By blogging standards I am somewhat of a newborn, but I’m like everybody else out there – just trying to put together a bunch of stuff that people actually want to read. Today’s online world is populated by millions of blog articles that have sprung from the eager minds of enthusiastic word smiths. Food & drink, gadgets, homeware, marketing advice; it is now harder than ever to whip up a cocktail of informative, witty prose that will encourage Facebook likes and Twitter shares.
With this in mind, please find below, for your viewing pleasure, a few points that I have found – during my brief blogging tenure – to be rather important.
Do: think about what would make someone read your article.
It’s all about what people want to read and what they need help with. A bit of market research can go a long way to helping you figure out exactly what makes your audience tick. Find the articles that are most popular among your target audience and really start analysing them. What subjects do they address? Are the subjects time-dependent or can they be written about regardless of what is happening in the industry? What have people been saying in the comments section? Basically what did they think was so helpful about the article?
I’m not saying you should copy people’s article ideas, but it is a great starting point for thinking about how you can shape your own interests and writing ability around what is turning people on.
Don’t: forget to include (follow) links when relevant.
Whatever subject you are writing about, there are many other people out there who have given their thoughts on it. A blog post is not about being selfish and wanting the reader to just get all the relevant information from your post. Linking to other relevant articles will help your readers and will establish your site as an authentic, helpful and authoritative resource. For a great insight into the myths surrounding links click here.
Staying on the topic of trust, many feel that no-follow links are now frowned upon by Google, and that too many of these types of links can damage your site’s reputation. No-follow links suggest that there is a lack of trust in the site you are linking to, as you are asking Google not to count it as a proper link. While there is a great deal of debate on this subject (see here), Google often adopts the very logical reasoning of: why would you link to sites that you do not trust?
Do: pay less attention to keywords.
How often would you mention your keywords if you had no idea that Google was going to scan your site and you were simply trying to write the best and most helpful content for your readers? The answer to this question is exactly what the 21st-century-defining search engine is looking for.
Take this site for instance. I am a copywriter, but I think that word is mentioned only 5 or 6 times across all pages (including blog posts). I have mentioned it when I need to; no more, and no less. For a more detailed insight into the modern-day keyword situation, take a look at this article.
The long and short of it? When it comes to particular types of sites, Google wants to see certain things being talked about (and in enough detail) before it puts that site in the ‘useful for the reader’ box; and let’s face it, we all want to be in that box.
Don’t: think about ranking high on Google as you write articles.
If your site is destined for the dizzying heights of Google’s page 1, it will be because you have written blog posts that speak to your audience and make what they are trying to do easier. In essence, there are only three reasons why people read blog posts right? To be educated, to be entertained, and to be educated whilst being entertained. Obviously we’re all aiming for the latter.
Everything depends on your audience, as stated above. There are kids on YouTube who make hundreds of thousands a year by trying to kiss girls on the street or by sticking things to their face for 20 minutes. But if your audience comprises marketers and advertising powerhouses, then this type of thing is not going to cut the mustard (regardless of how tempting it may be to try).
Do: make sure that any links open up on a separate page.
Most people are well aware that any links should be opening up on a different page. The reason I mention it is that, for some reason, the default WordPress setting dictates that the link should open on the same page, and so readers are whisked away from your site, likely never to return – at least not for a while.
As people scan through the countless useful and entertaining articles the web has to offer, it is so easy for their attention to be grabbed, and for them to take their surfing to other waters. You have to do what you can to keep them in the soothing, warm waters that you have spent months and/or years creating. Be sure to tick the ‘open on separate page’ box when inserting a link.
Don’t: write an article if you can’t think of a catchy title for it.
I like to think that if a subject is interesting then you will always be able to sum it up with a snappy smack-around-the-face title. A few years ago, when I was working for a website that specialised in news about ground-breaking inventions and bizarre food concepts, I learned very quickly that the title was everything. If the subject was a cracker, then there was all sorts of fun to be had when thinking up an enticing, attention-grabbing headline.
Do: include images in your posts.
If I was to include images in this post, they would not really be relevant or helpful; basically, you would think I was a bit of a weirdo. With this said, images are often vital when it comes to adding a bit of visual stimulation to your posts. People like something to break up all of the text, and if you can find very engaging pictures, then all the better.
Images also offer a good chance to put your keywords to work. Be sure to give your image an exciting title and add words that are relevant to the subject of your piece.
I hope this was helpful. Feel free to leave any thoughts you may have in the comments section below.