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Blogging has been popular for a number of years now. It is a good way of expanding a site’s reach, build your brand, continuing to develop fresh content on the site (which search engines like) and to create linkable content.
Whether you have an existing site and have just integrated a Blog or you are starting a standalone Blog centred on a specific topic, there are a number of points to consider before you start.
Decide on a Blog Strategy
It is important initially to decide on a Blog strategy. Ask yourself what type of things you want to Blog about and how often you will post. If you are setting up a Blog related to an existing site, you are likely to want to stay on topic, consider:
If you are setting up a standalone Blog on a certain subject, you need to be clear on the types of audience you are trying to attract and what you want to Blog about. For example, if you are starting a Design Blog, considerations may include the type of designers you want to attract. Is it related to a specific area of design or a piece of software perhaps, is your aim to mainly include tutorials or maybe just provide design inspiration?
For both examples it is often best to keep the Blog focused on 1-4 closely related topics that will help attract your audience.
Initial Keyword Research
To get a better idea of the industry or area you wish to Blog about, keyword research will give you a good idea about the kind of things people are searching for/interested in. It can also help you align your Blog for your audience, to select a phrase that defines your Blog and will even help bring in visitors.
Think about a title that describes your Blog and then think of a tagline. This will help you think more about the types of things you want to Blog about and the audience you hope to attract.
Here are some useful tools that can help you discover a bit more about the current state of the industry you want to start your Blog in:
On setting up the Blog, you will want to make sure that the people who visit the Blog can easily share your content. You can do this by installing social sharing buttons on the main Blog page and on each of the post pages. It is best not to go overboard, concentrate on including buttons for the most popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Stumbleupon and Pinterest.
As well as enabling users to share your content, it is worth adding links so they can stay connected. Consider adding the following:
Comments are a valuable asset to a Blog; they create a platform for conversation and debate. Comments can also help highlight popular posts which in turn make the Blog appear to be popular from outsiders. Open up your Blog for comments to help grow your audience.
You will want to make sure that your Blog is highly compatible to make it easy for people to view your content. Have you considered mobile and tablet use? If your Blog is difficult to navigate and read on these platforms, you are potentially losing many regular readers as the number of mobile users has grown massively in recent years and is continuing to grow.
It is likely that you have a clear idea of the type of things you want to Blog about. One of the hardest things about keeping a Blog going is to maintain a constant flow of ideas. It is better to Blog less often with quality content as opposed to Blogging often with content that nobody wants to read.
There are a few ways to keep the ideas flowing on top of just doing keyword research, I have listed some below:
Once you have your ideas you will want to create the posts, here are some useful considerations while creating the content.
A Good Title
You should have a good idea what people are generally searching for whilst doing your keyword research. This should be incorporated into the title to help the content get ranked within the search engines and to help people find the content .
The title should also have an element of persuasion, something that entices people to click through and read the post. Newspapers and magazines are good examples of how this can be done.
Quality of Content
As mentioned previously, the post should have a focus on quality content, something that will keep a person reading. This will help towards creating a more engaging Blog, help increase subscriber numbers and increase the number of shares on social media platforms.
Length of Content
Whilst it is not necessary to constantly churn out 1000+ word posts, the length of content can reflect the hard work put into writing it. A ‘guide’ post on the other hand will benefit from being easy to follow and fairly short (depending on the subject) so users can quickly browse the post and take the information they need from the post.
Writing lots of short posts that lack substance will likely seem uninteresting or unhelpful and this will turn potential followers away.
Optimising the Page Meta
It is important to optimise the page Meta when publishing a new Blog post. This will ensure that you include an appropriate and keyword targeted title that will show up when displayed in the search engines.
The Meta Description is an opportunity to explain what the post is about and why it is interesting or helpful. This can help influence the click through to your website instead of the competition.
Promoting Similar Content
When someone visits your Blog, they are already interested in the content you are providing so it makes sense to highlight other resources they may be interested in. One way of doing this is to show links to related or popular posts on each of the pages. Linking to other pages within the Blog post can also be a useful tactic (if relevant and helpful to what they are reading).
This refers back to the Blog Social Integration mentioned above. A good way of gaining followers is to make the ways of subscribing as easy as possible by linking to these profiles via the Blog post pages. Increasing the number of possible platforms for interaction will help increase the number of followers, although most people use the standard Facebook and Twitter platforms.
Being active on Facebook and Twitter is also important. Join in on the conversation and tell people about your new posts, this will improve the interaction and remind followers to revisit if they haven’t for a while.
There are a number of Blog directories that list Blogs by topic and theme (e.g. Technorati), this is just another method of discovery. Usually you will get a link from these sites and they can potentially send a lot of interested users so there is no harm in submitting to these types of sites.
Guest Blog Posts
Guest Blog posts are one of the most powerful ways of gaining a lot of followers, subscribers and traffic. It is however one of the most time intensive ways of Blog promotion. It will require a bit of research but there are usually quite a lot of industry related Blogs that openly offer guest post opportunities.
Typically you will write a post to be published on their website and in return they usually will give you a link back to your website. This opens the door to more followers and readers for your own blog as well as a little extra domain strength.
Email is not a new technology but is still widely used today. One way to get new content in front of the eyes of interested people is to create a sign up for an email newsletter or similar. This can be done by adding a field to your Blog, either on the main Blog page or on each of the post pages. This is another platform to advertise new content and developments to interested individuals.
Usually there will need to be a benefit for the subscribers. This could be that they receive special discounts or promotions, get to find out about new developments before anyone else or get emailed unique content/tutorials. There is usually quite a lot of different options when it comes to persuading people to sign up, think about the interests of the subscribers and what they might want.
Here are some useful tips to consider when Blogging:
Stay on topic if your Blog allows it – Deviating too far from the initial Blog idea will likely lose you followers and make it hard for new visitors to establish a benefit in subscribing.
Social media concept in thumb up symbol via BigStock