So You Wanna Blog? Part 2

In my first blog post in this series, we took a look as some of the ways you might approach blogging.  In this post, we're going to look at some of the more technical features and some things you should do with your post.  Now, I say should and all I really mean by that is if you want to maximize your viewership, there are definitely some things I recommend. 


Blogging Platform

But first, let's talk about platforms.  There are a bajillion blogging platforms out there.  This blog runs on Blogger.  But there's also WordPress and Tumblr and many others.  Platforms matter and while I chose Blogger because I am a heavy Google-product user, if I had a time machine, I would go back and choose WordPress.  Largely I recommend WordPress because it has better SEO (what is "SEO"--search engine optimization, which basically means, it gets better positioning in search results.  You would think Blogger does but apparently, it's WordPress.  I would imagine with its popularity, this is also potentially true of Tumblr.  Still, I did appreciate in the earlier days, the simplicity and ease of Blogger.  I'm a bit bummed that it seems like they are no longer doing much in terms of upgrades to the platform, but it still does the trick for now.  If I were to rank the easy and usability for neophytes, it would be Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress in order of easiest to hardest.  


What Goes Into a Blog Post?

What I'm going to talk about here is certain content to include in your blog posts that will likely improve its visibility on the internet.  Now, I mentioned before that you should blog largely for yourself and not worry about building a readership per se.  That's still true, but figure it this way:  it shouldn't stop you from at least making sure you've created a pathway to your door, just in case people want to stop by your house.  


Titles

You should make sure to include titles for each of yours.  Interesting, titles that include numbers get more readership (e.g. 7 Things You Should Know About Blogging, 99 Problems But My Internet Connection Ain't 1).  Titles should be relevant, indicate if it is part of a series, and be playful.  
Word cloud in the shape of a cat of this blog post.
Add cats, whenever possible!


Images

Including images is a must for your blog if you want to attract attention.  The images bring in people for two reasons.  The first is that it increases search visibility for general searches, but it also increases traffic to your site when people do image searches; your image may show up.  However, the best way to secure or increase image-related traffic is to make sure you do two things.
  1. Be sure to name the file relevant to what it is.  
  2. Be sure to use alt-image tags.
For the first one, by naming the image file something relevant "bookshelf.jpg" if it is a bookshelf is that this can be used as some of the information used to produce the search results.  That is, the file name helps the search engine classify it for when someone searches for it.  Alt-image tags work along the same line but there is another great reason to use alt-image labels: they help people who have visual limitations.  The alt-image text is a description of the image.  Often, folks with visual limitations use screen-readers to read text on the screen.  When the screen-reader encounters an image, it will read the alt-image text.  
In acquiring images, I have two recommendations.  The first is to use Creative Commons to find images that you can legally include on your blog and not potentially violate copyright.  I also recommend using Tagxedo to create a word cloud for your post, which as you can see on this blog, I am a big fan of!

Design

The blog design including the side bar, heading, and text should have a consistent and clear design.  I tend to prefer sans-serif fonts and a strong contrast between font color and background.  Otherwise, even I have trouble reading what I wrote.  Additionally, a consistent design of fonts, spacing, layout makes it easier for readers to determine where to focus attention.  


Headings and Subheadings

Along the lines of consistent and clear design, I encourage using headings and subheadings within the blog.  Besides providing good navigation for the reader, headings also serve another purpose with regards to SEO in that they also become ways of improving rankings of blog posts in search engines. Of course, like so much else within blogging, these should be used but not abused.   


Links


Linking is often the lifeblood of blogs and also contributes to improving a blog's SEO.  Any given post should link to other content such as points of reference, material being discussed, alternative points of view, or even funny asides.  It's also useful to encourage exchanging blog-links with other blogs or responding to and linking to other blog posts.  While some of this is used to create traffic, the other half is equally important:  providing elaboration, details, or supplemental material for your particular post, so that you can focus on your content, and use other resources to reinforce it.  
  

Tags/Labels

Tags and labels are merely a way of classifying your blog posts.  As you can see to the left of this blog post, there is a word-cloud of labels based upon popularity of given tags or labels.  I find this is a useful means to communicate to readers about the content of the blog as well as myself to consider just where my energies are largely focused.  

Ok, so those are some of the basic things to consider with your blog to maximize readership but most of these recommendations also speak to creating a well-designed and well-thought out blog.  

I don't know that I have a third in this series, but if I do, I will let you know!  Thanks for reading!



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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.