efforts can be worthwhile but should come later once you have a good thing going. 

If you haven’t reached that point yet, go back to Increasing Your Visitors through Organic Search (SEO). I’m begging you for your own good. 

If you have already reached that point, I offer the following advice regarding other ways to promote your website. 

Top Tip - If you prefer to read these materials in bite-size pieces, start here and select "Next" at the end of each post.

Pay-per-Click Advertising (Google AdWords) 

I won't spend much time on this because after five years of PPC campaigns I am still not convinced they represent even fair value for money. 

First, how it works:

  1. You sign up with an advertising platform, Google AdWords being the most popular by far. 
  1. You then draft some ad copy, those pesky ads you see among Google search engine results. 
  1. Then you place “bids” on the keywords for which you want your ads displayed. This means setting a maximum price you are willing to pay for someone to click on your ad when they use certain keywords in a Google search. 

I currently spend about 5% of my revenues on ads. Even after 5+ years of running ads (albeit on a very modest budget) I cannot tell you with certainty that they are money well spent! 

That’s partly because I have not been able to bridge the gap between whether a visitor that arrived at my site via clicking an ad was the same visitor that clicked on an affiliate link and then also bought my partner’s product generating a commission for me.

I’ve read plenty of articles about how to bridge this gap, but they have all been confusing and I’ve been loath to engage a consultant or outsider on something I know so little about.

Unless you have a great niche idea that no one else has discovered (which is very unlikely) I highly recommend you stay away from AdWords until you’ve learned a lot about the industry your site caters to. 

You can easily blow a ton of money on Google AdWords and gain zilch in return. Believe me. I know from (painful) experience. 

Even once you sort of know what you are doing, it’s very difficult to tie ad clicks to individual affiliate transactions, newsletter sign-ups or other successful calls to action. So, at best you only have a sense or a hunch that “the ads are working”. 

Plus, it is difficult to outperform the big boys and girls who have lots of expensive analysis and tons of metrics at their disposal. This makes it very difficult to come up with better ads and, more importantly, better priced “bids” for the keywords you want to display ads for.

In other words, the fix is in and it is often folly to think you can outperform larger competitors.

For Ads, Your Partners are Your Rivals Too 

And for affiliate sites like yours and mine, your competitors for ads are often not only just your competitor affiliates, but also the very same companies behind the products you are trying to promote, your partners.

You will be bidding for the same keywords as your partners but if you get a sale you only get a percentage of what they do. Therefore, all things being equal, your partners can place higher bids for the same keywords because for them the click-throughs are more lucrative.

Think about it, even if a partner is willing to pay you a very generous 30% commission, that means they get more than triple the amount of money than you from a sale they generate directly (your 30% versus their 100%).  

How can you ever expect to outperform them on ads? For every dollar of sale revenue in this example, they are willing to outbid you more than 3 to 1 for the same ad keywords.

Read that again. It’s a sobering reality check about PPC ads.

Almost by definition, ads are a losing game for you as an affiliate. 

 This means you must somehow equal the playing field, either by writing better ad copy than them or by finding hidden gem keywords that have eluded your competitors. 

Almost by definition, ads are a losing game for you as an affiliate. 

There is no need to pay for any premium plugins (or themes) when you are first starting out.

Both are tall orders, especially in highly competitive markets. 

And even if you gain an advantage, it doesn't take long for competitors or your partners to start emulating your ad copy or to discover what keywords you use, especially if they can afford the premium version of tools such as Alexa, SimilarWeb, SEMRush and SpyFu.

If you still want to take the plunge, here’s the advice I can offer on AdWords.

Preparing AdWords

Rather than immediately go to AdWords and start typing in ads, some preparation is in order.

Elements of an AdWords Ad

First, make sure you understand the “rules”.  Not just about what ads are not allowed, but what the elements are that make up an ad and how long the text of each element can be.

AdWords has tons of good information you can check out for yourself, so let me just give you the bottom line basics you need.

  • Final URL – the landing page for your ad. As per AdWords, “The final URL is the URL that people reach after clicking your ad. It should match what your ad promotes.” This URL isn’t actually displayed in the ad, so it can be long and ugly if needed (if the URL contains tracking codes etc.)
  • Headline 1 – this text appears at the top of your ad. It can be up to 30 characters.
  • Headline 2 – this text appears after Headline 1 at the top of your ad. It can also be up to 30 characters. For web search, it will be separated from Headline 1 by a dash symbol (-) while on mobile devices it may wrap to the second line of the ad.
  • Display path – these elements make up the displayed URL in the ad.  This displayed URL can be the same as the Final URL or be substantially different if it is for the same domain (example.com). It can be up to 30 characters, splittable into 2 fields of 15 characters each.
  • Description – this text appears below the display path and can be up to 80 characters in total. This is a somewhat like an ad version of your posts’ meta descriptions

You can see all these elements in the screenshot below of the AdWords ad composer.

AdWords ad elements

The main elements of a Google AdWords ad.

Plan Your Ads Top Down 

As mentioned, it is very tempting to start drafting ads immediately in AdWords. 

After all, you can draft an ad in about 2 minutes. Two headlines, a description, a landing page and matching displayed URL and bingo you have an ad. 

But chances are you will have an ineffective ad.

Instead, start with the big picture and drill down. 

Google AdWords is organized as follows and for a reason: 

Campaign > Ad Group > Ad > Keywords 

First, segment your market. My site covered several topics and an initial mistake I made was to draft a single ad with the same landing page on my website that was trying to cater to all the segments.

Divide your market as much as you can. You are better off having 10 ultra-targeted ads than 1 broad ad even for the same amount of total ad budget.  

AdWords lets you create different Ad Groups in which you can divide ads for different target markets. 

This makes sense as you want to be able to organize your ads and keywords around these different segments. This also lets you see how effective each segment is or not.

Brainstorm Away from AdWords 

Next, start brainstorming some ideas offline, away and outside of AdWords. 

Whether in Word, Google Docs or with pen and paper, start writing down some themes and ideas as well as some keywords associated with them. 

Think about what the related landing pages on your website would be. These could be existing pages or pages that you plan to draft and publish, perhaps especially tailored for the ad campaign(s).

Then try your hand at some headlines and descriptions, making sure that they match the content of the intended landing pages.

Keep refining your ideas in this way until you think you have some good materials.

Then, using your web browser’s Incognito mode, type some of your keyword ideas into Google Search. 

Use the ads you see displayed beside the search results to get further ideas and inspiration. Expand and refine your ideas accordingly.

Rinse and repeat until you are even more satisfied with your ideas.

I would then recommend that you put it all aside for a day or two. After this time has passed, look at your ideas with fresh eyes, repeating steps above as necessary and further refine your ideas. 

It is simply too easy to spend money on ineffective AdWords campaigns.  I know you are anxious to start promoting your site, but at every stage when you think you are ready, pause and sleep on it at least one more night. It is better to be deliberate and conscientious.    

Only then should you start thinking about actually going into AdWords and start typing your ideas into the ad composer.

Stop Reading Expert Advice and Just Do It 

As with so many things related to your website, it is easy to overdo reading articles on other websites about “tricks and tips” for AdWords, getting all excited, typing ideas directly into AdWords and activating your campaigns. This can be counterproductive as there are hundreds of gurus touting their secret formulae and you can get lost just reading about the various techniques.

That time is better invested in simply doing. The truth is that you just have to learn through the school of hard knocks.

Do read some of AdWords’ own materials. And at the start, keep your ad budgets low. If you set a budget of $500 a day, AdWords will have no trouble accommodating you.

Start slow, learn and be guided by the data. Then tweak your ads and budgets slowly over time.

The Right Landing Pages 

It is easy and a mistake to point everyone to your home page. You should have specific landing pages tailored to specific segments unless your site is already ultra-specific or caters only to a single market segment.

People clicking on ads expect to arrive at materials directly related to the ad, not a general “hard sell” page for your entire website.

Top Tip – AdWords has a Change History feature which displays the last 50 sets of changes you have made to any ads. You can use these to undo any poor decisions you made or to investigate why conversions went up or down.

How to Bid on Keywords

Now that you think you have some good ad copy, here comes the even harder part: developing a list of keywords to bid on and determining how much to bid on them.

Eliminate Bias and Take Yourself out of the Equation 

It’s great that you have done some brainstorming. But you know what?

What you think are the best keywords probably aren’t. Let Google make that assessment for you. 

If you know or can find out what are the leading websites relevant to each of your market segments, Google can generate the corresponding keywords accordingly. 

Here’s how.

In AdWords, choose the wrench icon at upper-right, then under the Planning heading select Keyword Planner Tool.

Among the options presented, choose Get metrics and forecasts for your keywords. Above this, you could select Find new keywords but this option limits you to 3 keywords only. 

screenshot of Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool start page

Keyword Planner provides essential data for planning your ad campaigns.

Enter the keywords you brainstormed and researched, and select Get Started.

Determining the Best Keywords for Your Ads 

Once the results are displayed, select the tab Historical Metrics. This will present the list of keywords together with important data about each keyword’s average number of monthly searches, level of competition and estimated “top of page” bid prices.

Sort these results by Avg. monthly searches to see the most popular keywords searched. It will be no surprise that the most popular searches also usually correspond to the highest level of Competition (the next column in the displayed results) and correspondingly high Top of page bid prices.

You can download this data by selecting Download Keywords towards the upper-right and I encourage you to do so. As you may have with many files over time, name the file carefully. Adding the name of your intended landing page is usually a good idea.

I then recommend you sleep on it at least one day (to prevent any stupid gung-ho decisions), go through the downloaded list(s) and highlight or bold the keywords that you think are most relevant. 

Screenshot of Google Keyword Planner results.

This is valuable keyword data for your ad campaigns.

You are now starting to discover what the best keywords are for your ads. 

You may be surprised about the way people search. For example, proper grammar is not alive and well for web search keywords. Therefore, it is important to eliminate yourself (and your biases) from the keyword selection process.

You should be focusing and selecting the keywords that are specific and will hopefully result in good conversion rates. Driving traffic to your site may sound good but if every ad-driven visitor leaves without any engagement (“bounces”), you will have spent money for no lasting benefit.

The process of bidding on keywords is as much art as science. Pick bids based on the data you have gathered and then monitor your campaigns in AdWords to see how they are doing in terms of ads being clicked.

Adjusting Keyword Bids in AdWords 

From time-to-time, check the data for your ads and adjust your campaigns. Here’s how.

  1. In Google Analytics (not AdWords) select Acquisitions > Campaigns > Paid KWs (or Acquisitions > AdWords > Keywords).
  1. For a timeframe, you can select All Time or a shorter period but not too short, so choose 90 days or 30 days at a minimum. 
  1. Check various criteria by sorting columns such as Goal Conversion Rate (but ignoring results for very low number of hits) or Time on Page (but ignoring results with very low numbers of hits). Best is a page with high conversions and high conversion rates.
  1. For the keywords with good numbers, open a new browser tab in AdWords, go to your Keywords list and use the Search (it looks like a magnifying glass) to isolate the keyword and its variants.
  1. Adjust bids as necessary: i.e., by bumping them up or down. Do this in small increments, not by doubling bids for example. 
     

More About Google AdWords 

The materials you just read will give you a good basis to start, but AdWords is another world unto itself, just like SEO, social media and every aspect of your blogging. 

This complexity at every turn is what makes it a tough, lonely existence at times. But I suggest you now know enough to jump in and try some modest ad campaigns. 

After you have learned the ropes a bit, you can check out the excellent (but advanced) training materials available at Udemy

Social Media 

My advice for social media will go against the grain.  In my view, promotion of your site via social media is also not a good investment of your precious time.

BUT, I acknowledge that it really depends on what kind of website you have and the affiliate partner products or services you promote. You may well be in an industry (for example, fashion) for which “viral” marketing is key. 

Also, I do recommend some social media efforts. I think it’s important to have a social media presence but not to spend time on it at the expense of your content efforts. 

No matter how hard I try, I doubt that I’ll be able to make a viral social media post about the subject matter of my website (Internet privacy)!

Nonetheless, I still announce my new blog posts on social media. It’s fast and easy after all.

In other words, although promoting your website via social media is a whole world unto itself, if you totally ignore it, you do so at your peril.

Therefore, at a minimum, I recommend you:

  • have a Facebook page (this is a special kind of Facebook account linked to but separate from your personal Facebook account)
  • like/follow your affiliate partner’s pages and other authoritative Facebook pages (but not your competitors’ Facebook pages) 
  • share your new blog posts via your Facebook page 
     

Have a Facebook Page at a Minimum 

It is vital these days to have a Facebook presence for your website. 

Personally, I am a not big fan of Facebook but the sheer number of users and dominance of Facebook on the social networking scene mandates your website should have a presence there. 

It could be that in time other players replace Facebook – Google+ has already tried and failed miserably – but for the time being Facebook reigns supreme.

What I like about Facebook is it comes with a lot of built-in functionality in terms of discussion, image and video uploads, posting news items, setting featured items and even some pretty good analytics and insights for your Facebook page. 

Facebook makes it easy to post fresh information in a few seconds. I do this by trying to post news items of relevance to my audience. This weekly (or even more frequent) routine also helps me to keep on top of my website’s subject matter.

And, in any event, it is pretty easy to set up such a presence as the following sections will demonstrate.

What About Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc.? 

I am not a big fan of Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. 

My blog does have a Twitter account, but I use it only to promote new blog posts, nothing more.

Nothing stops you from using Twitter in the same ways I described for Facebook (i.e., liking and sharing tweets and following other Twitter accounts and reacting to and commenting on their tweets).

I have no advice to give about other social media because my Facebook techniques, minimal Twitter effort and a little bit of backlink commenting (discussed below) are all the social media I have any time for.

Reddit has lots of potential, but boy-oh-boy do you have to tread carefully. If Reddit users detect any hint of spamming or self-serving promotion, they will be all over you like hungry piranhas.  

I got absolutely mobbed making my first few Reddit posts and have been too timid to try again. 

Setting up a Facebook Business Page for your Blog 

There is no point re-hashing the already clear materials on Facebook’s own website, https://www.facebook.com/business/learn/set-up-facebook-page

Facebook Page for Bussiness

It's easy, fast and free to set up a page on Facebook for your website.

Different from Facebook pages, Facebook accounts can only belong to individual human beings. An account cannot be opened by a business or organization, let alone a product, service, project or website.  

This means if you do not already have a personal Facebook account (whether in your real name or under an alias), you will first need to open one, only after which you can then create a Facebook “page” for your business.  Your business page will be administered through your individual account.

Facebook Login Screenshot

You manage your website’s Facebook page from your personal Facebook account.

For example, I have a personal Facebook account (www.facebook.com/baileymatthewt). From this account I created a page for my blogs (www.facebook.com/cogipas and http://www.facebook.com/TimeStarvedBlogger).  

This separation is no bad thing as I can make posts in a personal capacity (to my personal account) and make separate posts for my sites (to my Facebook business pages).  

This also means when interacting on Facebook you must pay extra close attention to whether you are doing so as yourself (Matthew Bailey) or your blog (Cogipas or TimeStarvedBlogger). This used to be quite confusing on Facebook, but they have made it much clearer recently.

Nonetheless, when you are liking, sharing and commenting on things on behalf of your blog, you want to make sure you are doing so using your business Facebook page, rather than your personal account. It can be easy to get them mixed up.

Setting a Name for Your Facebook Page 

Another good tip is to make sure your page name captures your topic. If you have a generic name, add a few more words after it to better describe it. On Facebook, the vast majority of people will only see your Page’s name so make it count!  

For example, “Maple leaf” won’t mean much but “Maple leaf dog sweaters” tells a much more complete story and increases the chance of curious Facebook users interacting with your Page, hopefully liking it and, better yet, clicking through to your blog.

Setting a Username (Domain Name) for Your Facebook Page 

Once you create a Facebook page for your website and name it, claim a Facebook username (domain name) for it. 

Doing this will give your page a shorter and snappier Facebook website address.  

If you want to prevent having an ugly Facebook page address like www.facebook.com/pages/reasonablyfit/9466758668, you need to set what’s called a username. In most cases, you simply want your username to mirror your page name.

For example, before claiming my Facebook username Cogipas which resulted in the page URL domain name www.facebook.com/cogipas/, the Facebook URL for my page was http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cogipascom-Complete-Guide-to-Internet-Privacy-Anonymity-Security/169330593107681. Quite a mouthful!

While logged in as yourself (Matthew Bailey), use the cog icon (⚙) to use Facebook as your page.

Screenshot of how to use Facebook as your Page

Use Facebook as your Page, not yourself personally.

The Admin Panel for your Page will be displayed.  Scroll up to the very top of the page until you see the selection bar at right.  Choose the Edit page dropdown and then Update info – a new page will open. 

Screenshot of the 'Update Info' menu item in Facebook Pages.

In the Admin panel for your Page, select Edit page > Update info.

At the left menu, select Resources and then Select a username.

Screenshot of choosing 'Select a username'

Now choose Resources > Select a username.

You will receive a warning that you must continue as yourself (Matthew Bailey), which is fine, so go ahead.

Screenshot of agreeing to continue as yourself.

Agree to continue as yourself.

Now select the username that you want; that is, select what you want people to be able to type after the ww.facebook.com/ part of a website address.  In most cases this will simply mirror your page name. But if you want something different (for example, something shorter), you can do that too.

Screenshot of entering the desired page name

Set the desired name for your Page.

Follow Facebook's guidance for claiming a username for your business Facebook Page.

Follow Facebook's guidance for claiming a username for your business Facebook Page.

Select the username carefully because Facebook will only let you change it once.

If the username is available, you will have secured a nice, shorter and snappier Facebook-style domain name for your Facebook page.

screenshot of page successfully named

Yeah, success!

First Steps for your Blog’s Facebook Page

Once your blog’s Facebook page is set up, take the following steps.

Complete Your Facebook Page’s ‘About’ Information

For the newly created page, fill in the About information and upload some pleasing profile and background images. Ideally, these should match the look and feel of your blog site.

This is one of those times it may be worth hiring a professional designer for on Fiverr.

If your blog does not cater to a local market, you are best leaving geographical information out. For example, I happen to be living in Vienna now, but I don’t add that to my blog’s page because (rightly or wrongly) identifying that location could turn off my potential audience in bigger markets such as the USA or UK.

For Quick & Easy Wins, Share News Items to Your Facebook Page

A quick and easy way to keep your Facebook page “fresh” is to share relevant news items. This also has the added benefit of keeping you up-to-date on your topic.

I use Google Alerts to monitor topics relevant to my website and then share the most interesting items on my Facebook page. 

To do so, simply copy and paste the news item’s URL in the Write something… box and then select Publish. You can share them without any additional comments or you can add your own comment before you select Publish

Facebook Post News

Frequently share news items on your Page for a fresh-looking Facebook presence.

You can also share relevant videos and images in this same way. This is a great (and easy) way to share videos on YouTube or infographics of your affiliate partners.

If you come across interesting posts on other Facebook pages, you can share them too in similar fashion and add any additional comments or observations you may have. 

While these activities all happen away from your website and therefore won’t help you directly generate commissions or other conversions, they do build your brand and can help generate interest in your website.

Build an Audience by Following Other Facebook Pages and Liking Posts in your Pages’ Feed 

Your newly created Facebook business page can also Like or Follow other Facebook pages. For example, I like and follow several organizations and businesses that are relevant to my blog, including many of my affiliate partners. 

Facebook business page linking

Find the Facebook pages of your affiliate partners and other reputable sources of information for your industry. Non-profits and associations are usually good for this. Then, Like or Follow them. 

When you follow Facebook pages, they will show up as a list box (with icons) on your Facebook page under the heading Pages liked by this Page. You may have to hunt a bit for this list box as its location on your Facebook page may change depending on the device or web browser you use. 

For example, refer to https://www.facebook.com/cogipas/pages_feed/ and replace “cogipas” with your Facebook page’s username.

When you follow other Facebook pages in this way, their posts will show up in your page’s Feed, which only you can see. Visit your page’s Feed and you will be able to keep up-to-date with their posts too and can share them with a single click or tap. 

Facebook Pages Feed

How to access and find your Facebook page's Feed.

You should spend a few minutes on a regular basis (daily over morning coffee is a great time) to Like and Share posts in your Page’s Feed. When sharing posts, make an intelligent comment or two when inspired to do so.

It takes about 5 minutes to scroll through your Facebook business page's Feed to Like and Share posts from the pages you are following. 

These efforts are all cross-pollinating and will make your own Facebook page look active and fresh.

Other Facebook users will see your page’s likes and shared posts, might grow curious about your page and end up following your page or even ultimately visiting your blog and generating a conversion for you. 

But probably not. That’s why you shouldn’t invest too much time on these efforts. 

Other than sharing your new (or revised) blog posts via your Facebook page (discussed below), the steps above are really the only active ones you “must” take for a decent social media presence. 

A Word about Commenting on Facebook

You could easily spend countless hours commenting on Facebook posts in the hopes of attracting Likes to your own Facebook page. But I would repeat that for most bloggers that time is better spent drafting and publishing good content.

By all means go ahead and comment on something that will demonstrate your expertise and perhaps gain your Facebook page some interest and followers, but don’t set aside hours per day or even week doing so. 

That sort of strategy can come later (and even be contracted out to a freelancer) once you generate a decent regular monthly income from your site.

And also beware of trolls. Often your self-perceived clever comment can attract ire or just downright nasty people. They might launch a mission of posting nasty comments on your Facebook page mocking you.

My recommendation about interacting with posts in your page’s Feed is a much more time-friendly way to gain almost as many benefits, especially if you have named your Facebook page properly. It’s much safer (and quicker) just to react to posts showing in your page’s Feed.

Promote Your New Blog Posts on Your Facebook Page 

Every time you publish a new post or update an existing post, share it on Facebook. 

Doing so is this easy: 

  1. go to the newly published post on your website
  1. copy its URL 
  1. paste this URL into your Facebook Page’s Write something… prompt
  1. confirm that your post’s meta description and featured image are displayed
  1. backspace over the URL and, optionally, write a comment or leave the space blank
  1. select Publish

That's it!

Facebook Page Publishing

Promoting your blog posts on your Facebook page is quick and easy. Do it!

 It’s so quick and easy that there is no excuse for not promoting your new blog posts this way. 

You can use the additional options available to choose a different thumbnail image of those available, delay the publishing to a future date (handy if you will be travelling or away) or even spend a little money to “boost” the post.

If you chose to boost the post, follow the same advice I gave about AdWords: start slowly and with a modest budget (for example, $1 per day), learn from the results, adjust and then repeat.

Top Tip: Use the Desktop App 

When posting to your Facebook page, I recommend you do so from a desktop computer. While Facebook’s 'Pages Manager' app for iOS and Android is pretty good, too often errors or hiccups occur which have led me to delete the published post and re-publish it via a desktop. 

The best example is when sharing a news article. On a desktop computer, you can toggle through the different potential thumbnail images to use. In contrast, the Android app gives you no choice. Too often I have used the app only to be disappointed about the thumbnail image used with the post.

Unless you are in a crunch, wait until you are behind a desktop computer to post to your Facebook page. 

There are plenty of apps such as Hootsuite that will let you simultaneously post to multiple social media accounts. However, my experience with them has not been great. Often something goes wrong and you anyway end up having to delete the post and re-publish it manually.

Unless you are juggling many social media accounts, I would say post manually as this ensures you maintain the most control over what is posted and how.

Backlinks and Referrals 

Ah, yes, backlinks, the often touted “secret” way to earn Internet riches from your website.

A backlink is a link on a different website that points back to yours, whether your website’s home page or a specific post on your site.

If you Google around, you will find all kinds of “white hat” (good guy), “black hat” (bad guy) and “grey hat” (somewhere in-between) ways to generate backlinks to your blog.

Backlinks do help you rank better in search engine results, but the story is a lot more complicated. Plus, backlinking efforts can easily backfire and end up hurting your search engine rankings!

At the end of the day, backlinking is another area where I would repeat my golden rule: your limited time, energy, resources and efforts are better invested in developing regular, good content for your blog rather than feverishly pursuing backlinks.

Backlinking Tips 

All the above being said, here is my advice about backlinking.

First, let others do it for you

Note this is different from hiring others to do it for you (discussed more below). Publishing good posts will itself lead to readers sharing your posts on other websites. 

This will give you high-quality and natural backlinks in the process. 

So instead of investing in black hat or grey hat backlinking methods, which can backfire anyway, just write good posts that people will want to share.

Secondly, try to always be on the lookout for safe and easy backlinking opportunities that involve little time, effort or risk. These do exist.

For example, whenever you use an image (free or otherwise) see if the page for that image has a comments section. If so, add a message like "Great image! I just used it on my blog." and include a link to the post on your site that uses the image. 🙂

Thirdly, when you see a story or post related to your site’s topic that allows links in comments, get in there early! Being among the first to post a quality comment with a backlink to your website can pay big dividends.

​Always make sure your comments add value and are not spammy.

There is no need to pay for any premium plugins (or themes) when you are first starting out.

Your comment may generate quality visitors. Even if it doesn’t, your comment will serve as a quality backlink helping your website’s “authority” and thus its ranking in search engine results.

But the key is always to ensure that your comment is of good quality, adds value and is not spammy

Comments that are obviously solely promotional will not even make it past the approval stage or will soon be deleted by moderators or flagged as inappropriate by other commenters.

This will result in the comment being deleted and perhaps your linked account being banned from making future comments on that site. 

You can push the limits on some sites more than others. For example, it seems almost anything goes on YouTube these days whereas you will get ripped apart within minutes of posting anything on Reddit that smacks of self-promotion.

If the comments permit links, don’t always just add a link to your site. Instead, think about including it among links to other sites too, maybe even competitor sites (especially if they already rank well ahead of you for the topic). 

This technique often helps the perceived credibility and helpfulness of your comment to the site’s readers and increases the chance of your comment passing moderation and being published. 

Post Comments Using an Alias 

In many cases, you will want to post comments with an account that is not obviously linked to your website. 

When posting comments, don’t use an email address which includes your site’s domain name. 

In fact, you may want to create one or more different alias accounts or use temporary disposable email accounts for posting comments.

In some cases – most notably Reddit – you may want your site expressly seen as connected to your comments. This is the case where you are trying to build a reputation as an honest and value-added commentator. Such comments will usually not contain links to your website. Instead, you use your comments to generate credibility for your website. 

How Many Backlinks do Your Competitors Have? 

If you want to see how your competitors fare for backlinks, you can easily check this for free with an online tool we often mention, Alexa.

It can be helpful for your backlinking efforts to see from where your competitors are getting some of their backlink juice. 

Knowing the sites on which they have backlinks can help guide you where you might try to post comments or request backlinks.

  1. go to Alexa Website Information
  1. enter your competitor’s domain name
  1. scroll down to ‘What sites link to’
  1. visit the inbound link sites and post comments on the same pages (better yet post replies to the specific comments mentioning their URL)

Consider adding the number of backlinks for each rival website to your Competitive Analysis document.

Don't Buy Backlinks or Sign-up to Link Farms 

There is no shortage of link farms promoting themselves as, “The sure-fire way to get your site to rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs) and fast!

This may have worked 10 or even 5 years ago but is now the surest way to get killed in Google’s rankings. 

Don’t be tempted! There are no shortcuts.
 

Commenting on Competitors’ Posts 

Commenting directly on posts published on your competitors’ websites is almost guaranteed to be a waste of time as your comments will rarely be approved and survive moderation.

Plus, if the competitor is much bigger than you, you risk attracting their ire and them targeting your traffic using the cherry-picking technique. Sometimes it is better to fly under your competitors’ radar. 

The last thing you want to happen is for your big competitor to put you in their sights and start to develop posts based on your top keywords and content, drawing visitors, conversions and revenue away from your website!

Outsourcing Commenting to Build Backlinks 

There was a time when I was convinced that backlinks were the missing element to make me a millionaire. (Get used to this phenomenon, especially reading “Easy Hidden Secrets” type posts on blogging websites).

I posted a clear task on Upwork and found a hardworking, decent freelancer who was willing to draft and post comments on other blogs containing links to my site. 

I was vetting the drafts and, in some cases, identifying posts to which she could make comments, so this was a time-intensive process. It was not as time-intensive as if I was doing everything myself but still enough.

Plus, the results were not great. Most comments were not approved and the ones that were approved did not give me an appreciable boost in search engine rankings over time.

In hindsight, I would have been better served publishing great content and letting organic visitors share my posts naturally. 

In addition, trying to do backlinking yourself, whether with the help of freelancers, always seems to be detected somehow. So, this does not have the same positive results as true online referrals. 

Video SEO 

Much like my short embrace of backlinks, there was also a time when I was convinced that videos would bring me riches. 

This was mostly the result of buying the book Googleopoly at an airport and reading it front to back on a long flight. By the time I landed, I was 100% convinced that video was the missing key to online riches!

But video is hard. 

It is not easy to make high-quality videos. Ultimately, I was proud of the videos I published, but they took a lot of time and, again, didn't produce much in the way of conversions or SEO boost.

I think it doesn't hurt that Google sees I have some videos, but I haven’t done any additional ones since my initial surge.  

Part of the problem for an affiliate site like mine is that people find the videos on YouTube and it is hard to “unstick” the visitor from YouTube and redirect them to visit your site.

You really only have the Description section immediately under the YouTube video display to do that and most people won’t bite.

I used some nifty techniques, such as making sure my website was mentioned prominently and early in the description, so it was always visible. 

In the end, I don't think they generated enough or maybe even any commissions to justify the time it took for me to produce the videos.

Perhaps a regular drum beat of weekly videos would do the trick, but who has time for that? Not time-starved bloggers, that’s for sure. Not unless you are extremely gifted and can do everything in one take without the video coming across as lame or cheesy. That is no easy feat.

YouTube Tips 

If you do decide to produce videos for YouTube, keep these things in mind:

Title 

YouTube displays only 32 characters of the title when most “scrunched up”.

Description 

You can have up to a whopping 5,000 words in the description for your video.  

However, the Description will initially display only the first 150 characters, so put your call to action (e.g., a link back to your site) right at the start. 

I also recommend you use an eye-catching character such as ►.

Use Pretty Link to shorten the URL to save precious characters and to enable you to track the number of clicks being sent to your website via the video. 

Here’s an example of what I mean:

https://www.cogipas.com/vpn-video ► Do you really need a VPN?  Find out what a VPN is, how it works and the top 10 cool things you can use a VPN for.

To see the remainder of the up to 5,000-word Description, YouTube visitors will have to select ‘Show More’. But it’s still good to enter a long description full of relevant keywords.

Also use some white space in the video Description, including empty lines, bullet lists and indents. I recommend you first use a word processor such as Word or Google Docs and then paste the text into YouTube.

Personal Selling 

Some commentators also tout promoting your website yourself such as through speaking engagements or holding seminars. 

I am simply not interested in this and have never investigated it seriously. I was trapped in a busy full-time job and simply did not have time. 

Plus, under my employer's code of conduct I'd have to disclose any outside activities and get permission. I wanted to keep my website off my employer’s radar.

Issuing a Press Release about Your Website 

This is not a cheap option. But, when first starting out, I figured if I went through the trouble of writing the content, publishing it and setting up a related Facebook page, I might as well go whole hog.

I went through the Webwire press release service. I chose the options, press release (targeted channels: Internet Security) and web release. The press release went to targeted trade publications and outlets. The web release was a more general (shotgun) release on the Internet in the hopes of getting picked up by at least some feeds and online news websites. Check it out.

Once you have drafted the news release, sleep on it. Maybe more than once. It is tempting – too tempting – to draft something and send it out immediately. The services make this easy to do. 

Mull over the release’s wording and especially the headline and first paragraph.  Follow the service’s guidelines carefully.

You should also search Webwire’s database for prior releases relevant to your website’s subject matter. You will be amazed how poorly written many releases are so don’t blindly emulate past ones. Follow the general guidelines but also emulate the wording and style from some of the best releases you find.

Once your release has been published by the service, it will be tempting to provide a link to it from your Facebook page and website. 

Don’t! 

Most services (Webwire included) have a set number of clicks that are included with the price of the release. Don’t “waste” these included clicks on people that are already followers on Facebook or visitors to your website. 

Instead, you can have the best of both worlds. Find another website that has picked up the content of your release (do a search on Google News for example) and use that link on Facebook and your website rather than the direct link to your release Webwire. 

This way, your current Facebook followers and website visitors don’t eat into your included number of free clicks. Those valuable clicks will be freed up for especially valuable targeted audiences and channels, such as trade publications and specialists that are scouring Webwire for newsworthy items.

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Last modified: July 22, 2018

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