I often get a lot of emails and instant messages from people looking to start their own blogs. Typically the questions run along the lines of “how do I get started?” and “how do I get my blog noticed?”. Well folks, it isn’t as difficult as you might think. Starting a blog is extremely easy. Getting it noticed though is something else entirely.
Once you have the blog set up, there are some sites you should register with and participate in to start getting the site “out there” and noticed. Basically a big part of a blogger’s day is networking and reading other bloggers pages so you can link to them and talk about them. But a person looking for fresh blog content to read and link to will only find your pages if you put them in the places where they are looking in the first place.
Now OK, your blog pages will be indexed by the search engines eventually but these days you need to go further than the search engines and you have to target other places such as the social networks.
So here’s six essential sites that will help you to get your blog noticed if you’re setting up a blog for the first time or you want to resurrect a dormant blog :
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is definately the site to target to get your blog kick-started. Webmaster Tools has some gems such as web diagnostic tools, visitor statistics and you can set up a sitemap for the Google searchbots (you can even tell the searchbots to leave certain pages alone). Being registered on Webmaster Tools is invaluable to getting indexed on Google quicker and easier as you can see at a glance if Google has a problem with any of your pages. If the bots don’t like any of your pages, they leave all their error messages here and you can view them all.
Del.icio.us – while you’re waiting for the search engines to index you, you can start by registering an account on Del.icio.us and bookmarking your links there (and inviting your blog readers to do the same). It’s been found that Del.icio.us is becoming a search engine in its own right and Yahoo is now integrating Del.icio.us results into their regular search index. So bookmarking your links into Del.icio.us is therefore a fast track into Yahoo and from there into the other search engines. Just make sure your links are well tagged.
I’ve heard differing opinions about MyBlogLog , both good and bad, but I personally like it. Owned by Yahoo, MBL is basically your own mini blogging network and you can have widgets that you can put on your blog to see who has been visiting your site. That’ one of the best ways to get to know the people who like your website and visit it on a regular basis.
You can also send messages to your personal network if you want to tell them something or if you have something to promote. But I think MBL is only really good if you have multiple blogs and you can then “join them up” on your MBL page so visitors can see the other blogs in your network.
Every blogger should have a Digg account – period. For a start, if you’re writing good blog content, it won’t be long before your content reaches Digg. If that happens, you’ll need a Digg account to respond to comments and to generally network with other users. You should also be finding other bloggers who are writing about the same things as you, digging their articles (if they’re good enough obviously) and becoming friends with them. Share instant messaging usernames with them, set up a mini digging network, and let them know about your new posts (but obviously don’t spam them). Oh and make sure your blog URL is in your Digg profile!
Stumbleupon – same as Digg. Every blogger should have a Stumbleupon account. Ask blogging friends to stumble your posts and check the reviews often. Network with other stumblers in your niche and make sure your profile has your blog URL in it. Stumble often and leave LOTS of comments. I find Stumbleupon to be a much better traffic generator than Digg and the community is MUCH nicer.
Twitter – my current favourite. Due to Twitterfeed, I now have all my blog posts sent directly to Twitter as soon as they are published along with the direct link. You can subscribe to MakeUseOf Twitter feed here.
If you have collected a lot of followers on Twitter, setting up Twitterfeed can lead to an incredible amount of traffic being sent to your blog if the post title is enticing enough. But don’t just use Twitter as a blog post promoter otherwise you’ll find yourself being pretty unpopular VERY fast
Twitter is also good because a huge number of bloggers hang out there so the site is good for making friends and contacts. Just hang out, listen to the chit-chat and join in if you want. Look upon it as the online equivalent of a crowded bar.
So those are the six sites (in my opinion) that you should use if you want to get a new blog up and running (or a dormant site back from the dead). Do you have any other sites you want to recommend? Let us know in the comments!