We’ve talked before about using blogs as a way to raise social capital, build a community of followers, create some great writing samples, build a strong brand/reputation and participate in the conversation about your niche. But once you have a blog (one full of helpful, useful or entertaining content), and you’ve done what you can to optimize it for search engines, what other steps can you take to ensure people are reading what you write? Travis Campbell attended BlogWorld and came away with some helpful tips that he shares in an article here. We’ll put some of his tips below so that you can get started now in bringing more eyeballs to your content!

1. Comment on other blogs, both those in your niche and those written by your readers: Sharing your thoughts about what others write is flattering to those writers, and it also brings attention to you and your own site. Just make sure that you give a real comment about the blog post in question! Don’t just write a brief, general comment like “nice post” with a link back to yourself. Offer some opinion, insight, approval or even further questions for the author. DON’T include a link to yourself in the main comment field; instead, be sure to fill out the name and URL fields when you leave the comment so that your name becomes a hyperlink to your site. That way, your comment is less likely to be treated as spam.

2. When you post links to your blog, link to specific posts/content of yours, not just your general domain: People and search engines alike enjoy it when you can be as specific as possible in your links. Example: If you’re posting your link in a comment thread or forum about the best landscaping plants to use in Florida, make sure your link goes to the post you wrote about landscaping plants in Florida, NOT to the general blog page that contains every post you’ve ever written. Don’t make people search for your relevant content; link it for them directly.

3. Don’t enable comment moderation: At first glance, this seems insane. If you take away comment moderation, then any spammer, foul-mouthed idiot or negative commenter can have their comments posted directly to your blog in seconds. But while moderation can control spammers for you, it also discourages the dialogue with your readers. As Campbell notes, when someone posts a comment and receives the message “comment awaiting moderation,” it can be disheartening. If you’re still worried about spam or inappropriate comments, remember that you can always go in and flag spam comments so that the users posting spam can’t post to your site anymore.

4. Respond to your commenters, and quickly: If someone posts a comment, post a reply as soon as you can. That’s how you encourage the dialogue with your readers. Better yet, email those who comment on your blog with a personal note that says something like “thanks for commenting, here’s a link to the blog post, and we’ll let you know if anyone else comments there.” Your readers will be surprised and pleased to get that personal response from you, and your community will probably grow as a result.

5. Use Yahoo! Answers: When I worked for a company that worked to build traffic to blogs in a non-spammy way, one of the things I would do was to go to Yahoo! Answers and find questions relevant to the niche I was promoting. If I was promoting a weight loss blog, I’d find recently-posted questions about weight loss, nutrition and fitness. I’d answer the question as honestly and conversationally as possible, and then in the “cite your source” box, I’d include a link to the weight loss blog (specifically, to the blog post that was most relevant to the question asked). I might say something like “Here’s a short answer to your question, but if you want more info, check the link below.” This method for inviting new readers was engaging, friendly and helpful, which made it quite successful.

These tips should help you bring more readers to your blog. Remember, keep your content fresh, relevant and helpful if you want those new readers to keep coming back! Before you know it, you’ll have a loyal community for your audience. Good luck!