Blogging is a skill. While most website owners and search engine marketers will have dipped their toe in the blogosphere, there is a marked difference between posting a blog and actually blogging. Posting a blog is something that anyone can do – you write a post and publish it to your site or WordPress page. Blogging goes beyond simply performing the mechanical motions and indicates a real understanding of the power of the blog, its audience, and its appropriate use as a search engine marketing tool.
Quite often blogs will simply be vehicles for building a few links back to the target website or as a dumping ground for sales material – the publishers of these pages are not bloggers, they are simply piggybacking off the format for search engine optimization gain. So, how do you go from posting a blog to becoming a blogger? And how do you make each post effective?
Content is always king online, and it’s very easy to distinguish between blog posts that were written purely to host a series of outbound links and postings where real thought has gone into finding an interesting, relevant topic to be discussed in detail. As a forum for publishing opinions, reviews and personal beliefs, a blog is second to none and those blogs that are used as an outlet for considered discussion will always thrive. Many who post blog posts regularly run out of quality content very quickly or slide into sales pitches. A blogger will get creative at this point and strive to add an original twist – even if the sole purpose of a blog post is to announce a sale or new product, spending extra time developing the story with sufficient background material, quotes or selected third party links will increase the quality of the content tenfold.
If the blog is a corporate one, set up to promote a particular product or website, there is a temptation to include only links to the one site in order to help with search engine rankings. Carefully selected third party links will add interest and relevance to the postings – these links do not have to be to competitors but could instead go to research papers, interesting newspaper articles or reports on relevant legislation.
Ease of Digestion
The very design of a blog makes it prone to spur-of-the-moment updates, ramblings, and musings. This is all well and good and blogging ad-hoc as the urge strikes will add character and depth to the page. However, this should never be at the expense of good internet writing practices – keep sentences short and succinct.
Check and then double-check spelling – even if you update your blog on the go from a hand-held device, most will offer a spellcheck facility. Sloppy spelling errors dilute the quality of the whole blog and particularly if the blog is a corporate one, reduce the value and credibility of the resource as a whole. If your spelling isn’t perfect, note down blog post ideas on paper or voice record them direct on to a cell or Dictaphone to be transcribed later, when you have access to a computer with a proper word processing package.
Grammar and punctuation should also be triple-checked and follow the format of standard English. Shortened, informal prose suited to messages or emails to friends has no place on a blog and can make the text a lot more difficult to read. This extra effort can be enough to put some visitors off even if the subject itself is of interest.
The best bloggers have very loyal audiences – testament to the fact that a personal relationship has developed between the blogger and the reader. Loyal readership and repeat visits also suggest a level of proactiveness which creates a bond between the blog and the reader, allowing them to participate and feel a part of its development. Often with blogs set up purely for search engine optimization reasons, or as part of a much wider social media marketing campaign, the post is uploaded dutifully but little effort is put into engaging or conversing with the reader. A typical corporate blog will offer reviews and sales info, perhaps including special offers, but will do little to dialogue with the reader.
Always enable comments on a blog to make each post more effective – feedback and questions from readers or simple comments on the post give an insight into the mood and interests of the audience. Questions and answers also more closely resemble a conversation, making it more likely the reader will return to the blog to continue correspondence.
Particularly active posters could even be approached to guest blog on the site, adding a new dimension to the blog and helping to avoid falling into the ‘content for content’s sake’ trap.
Keep the above tips in mind when contemplating beginning a blog on your website and get off to the right start!