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      Keep Your Blog Fresh: How to Repurpose Old Posts


      I’m just going to throw this out there: dealing with old content on your website has a lot more in common with cleaning out your sock drawer than you’d think.

      Yes, socks. Hear me out.

      No one ever wants to clean out the sock drawer, and while you’re procrastinating, those old, hole-ridden, stinky socks are piling up, taking up precious real estate. As the stinkers take up more space, it gets harder to find the fresh, new socks you actually want to wear.

      When you have dated material clunking up your website, it’s not as easy for people to find the new posts you want to show off. Just like a little spring cleaning goes a long way, you’ll want to do the same for your website. It isn’t quite as bad a chore as you’d expect,  and the benefits are tenfold.

      Here’s why you should keep your blog fresh — and a guide on what to do with those old posts.

      Do I Really Need to Go Through Old Content?  

      The answer is a big ‘yes.’

      “Your blog is a reflection of your company,” says Kathryn Marr, co-founder of digital marketing and web development company, Blue Ivory Creative. “It shows that you’re knowledgeable in your industry, provides valuable information that keeps potential clients interested, and is one of the keys to a successful SEO strategy. So if you haven’t posted in a while and if your content is outdated or incorrect, then you’re not making the most of an extremely valuable tool. Plus, depending on your site, it can result in decreased search engine rankings and potential liabilities.”

      Just imagine if someone finds your site and clicks on an old post that is riddled with outdated information. Do you think that visitor will take your site — and potentially your business — seriously after that?

      If someone spots numbers or statistics that are no longer correct, he might assume you’re either not knowledgeable about your industry, or you don’t care about the information you present to potential clients.

      “Internet users move quickly,” says Phil Weaver, CMO of Learning Success. “Often they may land on a post from a search query and not realize that the post is very old. If the post is no longer accurate, this may reflect badly on the company. This problem can be magnified if the post gets a lot of search engine traffic, slowly eating away at the company’s reputation. Inaccurate posts that get traffic can taint the company image in the minds of visitors to that page. This could be a problem that adversely affects a company for a long period, damaging company image without the cause being discovered.”

      Another reason to update your site regularly is old posts can be bad for SEO. “Google does like to see a history of great, consistent content so, in a lot of ways, old blog posts are beneficial to SEO, if they’re high-quality, relevant, and well-optimized,” Marr says. “But, there are three scenarios in which old posts can hurt you.”

      1. If your blog itself is old and hasn’t been updated in a long time, Google will see those way-back-there publishing dates and push you to the bottom of search results. That’s why updating those old posts and writing new ones consistently is key.
      2. Your old posts could have been optimized for outdated SEO standards that now have penalties associated with them. For example, before 2011, keyword stuffing — that’s adding as many keywords as possible into your content — was encouraged, but now it’s bad practice and can lead to Google penalties.
      3. With older posts, you may have been trying to rank for different keywords. However, Google can only display so many of your site pages and posts on the top few pages of their search engine, which can make it more difficult for your relevant, targeted posts to rank well.

      Plus, updating content is a lot more cost-effective than to create new content constantly.

      “Content creation is a very resourceintensive process,” Weaver says. “Each old post should be considered a business asset. Just like any business asset, old posts should be maintained to get the maximum benefit from that asset.”

      A common mistake is people thinking the more content they have up on their site, the better, so that’s why they don’t pay attention to older posts. But the truth is, it should always be about quality over quantity.

      “There’s this content marketing myth that goes something like this: Post as often as you can to get more traffic,” says Camilla Hallstrom, content marketing consultant at Influence With Content. “Sure, that might have worked five years ago, and yes, it might still work today, to some extent. But quality rules. People engage more with quality content, and it’s the best way to build a brand they love. After all, there’s a lot of noise online. The only way to stand out is to create something worth caring about. And that’s why updating content is so important. Quality takes time, and the only way to ensure all your content is top-notch is to focus on a smaller pool of content.”

      How Often Do You Need to Update Your Content?

      The answer can vary according to the type of work you do and the nature of your site, but a good rule of thumb is to do a thorough review annually.

      “I recommend content managers try to complete a full content audit once a year, provided your catalog isn’t thousands of articles deep,” says Sam Warren, marketing director at RankPay. “The larger your catalog, the more likely it is that you’ll want to develop a process for rolling updates in lieu of taking a project-based approach.”

      If your industry is competitive, fast-moving, or frequently has innovations, then you’ll probably need to update your content more often to give yourself an edge — particularly in industries such as law, finance, and marketing.

      “Why? Think about how you use Google or any other search engine,” Hallstrom says. “When you search for something, you have lots of options, so you need to decide which headline to click on. It’s much likelier that you’ll click on something that was published or updated recently than something that was last updated four years ago. And if you have a headline like ‘The 7 Best Computers (2018 Edition),’ that’s a lot more compelling than a generic headline like ‘The 7 Best Computers’ because it’s so much more specific to you as the user.”

      Also, if there’s a significant breakthrough, an innovation or something similar, Hallstrom suggests updating your content within the next month or so.

      How Do You Choose Which Posts to Update?

      While updating a post might sound like a lot of work to you, think of the time and effort that you’ve already put into your content. Sometimes just a few text tweaks or new images is all you need to make old posts fresh and relevant again. Here’s how to decide which are worth revamping.

      Measure Analytics

      “You might have more than a few blog posts on your site, and in that case, it doesn’t make sense to update all your content on a regular basis,” Hallstrom says. “Instead, check your analytics once in a while (at least every 12 months) to identify your top content.” That means content that gets traffic, content that could get traffic in the future, and content that converts.

      You can check this with tools like Google Analytics; Be sure to add conversions to the analytics you’re tracking. You’ll want to update posts that are already ranking high on Google to ensure you maintain your spot, posts that are close to ranking high (since just a few updated tweaks can increase their standing) and posts that once got a lot of attention on social media — since they’re no longer fresh and relevant, they aren’t being shared anymore.

      Research Your Industry

      Take the time to see what’s new in your field. Any news might be worth updating your content to include. “Then, research your competition,” Hallstrom says. “Has new content been published that outranks you on Google?”

      Check Your User Metrics

      See how people interact with your content, including how much time is spent on pages and bounce rates. This can be found via Google Analytics. If that engagement is low, there are updates you can make to improve it. Also, check user comments to see if people have questions about your content — you’ll want to add answers to your refresh. “You can also use user metrics to improve your conversions,” Hallstrom says. “If your content isn’t converting as it should, these metrics will help you understand why and what you can do to improve it.”

      Conduct an SEO Analysis

      Make sure your SEO is up to date by checking keyword analytics to ensure you use the right keywords since search habits can change over time. “The insights you get from your user metrics will help you decide if your content needs to be optimized for engagement,” Hallstrom says. “Remember, this is an important metric for Google! Use Google Search Console to see what keywords people use to find your content and to check your click-through rates. These metrics can pinpoint if your SEO titles need updates.”

      What’s the Best Way to Update Older Posts?

      Not every refresh is equal. Some will require more heavy lifting than others, and use the information you found during your research to help you determine exactly what that makeover should look like.

      “Use the insights you’ve gained to improve your titles, texts, and images,” Marr says. “For example, maybe there’s new data you can use to include in a graph? Update your SEO and improve the user experience, if possible. You want your posts to have accurate information, be optimized strategically for specific keywords, and contain relevant photos. Each post should play a role in your overall marketing strategy, and refreshing them to fit into your strategy can make them even more valuable.”

      Keep these approaches to recycling old content in mind:

      • Turn old posts into infographics. “Use the content and statistics from your blog post to create an easy-to-understand visual infographic,Marr says. “These are great for generating social shares — especially on platforms like Pinterest — and for presenting your information quickly.”
      • Get new facts. Update old posts with new information, such as current statistics and news. Add relevant details that might not have been around when the original post was created.
      • Refresh for social. “If it did really well in social media then what we generally do is look over the post and see how we can improve it,” Weaver says. “Are the resources still fresh? Are there others we can add? Has more information come to light over this time frame? Are our call to actions good? Do we have a strong lead and kicker? We do everything we can to improve the article, and then we repost.” And don’t forget to promote it again.
      • Create “best of” posts. Consider this your version of a greatest hits album. This is a way to categorize collections of old posts and make them feel fresh again, and could be anything from ‘Our Top 20 Marketing Tips’ or ‘Best How-To Arrange Flowers Posts of 2017.’
      • Film a video for an old post. “This works really well for tutorials, recipes, and similar types of posts,” Marr says. “Film a video walking your readers through something you described in a blog post. Then, share it on your social media accounts and add it to the old post for more engagement.”
      • Do a mini makeover. “If it is good information, but it did not do exceptionally well, then we closely look at the title and image,” Weaver says. “We will likely rewrite the title and replace the image.” You’ll be amazed at what a difference this can make. Catchy, clickable images don’t just make a post more visual — it also makes it much more likely to be shared on social media.
      • Enable rich snippets on your blog. “These provide additional information that will show up on search engines like reviews, author information, etc.,” Marr says.

      How Can You Use Old Posts to Improve SEO?

      A refreshed old post can be just as valuable as a brand new post. “Consistent, high-quality posts are critical for a good SEO strategy,” Marr says. “Optimizing them for specific, strategic keywords, adding alt tags to images, and increasing the length and quality of content can go a long way to making that content rank. You can also use old evergreen posts to drive traffic through social media and email marketing.”

      Using a keyword tool, such as Ahrefs or Buzzsumo, Warren recommends taking a look at how the keyword landscape has shifted for each piece of content.

      “Maybe your original keyword has lost significant volume, or maybe a competitor came in and created something even better than your original piece,” he says. “Whatever the cause, it’s often going to be worth the effort to identify the most promising keywords that the old content can rank for and then go after them.”

      Other ways to boost SEO is increasing the post length, adding optimized meta descriptions and titles, avoiding outdated SEO practices like keyword stuffing, linking to related posts that your audience might find interesting and useful, and adding compelling images and set up alt tags both for search engines and accessibility.

      Of course, while SEO is essential for driving traffic, you also want to focus on engagement.

      “To make sure your content is as engaging as it gets, it needs to be valuable, and most often, that means you need to write long-form content so that you have room to include everything you want to talk about,” Hallstrom says.

      “Your content needs to be easy to read and skim through — simple words, short sentences, and short paragraphs,” she adds. “Make sure you offer an amazing user experience. That’s what makes Google happy no matter how many times it changes algorithms.”

      Don’t Forget to Toot Your Own Horn (Again)

      Once your old-is-new-again content is refreshed, it’s time to promote it. “Old posts can drive new traffic by putting them on a similar promotion schedule as new posts,” Weaver says. “Plus, the social sharing links already showing shares from the last go-around looks good to new visitors and may incite more shares.

      How you promote refreshed content is largely dependent on the channel you use. For social media, it is usually appropriate to promote it in the same way you promote new content. Since your social media audience is constantly changing, it’s likely that many of your followers did not see the post the first time around.

      For others that did see it, it is very likely that they have forgotten or vaguely remember and are happy to engage with that content again.”

      For email lists, it’s better to only send to subscribers who have not previously opened an email promoting that content. And depending on the design of your site, you can push the revamped content to the front page again.

      Other ways to spread the word? Here are Marr’s suggestions:

      • Link to your old blog posts in new blog posts.
      • Reach out to bloggers and influencers who might be willing to share your posts with their audience.
      • Link to the posts in guest posts that you write for other sites.
      • Promote the stories as “with new content!” or “now updated!” on social.
      • Create “best of” posts that highlight categorized old posts.

      Whether new or old, you always want to attract the right traffic, so target your audience. “To ensure your content is attracting your target audience, you should check your analytics and ask yourself: ‘How do people find my content?’” says Hallstrom. “If you notice that a lot of site visitors find your content on Google, you’ll want to check what keywords they use. If those keywords are irrelevant to your products and services, you probably want to improve your SEO. Or, maybe you get traffic from a social media site like Twitter, but your audience hangs out on Pinterest. Then, you can update it to attract Pinterest users, so optimize your images and copy for Pinterest.”

      How Can You Give Your Blog Posts a Longer Shelf Life?

       There are a few tricks of the trade to avoid having to update your content as frequently. “If you create evergreen content from the get-go, you don’t have to worry as much about updating it,” Hallstrom says. “Make sure your content is the best content on your topic. Take a look at content that’s already out there. How can you make something that’s even better?”

      To help content last longer, avoid seasonal posts or content with a short time-frame of relevance. “Think about what people will want to read in five years,” Marr says. “Put the time into creating high-quality content that you’re going to be proud of years from now.”

      But ultimately, Warren advises against trying to make your posts last forever.

      “Often, being timely and current with your content will help it take off. You could try to remove popular culture references, dates, and other things to prolong shelf-life. But don’t diminish the potential impact of your content today in the hopes of avoiding refreshing it later.”

      Another way to consider it is approaching it from the vantage point of a visitor to your site. “Although many site owners feel that updating blog content is a nuisance, it can actually have a very high ROI,” Weaver says. “Site owners think content is old news, but for a site visitor, the content is new.”

      And while it might seem like deleting an old post is a quick fix, think again. “It’s important that you’re very careful when deleting old blog posts as it can affect your search engine rankings,” cautions Marr.

      “You should consider deleting an old blog post if it is no longer relevant nor can it be made relevant, the post is generating very low traffic or had negative responses, your services or products changed and the blog post is about old offerings,” she says. “Most of the time, though, it’s really best to repurpose and update the content. Don’t just delete blog posts to delete them. Have a good reason, backed by research, for removing that post.”

      That philosophy should apply to how you approach all the content on your site.

      “One of the biggest things that I can stress is to coordinate all of your blog post changes with an overarching website strategy,” Marr says. “And when you repurpose a post, do it in a way that really fits your business plan. For example, a video might not appeal to your audience, but an infographic might resonate really well!”

      Hopefully, the many perks of refreshing old posts will convince you that cleaning out your sock drawer isn’t so bad after all.

      Just like you won’t have to buy as many new socks, you don’t have to produce new content all the time either. “Instead, you ensure your existing content is the best of the best,” Hallstrom. “It takes some work up front, but you’ll be reaping the rewards for years to come.”

      Refreshed Content? Check!

      Now get everything you need to take your website to the next level. DreamHost plans start at $2.59/mo.



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      A Beginner’s Guide to Crafting the Perfect Blog — From Site Creation to Broadcasting Your Brand


      Back in the day, blogging essentially amounted to taking the stage in an empty theater. The spotlight shone on you as you stood behind the microphone and embarked on a soliloquy about your day. Maybe your dog did something funny and adorable, or perhaps you had a handful of vacation stories and photos to share. Maybe your aging water heater finally keeled over and died, setting off a tragically comedic series of home improvement projects.

      The availability and accessibility of personal web space in the mid-2000s gave rise to countless bloggers — but not many readers or business opportunities. Blogs typically added up to online diaries shared among close friends and family members, words thrown into the ether.

      via GIPHY

      Over the last several years, however, blogging has shifted from a self-serving ritual to an often fruitful endeavor. Several top blogs have turned into leading voices of industry and now amass hundreds of thousands of dollars each month.

      But blogging success isn’t just reserved for the Arianna Huffingtons of the world. From personal finance and fitness to food and fashion, individual writers can use their voice (well, their fingers and keyboard) to build a brand and expand it into a livelihood.

      However, don’t let the technical aspects of creating an online presence weigh you down or prevent you from starting. Coming up with your blogging idea and goals is plenty intimidating; once you’ve overcome that big hurdle, take a look at the steps we’ve outlined below to see how to make your dream a reality.

      Step 1: Pick Your Platform

      You know what you want to say, but how will anyone hear you? Your new blogging venture will face a critical early test when you choose which venue to share your point of view. While the writing, editing, and publishing features found in most blogging platforms are mostly the same, your experience and effectiveness will be significantly impacted.

      Website builders offer a beginner-friendly way to get online, but many of the big-name services tend to emphasize drag-and-drop design over providing a substantive and dynamic writing environment. Blogging is a bit of an afterthought, more of an extra feature thrown into the mix.

      Third-party publishing platforms like Blogger, Tumblr, or Medium emphasizes content and community, but it’s easy for authors to get lost in the crowd. Your brand becomes absorbed by the platform displaying your work.

      Even though all these options come with free or low-cost options, expenses can get a bit out of hand once you add the features you need to be successful (a custom domain name, for instance). You tend not to have as much flexibility as you’d think.

      Worst of all, those platforms own your content. The proprietary programs often make it difficult for you to download your content, and you won’t be able to transfer your site anywhere else without completely rebuilding. Granted, the companies mentioned likely aren’t disappearing anytime soon, but even promising startups can vanish in the blink of an eye — and take your blog with them.

      Turning to an open-source content management system like WordPress immediately solves all these woes. This free software powers nearly a third of the web, making it the most popular and trusted publishing tool.

      With a history rooted in blogging, WordPress balances writing tools with beautiful customizable designs (that will soon get even easier to use with the debut of Gutenberg and blocks). Both hobbyists and Fortune 500 companies use WordPress to build their brand and foster interactions with readers. You maintain complete control over your site and content. Trust us: go with WordPress.

      Want to learn more about WordPress? Check out our WordPress tutorials.

      Step 2: Set the Stage With a Domain Name and Hosting

      Although you can dip a toe into WordPress by using the all-in-one WordPress.com, we think self-hosted WordPress (found at WordPress.org) is the way to go. Hosting your website files with a trusted provider like DreamHost gives you extra security and stability, along with unlimited growth opportunities and friendly support.

      What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? Turns out, it’s big, especially when you want full control over your website.

      Most new bloggers will be well served with a shared web hosting plan. The configuration is the thankfully the cheapest option, but smaller price tags can open the door for performance issues or crummy customer service, depending on your provider.

      Instead of signing up with a generic web hosting plan, explore the specialized features WordPress hosting introduces. If you’re worried about the tech stuff becoming too involved or complicated, purchase managed WordPress hosting and let the experts take care of it. For more information on the similarities and differences between traditional web hosting and the managed WordPress variety, check out this resource from HostingAdvice.com.

      Once hosting is acquired, it’s time to take the first big, demonstrable step in establishing your blog! Many new hosting accounts, including ones through DreamHost, come with a free domain name registration. This is the URL your readers will associate with you and your content, so you’ll want to make this count! Hopefully, you already have a brand name in mind, but don’t be crushed if it’s not available as a domain. Some tips to consider when domain shopping:

      • Use descriptive keywords to describe your blog
      • Look for something short, pronounceable, and easy to spell
      • Avoid hyphens and other punctuation
      • Don’t be afraid to try different domain extensions
      • See if your name is also available on social media
      • Make sure there are no trademark or copyright infringements

      Step 3: Find a Theme and Customize Your Look

      Many hosts have simplified the WordPress installation process to just a click or two, but DreamHost has even eliminated that step. We’ll install WordPress for you, along with a handful of rock-solid themes and plugins to get you started. Finding the right theme or design is critical for your blog’s success, as it connects your readers with your content and quickly informs their first impression of your brand.

      Instead of getting bogged down in color schemes and typography, focus on functionality. Good blog themes should make your content easy to find. As such, pay attention to the information you display above the fold:

      • Is your navigation menu there?
      • What about a search box?
      • Recent or popular posts?

      Don’t feel like you need to make some big splash with your theme — clean, simple, useful designs always win.

      Obviously, your blog’s landing page and individual posts will garner the lion’s share of looks, but don’t forget about creating a visually engaging and useful design for an about page and a contact page. An about page helps build trust with your readers and enables you to share your personality and credentials, along with the blog’s mission and aspirations.

      Your theme and your content should work together and add value, not compete for attention. Fonts should be large and readable. Make sure the responsive or mobile-friendly versions of your site don’t hide important information on smaller screens. Instead of playing with the fun parts of web design, such as colors, imagery, and animations, concentrate on user experience. After all, your blog’s design is for your readers, not you!

      Step 4: Construct a Keyword-Driven Content Strategy

      Sure, you know you want to blog. But are you sure you’re treating this as a possible business venture and source of income (and not as a self-satisfying bout of verbal preening)? Briefly put your writing talents aside and come up with a business plan for your blog that avoids these common mistakes.

      For instance, how often do you plan on publishing a new post? Temper the initial excitement and avoid committing to an unsustainable writing schedule. Seek consistency, both in terms of frequency and tone. Your personality and chosen topic area will likely shape the voice you naturally bring to your content, but don’t lose sight of your target audience. Your readers’ demographics, locations, interests, and habits all offer hints as to what information will be the most useful and entertaining.

      Take the guesswork out of your writing prompts by engaging in a healthy bit of keyword research. In addition to the obvious benefits to search engine optimization and higher rankings, keyword research reveals what your target audience is actually looking for. Your blog might be the best content on the web, but it’s all largely for naught if Google can’t find it. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

      Instead of jumping straight into the deep end with high-value — and highly competitive — broad search terms, identify a handful of more specific searches that you can build a base around. Don’t write content around the area’s best restaurants; craft your posts around, say, the coziest Italian restaurant that’s the best spot to bring a date. The experts at Moz do a great job of explaining a straightforward, easy-to-follow method of keyword research.

      Step 5: Work Ahead With Writing

      Once you have a healthy list of topics to explore, it’s time to finally get to work! Are you surprised that writing is such a small part of establishing a successful blog? Because writing is theoretically the part that comes most natural to you, we’re just helping establish the guidelines through which to funnel your creativity and steer your success.

      For starters, you’ll want to publish a few posts before you officially launch your blog. Give readers a glimpse of what they can expect from your brand by covering a handful of topics in the voice and tone you envision using for the long haul. This enables your visitors to connect with you more personally and gain insights and information beyond the generic, “Hey, I started a blog” post.

      via GIPHY

      You might be chomping at the bit to get started blogging, but channel that excitement in ways that will keep that momentum going long after the initial rush wears off. In addition to the three to five posts you’ll publish, try to have another five to 10 posts written and saved in drafts. Beyond that, maintain a list of ideas or keywords you’ll want to write about in the future. By stocking up on content and topics, you’ll be poised to handle any bout of writer’s block that emerges.

      As for the content itself, find a schedule that works best for you. Publishing only two or three new posts a week is perfectly acceptable (that’s what we aim to do on the DreamHost blog). Daily articles sound great in theory, but first you need to find out if that is the right amount of content for your audience. Then take your time working up to that cadence. Spend the extra time formatting, proofreading, and otherwise perfecting each post.

      Step 6: Build Interactions and Boost Your Following

      Once your new blog is open for business, now it’s time to start attacking the second part of this post’s headline: broadcasting your brand. Just as the quality of your content won’t matter if Google can’t find you, the same can be said for your audience. Ideally, you set up your blog’s social media accounts as you worked on the site and starter content (remember when we listed social media availability as part of a strong domain name?).

      Naturally, you’ll frequently rely on your brand’s social media profiles to share new blog posts, but don’t resort to mindlessly copy/pasting links into your feed. Many of your same content creation and brainstorming exercises for your blog should also be used toward your social media: How can you be engaging, entertaining, and relevant to your followers? Find compelling images and other visual elements to accompany your posts; graphics alone can lead to more than 30 percent more clicks and visits on social media. Pose questions to your readers and lend timely insights into trending issues.

      Be sure to keep in mind that interactions with readers don’t (and shouldn’t) need to happen away from your blog. Social media networks connect broad swaths of people, but the most important audiences to focus on are the ones who have already found you. Turn your readers into brand advocates by creating engaging opportunities to interact and return to your blog. You can bridge the gap by making it easy for visitors to share their favorite post on Facebook and Twitter, of course, but consider allowing them to comment directly on the post — and be sure to respond to their questions and opinions. Doing so humanizes your brand and deepens the relationship with your readers.

      Consider capturing readers’ attention by flipping the relationship. Instead of sitting back and hoping for readers to come to your blog, set up an email newsletter or subscription and collect people’s addresses. That way, you can more actively get your content to the front and center, rather than waiting for someone to browse your blog’s way. This can easily be accomplished with an email marketing platform that provides embeddable code that can be placed in a widget on your blog’s sidebar or footer. Alternatively, consider a WordPress plugin that pops open a window directly asking for engagement. While these can be extraordinarily effective, beware of the fine line between user engagement and dark UX practices.

      Step 7: Analyze Analytics and Tweak Your Tactics

      So now your blog is a buzzing hive of activity. Readers are zipping around from one post to the next. Or maybe they’re checking out your About Page. Or instead of reading a post until the end, they’re just glancing at the headings. Maybe they’re not even opening a post.

      You’ll never know for sure until you look at analytics or the data that shows where visitors come from, how they move around their site, and why they leave. Google Analytics is the go-to (and free!) service that can provide a wealth of information about your audience and your site’s performance. Pageviews can identify your most popular blog post over a certain period, for instance, while a high bounce rate (the percentage of users who leave a site quickly after viewing only one page) may indicate some design or content changes could be in order.

      As you learn how long your readers stay on your blog and where they go, you might discover they don’t interact with your website quite how you anticipated. Find where the common hangups are and make the related tweaks to your navigation menu, read more links, and other interaction points. By solving your first few users’ problems, you’re paving the way for more and more readers.

      Do you have any questions about crafting the perfect blog? Join the DreamHost Community and let’s talk shop!



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      How to Promote Your Blog on Social Media


      You’ve worked really hard to get where you are. Go ahead, toot your own horn. You deserve it. We know running your own website can be lots of hard work — and that’s not even counting the challenges, learning curves and (probably) late nights you’ve endured in the process of getting where you are now.

      That being said, nothing is more demoralizing than putting your best efforts out there on the web for everyone to see, then scanning your analytics and seeing low page views on your blog or website. Sure, numbers aren’t everything, and traffic takes time, but likely you’ve started producing content with the hopes that you can get eyes on your site, and ultimately, the website you’ve worked so hard to create. We want that for you, too.

      Mobile phone screen with apps.

      In an effort to expand your marketing toolbox and drive rush-hour-loads of traffic to your site, we’re chatting social media — the deets of each channel and how to utilize various platforms to promote your blog. Goodbye, single-digit stats. Hello, Page views (with a capital P)!

      Social Media, an Overview

      For many of you — especially the web savvy and in-tune millennials — interacting with social media is as habitual as breathing. You do it without thinking. Scrolling, snapping, double-tapping; it’s second nature. You know social media well, especially in the how and when of your engagement with it — the average American spends two hours a day social-ing — but let’s look at it from a more analytical perspective. To start, some numbers:

      Internet users are social. That much is obvious. And from these numbers alone, we can see that social media is a big market, likely under-utilized or misused by many sites in generating traffic and promoting blog posts. Thus, tapping into these platforms means big business for the promotion and growth of your blog. How? Let’s analyze it as a marketing tool.

      Social Media as a Marketing Tool

      Time to don a new hat — that of a marketer. Ninety-one percent of retail brands use two or more social media channels, and 81 percent of small and medium businesses use some kind of social platform. To build and engage audiences, you need to be socially connected to generate more traffic to your site.

      Because social media platforms can experience a high volume of traffic and engagement, you’ll want to leverage those crowds to bring eyes to your website or blog. Plus, it’s a budget-friendly way to market your blog (hey, we know the purse strings are tight!)

      How? First things first. As we mentioned, you can probably garner a lot of useful social media info based on your own social habits, but consciously keeping your finger on the pulse of social conversation (think of it as honing your social listening skills) will help you better understand how to launch your social media plan of attack to build your site traffic.

      Plus, social media is always changing and evolving, so you need to be in tune with social platforms to keep up with the most effective marketing methodology for each one. Don’t sweat algorithms too much, just keep learning and testing what works best for your audiences.

      Social media channels also present a useful two-way system of accepting user feedback and gathering relevant user-generated content.

      Using social media as a marketing tool doesn’t have to be tricky. We’ll walk you through some social media marketing best practices, then investigate how you can you utilize each unique social channel to promote your content and start building traffic on your blog.

      Buckle up — and grab a pencil: it’s time for Social Media Marketing 101.

      Social Media Marketing Best Practices

      Social media marketing requires individual, customized efforts (as we’ll discuss later), but there are a few good-for-traffic practices of general application that you can implement in your efforts to market your blog.

      Link It

      Users won’t want to dig around to find your content or an obscurely-hidden link to your blog. Make it easy for them to locate you by putting a link to your site on all of your social media channels. Make it visible and easy to navigate. When your social media content engages them, they’ll want more — so make it simple for them to connect with you and access your blog or website.  Also, try to keep your handles consistent across your platforms. That will make it easier for audiences to find you — and easier for you to build a cohesive and recognizable brand. (Yes, even blogs have brands!)

      Autoblog's Twitter profile.

      Autoblog’s Twitter profile has a handy and convenient link to their blog direct from their bio.

      Make it One-of-a-Kind

      Even though most social media channels have the same basic underpinnings (sharing content, connecting with others, etc.), that is really the only tie that binds them. Each platform structure is unique and they each operate on different models.

      That being said, the way you promote your blog or website on social media cannot be one-size-fits-all. The marketing of your blog on Instagram will likely not work on Facebook, and what works on Twitter will definitely not work on Pinterest. You get the idea. Plus, social content just CTRL+C-ed onto each platform is not only lazy, but it could be off-putting to audiences — this repeat approach can appear spammy. You definitely don’t want that.

      As you develop plans to promote your blog posts on social media (see next point), take each platform into account. Tailor your content to each platform individually based on the mechanics of each channel. (Learn more about these models in our platform breakdown section to follow.) And know this: you don’t have to have 15 different social media accounts. It’s 100 percent fine to pick a few and focus on excelling at those. Know (and respect) your limits.

      The WP Beginner website on Facebook.

      The WordPress Beginner website adjusts how they present the same content on Facebook and Twitter.

      The WordPress Beginner website.

      The WordPress Beginner website adjusts how they present the same content on Facebook and Twitter.

      Stick to a Schedule

      With everything you have to do to keeping your website up and running (we know the to-do list is never-ending), you’ll need a way to stay organized — and keep yourself sane — as you promote your blog on social media. After you’ve planned out tailored content for each channel, schedule your posts so you can set them and go. Programs like Hootsuite or CoSchedule work excellently for this multi-channel scheduling.

      Plus, scheduling content ahead of time helps you keep content consistent and tap into the best posting times for each platform without forcing you to be online every second of the day. It will take time to figure out the best times and posting frequency for each platform, so don’t worry if you have to keep tweaking and refining your social media scheduling.

      Create Buzz with Campaigns

      Rather than just a here or there tweet or Instagram post, you can use social media to attract audiences to your blog in new ways. By creating social media campaigns (and using hashtags in the right places), you can implement focused, concentrated efforts that can yield a greater return on engagement and traffic to your blog. Plan timely campaigns by setting goals for your desired engagement and how that engagement will translate to new blog traffic.

      Girls Scouts on Twitter.

      Girl Scout’s ongoing #BecauseofGirlScouts Twitter campaign gives them a unique way to share content, and — bonus — invites lots of user-generated content from followers and influencers.

      Stay in Tune with Trends

      From now on, view (creative) bandwagoning as a good thing. As you hone your social listening skills, you can learn to tap into the pulse of virtual buzz and social trends on each platform and customize content to utilize the already-built hype to fuel your efforts to find new audiences. Whether you’re riding the wave of the #InMyFeelingsChallenge, the latest iPhone emoji, or an upcoming holiday (National Pizza Day, anyone?) or season, the natural conversation of buzz-worthy topics can serve as traffic-building vehicles.

      Maria of lifestyle blog The Glam Greek.

      Maria of lifestyle blog The Glam Greek utilizes the buzz of #NationalReadaBookDay to engage ‘grammers and promote her blog.

      American Airlines Facebook post.

      American Airlines uses Facebook to share content related to the trending #NationalCameraDay topic.

      Lego's Royal Wedding-themed Instagram post.

      Talk about relevance: Lego’s Royal Wedding-themed Instagram post was promotion perfectly timed.

      JetBlue's Star Wars-themed holiday Twitter post.

      Embracing the Star Wars-themed holiday with a smartly-designed tweet? Social media marketing brilliance. Kudos, JetBlue.

      Promote Across Networks

      Let your social media marketing efforts work together. Instead of merely recycling content across platforms, share unique content on each platform that connects users to the content on other platforms — for example, you could share a “behind-the-scenes” moment on your Instagram story while sharing a post excerpt or reader comment on your Twitter. This only-get-it-here method of social marketing will help encourage users to engage with you on multiple platforms — thus getting even more exposure to your marketing efforts.

      Optimize for Mobile

      Ready for a whopper of a fact? Here goes: 91 percent of social media users are accessing social channels via mobile devices. With the total number of mobile phone users reaching more than 5 billion (up 4 percent from last year), more people than ever are accessing their social media channels on the go. Simply put, this means that your content — both on social media and on your website — needs to be mobile friendly, optimized for smartphone-toting audiences, whether they are commuting to work, on their lunch break, or in line at the supermarket.

      People on train platform looking at their phones.

      Don’t Neglect SEO

      Just because you’re intent on upping your social game to bring increased traffic to your blog doesn’t mean you can ignore the necessary task of optimizing your content (and website) for search engines. We’ve got A-plus guides to SEO — check them out here.

      Keep Your Eyes on Analytics

      Because social media changes so often, and marketing on the various platforms can be a trial-and-error process, you need to keep tabs on what’s working — and what isn’t. A social monitoring tool like Sprout Social or Social Report can give you valuable insights on social media activity and the results of your marketing efforts.

      Also, take notice of the referral section of your blog analytics. Where is your traffic coming from? Are audiences flocking from Instagram? Then you’re doing well on that network — so keep continuing efforts there. Little to no crowds visiting your site from Facebook? Looks like you know where to evaluate and adjust. Staying clued in to analytics helps you not only keep your audience in mind, but also continue improving your way to blog success.

      Breaking Down the Platforms

      Let’s break things down. Since there are so many social media platforms these days (it seem like a new one pops up every day), we’re going to cover five main channels, identifying what marketing efforts might look like on each platform, and what’s important to know about each individual social network.

      Each channel offers you many different ways to promote your content, so it’s important to be familiar with each — including character limits, demographics, and optimal posting times. Still, the time to be a social media guru is now — the practices that are most effective on social media often change over time, so it’s essential that you keep up your social know-how. That being said, it’s time to log in!

      Facebook

      • Usership: One billion active daily users
      • Main Demographic: 18-to-29-year-olds make up 82 percent of users
      • Key Times: 9 a.m., 1–3 p.m, Thursday–Sunday
      • Ideal Posting Frequency: Once a day
      • Post Character Limit: 10,000 but only the first 480 characters are visible in the timeline. The rest are hidden with a “See More” link. So, hint: best to keep your post to 480 characters or less. The rest of your text will likely not get seen. In fact, reports show that the optimal length for engagement is less than 80 characters!

      Even though to some it may feel like the millennial version of Myspace (aka the web’s ghost town), in reality, Facebook is still ruling the social media game, with total users reaching almost 2.17 billion at the beginning of 2018. Plus, (with the exception of people over the age of 65) more than half of Americans in each age group are Facebook users. That’s a significant range. Because it largely dominates the social landscape, it’s important — even crucial — to understand the platform in order to promote your blog well.

      A recent Pew Research Center survey revealed that a majority of adult Americans — 73 percent — use Facebook. That being said, it remains a primary social platform, and while total time spent on Facebook daily has decreased over time to 35 minutes, it is checked the most frequently of any platform — eight times a day. Eight!

      Facebook allows you to promote your blog via your profile, pages, and in groups. Keep posts visual — meaning, include high-quality images — and consider putting your link in the text field instead of using the automatic link preview post. This hack has shown to help increase engagement on your post. Plus, another plug for visuals: images on posts are automatically added to your Facebook album so your audiences can access them (including your links) in one convenient place.

      Use engaging and inviting text on your posts, encouraging your community to share their thoughts and opinions. And even though it’s tempting — like, aren’t they awesome for turning posts into searchable content? — avoid using hashtags. They’ve historically not been great for engagement on Facebook.

      Staples Facebook post of a vintage lunch box.

      Loving this timely, fun, and engaging post from Staples.

      Switch up the times you post and the text you use to promote your blog content (keep it fresh!) in different areas of Facebook, whether that be on your main page or in groups. Don’t shy away from resharing evergreen content mixed with other useful and relevant content.

      K.M. Weiland's Facebook page.

      ‘Author and writing blogger K.M. Weiland uses Facebook to encourage conversation and promote useful blog content.

      If you’re looking to venture into Facebook (or other social) Ads to promote your blog, read up on social media advertising with a guide like this one.

      And the last word for keeping things mobile optimized: 19 percent of time spent on mobile devices is spent on Facebook. Just let that one sink in for a minute. Nineteen percent of all time spent on mobile devices. To build your blog audience, the content you share has to be mobile-friendly.

      Instagram

      • Usership: 1 billion monthly active users
      • Main Demographic: 18-29-year-olds make up 59 percent of users
      • Key Times: Weekdays (Thursday is shown to be the day with the highest engagement) at 5 a.m., 3-4 p.m.
      • Ideal Posting Frequency: 5 times a week
      • Post Character Limit: 2,200; 30 hashtags. The ideal length for captions is 138-150 characters, with 5-10 hashtags.

      You don’t have to be Selena Gomez or Cristiano Ronaldo — aka, Insta’s Most Followed — to effectively reach and target new audiences for your blog. Instagram is growing in big ways, (especially after its buyout from Facebook in 2012) meaning, the platform is ripe with possibilities for you to promote your blog or website.

      There’s a lot of love (and happiness) going around Instagram. Meaning, users double-tap more than 4 million posts a day. Because of this, the platform has the highest interaction rate of social networks, with 2-7 percent of users interacting with each post.

      That being said, there’s another stat to be aware of: 70 percent of Instagram posts don’t get seen. Yeah, you can blame the new algorithm for that one. Because ‘grammers are sharing an average of 95 million photos and videos each day, oversaturation can mean that audiences (including your potential traffic) aren’t seeing what you share. Because the network operates by using post page engagement for choosing content people will see, you need to work on acing your engagement game — meaning, getting people to interact with you. How? A few tips:

      Post Your Location

      Posts geotagged with a location earn 79 percent more engagement so let your audiences know where you are. You don’t want to give users your home address, but if you’re crafting content from an interesting location or visiting a site — share it!

      DreamHost post on Instagram.

      Yep, we’re on Instagram! Follow us for updates on our around-the-world adventures in hosting.

      Keep Track of (and Replicate) High-Performing Posts

      As you work to understand what’s effective on each social network and what isn’t, there will be (lots of) trial and error. Some posts will perform well, some won’t. That’s part of the learning and refining process. But to increase the likelihood of engagement (and ultimately, the traffic to your blog), keep a close eye on your analytics and replicate the elements of your most successful posts.

      Engage Yourself

      If you want people to interact with you, start showing some Insta love yourself. Comment and like social content from other blogs and websites similar to yours. Who knows, you may even (social) network your way to new, useful collaborations and partnerships. (See next tip!)

      Tag Team

      You don’t have to be ridin’ solo when marketing on social media. Likely, you will connect with other like-minded sites or businesses with whom you can mutually benefit in your work to promote your brands. Whether your partnering up for guest content on each other’s blogs, or simply promoting others’ posts, tag-teaming is always a good idea.

      Grammarly post on Instagram.

      Editing service Grammarly collabed with Glassdoor to provide valuable resume writing tips.

      Tell Stories

      A big part of Instagram’s recent growth is due to its Stories feature. It’s also helped increase the amount of time people are spending on the network — users under 25 years of age spent more than 30 minutes a day, while those over 25 spend more than 24 minutes a day.  Using stories — whether to link to new content, share sneak peeks of upcoming content, or build your brand — can help you increase your engagement and traffic.

      Employ CTAs

      Here’s a hopeful number for you: 75 percent (yep, three quarters!) of Instagram users take action — like making a purchase or hint, hint, navigating to a website — after visiting a post. Audiences are willing (and likely) to act, you just need to point them in the right direction. On your posts and stories, give your audiences specific instructions on what to do next — most likely, a link to visit your blog.

      Ace Captions

      Don’t worry. You don’t need to be a stand-up comic or prolific wordsmith to create captions that engage. But you should think about them. A lot. Hastily throwing up a haphazard caption isn’t just lazy — it’s a missed opportunity to attract new audiences to your site. Showcase your voice and the personality of your blog by crafting captions that are playful, smart, and character-conscious.

      Airbnb post on Instagram.

      Airbnb’s Instagram captions give you wanderlust with vivid details and a storytelling feel.

      Re-read before posting to catch spelling or grammar errors and to identify any other potential mistakes. Also, make sure to plan out and utilize relevant hashtags. Don’t stuff (hand-pick a few) with unnecessary or inaccurate hashtags just to get seen.  

      Utilize User-Generated Content

      Businesses and websites aren’t the only ones generating impressive content on Instagram. Often, run-of-the-mill everyday users can provide you with great social content. And if they’re sharing, commenting on, or otherwise engaging with your blog or content, that product is gold. Share it!

      Letterfolk post on Instagram.

      Letterfolk embraces the creative projects of their customers to promote their product.

      Gal Meets Glam lifestyle/fashion blogger Julia Engel.

      The Gal Meets Glam lifestyle and fashion blogger Julia Engel shares user-generated content with customers of her dresses.

      Be Business Minded

      Even if you are not peddling a product, you are selling something when promoting your blog: your content (and your brand) — so maintain a business mindset when deciding what, when, and why to post. Eighty percent of Insta users follow a business on the platform, meaning that audiences aren’t shy about engaging with and keeping tabs on accounts they like. (That could be you!)

      Show Your Face

      So it doesn’t necessarily have to be your face, but reports show that Instagram images featuring faces get 38 percent more likes than faceless ones. Whether you want to take your own photos or invest in high-quality stock photos, make sure to get some people in your shared images.

      Humans of New York Instagram post.

      Humans of New York is one of the best examples of people-centric social images. And their stats are proof: it’s engaging.

      Twitter

      • Usership: 330 million monthly active users
      • Main Demographic: 18 to 29-year-olds make up 36 percent of users; 22 percent of 30 to 49-year-olds.
      • Key Times: Wednesday, 9-10 a.m., 2 p.m.
      • Ideal Posting Frequency: 15 times a day
      • Post Character Limit: 280 (images and beginning-of-tweet handles don’t count toward the limit). Ideal character amount is 71-100.

      Content on Twitter is high volume (there are more than 350,000 tweets sent every minute), which is why sharing or retweeting a higher number of tweets every day is OK — and why it’s easier to get lost in the shuffle if you’re not crafting and tweeting out good content that’s well-worded, well-timed, and accompanied by strong visuals. Because 42 percent of Twitter users access the app every day, you have daily opportunities to build traffic to your blog.

      Spotify post on Twitter.

      In addition to promoting their site’s content in creative, visual ways, Spotify uses Twitter to engage audiences in conversation.

      That being said, Twitter isn’t just a way to tweet out links to new blog content. It’s also a way to communicate with audiences. Engage with users by leveraging Twitter chats, responding to comments, sharing polls, and utilizing trending topics or hashtags to join buzzworthy conversations.

      LinkedIn

      • Usership: 500 million users
      • Main Demographic: 30 to 64-year-olds make up 61 percent of users.
      • Key Times: Wednesday, 3-5 p.m.
      • Ideal Posting Frequency: At least once a week, not more than once a day.
      • Post Character Limit: Varies

      Despite its long-held rep, LinkedIn isn’t just for suit-and-tie professionals looking to push their resumes or companies seeking their next great employee. LinkedIn is a social network that actually has excellent opportunities to market your blog and attract readers.

      Forty-six percent of social traffic to corporate websites comes from LinkedIn. It’s one of the leaders in driving audiences to business blogs, so it can be a good network to utilize for building your own blog traffic — and traffic that’s willing to act and more likely to remain loyal.

      Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts on LinkedIn.

      In addition to employee spotlights, fun trend-related posts (like their own Mannequin Challenge post), and company news, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts uses LinkedIn to share their killer content. #winning

      Long-form content gets the most shares on LinkedIn, so don’t worry about being long-winded. Create valuable content and take the space you need to do so, then share it on relevant Linkedin groups that will engage users and direct them towards your blog for more.

      And don’t forget visuals: posts with eight images outperform the rest.

      Pinterest

      • Usership: 200 million active monthly users
      • Main Demographic: 18 to 29-year-olds make up 36 percent of users, 30 to 49-year-olds make up 34 percent; 70 percent of users are women.
      • Key Times: Saturday, evenings
      • Ideal Posting Frequency: 5-30 pins a day
      • Post Character Limit: 500 characters or less for pin description

      Even though it seems like we’ve passed the heyday of Pinterest prime, the image-centric social channel is still fourth in popularity, and it continues to grow. Plus, Pinterest isn’t just for virtual vision boards (like that secret wedding board or ambitious meal plan pins you’ve stored). The platform actually offers you some really fantastic ways to promote your blog.

      Better Homes on Gardens on Pinterest.

      In addition to employee spotlights, fun trend-related posts (like their own Mannequin Challenge post), and company news, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts uses LinkedIn to share their killer content. #winning

      For example — while on many sites, branding content has become tiresome to audiences, 78 percent of Pinterest users welcome content from brands. Plus, the way you promote your blog content through pins isn’t just a one-and-done affair. You can continue to receive engagement long after you’ve hit submit. Users save your content and can continue to revisit it after time has passed. This gives your shared content a longer shelf life than most social media efforts have. Cool, right? Plus, in addition to blog content, you can create value by pinning material related to the theme or niche of your blog. This can help you build your brand — and your audience.

      Time to Target that Traffic

      Feel like a social media expert yet? Don’t worry. We know it’s a lot to process. And that’s only a sampling of social. If you’re looking for ways to branch out into new social territory when you get the hang of a few major channels (the ones that work best for your audience), look into other platforms, like YouTube (a social biggie), Tumblr, Google Plus, Reddit, Medium, Snapchat, and more. There are Google communities, vlogs, and reblogging to master next.

      Just know this: each social media platform offers you different ways to promote your blog. Not only do they differ by algorithms and operating models but also on character limits and image sizes, community interaction, main demographics and the tactics that make marketing efforts successful on each one. It will take time to find your social groove (and to stay on top of ever-changing social trends and models), but putting your best efforts into promoting your blog on social media will lead to your end-of-the-rainbow gold: more eyes on your A+ blog. Score!





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