Steps to Blogging Success

Blog successBlogging is more than an online marketing option—it is a responsibility. Blogging requires dedication, passion, discipline, commitment, respect, patience, education, generosity, humility, and understanding. There are six success steps to make blogging time and energy count. The success steps are voice, theme, content, design, search engine optimization, and outreach. Pay attention to popular blogs – they all employ these steps.

Voice

The first success step for blogging is having a clear voice. Once a blog lives in cyberspace, people can copy and paste points made and write whatever they want about it on their blogs or websites. Commentary happens even if comments are not allowed on a blog. An organization’s voice is amplified via a blog. Blogs are about conversations, not preapproved press materials. Blogs put a human face on an organization and help convey professional and company personality. To clarify your blog voice, it is best to think from an end-user perspective. Get over any ego issues and be willing to give your readers valuable content. When composing blog posts and creating a consistent strategic blog voice, ask yourself:

- Who is the end user?

- What is the purpose of the blog?

- How do you or your company want to connect with the reader?

- What content will be valuable to your readers and target market?

- Will emotional appeal be a factor?

- Use humor (when applicable), fun topics, entertaining content, and pithy, powerful quotes. A blog voice is less serious and more conversational, friendly, and informative.

Theme

The best blogs are a marriage of fact and opinion. No matter what the blog theme is, readers want perspective. Some blogs are educational, some are controversial, some are customer service oriented, some are employed to give a firm a more “personal” feel. Many organizations set up blogs to get to know their users better. These types of blogs have a “lifestyle” theme where the blogger is sharing ideas and opinions about more than just the product(s) they have to offer. These blogs are appealing to many people because readers feel they are not just connecting with your product(s), but that they are also connecting with you.

Content

The saying “Content is king” is especially true with blogging. Blogs that have interesting, authentic, valuable content geared toward prospective and current customers are the most appealing and ultimately the most successful. Blogging does not need to be time consuming. Some of the best blog posts are short, sweet, and to the point. Many blog posts link to other sites that are valuable and have great content. Blogging does not require professionals to be expert writers, just enthusiastic experts in their fields who are willing to share tips, advice, and sometimes links to other web content that serves, supports, and sells readers.

Organization of content is also a point to consider for scalability. Blog technology allows for tagging or labeling posts. Tagging and labeling entries often multitasks as:

- Labels help keep track of your content.

- Labels allow readers to search more specifically for something on the blog.

- Labels (in some blog technologies) can create mini-sections that cover specific topic areas, allowing both readers and search engines to find content on that topic easily. Tracking label links can reveal which hot-button keywords are connecting with readers and adjust marketing and blogging efforts accordingly.

Design

Just as design is a huge factor in website credibility, design and usability are also critical to blog success. Often, blogs are built into a website or have a similar theme to an organization’s main website if it is not on the site itself. Having a game plan for design before the blog is built is very important. Online marketers rarely have a second chance to make a first great blog impression. Make blog design count. If you hire a blog designer, draft a creative brief so he or she knows what you are looking for.

Putting a professional design spin on a blog can have a big impact.

ibility; a more visible RSS feed widget; and the addition of a Facebook widget to increase interactivity.

Simple optimizations to a blog template (even just to the header) made content easier to read, adding the logo boosted credibility, and the widgets for

Search Engine Optimization

A blog is also a great tool to help boost search engine visibility. The constant addition of fresh content and the ability to create links within blogs all work to attract searches. Use priority key phrases when writing copy, headlines, and hyperlinks (links to other blog posts or to pages in the blog or main site) to make the blog as search-ready as possible. Get into the habit of using key phrases that describe your products and services, especially in the titles of blog posts. Often, the title of the blog post becomes part of the URL, and search engines give priority when URLs and content have consistency. Remember that categories or labels can also be named with valuable key phrases to increase search engine visibility.

The bottom of a post is where the blog categories and tags appear. A category may be applied to more than one post, whereas tags are keywords or short phrases used to describe a single post. In most blog platforms, the editing area where you write your blog is where you to enter tags for that post.

ntial subscribers to fi nd the blog easily. When you post, tagging the article with relevant keywords assists a reader/visitor who may be searching for particular content, and helps the search engines index the site.

Search engine optimization is an ongoing process. Stay on top of SEO by tracking the keyword searches of visitors who are finding the site (using a tool like Google Analytics or Piwik), noting which keywords are most commonly used, and writing and using label/category/link names to reflect those searched terms. Boost SEO by getting other blogs and websites to link back to your blog; these are “external links”. Start by posting or referencing articles from other websites and blogs and contacting them to show that you’ve featured them and ask them to feature or “plug” you back. This can diversify content, ignite interest in your blog, and help create new partnerships. Internal links can also be optimized with search-rich phrases that can link back to pages of a main website or even to old blog posts, if relevant. Search engines look at internal and external links. Make sure links like “Click here” are instead search-friendly with descriptions people may be searching for, like “Click to read the social media checklist article.”

Think of SEO-friendly writing as a healthy marketing lifestyle. It doesn’t happen overnight and takes some getting used to.

Outreach

Building a blog does not mean that people will magically come to read it.

You must network and do web marketing outreach to build traffic and attract readers. Include an outreach plan:

- Announce your new blog via press release.

- Form blog partnerships with other bloggers.

- Offer to guest write on other blogs or websites to increase traffic back to your blog.

- Interview influential people on your blog. Interviewees will likely send their “famous moment” to their own blog readers, e-mail list, Facebook, Twitter, and more!

- Find blogs that are complementary to your blog. Endorse them on your blog and contact them to let them know that you did. The favor may be returned.

- Build readership. Equip the blog with widgets (widgets, also known as snippets, modules, and plug-ins, are chunks of code that can be embedded in an HTML page) to make it easier for readers to subscribe to your blog via e-mail or RSS feed. Place widgets on the front page of your blog for easy access.

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