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How to promote your LDS blog

I started my blog about eight months ago in late September 2007. That was before Elder Ballard asked us in December 2007 to participate more in the new media. For the first few months I got just a few visitors a day. That's OK, I wasn't promoting my blog yet. They were just finding me through raw Google keyword searches. Besides, I was just trying to build up content.

After Elder Ballard extended the invitation to actively share the gospel online, I decided to switch my blog content from political / current events to almost all gospel-oriented themes. A few months later, I began to get a lot of comments from visitors who were opposed to my views. I felt it was time to start promoting my blog to the online LDS community or bloggernacle.

So I asked the major LDS Blog aggregators if they would add me to their lists. I immediately saw an increase in LDS traffic. I could tell they were LDS by the nice encouraging comments. I also got another influx of anti or ex-Mormon traffic. Apparently I was writing about a lot of the same subjects that were being discussed in the DAMU or disaffected Mormon underground.

What works for me

I think the reason I show up so high on so many Google searches is because of one major technique I employ. Linking to other sites raises your visibility higher and faster on the search engines than anything else. After I write an essay and before I post it, I go back through and add links on every major keyword or phase that someone might want to know more about.

It doesn't seem to matter where I link, just as long as there are lots of links in the essay. For the most part I link to LDS.org and Mormon.org, but I have just as many links to Wikipedia. A lot of people are doing a lot of good in updating Wikipedia articles about the church. Thanks guys. I confess I also link to a lot of other major LDS blogs like Jeff Lindsay, FAIR and FARMS.

My content is more expository and apologetic than journalistic, so it is not really a true weblog. What I wrote six months ago should be just as pertinent today. The only exception is my running commentary of what Carol and I are learning in our Pearl of Great Price Institute class. I can't wait to get to the Book of Abraham to see how much the papyri translation is discussed.

How to track your traffic

I've had over 13,000 visitors since I added a Statcounter in Nov 07, about a month after I started. I suggest you get yourself at least one counter. I have five. Besides Statcounter, I just love FeedJIT because of the live traffic feed on my sidebar. I love to watch where the visitors come from and how they got there. I also use Bravenet, Google Analytics and GetClicky.

My most popular post as far as comments was one I made on a subject I know nothing about and care very little about - Evolution. A lot of people wanted to set me straight, which I appreciate. Until recently my most popular essay was Mothers Who Know, which I wrote in response to What Women Know. It has now been replaced by Mother in Heaven - Heavenly Mother.

I think I've got enough basic material so I've decided to get serious about promoting my blog. I note in my stats that many first time visitors are spending more time online now. That means they are reading my backlog of essays. I like to get comments on the older essays and respond to them. To keep them visible I use a reader comments widget from Blogger Templates.

Most popular posts
01. Mother in Heaven - Heavenly Mother
02. Mothers Who Know and What Women Know
03. The new Mormon history - Grant Palmer
04. Why can't I attend a Mormon wedding?
05. Seer stone in a hat - Book of Mormon translation
06. Just where exactly are the lost ten tribes?
07. Changes to the Book of Mormon
08. No such thing as Mormon fundamentalism
09. Will President Monson change Mormon doctrine?
10. Rules, religion and society
11. The Book of Moses revisited
12. Has the prophecy in Joel 2:31 been fulfilled?
13. Pondering about the spirit world
14. Teachings of Presidents: Joseph Smith
15. The practice of plural marriage
16. Working for the LDS church as a blogger
17. Bruce R. McConkie, bold servant of the Lord
18. A different kind of religious education
19. A mother who knew
20. Multiple versions of the First Vision
A few suggestions

Jeff Lindsay had some great suggestions back in January of Tips for New LDS Bloggers. He also had a follow-up post in February that included lists of LDS blog aggregators. For those who don't know, an aggregator is a website or blog that brings together posts from multiple blogs for centralized viewing or clicking. Here is my favorite list of LDS blog aggregators:
01. LDS Blogs - A comprehensive meta-list, slow
02. Mormon Archipelago - This is the bloggernacle
03. Planet LDS - Read LDS blogs in one spot
04. LDSelect - Customize your favorites in one place
05. Mormon Blogs - Also known as the blogregate
06. LDS Rankings - Not limited to blogs, but good
07. Mormon Blogosphere - New and a little slow
I'm sure there are others but these are the ones I found to be the best. I am listed on all of them. I get the most traffic from Mormon Blogs and Mormon Archipelago. Right now I get about 65 to 85 unique visitors each day. The majority of those come from these two sites. This is especially true on days that I post new essays. The rest of my hits come from Google.

There are a dozen or more major LDS Group blogs but this essay is about promoting your solo blog so I won't list them. You should visit the major ones every day, or read their stuff on one of the aggregators. I prefer Planet LDS because I don't have to click. I can just read in one place. Use good titles on your posts. Headlines sell but don't be misleading. That can annoy readers.

Summary and conclusion

Let's see, have I covered everything? This essay is about promoting solo LDS blogging on Blogger and maybe on WordPress if you prefer. I've mentioned aggregators, linking, stat counters, good content, headlines and comments. Oh, I need your help. Will you visit blogged for me and add a review? After a few reviews I'll request a professional editor review as well.

Here's a suggestion that's often overlooked: go out and add comments on all the top LDS blogs. Don't expect the author to comment back. The intent is to get your intelligent comment out there with the link back to your blog. S.Faux does this on a lot of my posts. I hope he is getting some traffic from me on his excellent Mormon Insights. I appreciate his comments.

I love blogging. It has been incredibly rewarding. I started blogging as a method to keep me motivated to study the gospel every day. It has more then accomplished that purpose. I have made some wonderful online friends and hope that I am sharing valuable content that is helpful in combating all the garbage that comes up when you Google "Mormon." Happy blogging!

Comments

S.Faux said…
Tim,

Thank you again for promoting my site. Also, I appreciate all your insights on blogging. You are definitely a computer guru.

I love your essays because each essay establishes a theme and then hits the target in the bull's-eye. You are a clear thinker and you get straight to the point.

Even when I disagree with you, you make me think about issues in a new way. Usually I have missed a few key points in my own thinking.

I have tried to get listed on some of the aggregators you have mentioned. Mormon Archipelago has been great to me. Planet LDS and Mormon Blogs will not respond to my emails. LDSelect will not respond and returns my emails.

I have loved blogging so much that I have been overdoing it. My body and brain are telling me to slow down. Unfortunately, I have a thousand unwritten essays in my head that want to get out. So, I blog for me, and if I get a few readers in the process, then that is great.

I have enjoyed making some new friends as a result of blogging. Count yourself on the list.
Ken said…
THank you for this new insight. I just post recently about why we blog and now you have this sooo great post on how to promote a blog. I like the idea of linking. At Http://jbsolis.blogspot.com I gave kudos to the Americans and Utahns for the great good they have done and are doing for the Filipino's. There are 600000 Filipino LDS now.
Megan said…
Thanks for the tools Tim! I was wondering how to get all those cool widgets! :)
Anonymous said…
From one computer guy to another, thanks for this great collection of tips and links.

I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work.
Anonymous said…
Tim,
THANK YOU! You have given me a lot of super tips that I was not aware of. I will be sure to come back and read more of your posts.

Congratulations on getting recognized in the "Mormon Times"!!

http://mormontimes.com/ME_blogs.php?id=1170

S.Faux - I hear you. I think my blogging addiction is slowly killing me. All the late nights, forgetting to eat, ignoring my family...hey, this is another interesting blog topic to explore!...
Anonymous said…
Great post! I too am a fairly new blogger in the bloggernacle, and it is refreshing to see all the good discussions going on. I too use blogging as a way to motivate me to study, and it is working. I love the gospel, and I love sharing it with others.
lds9999 said…
I enjoyed this post. I am a first-time visitor, but like you mentioned I've been reading some of your old posts and staying on longer!

One question. You mention, "Linking to other sites raises your visibility higher and faster on the search engines than anything else."

In what I've learned about SEO, I've heard that getting incoming links raises you in search engines, but never that outbound links do. Whichever is the case, I think linking back to other articles that you've written is very smart, as I ended up reading numerous ones as a result!
Tim Malone said…
Hi lds999,

Thanks for visiting my blog and for your kind comments. I enjoyed your Mormon Videos blog. It's a great source for LDS-related videos.

I base my theory of outbound links helping to raise visibility on comments made by Joel Walsh:

The clearest way that outbound links can affect Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is through their anchor text.

"Outbound links' anchor text affects a page's search engine ranking in much the same way that inbound links' anchor text affects search engine ranking. Anchor text of inbound links is arguably the most important factor in search engine rankings for particular keywords."

"Don't believe me? Look at your web traffic logs. Check out the search engine traffic to specific pages. You'll likely see plenty of instances of the page getting traffic for search strings that appear nowhere else on the page but in the anchor text of outbound links."

Joel also makes a case for good content being important for SEO in this article. He shares five tips for writing good SEO-friendly web content:

• Updating: frequent updating of content, at least once every few weeks, and more often, once a week or more.

• Spelling and grammar: few or no errors. No page had more than three misspelled words or four grammatical errors.

• Paragraphs: primarily brief (1-4 sentences). Few or no long blocks of text.

• Lists: both bulleted and numbered, form a large part of the text.

• Sentence length: mostly brief (10 words or fewer). Medium-length and long sentences are sprinkled throughout the text rather than clumped together.

• Contextual relevance: text contains numerous terms related to the keyword, as well as stem variations of the keyword.

I have tried to follow this formula in my posts. I write short sentences, short paragraphs, update often, spell check and double spell check and include lists.

Google SEO outbound links for lots of other good articles on the subject.

Keep up the good work. Cheers!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the tips and for the promotion. Beetle Blogger is doing well for being the newbie on the block, in great part to you and your readers. The marriage defense effort can use all the help it can get.

www.beetlebabee.wordpress.com
The Teacher said…
This is a really helpful post. I hope you are still checking for comments. I have started up a new blog, and would like to link to things as you suggest. Problem: I am technologically retarded and do not know how to do it. Can you give some simple instructions and/or examples?

BTW, my blog is at http://gosepldoctrineunderground.blogspot.com/

Thanks.
Tim Malone said…
Hi Teacher,

I see on your blog that your last couple of posts have links in them so I assume you figured out how to add links to your writing. But just in case anyone else is wondering, I suggest this essay from Dummies' guide to Blogger. By the way, I like your blog. If you're like me, it will help you in your study and in preparing to teach the gospel. Thanks for stopping by.
Unknown said…
Hi,

Blog promotion is indeed most important topic in internet marketing.
Thanks nice review..what I generally use most to promote is my blog is article writing,social bookmarking and forums.
Getting more backlinks means you will get better ranking in google.

http://webmasterdailytips.com/2009/10/how-to-promote-your-blog/

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