It’s not enough these days to just create a blog; everyone can do it so it isn’t special in any way. It’s just the new baseline. You need to really buckled down and put a lot of thought into your blog, both when you’re setting it up and when you’re running it from day to day.
Your domain name can make a surprising amount of difference. Is it on a .com/.net/.org TLD or is it relegated to a country code, .biz or .info? The neighborhood makes a difference. Is it short and punchy, or is it long and hard to remember? Is it relevant to your brand? You don’t need a keyword domain, just a brand name in today’s Internet.
Where is your blog hosted? Does it have a separate domain from your website? Is it a subdomain listed before the .example.com? Is it a subfolder separated by /blog/blogtitles? The subfolder is most common, but you need to be aware of your choice and how it affects your links.
A single second of delay in loading your page drastically increases your bounce rate. Your host absolutely needs to be able to serve your page quickly with as much uptime as possible. Any less and you’re driving impatient users away. You should also consider software availability and server access when picking your host.
Your blog needs a focus. General “jack of all trades” blogs never work. If you can’t sum up the focus of your blog in five words or less, you’re not focusing it enough. Every post needs to be in a subject related to your central theme, no matter what that theme is.
Your theme decides, well, your theme. Theme, in this case, used to represent the WordPress custom design. If you’re not using WordPress, the same still applies. Make sure your blog’s look fits your business. You don’t want a cold, corporate blog when you’re running a daycare.
Most blogging software will let you automate at least part of this. Remember that your title and description are the text that shows up in a Google search as the link and snippet. Customize these for maximum attraction and user value, while still including a keyword. It’s one of the few places a keyword is still useful.
When a user visits your site, how do they get around? Is your navigation clear? Are the posts you want them to see featured prominently? Can they subscribe to your newsletter from your homepage? For advanced users, install heatmap software to see just what your users are doing and how you can further guide them in the direction you want.
Blog posts can go viral, but to do so, they need to be cited by a major publication more often than not. Write your content so it would not look out of place in the citations of a news story or human interest piece. This means authority, utility and value.
Every blog post should have a goal. Maybe it’s to share a piece of knowledge or an interesting statistic. Maybe it’s to guide users to another post you made recently. Maybe it’s to encourage users to visit your Facebook page. Whatever the case, an aimless post is a useless post.
If you’re the content producer, write every day even if you don’t publish every day. If you’re hiring writers, just publish every day. Your goal is to be consistent in your value. Try to post at the same time every day. If you’re erratic, your users won’t know when to check back and will forget to do so.
Typos and grammatical errors kill user value. If they can’t trust you to proofread your posts, how can they trust you to know what you’re talking about? Great writing goes above and beyond; look at some of the most popular blogs online and study how they write. Avoid fluff, maximize value and keep it personal.
A picture is worth 1,000 words, but that’s just an average. Some pictures are boring and can be summarized in 10. Some images tell volumes and, indeed, volumes can be written about them. Try to include pictures that fall closer to the latter category when you include them; illustrate your point or bring in a side story with a unique image.
Video may be time-consuming to produce, but a good video can attract an incredible amount of user attention and interaction. Don’t push yourself to make videos if you don’t have the tools or the inspiration, but if you do, don’t be afraid to do so. They open up an entirely new audience. The same can be said for podcasts, as well.
Facebook, Google+ and Twitter all have their places for just about any possible blog. LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and others have more niche roles, but can be very useful if you’re in a position to take advantage of what they offer. Promote and cross-promote on social media to reach the widest possible audience.
Note that this says subject, not keywords. Keywords are, more or less, a thing of the past. They’re important in your title and your description, but if you’re trying to shoehorn them into your post a given number of times, you’re trying too hard. Instead, use keywords to guide the subject of your posts. Organic search will do the rest.
If you don’t have analytics, how will you know how your blog is performing? Use analytics to create a baseline of activity and user interaction. Then start taking chances, experimenting with subjects and formats to see what works. Do the same thing with split testing to change the layout of your blog, using heatmap data from above.
A weekly or monthly digest of your most popular and most influential posts can be a great thing to hit user inboxes. You probably don’t want to notify them every time you post, particular if you post daily, but you want to keep them engaged with regular emails.
Don’t just look at them and study them; genuinely become an interested reader of the popular blogs in your niche. It will give you an idea of the styles and topics used by the other bloggers, particularly the successful ones. It helps you internalize the style. It’s also a great place to get engaged in the comments, before you turn around and attract those bloggers to your site.
These are just a few of the many ways you can analyze and improve your current blog. Consider them a starting point, a broad net to look for potential problems before you refine your search and develop a fix.