Free and effective promotion tactics? Yeah, right.
At the risk of sounding like a salesman, let me tell you that not only do these marketing tactics exist, but they’re also actually some of the most effective ones. We’ve been using them, other marketers use them, and most of the big websites I’ve seen to date use them.
But that’s not all. You don’t need a degree in marketing or to be a marketing pro to start promoting your website for free and get results. Here are 15 ideas that go into the free, easy, and effective basket.
If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, it stands for search engine optimization, and it allows you to get free traffic from search engines like Google.
One of the fundaments of the SEO process is to choose the right keywords to create content for. Now, a tried and tested tactic for new websites and websites without a strong backlink profile is to choose keywords with low ranking difficulty.
You can spot those keywords by mainly looking at two things:
- How many backlinks from unique domains do the top-ranking pages have?
- Do the top-ranking pages belong to a domain with high topical authority?
Here’s how you can do it using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. You can:
- Enter a seed keyword (or multiple seed keywords).
- Go to the Matching terms report and filter the KD (Keyword Difficulty) metric to show keywords with up to 20 KD. This will show you easy keywords based on backlink profile.
- Pick a relevant keyword and open the SERP panel to see what kinds of pages rank. If you see popular brands dominating, those keywords may be hard to rank despite the low KD. SERPs without brands like that should be easier to target.
- Repeat step #3 for every relevant keyword on the list.
Single low-competition keywords may not offer as much traffic potential. But if you pile up a number of pages targeting these keywords, you can end up with serious organic search traffic.
Also, low-competition keywords may convert better than their more generic counterparts if they are specific enough. One of the neat tricks to find keywords that can possibly convert to sales is to check the CPC ad cost to see if people bid for those keywords.
So what to do with difficult keywords? Of course, you may target them any time you wish, but note that they will probably take more time (and backlinks) to rank.
Sometimes, you don’t need to create new content to get more traffic. Your old content may just need some SEO work, including:
- More precise alignment with search intent to better serve the meaning of the search query.
- Refreshing the content, making it more up to date.
- Introducing a unique value to show Google and searchers that you have something new to add to the table (to Google, unique content is quality content).
- Optimizing your title tag to get more clicks from the SERPs (search engine results pages).
- Filling content gaps for more topical relevancy.
- Adding internal links to distribute link equity.
At Ahrefs, we do these things to get more traffic regularly. With multiple successes.
You can follow our step-by-step process with this guide: Republishing Content: How to Update Old Blog Posts for SEO
This tactic is all about creating valuable, unique content that’s ideally centered around your brand or product—then offering free access to the content.
Whether it’s a printable PDF guide or a tutorial series on YouTube, focus on adding value for your audience. You’ll then start seeing the magic of word of mouth at work.
But first, you need a proven topic for your free resource.
You can find inspiration for topics manually by visiting social media profiles of authors and magazines in your niche and looking at the engagement signals: likes, retweets, comments, etc. Additionally, you can browse through online communities and see what resonates with your target audience.
But there are also tools that can help you with this job.
One tool we recommend quite often for any kind of audience research is SparkToro. Just plug in topics your target audience frequently talks about to discover related topics and hashtags (among many other things).
And with an all-in-one SEO toolset like Ahrefs, you can broaden your options with keyword research.
And on top of that, you can reverse engineer what worked for your competitors.
Consider creating content tailored to platforms with native distribution mechanisms. For example, you can create a course on a site like Udemy on how to, say, paint Warhammer miniatures and mention that you own a website on the topic with more cool resources.
Look for other businesses that target a similar audience but do not compete with you directly.
Then see if they are up for a content collaboration with you. This way, you can pitch to their audience, and they get to pitch to yours.
Here’s an example: In 2018, we worked with Buffer, a social media scheduling tool, to create a webinar titled “How to Get Website Traffic With Evergreen Content and Social Media Marketing.”
While the audience was comprised of digital marketers, our products are different enough and do not compete with each other.
Repurposing content is about using existing content and “repacking” it for other marketing channels.
For example, you can chop a larger article into smaller pieces and use them to promote the original piece via guest blogging. Actually, it’s such a common technique that it has its own name: the “Splintering Technique.”
Or you can turn an article into a video and take advantage of YouTube’s search engine and content recommendation algorithms.
Or you can take an entire post, strip it down to a tl;dr version, and publish it on Reddit.
There are other ways to take advantage of this tactic. Check out our complete guide to content repurposing, where we share nine ideas for that.
How can you promote your website while writing for others?
When you publish content for other websites, a number of things happen:
- You get a boost to your website traffic (although it’s not the best method for consistent traffic).
- You expose your brand to a new audience.
- The earned link contributes to your backlink profile.
- You can make new connections in the industry.
Apart from preparing a pitch that stands out from the crowd, the key is to find the right places to publish.
For this, you can use Google with search operators. Then you need to vet each page manually. Try our free website authority checker for that last part.
With an Ahrefs sub and our SEO Toolbar, you can also vet the websites right inside the SERPs.
Or use our Content Explorer to get additional insight to filter for results that meet specific performance criteria.
Content syndication is a similar tactic to guest blogging. The only difference is that with content syndication, you publish the same thing in multiple places.
Getting started with content syndication is practically the same as guest blogging. You need:
- Great content.
- Potential syndicates (websites that can publish your content). You can use the same process and tools as described above. The only thing that changes is your search query. So you can use something like
“originally appeared on” + [topic].
- A good pitch to get your foot through the door.
With syndication comes the option to self-syndicate. So unlike guest blogging, you can self-populate your articles to other platforms like Medium, Reddit, or LinkedIn. These platforms have a large audience and their own distribution mechanism, so you can get in front of people’s eyes for free.
Use a backlink checking tool to see where authors of your choice syndicate their content. In Ahrefs, go to Backlinks report, set the word or phrase filter to “Anchor with surrounding text,” and type “originally appeared on” inside the input field.
Social media platforms, including online communities, are places where you can likely find your target audience. You just need to figure out where exactly and how you can provide unique value to them. If you have something important to say, there will be plenty of opportunities to link to your website.
Start by learning more about your audience. Again, for this, I’ll recommend SparkToro.
Another way to find places that mention topics related to your website (or even your website) is to use a web monitoring tool like Google Alerts or our very own Ahrefs Alerts.
Once you’ve zeroed in on your communities, you may want to approach them with these universal tips in mind:
- Pay attention to what works for each audience – After joining, read the rules and dedicate some time to researching the group. Look at how the existing members interact. Also, comment on others’ posts while adding value and being helpful.
- Post thoughtful, insightful comments – Others will begin to return the favor. Don’t be a spammer.
- Start referencing your own website after a while – Only do so after you’ve spent a good amount of time giving back to the community and making some friends. Even then, try to go about it in a way that doesn’t scream “blatant advertisement.” Asking for opinions or positioning your website as something that may help people out are some ways to go about it.
- If there’s no natural way to include a link, don’t do it. Otherwise, your content may be seen as a spam policy violation.
- Social media platforms seem to prefer native continent, i.e., content that is to be “consumed” on the spot instead of accessed via a link. This means sometimes you will have to trade links for engagement.
Case in point. Have you heard about Miss Excel? Her software training business can generate up to six figures per day. Not per month, per day. Even Google Docs tried to correct me on that.
Miss Excel gets customers through social media. But you can rarely come across a direct link to her course in any of her posts. Instead, she directly shares Excel tips on TikTok and Instagram. Here’s a great interview on how she does what she does.
And how about creating your own community?
It may work if:
- People genuinely like to share thoughts on topics related to your website.
- You can offer a unique value that will attract and retain your audience.
Going further, we can see there are multiple benefits of having a community tied to your website. In terms of promotional aspects, the biggest benefit will likely be word of mouth.
Word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing channels. It will start working organically when community members feel like the value inside the community will benefit others. But you can potentially influence word of mouth by giving people a reason to talk, such as a new study you just published.
This way, a community can naturally start to attract members and, as a result, promote your website. Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t expect overnight success with this tactic. Treat it, rather, as a long-term investment with dividends paid as you go.
Here’s why email marketing has been utilized by so many marketers: It allows them to build an audience and communicate with them directly and regularly. For free. An email marketing list like that can become one of your most valuable assets.
Of course, building an email list is not that easy. But if email marketing is done in tandem with quality content marketing, a setup like that puts the process of list-building almost on autopilot. All you need to do is to put up a sign-up form next to your content.
Before you run off and start looking for the best email app, do make sure you’re on the right track:
- You need to commit to publishing great content regularly – After all, the content should attract people to your email list. If you feel like you can use a step back to revisit your blogging strategy, check out this list of 17 blogging tips.
- What kind of newsletter will your audience like to read? For example, we recently found that Ahrefs’ audience prefers to get a short digest of each article we feature in the email instead of, say, bare links to articles.
- What will be unique about your newsletter? Do you plan to include some kind of added value or exclusive content for your email subscribers? Or will you keep it simple by offering people the good ol’ “never miss a post again”?
If you’re a local business owner, getting listed in local directories is a must.
This is because people look for local services on the web all of the time. For this, they use either local service directories or simply plug in a keyword like “lawyer near me” in Google. In the latter case, Google will usually point them to a local directory.
Creating or claiming your Google Business Profile is a good starting point. Setting up the profile is quite straightforward (and free). However, what I recommend here is going a step further and making sure your profile is optimized. Here’s how to do it in 30 minutes.
Completing this step will make your business profile (hence, your website) eligible to show up in Google Map Pack (the search result with a map, as seen in the picture above), Google Maps, and a local knowledge panel when someone looks for your brand.
Next, add your business to relevant local directories. For example, a lawyer may want to list their service for free with Thervo.com. Just make sure to keep all information consistent across platforms.
Once you’re done with adding your business to directories, check out our guide on local SEO to take things a notch higher. Among other things, this guide will show you tactics that can improve your position in the local map pack and how to create content for keywords with local search intent.
Outreach done for link building purposes is a tactic where you get your content in front of bloggers and influencers in your industry. The aim is to get them to talk about you and link to you.
This tactic is mainly utilized to boost the “authority” of your pages in the eyes of Google so that these pages rank higher and bring more search traffic.
In its simplest form, outreach is the act of reaching out and asking for a link back to your website. And yet, great outreach at scale is a lot more than just asking for a backlink. The process involves:
- Creating content.
- Finding prospects.
- Segmenting your prospects.
- Finding the right contact details.
- Crafting your pitch.
- Scaling your outreach.
Sounds easy, right? But there are actually a lot of details involved that can make or break the process. Also, steps like finding prospects or finding the correct emails are too tedious or even impossible without the right tools.
The best way to go about your outreach process is to pick up a tried and tested process you can simply follow to a T. Here’s one from us, completely free:
Digital PR (public relations) can do such an amazing thing: carrying your message to your audience for you.
Promoting your website through digital PR includes:
- Using services like HARO or SourceBottle to monitor journalist requests – Sign up and wait for expert commentary requests related to your website or important to your audience. Try also following #journorequest on Twitter.
- Newsjacking – This is about monitoring news to react with expert commentary and thought leadership pieces.
- Pitching linkable assets to journalists and bloggers – You can use something you’ve already created or create something special for that occasion.
All of the above tactics allow you to benefit in three ways:
- Build awareness of your website
- Send traffic to your website when people want to learn more about you
- Boost SEO if the commentary includes a live link to your website
Here are two free tools from Ahrefs that can help you with your digital PR efforts.
The first one is our aforementioned free website authority checker. Thanks to it, you will be able to quickly see the authority of the website.
The second one is our Ahrefs Webmaster Tools. You can use it as a free way to monitor backlinks from your PR efforts.
Chances are that there is a newsletter in your niche that regularly curates content found on the web.
And chances are, if your content is good enough, it can be featured in one of those newsletters.
Naturally, a link inside a newsletter won’t count for SEO. But it can lead to links from authors reading that newsletter. And in any case, you’re putting your name on the map and making the newsletter’s subscribers aware of you.
What you need to do here is to find relevant newsletters and show your work in a well-thought-out outreach pitch:
Two words of advice:
- Pitch only your best articles – Remember, you’re pitching to a flesh-and-blood human, and they don’t like spamming.
- Don’t worry if your content doesn’t get chosen this time – Try to reforge that into a relationship with the editor. There will be other chances.
The web is full of rankings and reviews. Chances are that some of them are related to what you do. Getting featured (and linked) is a free way to get some direct referral traffic, boost your SEO, and increase your brand awareness.
If you’re just starting out, you may want to build some authority before you send your first pitch. Keep in mind that editors will screen your website by a number of different criteria—from website design, social media following, to even personally testing your products, recipes, strategies, and whatever you offer. Also, they may be actual experts on the topic.
So what may help you here is segmenting your outreach prospects based on the authority of the website you’re targeting. What you’ll do then is to start from smaller websites and move your way up.
The backlink profile of a website can be a useful, quick proxy for this, so you can use Ahrefs’ Site Audit or the free website authority checker if you don’t own a subscription.
At all times, check your targets manually. This will help you personalize your pitch and potentially discover additional opportunities, such as a special section for “rising stars.”
Another tip here is to focus on webpages that rank very specific types of websites. They can be easier to reach out to since more niche topics tend to have smaller audiences. So for example, if you’re running a blog that focuses on low FODMAP cooking, look for that kind of opportunity instead of “best food blogs.”
These aren’t the only possible ways to promote your website for free. I do encourage you to experiment and double down on what works. If you think something may work for your audience (and even if it hasn’t been tried before), go for it. But make sure to measure the results.
Keep in mind that your marketing tactics don’t need to be truly unique to be effective. One of the best places to find promotion ideas will always be your competition and other successful businesses—even if they operate in a different industry.
Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.