29 March 2017

5 Ways To Improve Your Blog

Do you run a blog? Thinking about starting one? You probably already know how difficult it can be to do it successfully. Even with a killer approach towards a niche interest, standing out can be a challenge, and with 76.5 million blogs on WordPress alone, we know as well as you do that it can be a lonely place to be.

Of course, blogs and any online content media are first and foremost about the content, but even the best content in the world isn’t always enough to succeed. Content has to be found by readers, it’s got to be engaging and it’s got to contribute to a great user experience. Otherwise, it’s got almost no chance of being shared and your newly built blog will remain without any visibility, gathering dust in a corner of the web.

The way to make your blog successful is to combine excellent content with efficient strategies to ensure visitors find your site, read it, love it, and share it. Here, we will dive into 5 of these strategies for you to generate the most satisfaction running it smoothly and cost effectively.

1. Awesome User Experience

Fast loading websites, intuitive interfaces, crazy good graphic design: these are all things today’s visitors have come to expect from their online experience. Most of us, working in web, are focused on delivering the best possible experience for users. As a result, visitors are empowered. This means that they will not waste their time on a website that doesn’t fit their expectations. Frustration and boredom are two things you should watch out for!

Appealing to the users from the design of the site as a whole is a much more effective way to engage them than expecting them to surf a so-so WordPress theme or interface to discover the value in your posts and articles.

So… how do you make your blog appealing?

Focus on Functionality

Features in your blog should help raise the value in the content, and engage users to come back, even better to bookmark and follow the site. Think of any action or service you can provide in your user interface that will appeal to your visitors. Add categories that make it simple to navigate through content. Include social media sharing buttons with intelligent options to share quotes, sections, etc. If it’s easy to use, people will use it.

Make your WordPress fast!

If your site takes too long to load, people will leave within seconds. A counterproductive point in this is that the images and elements that make your site appealing to viewers also make it heavy and therefore longer to load. We have got some tips on that topic here as well.

You can opt for a caching plugin to help things along. If you rely heavily on images, you should looking into a solid image optimizer. You need a tool that will compress and optimize your images (like Imagify). It will keep your images clean while making them must lighter and easier to load.

Use Compelling Images

Humans are highly visual beings. No wonder imagery has been part of advertising practices since day one! Blogs and websites that make visuals an integral part of their strategy often achieve great success.

Here’s a quick list of things you can do to make sure your images are compelling:

  • Use high-quality images in your posts
  • Make sure your images fit with the topic of your content
  • Pick unique images
  • Avoid the “stock photo” vibe

Increasing the visual appeal will help you to better communicate your ideas to your readers, and this does not need to be a major investment. Tired of seeing the same photos over and over again online? Not sure if that “free stock photo” is really OK to use on your website? You should check out PixelRockstar. This WordPress plugin makes millions of images available right in your WordPress dashboard. It’s faster, simpler and cheaper than risking a lawsuit.

Example Photos from PixelRockstar

2. Content is, and always will be, King

Once you have everything in place for people to find your blog, content becomes a primary focus. If the posts are poor, boring, repetitive or just not-so-well written, your readers will be turned off quite fast. Having awesome content is key to not only engage your audience but also to expand your blog’s reach.

So what makes great content, well, great? Having an interesting niche or topic, offering an innovative approach, providing a unique perspective or knowledge, are good starting points to ensure your blog will be one worth to read. But that’s only the beginning. Here are some ways to boost up the value of your content:

Plan, Plan, Plan

Think of all the aspects that will define your blog and consider every detail in content creation from the reader’s perspective. What tone will work better with the audience you are catering to? Is it better an informal style, or a professional one? Story lines are very important, and you must think not only about what your readers want to read about but also about the way they want it to be told to them.

Maximize Your Resources

There’s a lot more in a blog post than just publish it and share it once. Approach to every new entry from a full-spectrum perspective: think of call-to-actions and how to strategically place them in your text, interlink your related articles in a cohesive way that adds value to the reader’s experience. Make sure you use powerful and clear headlines, Every post has a lot of potential for your business.

Diversify your Content

Guest posts are a great source of blog enhancement. Getting others in your field or niche to guest write for your blog can be a great way to share new things and expand your reach. Social media can be a source for relevant content as well: check what your followers or target audience are talking about, what questions they raise more often. Those should be topics for your upcoming posts.

Sitenote: always make sure that the images guest writers wish to use (if they submit images) are optimized and have the proper usage rights.

3. Social Media and Community

The last decade has seen a massive transformation thanks to social media become an integral part of our lives. Most online businesses can’t afford to ignore the impact social media has on a communication strategy. Getting serious about social media means a lot more than just setting up accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and sharing your blog articles.

People use social media to connect, to get involved, to personalize and “own” spaces within the brands, products and topics of their interest. They want to interact and feel they are part of a community, and providing that is key to your blog’s success. Here are some tips to get help you get started:

Be Channel-focused

It’s a mistake to think all social networks are the same, and a bigger one to think people use them all for the same purposes. Each channel has its own structure and strong points, and users choose them for different reasons. If you want to accurately get to people in social media, you need to adjust your tone and your content to each specific channel. Facebook might be a good place to share a first-person experience on a current topic, while Twitter would be better to share a quote that relates to your recent post.

If you have a strong affinity for visuals, Snapchat and Instagram are also great social platforms you can leverage. These channels are very segmented and specific, but they challenge your creativity and when well used, they can be a very effective way to connect with people.

Go the Extra Mile

As we said, social media channels are not just for you to share your just published post, and then sit and wait for likes and comments. These networks are a true opportunity to engage your audience, make them feel part of a collective space, get valuable feedback, and more. Get involved in your accounts, interact with your followers. Share your posts more than once, every time they are still relevant or they relate to a current event. Include content from other sources that you think your readers will find interesting. Propose discussions and pay attention to what they write and what they like.

4. Expand your Reach

Another logical way to enhance your blog is to expand its reach. If your site is appealing, functions like a well-oiled machine, has awesome content and counts with an active base of readers, it’s a good time to start growing it out of the limits of your publication.There are different ways to expand, according to your particular business and preferences. Here’s some of them:

Branching Out

Often times a topic has a lot of subtopics or sister topics around it. And if you succeed in one, why not to venture into the others? Starting new blogs on related topics and creating a platform that covers an entire field are great ways to expand your business: you can redirect traffic from one blog to the other, and you provide a complete service on a particular area, something your audience will value. There’s a great example in Stock Photo Press, an online publishing company that, starting out over a decade ago with a blog on stock photography, now manages over a dozen publications in 3 languages covering the whole spectrum of stock media including photography, vectors and video.

Blogger’s Network

Creating new blogs is not the only way to expand. The overpopulated land of blogs can be a positive too: sure it means there’re a lot of people writing, but it also means you are likely to find bloggers with similar interests and related focus, willing to collaborate to reach mutual goals. Reach out to them for cross-promotion opportunities, guest writing, joint marketing/social media efforts, and more.

Landing Advertising

This is a classic way to monetize a blog for a good reason: it works. Once you enhance your blog and you have greater traffic, visibility and presence in social media, you will be in a much better position to land advertising and negotiate promotion deals with companies in your field. Contact them with clear proposals, including perks like free trials or temporary discounts for ads or ideas for promotion deals (coupon codes, giveaways, etc.), and start seeing your income grow.

5. Optimize For SEO

You will notice in this list we have touched both the human and the technological aspect of blogging. And that’s because they are both equally important to succeed. As we’ve said, readers have to be able to find your site on the web. Once they do, make sure your website meets their needs, otherwise they won’t stick around.

Once you’ve taken care of all the steps that will grant you greater success with your blog, you really need to focus on search engine optimization as well. It’s an added layer to your strategy. You have to think about how people search for the type of content that you produce and how you can help Google bot understand your content better. Here are a few tips to get started:

Don’t Go Crazy with Keywords

Adding as many keywords you can to your post will actually hurt your position in search results. It’s a much better practice to focus in one or two main keywords. Use them strategically: in your title, your meta description, your content and your URL. As for length, medium-tail keywords are great to get the right kind of traffic without narrowing your chances too much. Focus on one or two keywords (and their variations) in order to make progress. You can include more keywords of course, but you shouldn’t focus on more than one or two per page.

Optimize You

Remember to optimize your images as well. It’s important! Make sure to add relevant descriptions of your images

Be Mobile Friendly

Google likes mobile friendly websites. It gives them priority over other websites in search results pages shown on mobile devices. So if you want to cater to more mobile-user readers, you need to make your blog friendly for those interfaces. It’s no longer only about the user experience, now it’s also beneficial for your position in Google results.

Take your Blog to the Next Level

Now you know what to do to make your blog stand out among the millions of blogs out there. It’s time to get to work!

Taking your blog to the next level doesn’t mean spending thousands of dollars though. Focus on getting a few things right: the theme, the plugins, the approach and the skills you need to succeed!

Now let’s get started! Let’s Rock’n’roll.

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