[Updated May 1, 2013]
Are you just starting to blog, and don’t know where to start?
Or are you ready to take your blog to the next level?
You need some “Blogging Best Practices” to get you headed in the right direction.
New England Multimedia’s 5 Best Practices for Beginner Bloggers
1) An “I’ve Gotta Read This!” Title
Your title is the first thing we’ll see, and in the ocean of voices clamoring for our attention in RSS feeds, inboxes, the news, and all our social media feeds, we’re looking for something that shouts, “You don’t want to miss this!”
Think of the headlines that grab you on the cover of a magazine. The ones that make you want to open and read. The number one blogging best practice is to learn to write awesome, attention-grabbing headlines.
Look through your Twitter feed and notice the kinds of titles that grab your attention.
These blog post titles make me want to click:
What appeals to you about these titles?
2) Think Search! Keywords, Keywords, Keywords
What keywords would you use to search for the topic you’re writing about, if you were a reader looking for that information? Get those keywords in your title, and as close to the beginning of the title as possible. The second blogging best practice (and many would say it’s the top one) is to pepper those keywords throughout your post. Don’t ruin your writing flow in your endeavor to be keyword-rich, but write (or rewrite) thoughtfully, with search-related keywords in mind.
If you want to get really SEO-minded, use a keyword tool like Google AdWords Keyword Tool. The post “How to Use Keyword Tools to Brainstorm Blog Topics “ is an excellent primer on keyword research. Read it.
3) KISS (Keep it Short and Simple)
In this soundbite culture, the more information we have to digest, the less likely we are to read, listen, or watch. The third blogging best practice? Do everything you can to keep your blog posts short and to the point.
Tips for those times when you just have too much to share:
a) Break your post up into pieces on the page with headings, and subheadings if necessary.
b) Use images spaced throughout your post, centered on the page, to provide breaks.
c) Can you break a long post up into several posts about a particular theme, and create a series?
4) Use an attention-grabbing image
Once you get the reader on your page, an image can make him want to spend the time to read the whole post. Seeing a page of nothing but text can be daunting to those of us with to-do lists a mile long. Using an image to break up the monotony of black on white, popping in a caption or quote that’s interesting, and placing it strategically in the post always works for me. See the image I used at the top of “Advice for Entrepreneurs: When Your Customers Don’t Pay”? The quote and image are designed to work with the title to arouse emotional responses, so you’ll read the post.
Tagging and titling your images is also a best practice for SEO (search engine optimization). I’ll write a post about that another time. If you’ve written a best practices post about SEO and images, let us know in the comments.
5) Don’t fill in every blank for your readers, ask for input!
You want comments, dear blogger. Comments mean people are reading, and will hopefully share your blog post with others. Even better — a blog post written in reply to yours, with a nice, juicy link back to your page. For me, that’s the holy grail of blogging, especially when it comes from a blogger who gets a lot of traffic.
To get comments (and maybe even an exciting backlink with a post written in reply to yours) ask questions at the end of your posts. Ask for help, advice, input, additions to a list you’ve compiled — let your readers know that you want to learn from them as well! Isn’t that what the blogging community is best for? I could’ve written “10 Best Practices For Beginner Bloggers,” but I want to leave room for others to share, and give them a platform to link back to their own websites (that’s why we use CommentLuv for our commenting system).
And now, it’s your turn! What tips would you add to this list of best practices for new bloggers, or for those who are ready to take their blogging to the next level?