If you want your website to show up in Google searches (and you do!) you need to post fresh, engaging content on a regular basis.
That also gives visitors a reason to keep returning to your site and to linger there awhile.
Many people do this by featuring a blog on their site. It’s a great vehicle for sharing news about events related to your product, industry, book or message; your observations, insights, commentary, and even personal anecdotes.
Blog posts are generally relatively brief, about 300 to 500 words plus photos and/or a video, since the Internet is a visual medium and people like images. Each post also has a straightforward headline or title – something that clearly states what the topic is, so that people trolling for information online can easily find it.
If you’ve never tried your hand at blogging, or you have a blog and aren’t quite sure what to do with it, you can find lots of great advice on Twitter at #blogchat. Each Sunday at 8 p.m. Central Time, #blogchat founder and social media strategist Mack Collier (@MackCollier) of Alabama moderates this hour-long open forum. Bloggers of every stripe jump in to ask questions, trade tips, share advice and, of course, promote their blogs.
Our creative director, Penny Carnathan, brought this fabulous resource to my attention. She has a gardening blog, and jumped into #blogchat last Sunday when the topic was: “Sharing what we know about blogging that we WISHED we’d known when we started!”
More than 600 bloggers participated – including a whole class of students from the University of Wisconsin and their professor – and 992 retweets were recorded, which indicates a lot of participants read a lot they felt worth sharing.
Penny culled through some of the 3,734 tweets to share tips you might find valuable for your blog. She says WordPress was hands-down the most recommended blogging platform, and Akismet the most recommended spam filter for readers’ comments.
Some of the most retweeted tips included:
- The thing I wish I’d known was not to take all those “blogging rules” as absolutes. Figure out what works for YOU.
- Don’t moderate comments! Also, no CAPTCHAS! (CAPTCHAS are the visual security codes you have to duplicate to gain entry. Both CAPTCHAS and moderating comments discourage interaction, which pumps life into a blog.)
- NEVER have your blog set to auto-music. People hate that!
- Post comments on other relevant blogs to help build traffic to yours.
- Reply to people who comment on your blog.
- Wish I had known how important posting consistency was. I really was haphazard at first.
And here are some tips Penny liked:
- A good blog post can live on as an article, guest post or retweeted post. (Note: recycle, reuse, repurpose!)
- I wish I knew I could have so much fun blogging by just being myself.
- Instead of saving photos with file names like PHOTO 1, use descriptive names so you can find them later.
- I wish I knew how to integrate my Twitter and Facebook followers with my blog when I first started.
- I wish I had taken more time to think about what I’d blog about and be more selective setting up categories. (Note: Categorizing posts helps visitors to your site find topics they’re interested in.)
- I wish I knew that most negative comments aren’t personal, they are just bullies.
- I wish someone would have told me that my blog is not just about content. It has to be easy to navigate!
- Edit, edit and edit again!
- I wish I would have started writing down my blog topic ideas right when I thought about them. Forgot some.
- Blog what you love and are passionate about, it will help you and your readers remain engaged.
- Start slowly so you can post consistently when you begin and increase frequency as you gain speed.
- Use links and make them helpful – not self-promotional.
- I’ve ALWAYS known and believed that titles are extremely important. I think so even more now.
- Your message and mission can change with your business and purpose over time.
- I wish I had known/understood more about SEO, keywords, etc. when I started my blog – I am still backtracking and adding.
- Wish I’d known that simple promotion like email signatures, blog business cards, etc. could really help gain audience.
- Images enhance EVERY post.
- If I were a newbie to blogging I’d join #blogchat every Sunday!
Blog posts don’t have to be long – in fact, in today’s abbreviated world, long is discouraged. Most people find a conversational tone works best; just write like you’re talking to a friend! Many of the bloggers on #blogchat stressed the importance of proper grammar, spelling, etc. If that’s not your strength, get a colleague to proofread for you.
Blogging is a component of social media, which is essential in today’s marketing. It’s what we do here at EMSI, both for ourselves and for our clients.
Social media builds relationships and, really, what’s more important in life than that?