39 blogging tips
Ian Lurie Oct 6 2011
Oh god, you groan, I have to write on the blog again?! I just wrote a post last month!!!
It’s a pain, I know. You’ve got a business to run, or a game to watch, or kids to feed. Spending 2 hours grinding out 300 words just isn’t a high priority.
It can be worth it, though. Writing a blog can get you fans, show you know your stuff, or just let you act out some aggression. To make sure it is worth it, try these tips:
First of all…
- Put your blog on your site.
- Use a spell checker.
- Use WordPress.org, unless you’re a nerd. Seriously. The downloadable version of WordPress is easy to install. And most web hosting providers offer ‘one click’ installs, anyway. Just be sure to keep your installation up to date, so you don’t fall prey to hackers.
- Use a WordPress framework like Genesis or Thesis. Spend your time writing, not coding.
- Install W3 Total Cache. Your site will run faster.
- Install Digg Digg or a similar social sharing plugin. People share more when it’s easy.
- Install an XML sitemap generator. If your site’s really huge, though, you may have to find another solution.
- Use pubsubhubbub. No, I didn’t just stutter. This is a real tool.
- Actually, just use Feedburner. Then you don’t have to worry about pubsubhubbububububub.
- Fit the scroll, not the screen. Write long posts! Go ahead! It’s OK. Just make sure you break up the post so that each ‘chunk’ – defined by a subhead or an image – is easily viewed in a single average scrolling area.
- Build a listening center. Use Google Reader. You can learn how to do it here.
- Use analytics to target opportunistic content. This gets complicated, to say the least. Read up on it here.
- Use analytics to target opportunity gaps.
- Balance engagement and opportunity. In other words, write stuff you know your audience wants to read, even if that means you don’t get to target a specific search phrase. The Facebook likes and Twitter tweets you get will more than make up for any lack of keyword relevance.
- Create an editorial calendar. Even if you ignore it (like me).
- Create hubs. Link like content to like content. It’s the secret weapon of SEO copywriting.
- Don’t watch conversions. Your blog isn’t for conversion generation. It’s not. DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT. Your blog is to get people into the funnel. It’s not to force them through it. Focus on informing and entertaining. Use the rest of your site for selling.
When you write your posts
- Make Stumblers stop with a nice use of images at the top of your posts.
- Add personality to your images. Use ComicLife, or any drawing program, or crayons and a scanner to make boring stock photos unique.
- Scale images first. Resize them using a photo editor, not HTML.
- Optimize images. GIF or PNG for vector images, JPEG for photos. Got it?
- Don’t go link happy. If you link every other word it starts to annoy the crap out of your readers.
- Have a decent 404 page.
- Reply to comments.
- Don’t reply angry.
- Don’t publish angry.
- Write headlines for attention. Make them fully descriptive. They need to pass the blank sheet of paper test.
- Systematically build relationships with fans and bloggers. Always return a favor.
- Keep tags to a minimum. Feral tag clouds kill hundreds of blogs every year. Keep yours under control.
- Limit your archives list. Show the last year’s worth of posts grouped by month. Then just show a link for each previous year. It saves links and helps you siphon authority around your site. Plus, it’s less of an eyesore.
- Limit ads. Lots of ads on a page makes your site an eyesore. And it may hurt your site quality under Google’s oh-so-hungry Panda update.
- Pick on companies, not individuals. This is my own personal philosophy, anyway. If you can, pick on no one. I’m not that good of a person.
- Repurpose content. Presentations become blog posts. Blog posts become training. Training becomes presentations. You get the idea. You can read my Search Engine Land post about recycling content, too.
- Have a sense of humor. Pretty please? There are plenty of corpses blogging out there. Bring some life to the internet.
- Post your posts. Don’t be afraid of Twitter. Or Facebook. Post your posts where your friends are!
- Measure response and build a routine. Which posts get the most reaction? Which ones did you enjoy writing? Start building a routine around those.
- Don’t be afraid to re-tweet. If you got zero response to your initial “Hey guys, here’s my latest post,” think carefully: Was it 10 PM on the east coast of the US? You might want to re-tweet. Folks don’t generally mind if you say “Morning re-tweet.” Just don’t retweet every hour and then tell everyone “Ian said I could.” I get enough hate mail already.
I’ve already written a whole blog post about this. Curate content to build your audience. Do it right. Bring real value. You’ll make friends in a hurry.
Roast plagiarizers alive, or at least put big pictures of poop on their site. It’s fun!
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More