Have you wondered why some blogs seem to take off like magic and others barely get a passing visitor? Is there a secret to creating a popular blog which only “insiders” know about? Actually, there is a secret – it’s called hard work. Building a large fan base doesn’t happen overnight, but you can help speed up the process by following these 12 tips.
1. Use Enticing and Informative Post Titles
Your post title isn’t something to be chosen haphazardly or with little forethought, but requires careful consideration about what words and phrases will make it “findable” in search engines and appealing enough for people to want to read your article.
There are many types of effective headlines (direct, news, how to, question, top 10, etc.), but the best ones give readers a clear indication of what the article is about and a reason for reading more.
Be wary of using comedic or overly creative titles. These are risky since readers have such varying senses of humor, and taking too many creative liberties will result in an obscure title that some may not understand and with words no one will use in search engine queries.
Keep in mind, your title will appear on your post, in search engine listings, in feed readers, and in subject lines – so, make it count.
2. Make it Easy to Find Your Old Posts
Most blogs are designed so that the most recent posts appear at the top of the page with all previous entries listed below and on subsequent pages. This is great for highlighting new content and maintaining the “spirit” of the blog platform, but it also makes it easy for your followers to forget about your earlier posts and more difficult for newcomers to see what you’ve already written.
You can counteract this by having plenty of access points to your old content through relevant links within new posts, word clouds, categories, and sneeze pages. These things encourage people to explore the depths of your blog and keep them on your site longer.
3. Link to Other Bloggers
No blog is an island. In other words, if you want your site to grow you need to connect with other bloggers on the net. Linking to reputable sites is a good way to bring others in on your conversation, to provide due credit (if you’re borrowing others’ ideas), and ultimately to expand your audience. If you regularly provide great content, others will eventually start linking to you, and then your possibilities for growth are limitless.
4. Use Basic SEO
Do you really want your competition getting all the attention, not because he has better posts, but simply because he filled out his meta data more thoroughly and used proper keywords? In an ideal world, the best content should win, but this isn’t always the case; a lot of it has to do with SEO.
At the very minimum ensure you have a descriptive title and an inviting meta description (both containing your keywords). If you have a WordPress site, you can simplify the process by installing the “All in One SEO Pack” plugin, which allows you to fill out all this information in one quick form.
5. Use Words in Your URLs
URLs that display a bunch of seemingly random numbers, letters, and symbols are pretty much worthless for providing information to humans or search engines. Instead of your URL looking something like this:
Change it something with a clean appearance and with real words (ideally keywords) such as:
6. Don’t Plagiarize
Some say there are no new ideas, and sometimes it feels like that is true when you start to write a blog post and then realize countless other people have already written on the same subject. Nevertheless, this is no excuse to plagiarize.
Even if your topic isn’t totally unique, your perspective is. So, write whatever you want to write about (even if it has been done 1,000 times before), but do it in a different way. State your opinions, relate your own experiences, comment on what others have written, and generally try to put a new spin on things.
Besides, if you want to amass a following you have to provide consistently fresh content – no one wants a copy of what they saw on a different blog.
7. Post Regularly
A successful blog can provide a huge amount of brand awareness, so make blogging a priority. Posting sporadically (or less than once a month) is a sure way to lose your followers’ interest. Remember, one of the primary purposes of your blog is to keep your brand in the forefront of people’s minds, and you can’t do this with long gaps between posts.
Not to mention, search engine crawlers will come to your site less and less if they aren’t finding any new content.
8. Use Good Form
Writing for an online audience requires different tactics than what is used in print media. For instance, forget what your English teacher said about making paragraphs around five to seven sentences long. Doing so results in big blocks of text which aren’t easily scannable by users wanting to skim through your pages.
Instead, keep your paragraphs around two or three sentences long with white space between each paragraph and with plenty of sub-headings. Of course, you should follow your English teacher’s advice about using proper spelling and grammar. A blog is a little more laidback than a professional essay, but it should be readable and not contain blatant errors.
9. Take Advantage of Social Media
When you participate in social networks, you essentially have millions of consumers willing to work for you for free. All you have to do is give them something worth sharing, and they will spread the word about your blog.
In today’s social-media-crazed society, it’s nearly impossible to have a top ranked blog without jumping on the social bandwagon.
10. Engage with Your Readers
A blog isn’t a novel or a soliloquy; it’s meant for sparking conversations and sharing ideas. The best blogs always have plenty of comments with varying opinions.
You can help inspire discussion by giving your readers something to talk about (don’t be afraid to voice your opinions) and by asking them to comment. It’s always smart to post a question at the end of your post to get folks talking, and don’t worry if the comments don’t come right away – it will take some time.
11. Keep it Interesting
To put it bluntly, if your blog is boring no one will read it. Make your entries relevant, current, and on topics internet users care about. Pay attention to which of your postings gets the most feedback, try to determine what people liked about it, and then recreate the formula.
If you believe you have what it takes to go head-to-head with blogs that are already highly popular (think, Copyblogger, Mashable, or SEOmoz), then go for it. However, you may find it easier to find your own specialized niche as opposed to competing directly with “household-name” blogs.
12. Don’t Give Up
Building up a following takes time, and it will probably take a year or more for your blog to really take off. Naturally, it’s frustrating to constantly put work into something without seeing immediate results, but rest assured, the results will come in time (assuming you have great content).
Instead of worrying about your lack of fans, focus on creating the best posts possible. That way, when they do come, you’ll have a wealth of information ready for exploration.
Although it seems like some blogs soared into recognition overnight, the truth is most well-known bloggers worked for years before getting a substantial following; and then they have to regularly churn out good stuff to hold onto their readers. If you’re serious about your blog (and you should be), follow the tips above, focus on providing worthwhile content, and eventually you’ll see a payoff.
Think about your favorite blogs. What do they offer that keeps you coming back for more?