Good writing is at the core of any good blog, so is timely and accurate information, and good presentation. Anyone who’s ever started a successful blog did so with these three basic principles intact. However, a lot of unsuccessful blogs also started under the same conditions, but either ultimately failed or never even got out of the starting gate.
Sadly, good writers have not always embraced modern technology in ways that make complete sense for their particular skill, and that explains the difference, in many instances, between successful and failed blogs. By themselves, good writing skills are almost never enough to carry the day when it comes to creating a flourishing blog.
Below are several tools and additional steps considered mandatory for any realistic hope at creating a widely-read blog.
Will The Search Engines Find Your Blog?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
You can have the most useful blog in the world, but if no one knows it exists, it’s of little use to anyone and you’ll quickly tire of the endeavor. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a natural process used to create high visibility for your blog in search engines through the proper use of keywords.
The term “natural” is used to describe the method because there’s no paid advertising component attached to SEO. High placement of your blog in any search result can be achieved through the specific use of keywords in the HTML code used to create your blog, the headlines of each of your entries, and the content under each headline.
When considering the keywords you will use, it’s important to think about the words or phrases someone is likely to use when they begin their search. It’s okay if your list of potential keywords is extensive. However, short and concise phrases are your best bet. Your chances of a searcher using an exact two- or three-word phrase are much higher than with an eight-or ten-word phrase.
Beginning with the HTML code that will describe your page, identified within the “<title> and </title>” tags, describe your blog as accurately as possible. If your expertise is documenting bicycle adventures through the United States, your description should be right to the point:
- US Bicycle Adventures | Bike Tours Throughout The United States
This information lets users and search engines know the exact topic of your blog. Your title also includes likely keywords and phrases someone interested in bike tours will enter as a search string:
- Bicycle Adventures
- Bike Tours
- Bike Tours US
- Bike Tours United States
Similarly, when considering keywords in the headlines of your blog entries, you’ll want to stay with these types of keywords. If you’ve ridden extensively throughout Georgia, include the word Georgia and any relevant city or trail name in the headline for any blog entry dealing with bike tours in Georgia.
Use this approach to identify any key information about your post if it’s information likely to be searched, such as:
- Road Tour
- Family Tours
- Family Casual
- Off-road Trails
- Scenic Bike Tours
Terms like these are not only relevant to your headline as they’re quite descriptive, they’re also the exact sorts of things potential blog followers will search for related to their interest.
When writing content, it’s important to not overuse your keywords. Search engine algorithms sniff out gratuitous keyword usage, and as a result your work will be “penalized” as it will have the feel of “spam.” If your particular article is about casual, family-oriented scenic bike tours in Savannah, Georgia, then those are pretty much your keywords. Use such keywords two or three times throughout your article:
- Family Oriented
- Family Bike Tours
- Casual Bike Tour
- Scenic Georgia
- Savannah, Georgia
- Georgia Bike Tours
These are very likely keywords and keyword combinations someone will use when searching for a casual, family-oriented bike tour in Georgia. You are giving your blog a high probability of being found through a search engine because you’ve used keywords relevant to both your blog and potential readers, and you’ve used them on your title page, in your headline, and in your article.
There are different approaches to creating SEO content. Becoming familiar with various key concepts will serve only to improve the visibility of your blog through search engines. Do your homework. There are plenty of online and offline resources available.
Let Your Readers Respond
Don’t bore them
Lecturing is a form of communication best left to law professors and upset parents. For successful blogging, however, it’s a quick path to finding a new hobby.
Successful blogging is as much about creating a dialogue with your faithful readers as anything else you’ll read on this page. Providing a way, or ways, for your blog readers to communicate with you will not only give you the feedback you need to fine-tune your content, it’s also the best way to ensure you’re not boring them to the point of leaving your blog.
Readers want to respond with relevant information, or legitimate critique, or just to say hello, or to add anecdotes of similar experiences. Creating a true dialogue with your subscribers involves them in ways they deem important, which is part of the reason they’ll have any interest at all in your blog.
Getting reader feedback is also a way for you to keep your content fresh, to get new ideas, and to network with others who share your expertise or interests. Most pre-configured blog hosts offer the ability to add comments to your blog in a variety of different ways, including:
- A general comment section for your overall blog
- Comments attached to each separate post
Additionally, comments can be sent to your email or your smart-phone as a text message. You can also respond directly from these sources, giving you the ability to respond as quickly as possible to any comments on your blog. This is a standard feature of any successful blog.
Push Your New Content to Readers
Once you’ve created a good blog using good SEO methods, you’ll want your readers and potential new readers to know about each new bit of content as you post it. There are a few tools readily available designed to push your content.
One of the most tried and true methods of getting your newly published content in front of your regular readers is to deploy a technology known as RSS, sometimes referred to as Really Simple Syndication. In a nutshell, RSS provides blog owners a simple and automated way to deliver ever-changing content to regular blog subscribers.
If you write a daily sports blog and use RSS, your regular subscribers will automatically receive an update in their RSS Reader each time you update your blog. This is a convenient way for your regular readers to stay up-to-date on information of interest to them, and an equally convenient way for you to self-promote your blog.
Most preconfigured blogs, like Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Xanga, and Weebly include RSS widgits and capabilities as part of their service offering. Just a few minutes reading through their documentation will help you get familiar with how to use RSS, and how to ensure each new entry is being automatically delivered to interest followers of your blog.
RSS Readers come in many different formats, and are frequently included as a part of a larger communication package.
- Google Reader is a built-in part of their popular Gmail electronic mail program.
- Outlook, an email program included with Microsoft Office, includes a built-in RSS reader
- Mozilla, the makers of the popular Firefox web browser, offers a built-in reader with email client called Thunderbird
Regardless of the specific RSS Reader used by the regular followers of your blog, the content on your blog will be sent to readers every time you publish something new. In an era where everyone has a lot of choices and outlets for getting their various news and information, RSS is an excellent and simple way to keep your blog in front of your followers. Consider it a key element to any successful blog.
Attracting New Followers
RSS includes online functionality called FeedBurner. This allows you to publish your blog to your regular subscribers through the RSS “feeds” in the previous section. It also helps you publish your blog content and updates on much larger sites, particularly news portals and aggregators.
Blog readers, news hounds, and information junkies use FeedBurner to create an “aggregate” of content valuable, informative, or otherwise of interest to them. When you use FeedBurner with your blog, you’ll have the best possible chance of being included on websites dedicated to collecting, aggregating, and publishing lots of content.
Digg is an online tool designed to help bloggers create a following and get their content published to a much broader audience. The Digg, or DiggThis button or widget can easily be added to your blog content.
When you add the Digg widget to your blog, you’re basically telling your readers that you want them to submit your blog content to Digg. The Digg widget includes a counter, which lets you, your subscribers, and anyone looking at your content on Digg see how many times your article, image, or video has been clicked on.
This is an easy way for you to instantly determine the popularity of a particular blog post. The larger the number, the more likely others will click on the link to see what all the fuss is about. It’s a self-perpetuating marketing tool, and it’s included as part of the pre-built template at all of the most popular blog hosts. Digg is also readily available as Java- and HTML-script, and easily integrates into your existing website.
Consider FeedBurner and Digg, another set of indispensable tools for your blog.