Three pillars of building an audience: create great content, engage your community, use technology.
The most successful blogs are useful, entertaining, timely, or a combination of the three. Did I mention useful?
You need to focus your content. Focusing your content creates community and attract people who are interested in the topic.
Post great content even if it means posting less frequently, but do post frequently. Use images and photographs (but make sure that they are good). Write well, with care. Don’t write really long posts, break your posts in paragraphs. Use headlines that are catching AND use keywords (but keywords are more important if you want to be found on a search engine).
Engage your readers: run a poll, post a top-10 lists (people looove top-10 lists), run contests, provide how-to instructions, conduct interviews, and write about controversial topics.
Be excellent and blog about something you really care about, because it’s going to be a lot of work for a long time.
Have a blogroll, and link to other bloggers. Go around and leave comments to other people’s sites. Join or hold an online event like blog carnival (for example Blog Carnival, or Is my blog burning? for food blogs). Contribute to the community.
How do people find your blog:
- somebody else’s website;
- Google (or other search engines);
- repeat visitors who bookmarked the site;
- news feeds (Bloglines, My Yahoo, personalized Google);
- del.icio.us, Technorati, or other tagging and social bookmarking tool;
- someone emailed your URL (tip: add a “email this URL to a friend” button to your blog);
- press (find who is covering your space, send an email, pitch your knowledge about your space, make yourself useful to the reporter)
Page rank – All the search engines use search algorithms to rank sites. These are some of the things you can do to increase your page rank:
- get links from other websites;
- get links from websites with high page rank;
- use text-based content (not flash or images) if you want to get indexed;
- use keywords in the text and in the title;
- use good HTML structure (for example, header tags are better than bold text).
What detracts from page rank?
- links to link-farms, spam sites (even links from spam comments; so check your blog and delete spam comments; pay extra attention, because innocent-looking comments and blogs may hide spam links);
- 404 not found errors.
- make it easy to load:check your image size (under 15.5K) and page size (less than 100K);
- make it ease to read: increase your font size; reduce clutter; don’t use colored background for main text;
- add a search bar (make it easy for people to find content on your site);
- use categories (another ways to find content relevant to your reader);
- test your site on multiple browser and operating systems to make sure that the design doesn’t break and the text is still readable;
- Put the most important content in the most prominent areas of a web page (Elise showed results from eye-tracking studies highlighting the most prominent areas, especially top left).
- Use Feedburner: stream your rss feed through feedburner to get a lot of information of people reading your feeds;
- Use Feedblitz, a free service that sends emails to people when your blog is updated.
- Promote your feeds through feed buttons for popular aggregators.
- Use Technorati tags and claim your blog, add your posts to del.icio.us, add your pictures to flickr.
To summarize: create good and useful content, focus your content, engage your community, tune your site, promote your feeds, and create a blog you are proud of.
This sessions has also been blogged by:
- Dina Mehta at Conversations with Dina
- Denise Tanton at Daily Dose of Denise
- Christine Herron at Christine.net