This article is part of my guide on starting a blog. Read the full guide to learn how to start a blog from scratch.
After learning many new things, you have finally created your blog, optimized it for speed, done some SEO tweaks, installed a security plugin to protect your site against hackers, added a few excellent articles, but still, no one is visiting your site.
All the hours spent on researching the topics for your posts, the time wasted on the keyword research, the time spent for writing your content and proofreading, but your blog is still lifeless.
You feel overwhelmed and you lack the motivation for starting to write a new post.
At this very moment, you just want to quit, and you are close to the point of giving up your dream of becoming a successful blogger.
Well, this describes precisely how I felt many times since I’ve started this blog.
The reality is that when you start a new website, everything is harder.
The initial wave of motivation quickly fades away, and you get tired of sitting on a chair all day long for planning and writing content for your blog.
But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that no people read your content and you know that no one is impatiently waiting for you to add a new post.
When your website is new, the search engines will barely display your content in the search results, people won’t have your site added to their bookmarks to revisit it later, and you’ll have the sensation that all your work is in vain.
Don’t worry. When people will start to visit your website and engage with you and your content, the motivation level will rise again. You just have to do a bit of promotion and see the first visitors on your site.
Even though achieving this goal would be easy with a paid traffic strategy, I do not recommend you to jump right into buying traffic when you are just getting started. The paid traffic can be costly, and without having a decent testing budget, you will most likely be disappointed with the results.
Therefore, unless you have a lot of money to spend, I recommend you to start with a free traffic strategy.
This article is a guide on how to promote a new website for free. This approach demands constant work, but once you get used to it, it will well worth the time and effort.
So, this is what I do first when it comes to promoting my new site.
- 1. Submit your site to search engines (the new way)
- 2. Share every new post on the social networks
- 3. Forum signatures
- 4. Comment on similar blogs
- 5. Post on Quora and Q&A sites
- 6. Viral Infographics
- 7. Help people on Twitter
- 8. Guest posting
- 9. Turn your content into slides
- 10. YouTube Videos
1. Submit your site to search engines (the new way)
Many people start their websites or blogs with the wrong mentality. They think that they only have to create the sites, add some content, and the search engines will start to send them hundreds of visitors every day.
The reality is that when your site is new, in the first 3-6 months, the website will almost be non-existent in searches.
Some people say that Google even has a filter for the new sites called Google Sandbox. In simple words, the Google Sandbox is like a probation period for the new sites and all the new sites have to go through this probation period until they start showing better in the search results.
Other people say that the Sandbox doesn’t even exist, and are claiming that the poor rankings for the new sites are just due to the lack of quality backlinks.
The Sandbox hasn’t been yet confirmed or denied by Google.
Even if the Sandbox filter exists or not, it’s clear that the new websites don’t rank very well in Google’s search results during the first months. I can confirm you that from my experience.
Should I still submit my website to the search engines?
The search engines have become smarter, and you don’t have to submit anymore the site URL to every search engine. It’s sufficient now to receive a few backlinks, and your site will usually be indexed by the majority of the search engines.
However, it might be hard to receive backlinks when your site is new, and it takes more time for the search engines to find and index every page of your website.
To speed up this process and enable the search engines to know about the existence of every page of your website, I recommend you to add your website to the Webmaster tools of the major search engines. Then, you should generate an XML Sitemap for your site and also submit the URL of this sitemap to these services as well.
Search engines will then know about the existence of every page of your site and will index your content much faster.
Submitting my website to these services is the first step I always take towards the promotion of a new site.
After I finish writing a new post on my blog, I always share it on a few social networks immediately after publishing.
More exactly, I share it on:
- My Facebook page
- Google+ Profile
- LinkedIn Profile
Instagram is also very good for some niches.
Sometimes I receive a bit of traffic after I share these posts, sometimes I don’t.
For better results, you have to to be active on your social network accounts and you need to interact with other people, like their content, share it, follow them back, etc.
I also recommend you to use the #hashtags whenever possible. This way, not only your friends or followers will see your content, but all the people that search for that tag.
See an example below of one of my tweets.
Is your site slow? Your site's speed will affect your conversions and #SEO.
— Marius Enache (@cmariusenache) November 21, 2017
While this is not a certainty, some people say that it’s even beneficial for SEO to have your site’s content shared and liked on the social networks.
These are known as social signals, and some SEO experts believe that the search engines might track the number of tweets, Facebook shares, likes, etc., and use this information for their rankings.
You should also make very easy for other people to share your site’s content. If your site is built on WordPress, you can easily add sharing buttons on your site with the help of a plugin.
I use the Social Warfare plugin to add the floating sharing buttons on my blog and the icons under the post content.
Share your content in Groups
Some social networks, besides pages and personal profiles, also have groups. A few examples are Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn.
I haven’t used LinkedIn very much, but I know for sure that there are Facebook Groups and Google Plus communities that allow you to share related links with other members.
I’m not referring to the general groups full of spam, with titles like “Advertise your business for free,” but to the communities built around specific topics that allow their members to share relevant content inside the group.
For my site’s niche, I had the best results so far by sharing my content within the Google Plus communities.
There are many Google+ groups where you are allowed to share relevant content with other members. Look for groups related to your niche, request to join them, and see if these allow their members to share links.
3. Forum signatures
Forums can be a great free traffic source for your site.
Regardless the topic of your site, it’s very likely that there are already a few established forums in that niche.
Most forums permit the users to display a signature under their replies and in most of the cases, you are allowed to include a link to your site in it.
See an example below of one of my replies on forums.digitalpoint.com.
If the forum is very popular, and you get involved actively in the discussions, you can drive a decent volume of traffic to your site only from the links in the signature.
Do not reply to other people’s topics just to have your signature displayed more times. If you only provide worthless answers, almost no one will be curious to check out your site.
Instead of throwing quick one-line replies, write longer answers, always on-topic, and packed with value. This way, people will see you as an expert and will want to look at what you promote in your signature.
You can find blogs in your niche using Google Search.
You can start your forum search by simply typing:
search term + forum
If the search results are too general, then you can try to perform a search using something that’s called forum “footprints.”
This approach only works for finding the forums that still display the original credits.
Here are a few examples:
internet marketing + “Powered by PHPbb” inurl:”forum”
internet marketing + “Powered by vBulletin” inurl:”forum”
internet marketing + “Powered by SMF” inurl:”forum”
internet marketing + “Powered by punBB” inurl:”forum”
internet marketing + “Powered by MyBB” inurl:”forum”
internet marketing + “Powered by ip.board” inurl:”forum”
The example above will perform a search after the search term “internet marketing” + the forum software and will require for the URL returned by Google to include the word “forum.”
These search queries should give you better results than when searching for “your niche + forum.”
Replace “internet marketing” with your niche or the search terms for which you want to find forums. You can also replace “forum” with “community” or other variations.
4. Comment on similar blogs
Just like forums, other people’s blogs can be a productive traffic source for your website.
While you can drive traffic to your site through guest posts, sponsored posts, banners or other types of paid advertising, the easiest and a free way to receive traffic from blogs is to find sites in the same niche as yours and leave a comment to the relevant posts.
The majority of the sites powered by WordPress allow the guests to leave a comment for the posts.
The WordPress default comment form includes an optional field that allows the comment author to enter the URL of his site.
If you fill up this field, your name will be linked to the site specified in the URL field.
If someone likes your reply, he might be curious to check out your site.
For this strategy to work, it’s essential to provide additional value to the post you are commenting on. If you just post a “thank you for your post”, then almost no one will want to see your website.
Also, do not just post a reply with a link to your site. That’s considered spam and your comment will most likely be removed.
Here’s an example of one of my replies that brought my site a bit of traffic.
As you can see, I haven’t only thanked the post author for the content. Instead, I’ve expressed my opinion on the topic and what I did not agree with. That made me look like someone who knows what he’s talking about and has triggered the curiosity of a few people to visit my site.
You can find related sites where to comment using a site like Similar Web.
Just enter your site’s URL in the search box, and you will receive a few recommendations of websites related to yours.
Another way of finding sites powered by WordPress is again to use the search footprints.
Some of the sites built with WordPress still have the original credits in the footer.
Here’s what to type in Google’s search form:
keyword + “powered by wordpress” “leave a reply”
The above query will perform a search after your desired keyword and will ask Google to include only the results that have the exact text “powered by WordPress” and “leave a reply” somewhere on the page.
To make an idea if a blog has any traffic, you can use Alexa.
Just enter the site URL in the search form at the top of the page and see the traffic graph, plus the “Global Rank” and the “Rank in the United States”.
Once you find a few blogs with high-quality content and a decent volume of traffic, you can add them as bookmarks and re-visit them periodically.
Also, to have the highest chance to receive the most traffic, you have to add your comments to the most recent posts.
By default, WordPress displays the comments in ascending order based on the post date. Many blog owners just leave this option to the default value.
That means if you comment first, your comment will remain at the top of the comments section forever.
It’s not easy to monitor hundreds of blogs to make sure you are the first commenter, but in some cases, there is a way to be notified when someone publishes a new post on his blog.
Some blogs will have a “subscribe to newsletter” form in the sidebar or somewhere on the homepage.
Subscribe to the newsletter to be notified by email when a new post is published to the blog. This will increase your chances of being the first who comment on the new articles.
5. Post on Quora and Q&A sites
Quora is a place to gain and share knowledge with other people. It’s very similar to the classic questions and answers sites, but it also includes a few features specific to the social networks.
Quora has started in 2010 and has quickly become very popular. Also, the search engines love Quora, and its content shows up very frequently on the first page of Google for many competitive search terms.
In this community, you can follow other persons, upvote other people’s answers, follow specific topics and even edit the answers posted by other users.
But Quora can be more than an excellent knowledge source.
More and more people have started using Quora for driving traffic to their websites.
I’ve also started using Quora lately, and I’ve already received a few clicks from the few links in my answers.
I don’t have many answers yet, and not every reply includes a link to my blog posts. However, if I’d post on Quora consistently, I think I could easily drive at least 20-30 new visitors per day to my blog.
The advantage of posting on Quora is that your answers will remain there for years to come. Even if the question you’ve answered doesn’t receive a high-volume of traffic at the time you add a reply, there are still chances for the search engines to pick it up and rank it better in the future.
If you want to have a chance of getting traffic from Quora, you have to write long and descriptive answers. If your reply is the best, people will upvote it, and your answer will go to the top. When that happens, your answer will get the most exposure.
The strategy here is to answers the questions that are relevant to articles that you post on your blog.
Write the best and most detailed answer and include a link to the post published on your site if its content adds more value to your initial answer.
Click here to see one of my answers that contains a link to one of my blog posts.
Quora also allows you to edit the answers of other people. Of course, these answers are moderated and the changes can be accepted or rejected.
Sometimes, people will make lists of useful resources related to their answers.
If you wrote an article that can be included in that resources list, you can edit the initial answer and include your link.
That’s exactly what I’ve done below.
Since I have already written a blog post on how to improve the WordPress speed, I searched for a question related to this topic.
I then found the following question on Quora:
At the top of the question, there was an “Answer Wiki” section that contained a list of useful articles with information on how to speed up a WordPress site.
Instead of adding my answer separately, I’ve edited the content of this section and included a link to the article on my blog.
Now, when new people visit this question, they will see my link at the top of the page, without having to go through the answers.
Besides Quora, you can also apply this technique to other Q&A sites.
6. Viral Infographics
Infographics are eye-catching graphic visual representations of shareable and easily digestible information.
The infographics are usually used to provide a summary of an article, report, or any other piece of content in a quick and clear manner.
You can make an infographic from almost any piece of content if your imagination is fruitful enough. However, the best posts you can turn into infographics are the ones packed with precise information, numbers, and statistics.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a graphic designer to create a nice looking infographic.
You can create an infographic with the help of almost any photo editing software. If you don’t have a Photoshop license, you can use a free software like GIMP.
What I usually use is a free online service called Canva.
Anyone can make an infographic with Canva. This tool is free, very easy to use and makes from the infographic creation process a fun task.
Canva itself gives you some images to use. If you need more images, then read my post on where to find copyright free images.
I usually use the images from Openclipart.org for infographics.
But how do you get traffic from infographics?
If you submit the infographics to the right places and these get viral, your site can gain a tremendous amount of free traffic.
After you create an infographic starting from the content of one of your blog posts, you first want to display it at the bottom of your post. After the image, provide a code that allows other people to embed your infographic to their sites.
For example, you can display a box like the one below to allow other people to embed your infographic to their site easily. You can see the HTML code for displaying the box below to your site here.
Replace “https://infographicurl.com/image.jpg” with the URL of your infographic.
Replace “Infographic description” with a short description of your infographic.
Replace “https://yoursite.com/post-url/” with the URL of your blog post.
Replace “Infographic Source” with any text that you want to be used to link to your post.
If other people embed the infographic to their sites using the code provided, you will also receive a backlink, which is very important for SEO.
Next, you want to pin your infographic to Pinterest (preferably in a board with a lot of targeted followers).
I think Pinterest is by far the best place where to submit infographics and have the highest chances of them go viral. The design of Pinterest itself is optimized to favor the infographics.
If your infographics go viral on Pinterest, you should expect for your site to receive traffic for a long time.
Another visual social network where you can submit your infographic is Instagram.
The third place where you can add your infographic is to the Infographics section of Reddit. Even though the traffic in this subreddit is more general, you may still find some persons interested in the topic of your infographic.
7. Help people on Twitter
Twitter is one of the most popular social networks in the world and can also be a very productive free traffic source for your site.
Besides only sharing tweets with your followers, there are also other approaches for finding people interested in your products, services, or your blog’s content.
One of these techniques is to use Twitter’s advanced search for finding the right people.
Once on the advanced search page, you will see a list of fields that you can fill up to refine your search and get more relevant results for your search query.
Here’s a practical example of how I used Twitter’s advanced search to find a person interested in my tutorial on improving WordPress speed.
In the example above, I have applied multiple search filters. Depending on how popular your topic is and how accurate the results you want to be, you can apply more or fewer filters.
I searched for tweets that:
- Are written in English.
- Have the hashtag “WordPress“.
- Contain the exact phrase “I need help with“.
- Include the word “speed“.
I found Emma’s tweet, who needed help with improving the speed of one of hers WordPress sites.
Now, because I already have a guide covering this exact topic, I can recommend it to Emma. Here’s what I can comment on her tweet.
Be creative with your search filters, and you can drive very targeted traffic to your site using this free method.
8. Guest posting
Guest posting is a strategy for getting traffic and backlinks from already established sites.
More precisely, you find a website that allows guest posts, and you write an article based on a list of topics accepted by that site. The chosen subject has to be related to the content of your site.
Some blog owners allow you to include one or two links to your site in the body of the post, while others only allow you to add a link to your site in a signature that is displayed under the post content.
Here’s an example of a guest post with a link to the author’s website in the signature.
Many people use guest posting for the backlinks, but posting on other people’s sites can also be a great way of driving traffic to your site.
Before submitting a guest post to other blogs, you have to ask if you are allowed to include links to your site in the content, or if the links are “dofollow” (if your goal is to receive backlinks).
Why do site owners accept guest posts?
Who doesn’t like free content? That’s the simple reason why the site owners accept to publish guest posts to their blogs.
It’s a win-win situation. The blog owner publishes fresh content more frequently (the search engines love this), and the authors that submit the guest posts get the chance to receive traffic for their websites and high-quality contextual backlinks.
How to find blogs that accept guest posts
You should be able to find blogs that accept guest posts in almost any niche.
Again, you can use Google Search to find sites that accept guest posts in your niche.
Type something like:
your niche + “submit guest post”
The search query should return lists of sites that accept guest posts in your niche, or directly the guest post submission page of some blogs.
9. Turn your content into slides
Slideshare.net is the largest community for sharing slide presentations. This site has a tremendous amount of traffic, and the search engines often display its content very high in the results.
There are slides on SlideShare that have millions of views.
Of course, not all the presentation will reach this impressive number. Still, if you only get 10% of that and you have multiple presentations uploaded, then these can quickly add up.
You have already created the content for your site, so why not to gain more free exposure for it?
Similar to making an infographic from the content of your posts, you can also turn your blog articles into slide presentations.
You can create a slideshow presentation in about 30 minutes with a software like Microsoft PowerPoint, or one of its free alternatives such as Libre Office.
After you finish your presentation, just upload it to Slideshare.net.
To drive traffic to your site from your presentations, you can display the URL of your website on the first slide or in the footer of your slides.
You can also include a link to your site in the short description that is displayed under the presentation.
For better results, you can give something away for free that’s related to the content of the presentation, or give additional information about that particular topic on your site, etc.
Just be creative and you can get a good amount of traffic from Slideshare.net.
You can see an example below of a presentation created from the content of this post. It’s not the best presentation, but it only took me about 20 minutes to put everything together.
10. YouTube Videos
At this point, you know that you can turn your content into infographics and slide presentations and use these to drive traffic to your site.
Why not also turn your content into videos and upload these to YouTube and other video sharing sites?
Many persons say about YouTube that is the second largest search engine. If we look at YouTube’s traffic volume, we’ll understand perfectly why.
According to Alexa, YouTube is the world’s second most visited website. That means that YouTube has less traffic than Google, but more than Facebook.
Nowadays, there’s a video tutorial for almost everything.
Some people prefer watching videos instead of reading a blog post, and that’s the main reason why many prefer to check YouTube before Google.
If you have already created a slides presentation from your content, then you can easily turn it into a video.
If you are not comfortable with recording your voice, you can find a voice-over artist on Fiverr and pay him $10-$15.
After your video is ready, upload it to YouTube and leave a link to your site in the description of the video.
When your website is new, even if you have the best content in the world, the traffic won’t come by itself.
In the first few months, the search engines will barely show your site in the search results, and people won’t even know about the existence of your site.
Many sources say that the average time for the new websites to start ranking better on Google is about three to six months. Depending on your SEO knowledge and optimization efforts, this time can be shorter or longer.
It’s very disappointing to see that no one reads your content and many people just quit within the first few months just because of this.
During this time, unless you are happy spending thousands of dollars on paid traffic, your best approach is to promote your website using free promotion methods.
There are many free ways to promote your website. Just think outside the box and be willing to put a bit of extra effort. The visitors will come, and your hard work will finally be rewarded.
You know now how to promote a new website for free. It’s time to take action and apply what you’ve learned in this guide.