I have been blogging actively since 2007 and have learned a lot about SEO along the way. In fact, my blogging evolved into a career of doing SEO for a living. From sports blogging for Mile High Report to blogging for my current employer at I-Tul Design & Software, there are basic strategies for organizing a blog post that go a long way to building long term residual traffic from it. You will notice these blogging tips are all met within this post as well.
Many SEO professionals say you should focus on a specific keyword and write posts around it, but I’ve always hated that line of thinking. It is much better to pick a topic to write about and just write it. If you blog regularly, you will end up targeting more than enough keywords over time and Google will send you residual traffic for years to come. My blogging tips today will be focused more around writing in a way that maximizes the blog post for your readers, while optimizing it for Google’s algorithm as well. The first is far more important to your blog’s health and success than the second, but without the second it is difficult to capture new readership.
1. Pick an interesting topic
This goes back to my comment about writing for your readers, not keyword volume. If you are very active within an industry, it shouldn’t be hard to find hot topics in the news or providing some insight into a problem. With this post, I chose to offer my own opinion on a problem that many often come across when blogging. To me, it felt like a good first post on my own personal and professional blog. In the future, Google will undoubtedly have an update that will be more newsy than educational. The point is, you can find an interesting topic fairly easily and if you struggle, look for someone with a list. There is always a list somewhere. Why? Because people generally love them or love to hate them.
— Mike Brown (@Brainzooming) July 4, 2014
2. Write with authority
No one wants to read something written by a robot. Either you are going to be interesting or you aren’t, so be yourself because its the only act you can keep up forever. Take your position, write your opinion and be confident about it. My approach is that way, but I never believe only my way of doing things is correct. There will always be someone out there who knows more than me or has far more experience doing what I’ve done, so its important to be open to admitting when you are wrong and evolving how you do things when new knowledge is gained. It also pays to do your homework before writing anything, even if you think you are already an expert on the topic.
If you write a blog post that generates a lot of interest, then you can expect a few of them to challenge your positions or correct any errors you may have made. Be graceful and engage those people with respect. You will find that they can become your biggest allies and most loyal readers.
3. Layout is critical
Nothing is worse than a horribly put together blog post. Most often, I refuse to read a post that is disjointed and put together in a terrible manner – even if the topic seems compelling. A post needs to flow easily from one subject to the next. The way I do this is by using headings, which allow readers to skim if they are looking for something specific. I found this cool infographic that visually lays out a fairly good layout of a blog post for most cases, but its important to develop your own style.
IF YOU DO NOT KNOW BASIC HTML, THEN START LEARNING … WITH IT YOU CAN MAKE YOUR BLOG LAYOUT LOOK MORE PROFESSIONAL.
In fact, if you do not know basic HTML, then start learning. Codecademy.com is the perfect place to start. You could have the basics down in just one weekend through their free course. Why is knowing HTML so important? Because with it you can make your blog layout look more professional and provide your readers with unique ways to read through your content. That floating blockquote to the right(or above on mobile devices) is a good example of the power of basic HTML skills. You’ll be doing yourself a huge service to learn just the basics.
In my experience, a great layout can often mask a poorly written blog post. No one is immune to writing a bad post now and then, but I have found that readers are more forgiving if the bad post is well presented by the layout. Obviously you don’t want to get into the habit of writing bad content, but you do want to get into the habit of providing excellent blog post layouts, even if you have to spend a little extra time to get it right.
4. Ask for your readers opinions
I try to always end my blog posts with a question asking what people think of the topics or my opinion. To me, that is the central point to blogging in general. It’s never been about talking or yelling at people from a pulpit, but rather a way to express my opinion and receiving feedback and/or discussion on the topic to develop a better understanding of it. The willingness of most bloggers to engage and respond to readers is why I always click a blog post over a major news outlet when searching a specific event or topic in the news. Who wants to be reported at in today’s age of social networking and engagement? I sure as heck don’t! The attitude of major media just makes me think of this scene from the movie Titanic.
5. Engage your readers
These last two are very closely tied together, but are easily the most important aspects of blogging success. When you first start out, every single comment, tweet, share, or whatever must be treated like the Holy Grail. Respond as quickly as possible and always maintain a respectful tone, even if the person really just annoyed the crap out of you. You can do far more damage to your blog by being a jerk than you could ever do by disagreeing in a respectful manner.
Building a following takes time, but it also takes personality. Be yourself and stick with it for a long time, because that first year you’ll likely be blogging to yourself most of the time.