Welcome to the digital ocean that is the blog-o-sphere. Thanks to the open web, publishing your words is easy. Getting them read is another matter entirely. The brutal fact is that the word “blog” itself has become a turnoff. No one is looking for more stuff to read. However everyone wants intriguing, relevant information that entertains, educates or offers answers to the questions they ask in search engines. Without some notoriety going in, generating interest in your business blog and building your subscriber base will require both work and time. But the endeavor can indeed yield rewards, both professionally and personally.
The following is an accumulated list of business blogging best practices from the best of the web to get your blog seen and increase readership:
1. Make it focused.
“Joe’s Take on Everything” may provide wide latitude in subject matter. But unless Joe has a following, his takes are likely to drown in the sea of the unread. “Joe’s Take on Dubai’s Economic Expansion” is a much tastier header to a specific audience, and thus more likely to find loyal readership. Let’s just hope Joe knows something about the subject.
2. Make it inviting.
Instead of confronting readers with one imposing paragraph after the other, consider breaking up content into more digestible servings with section headers, lists and bullets. Liven up posts with photos and video. But don’t go overboard. Including too much media will create clutter and diminish readership. Do include photo captions – research shows they’re read before headlines.
3. Make it conversational.
Stick to plain language. Imagine you’re sitting across from your reader at a Starbucks. Do project a point of view. And be sure to invite commentary. It’s a conversation after all.
4. Make it searchable.
Set your privacy settings to make your blog visible to Google, Bing and other search engines. Use Wordstream’s free keyword tool to generate a list of popular search terms and tags. But be concise. A few well-chosen terms with great content is the surest way to garner traffic.
5. Make it linked.
Including links to other blogs is a good way to prompt fellow bloggers to find you, possibly subscribe, and even return the favor and link back to you. Attaining inward-bound links is the primary way to score higher search rankings.
6. Make it sexy.
Know your audience and hit their hot buttons. Don’t be afraid to occasionally be controversial. Leverage current events, pop culture, viral memes, anything that’s relevant to your subject area and potential subscribers. Write headlines that tease, humor, excite or otherwise compel readers to read on. Just be sure to deliver the goods!
7. Make it subscribe-able.
Use RSS feeds to make it easy for visitors to get updates. RSS (‘Rich Site Summary’ or commonly ‘Really Simple Syndication’) uses standard web-feed formats to automatically distribute new posts to subscribers with RSS readers. Facebook and other social widgets provide other ways for visitors to direct feeds to their desired social sites.
8. Make it known, anyway you can.
Spread the word through social networks. Hit up associates via email. Holler to the neighbors. Beg them all to forward, repost, re-tweet and otherwise share new posts. Promote it through relevant forums (without getting tagged as spam). And cultivate industry journalists. Getting mentioned in the press is a shortcut to wide exposure and instant credibility.
9. Make it often and regular.
Get your product out there! Make a publication schedule and stick to it. Every post doesn’t have to be extensive. Varying length and structure will keep readers interested. But mainly, get your stuff out there, regularly and often.
Above all, keep at it. Your readership doesn’t necessarily have to be large for your efforts to reap rewards. Reach the right folks and keep them coming back for more. Getting your views out there can raise your professional profile and build credibility. And knowing others value your words beyond your immediate family and co-workers can be incredibly fulfilling.
All that said, the blog-o-sphere is yours. Enjoy the journey!
Jonathan Kaler is a writer, ideator, producer and guest blogger for V2. He works with companies and marketing firms throughout the country to create winning content for all media, digital and traditional. You can check out his work at redphone.tv.