Blogging can be one of the most effective ways to build both your reputation and Web traffic through search engine optimization (SEO). In fact, there are many who think content marketing and blogging are the most important elements of an SEO program.
I listened with interest to the most recent Brand Fast-Trackers podcast with Andrew Dumont of SEOMoz. He talks a lot about the importance of creating content. Also, the recent report on Digital Trends for 2013 from Econsultancy and Adobe notes that “the single most significant trend is the continued emergence of content marketing as a standalone discipline.”
Let’s say you are going to invest some time—and perhaps money—into creating content for your website. In most cases, this will take the form of a blog. But it’s one thing to create content, and another to get it out there so others can read it.
What are some things you can do to make your content more shareable? What can you do to get people to read it and pass it on to others? Take a look at this list:
1. Don’t just create content. Create great content.
This should be a no-brainer. People generally don’t share plain, run-of-the-mill content. To get people to want to share your content, make sure it’s good, if not great. Don’t publish what everyone else is publishing. Create something that shows off your knowledge in a unique way and from your perspective.
Note: People will share horrible content, but for all the wrong reasons. Aim high.
2. Get it out there yourself.
Don’t write a post and let it sit there on your site. Push it out. Before anyone else can find it, you need to market your material. You need to share it first.
When my blog publishes early each morning, I have it set up to automatically post in a few places, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. That way, folks already connected to my company will have the chance to see it.
Additionally, I make sure the post goes out to Pinterest, Google +, some LinkedIn groups and other platforms that make sense in terms of the content of my piece.
Don’t be afraid to self-promote. If you don’t tell others about your work, who will?
3. Provide a simple sharing mechanism .
Let’s assume you’ve gotten people to read your work, and they like it. They might want to share it with their friends, but they won’t want to work too hard to do it. Make sure you have all the right plug-ins and buttons for social sharing.
There are plenty of options out there, and I use some individual buttons as well as Shareaholic. You’ll have to determine which networks are important to you, but you can’t go wrong with at least promoting sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and Pinterest. You might also want to make sharing easy on social-sharing sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon and Delicious.
4. Have a printer-friendly version or email button.
Some people might not share on social platforms, but want to email your post to a friend or co-worker. They also might want to make a nice PDF to print out and give to someone.
Sure, printing is becoming a thing of the past, but there are still a lot of people who like a hard copy.
5. Allow comments.
Every blog should allow people to comment, not just because of the feedback mechanism, but because people might be more likely to share content on which they left a comment. If they are part of the conversation, it’s an added level of engagement. There is a good chance that once they’ve commented, they’ll share your content.
If they comment, make sure you comment back to keep the engagement going.
6. Allow subscriptions.
Whether you use Feedburner, Feedblitz or some other subscription mechanism, allow readers to subscribe to receive all your content via either email or RSS feed. People can forward emails and share from within an RSS reader.
7. Use images.
This may not seem that important to sharing, but if you want people to share on Pinterest, you must have an image. Every blog post you write should have at least one image people can pin. Additionally, that compelling image will travel with your post to Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites, and can actually draw people in. Make sure your image has some alt text for SEO purposes.
8. Ask people to share.
You might not want to do this with all of your content, but there’s nothing wrong with asking your readers to pass your content along to others. This is especially good if you have an e-book or special video. Sometimes all you need to do is ask, and people will listen.
9. Make access easy.
If you produce something other than a blog post—say, a podcast or an e-book—make sure people can access it easily. I still see sites that offer downloadable PDFs and a link to Adobe Reader just in case someone who doesn’t know what a PDF is stumbles by.
If you offer an e-book, provide easy links and instructions on compatible e-readers. If you produce a podcast, provide people with multiple ways to listen and download for a variety of devices, and explain how to do it.
We often assume everyone is as tech savvy as we are, but that’s not the case. There are plenty of people who still aren’t in tune with all the technology and lingo. Do the work for them; make it simple.
10. Build a community.
This takes time, but once you become part of a strong online community, you’ll have a group of people who are more than willing to share one another’s content. I’m blessed to be a part of such a community.
Additionally, you can use something like Triberr to harness that community and the power of sharing. Of course, being a member of a community means you’ll have to share the work of others, too. But that’s the point, right?
In the end, the most important thing is the quality of the content. Create content that is worthy of being shared, or you’ll waste your time. All these other things won’t matter a bit if there isn’t anything worth sharing.
How do you get people to share your content?
Ken Mueller is the proprietor of Inkling Media, where a version of this article originally appeared.