Let’s take a moment about effective blogging strategies.
As in… the blog elements that’ll have people visiting and coming back for more.
You don’t need to go far to understand that there is a psychological aspect of a blog’s design, content and social elements. Combinations of these items turn a dreadfully boring blog into a very effective publication.
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As a blogger, you’re already accustomed to how blogs work.
You check the sidebar, browse through the archives and dig through the latest post – hell, you also know the inner workings of RSS and how to effectively use blog commenting to promote your own website.
But, are you seeing your blog through the eyes of the average person?
Unless you’re blogging about blogging, people visiting your website are going to be lost when they land on the average blog because of the way things are set up.
People don’t immediately know where to start and so people leave; if they happen to dig into your content, they may find it out of context and pass over some of your greatest work.
Simplicity is truly important for effective blogging.
Don’t make the visitor think.
Keep things as simple and minimal as possible without compromising your brand. Get people to immediately understand where to start, which you are and what your brand represents. Get people onto your best content or interested in signing p for your list to convert them to community members rather than hoping for the best.
Blogging, by default (and from what you’re told), generally means that you’re using the categories for the main navigation of your blog. The problem with this approach is that once a visitor lands on those archives, they’re immediately lost because they don’t know where to truly start.
The website, at its core, needs to be as easy as possible to navigate. Again, don’t make people second guess whether they want to dig into your blog or get them lost while trying to find content.
Go no more than a 3-step process for finding your content:
Home > Best Of > Post
Of course, people will be landing on individual posts so make it apparent that there is additional content you deem worth viewing.
A ‘start here’ page is very effective for this purpose.
Get people to dig deep into your website through silo category pages, getting started pages, best of lists, interlinks and clear call to actions and you’ll be twice as effective at blogging.
We all make this mistake when blogging.
We’re too much all over the place with your topic selection.
In one post, we’re talking about setting up a blog but the next day, we’re publishing something about the latest social network or pictures of cats.
People need focus when they are browsing your blog.
I’m not saying that you should focus on a single, profitable niche idea but what I do suggest is that you create a structure in your content creation.
Try to plan out segments of your content based around your schedule or create progression to new topics for your regular readers.
Let people immediately understand what you’re representing and where you stand on a topic. If you plan to build authority on your website then you need to stay focused on doing just that. You’re either professional or casual.
There is an in-between but this disconnection in the brand will often lose most of your readers.
How much time do you have dedicated to your blog posts?
Take that number and divide it in half. Hell, divide it by three.
Your readers don’t have nearly as much time on their hands as you do.
Sure, you’re involved with your topic all day, every day but everyone else is busy with their lives.
First and foremost, you need to make your website as fast as possible because people are becoming less and less patient with the web (I can’t even sit through a 3-minute YouTube video these days).
You can do this by upgrading your web hosting, reducing the widgets, optimizing code, using a caching program or subscribing to a content delivery network. Bonus: you gain a bit of SEO juice for a fast website.
Secondly, remember that people need to be focused and get through your site without hurdles. Speed is one of those elements that will prevent people from ever looking through the content.
Keep things simple as your blog is nice and speedy.
Refine your message so you can explain it in as little as a single sentence.
What is your blog about, what does it represent, what can people expect from it and what will they get if they trade their time?
Think of your message as your elevator pitch.
You want to be clear and concise every moment that someone sees your lovely domain name to when they land on the home page – even including the 404. There shouldn’t be a single moment where someone is disconnected from your content because you switch gears.
Your message is entirely up to you, but I believe you need to have the drive to get people to convert. Your message should represent your brand but also lead people to actions you want them to take – your call-to-action. To be effective at blogging, keep things clear and to the point.
Continuity is the consistency between elements of your blog but take it a step further and understand that your social presence has also become a factor in this.
Bounce rate is one of the most difficult items to handle when running a site. One of the main elements that make people leave is kind of disconnect between the message they read prior to landing and the message they read after.
If someone lands on your page through search engines about a subject line than you damn well better be sure to share that information. Likewise, people need kind of common element between design and message.
Don’t make your website green and your fan page purple.
Make it so when someone reads your tweets, it makes just as much sense as to how you share content on your blog. Don’t have split personalities when it comes to your public image.
Lastly, it’s really the community that makes for an effective blog because, after all, it’s your readers that will ultimately decide the fate of your blog.
Push out as much content as you want, if people don’t want to read and share it then it’s not making an impact.
Get over the idea that it’s a numbers game.
How many blogs have you landed on where you’ve noticed 1,000 tweets but only 2 comments – something seems off, doesn’t it?
People want to interact with other people.
When someone sees others participating in blog comments, Facebook wall posts, Twitter discussions (and other networks) – they naturally want to join in.
In fact, pay attention next time to how people comment on your own blog – you’ll see that it takes a bit for people to immediately comment.
If you show that there are people joining in right away then they’re likely to jump in as well – it’s all about social proof.
People want to be associated with what’s happening.
Final Thoughts about the Essential Blog Elements and Effective Blogging Strategies
You are playing a game.
You’re in a constant struggle between a person’s attention span and your effectiveness of delivering a message.
To understand effective blogging at its core level, I recommend that you take time to learn from individuals that strive on user experiences such as Social Triggers, UX Blog and the Usability Section of Smashing Magazine.
Think what you want about those that offer advice on conversions, but the real information is based on psychological factors and great web design practices. Testing these elements is your free access to substantial improvement.
Congratulations, you’ve just saved yourself thousands of dollars in mistakes by applying the effective blogging strategies and blog elements!