A successful blog isn’t built in a day, but it’s well worth the effort it takes. A good blog isn’t just a great chance to build links and include keyword-rich relevant content, it’s also a brilliant way to boost your company’s reputation – and your professional profile too.
You can read more about the benefits of blogging in my previous beginner's guide to blogging post.
But setting up your first blog can be a daunting task and it’s easy to make mistakes. So, what should you know before you even begin? Here are my 10 top tips for starter success:
1) Use highly descriptive titles
Let’s start at the very beginning, with the importance of the title. Search engines look to the title of a post to see what it contains; they place a lot of value on the headline.
This makes it essential you write clear and descriptive titles rather than puns or teasers. So, for example, ‘How to optimise your website for search engines’ would be a better headline than ‘Can your website be found?’.
2) Use dynamic URLs
Don’t let your blog post URLs go to waste by using numbers for articles. www.econsultancy.com/?p=001234 is a rubbish URL, whereas www.econsultancy.com/blog/ID-ten-starter-tips-for-blogging-success is much more search engine friendly.
It looks more professional too and can have a positive impact to clickthrough rates when listed in Google search results.
3) Post frequently
A blog is a hell of a commitment because it needs to be updated frequently, and that’s never been more important. Since Google launched its new indexing system, Caffeine, searchers can find new content more easily than ever.
That makes frequent blog posts a hell of a benefit to any online company as it’s a great way to get new information to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Plus, if the search engines know that your site is regularly updated, they’ll trawl it more frequently, so your content will be found sooner. It’s a double-win but it takes some effort.
4) Write for an online audience
People tend to read the web differently to books or offline newspapers and your writing style needs to reflect that. The online reader tends to be lazy, to only skim-read articles and rarely reaches the end.
You need to bear this in mind in your writing: keep your paragraphs short, use plenty of sub headings, cut out all waffle and put any calls to action early on in the text.
5) Write some guest posts
One great way to build a reputation, gain inbound links to your site and forge links with others in your industry is to write guest blog posts and articles, like I am doing here.
So, as well as writing your own blog, consider submitting guest posts to other sites. As with your personal blog, the benefits can be considerable.
6) Don’t just post, socialise
In the early days of your blog, you probably won’t have a huge readership but don’t be disheartened.
Use social platforms like Twitter, forums and comments in other people’s blogs to interact with your desired audience, this can really drive traffic to your pages.
7) Make it easy to subscribe
Your blog is competing with potentially thousands of other industry blogs, so make it easy for people to subscribe to your posts.
Offer an RSS feed and a ‘Follow us on Twitter’ option and put these in prominent places so that people can very simply sign up to receive future content.
Place any barriers between your reader and a subscription option and you will most likely lose them.
8) Publicise your blog on your site
Don’t bury your blog. Make your posts obvious to visitors to your site by showcasing some of the recent headlines down the side of your homepage and linking frequently to relevant blogging categories throughout your pages.
It may help drive a sale and it will definitely show that you’re a company with its finger on the industry pulse (assuming, of course, that your articles are good!).
9) Don’t be afraid to link out
This can be a contentious point among SEOs, but I do believe you should link to articles and resources that your readers are likely to find interesting.
Not only will this enhance your blog’s value to your readership, but it will also make other bloggers aware of your articles and increase the chance that they will link to you in the future – and search engines love to see inbound links.
Some people think that linking out simply encourages search engine spiders to go zipping off to other websites, but I think the web is a social tool and that we’ll all be better off if we link because something is valuable rather than treat our blogs as an SEO tool alone.
10) Offer related posts
Don’t let your reader finish your blog post and leave, offer them some related posts so that they can easily find other relevant content.
Not only does this mean your older posts remain useful, even internal links are good for SEO.
In fact, I have seen older posts suddenly get resurrected via Twitter simply because a reader has stumbled across it and spread the word. There’s no reason older articles shouldn’t still work hard.