In life, there are always rules. Rules to follow and rules to break. These are my six rules as they apply to blogging.
1. Post multiple times to increase traffic
Back in the day, I remember my old boss at SEO-PR provide consultation to clients who were interested in building out their blog in order to drive SEO and Web traffic. We told clients to blog consistently and more than once a day, if possible. Output and frequency were the key elements to driving traffic. My, how times have changed. Taking a page from Tim Ferriss of Four Hour Work Week fame, you don’t need to blog multiple times a day. Matter of fact, if you can come up with one juicy, content-rich blog post a week, that’s all you need! If you study Ferriss’s blog, you’ll notice that Tim doesn’t post every day. He spaces out his posts by at least three days. Why do I highlight Ferriss? Well, he’s a blog phenom of sorts and through his Four hour work week books created a huge loyal fan-base. His specialty is to come up with content that rich in “how to” and provides instructions for others to replicate the type of success he’s enjoyed, including guest posts that offer insight into how others have achieved success in their online marketing strategies.
Recommendation: Start off with a consistent schedule of blog posts. You can post once a day, every two days, three days, whatever suits your abilities as a blogger. Just make sure you make your posts rich with usable content that your readers can make use of. Use analytics to evaluate your level of success. You’ll discover which of your posts drives more traffic and views.
2. Blog comments – are they still relevant and valuable as a KPI?
I’ve always counseled my clients to value comments. After all, you might see that your content is getting shared but how do you know if any of it is actually being read? I’ve seen content get shared hundreds of times via FB, LI, Twitter, etc…That’s a good sign. But how many people who are using their feeds to share the content are actually reading it? I think it’s a small percentage. That’s why blog comments, historically, have always been a good benchmark, especially when monitored. If someone is inspired by your content they will be inclined to respond to it. Unfortunately, blog comments have also been taken advantage of by too many trolls and an insufficient number of “quality comments,” meaning comments left by people who truly have read your post and are sincere in their remarks, providing you with comments that reflect they’ve read the content. Copyblogger announced a while back that they were doing away with comments entirely. Obviously their spam system was not capable of filtering all of the comments and it became tiresome for their staff to keep monitoring the volume of comments, many of which were plain spam. Sonia Simone explained in a post that Copyblogger was putting an end to commenting and that if people wanted to continue the dialogue related to the content posted than they should follow Copyblogger’s social media channels and post their comments on those platforms.
Recommendation: I’m still partial to comments and not 100% sure you should follow Copyblogger’s strategy. By the time Copyblogger shut off comments, it was already a huge brand. It didn’t risk very much by turning off comments. For those of you starting out, why alienate your fans? If you make it relatively easy to post comments, and you’re using a platform like WP, it’s pretty easy to monitor your comments and control the level of spam. Plenty of plugins catch the vast majority of spam. If you make it difficult for your readers to comment, they won’t comment. If you want your readers to focus more on your social media channels, like FB, then you probably don’t require a blog. You should just emphasize your presence on FB. I say don’t follow what Copyblogger did unless you truly are getting overwhelmed with spam.
3. Write a 500 word blog post
There was a time when keyword volume mattered to a blog post. I remember helping clients with their blog posts years ago, making sure they were keyword rich and were, at a minimum, 500 words. Today, it doesn’t matter nearly as much. Why? Because of rich media, in particular video, the keyword doesn’t always hold the same priority as it once did. YouTube, for example, is second largest search engine on the Web today, right behind Google. People are consuming record amounts of video content. You could post video content, (original video content) and make that the core of your blog content. Google isn’t going to penalize you for it. Short posts are still popular and long posts remain appealing as well (think of posts on Medium, for example). In the end, however, word count just doesn’t matter.
Recommendation: Whatever content you post, just make sure it’s to the point with no extra filler.
4. Stick with original content – but it’s OK to repurpose it
Remember the adage, “there’s nothing new under the sun?” In today’s 24/7 content spewing world it’s just not possible to come up with something totally original. The vast majority of content is recycled. Heck, I’m recycling and repurposing this blog post from another blog post drafted by a woman who recycled her content from another blog post as well. That doesn’t invalidate what I’m sharing with you now because you might come across my post instead of hers.
Recommendation: Learn how to repurpose and recycle content. Research and dig through the plethora of content out on the Web today and make it your own. Add appropriate links so you’re not completely plagiarizing but don’t worry if what you’re writing isn’t 100% original.
5. Are images or rich media in general required for a blog post to be effective?
A picture is worth a thousand words….and then some. With the amount of content getting put on the Web today you’re going to have a terrible time of competing for eyeballs if you don’t use imagery. And we’re not just talking about imagery for imagery’s sake. You might want something where you can add a caption as well. Think about what Twitter did. As it constantly evolves its platform, it realized it could attract more users by adding image functionality to the 140 character tweet. Studies have shown that tweets get more clicks if they have an image included.
Recommendation: Any time you post, never fail to include imagery and/or video with your content. Google likes SEO and imagery so the SEO value alone makes it pretty much mandatory.
6. Keep all of your content in one place
There was a time when all you needed was a blog, and in part, that’s still true today. However, with the abundance of third-party publishing sites like Medium, LinkedIn, Quora, FB, and so many more, you have the ability to channel your content throughout a vast network of different platforms, helping you syndicate your content. Just make sure that which ever one you choose you get the ability to link back to either one of your social media channels or your original blog. Don’t worry about Google penalizing you for promoting duplicate content. Plenty of bloggers have been able to grow their audiences by syndicating their content on third party platforms and they are none the worse for it.
Recommendation: Promote your content on reputable third-party platforms, which will allow you to link back to your original content. In addition, make sure you get a link back to your G+ profile. It’s always good to stay friends with Google and let them know you are using its social media app. Always include links within your content that direct traffic back to your site, if possible.