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Things I wish I knew and did when I first started blogging. Part I

Sep22

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2009/09/22 03:30 PM RssIcon

New to blogging I recently wrote a blog post on Things I wish I knew before I started blogging. It is a great resource on things to do and consider before you even start a blog. But once you decide that blogging is actually what you want to do. You have actually started your blog. Then what kind of thing do you do? When I started blogging I jumped in blindly without knowing what I was getting into, or knowing the do’s or don'ts. If I knew some of the stuff then that I know now, things would be a whole lot different. But then hind site is a perfect science.

That's why I am writing this post. To encourage, warn and help those who are starting out blogging, as well as those of you who are veterans. Being a seasoned blogger does not mean you know everything. We all make mistakes. We all can improve on what we do.

This is such a broad topic, and there is just too much to say. So much that I have learnt in the past that I cannot possibly share it all in one blog post. I will share with you my personal highlights. Then as you continue to read my blog, I will, over time, share other lessons I have learnt. So stay tuned.

So lets get started and look at what you should know when you first start blogging.

1. Write compelling content.

If you get nothing else out of this blog but this point, then you have achieved a lot, and I will be pleased that I have helped someone. Blogs are all about content. What distinguishes one blog from a great blog is the content. But not only just any content, content that is compelling, thrilling, helpful. Remember this, Content Is King. But relevant Content is King.

Anyone can just assemble words together to create content. In fact there are tools out there that will create content for your automatically. But it has no personality, it is not relevant, it does not reach out to the heart of your readers. It does not answer their most compelling questions.

If your blog can achieve this, then you have a great blog.

Here are some posts to read on how to get those content juices flowing.

2. Effective Keyword Research

Compelling content is great, but it does not stop there. Remember that the internet is driven by Google. You have heard the terms and saying “Google It”, “If Google can’t find it, it does not exist”. Well then it should be no surprise to you that Google is an important part of the internet.

The only way of showing up on Google is to have Keyword Rich, Compelling, relevant Content. Each blog post should have a central theme or topic. There are many rich keywords that would describe that topic. Do some research on what they are, how they are used. Also find some other related relevant keywords to use. Then use those in your post.

Important Note: Write Naturally, write for your readers and not search engines.

SEO, Search Engine Optimisation is an important aspect of blogging. If you can get this right up front, your battle for traffic is half won.

There are some excellent Keyword research tools online. Make use of them. Some are free, and some are not.

There are also some excellent off line and desktop applications that one can use. One in particular that I use is called WebCEO. You can download a free lite version

3. Create a Sitemap.

A site map (or sitemap) is a list of pages of a web site accessible to crawlers or users. Site maps can improve search engine optimization of a site by making sure that all the pages can be found. Google introduced Google Sitemaps so web developers can publish lists of links from across their sites.  The Sitemap files can then be used to indicate to a web crawler how such pages can be found. Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask now jointly support the Sitemaps protocol.

XML Sitemaps have replaced the older method of "submitting to search engines". You can now submit your sitemaps to all the major search engines.

If you do not know how to create an XML sitemap, or your particular blog software can’t do that for you, then there are free tools on the web that can aid in this regard.

4. Register your site with Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is a no-charge web service by Google for webmasters. It allows webmasters to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites.

It has tools that let the webmaster:

  • Check and set the crawl rate
  • List internal and external pages that link to the site
  • See the PageRank of your site
  • See what keyword searches on Google led to the site being listed in the SERPs, and the click through rates of such listings
  • View statistics about how Google indexes the site
  • Submit and check a sitemap
  • Generate and check a robots.txt file
  • Set a preferred domain (i.e prefer integralwebsolutions.co.za over www.integralwebsolutions.co.za or vice versa).

 

Here is some good reading on Google's Webmaster Tools

5. Insert Google Analytics

Google Analytics (abbreviated GA) is a free service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website. Many would say that one must not be too obsessed with statistics. I agree completely. But Google Analytics offers so much more than just statistics. It helps to see your blog in  a totally different way.

Google Analytics help to Isolate and analyze subsets of your traffic. They offer various reports for a wide variety of metrics. You can compare time periods and select date ranges.

Whether you have a small blog or a raging monster. Google Analytics helps to put all that data into perspective. Then, armed with all this knowledge, you can plan your next move which would make your blog and next post so much better.

Here are Two great Google Analytics resources

6. RSS Feeds

RSS (most commonly translated as "Really Simple Syndication" but sometimes "Rich Site Summary") is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.

It is very important that your blog and or blog software has and can produce RSS feeds. Encourage your readers to subscribe to these feeds. Having RSS feeds allows individuals to stay connected to you. When you update your website, the updates are published to those subscribing to your RSS feed.

Create a FeedBurner feed for your blog: Login to FeedBurner and create a FeedBurner feed for your new blog. This enables you to not only track your feed subscriptions but also give people the ability to subscribe to your blog feeds in different formats. From email subscriptions to normal RSS subscriptions.

 

7. Submit your blog to blog aggregators.

Making people aware of your blog and attracting traffic is probably the hardest part of your blogging job. This is were we make use of various tools. One such tool is a blog aggregator.  Aggregation is not a new concept. Many news agencies and news websites have been using aggregation to get their articles out to subscribers, readers and publishers. Why not blogs? Why not your blog?

Many Blog Aggregators make use of RSS feeds, as described in the previous point, to publish your content. Once you have submitted your feed to these sites, they will keep track of your newly published posts and index them in their site. Whenever someone clicks on the blog post title, he/she will be redirected to your original blog post sending you free traffic and getting your latest posts indexed by Google.

The other great thing about blog aggregators, is that they offer link backs to your blog and post. Search for blog aggregators in your niche, community or country. Here are some blog aggregators to consider.

8. Register your blog at blog directories and communities

There are few blog related community portals and directories that have very good rankings in Google and other Major Search Engines Results. Getting exposure for your blog is essential to building sustainable traffic, a following, readership, and perhaps someday even revenue.

Every website and indeed blog thrives on back links. There are many ways to build links to your site or blog such as link baiting, link swapping, paid links. But the easiest  and most cost effective way is submitting to blog directories. If you want some good link juice, then this is the way to go.

These are but just a few that are out there. These two excellent resources have a much greater list. I’m sure you will find a few that suite you niche.

RSS – Blog Directories

20 Essential Blog Directories to Submit Your Blog To

9. Linking

External linking is well known to be the driving force behind Pagerank and traffic. Building back links is extremely important and beneficial for your blog. It shows credibility. It show a readers vote of confidence in your blog.

Linking to external sites and blogs is also your vote of confidence in a blog or site. It shares link love.  It gives you a source of credibility. It creates comfort amongst your readers.

But few bloggers see the importance of Internal linking. Link to other posts you have written that are relevant to your current topic. But, don’t overdo it.

Linking whether external or internal creates more value. It creates a connection, it helps with networking. Don’t be shy to link connect and share link love.

Blog linking and it's power

Outbound Links - An Endangered Species?

10. Have fun

Probably not the least important point. But if you do not have fun, then your blog wont be fun to read. You will hate it, and that will show up in your posts. Have a passion for what you are doing. You have to enjoy it. It has to bring you pleasure and fulfilment. If it does not, how do you expect to do so for your readers?

Conclusion

This is by no means an exhaustive list. More will come in the days and weeks ahead. But it is a start. What have you learnt about blogging? What lesson can you share with us that will make us better bloggers.

Stay tuned.

New here, or perhaps you've been here a few times? Like this post? Why not subscribe to this blog and get the most up to date posts as soon as they are published.



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5 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Things I wish I knew and did when I first started blogging. Part I

Well thought out and researched list with some great links...I can't argue with any of it.

By Nathan Hangen on  2009/09/22 06:02 PM
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Re: Things I wish I knew and did when I first started blogging. Part I

Thanks Nathan.

By Robert Bravery on  2009/09/22 09:28 PM
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Re: Things I wish I knew and did when I first started blogging. Part I

I think a lot of people don't realize what a multi-disciplinary activity blogging is. You need to be writer, developer, cheerleader, branding specialist, marketer, networker, mentor, student, designer and for those evening when no ones reading anything you've written knowing the occasional prayer helps too. Ultimately though it's about content, that's the one thing that's always going to be completely unique and set you apart from or stick you in amongst the sheep. Nice list now if only I could get this time machine working...

By Michael on  2009/09/23 01:12 AM
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Re: Things I wish I knew and did when I first started blogging. Part I

Sjoe, quite a resource-full post! One that I know I'll keep coming back to. Many thanks!

By Galen on  2009/09/23 09:55 AM
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Re: Things I wish I knew and did when I first started blogging. Part I

Thank you, this is helping me as I just started a blog a couple of months ago. Thanks so much, Ladybird

By Ladybird on  2009/09/30 04:17 AM
 
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