30 Days to a Better Blog: Add a Vlog!
Looking for a way to really solidify your voice? Want to demonstrate a product or showcase a review? Try a video blog (vlog).
My quick tips for vlogging are:
- Be professional
- Be prepared
- Be real
- Be concise
- Be short
What are your vlogging tips?
30 Days to a Better Blog: Write an Effective Post Title
Writing an effective blog post title is extremely important to getting people to click through a search engine result, an RSS feed, Twitter tweet, Facebook like, and more. It’s also key to good Search Engine Optimization results. That’s probably why everyone weighs in on this topic.
- Be Specific.
Analyze what the post is about and make your title fits the content. Being vague pretty much guarantees a reader is going to bounce out of the article as soon as they land. Plus a vague title means you’re going to be adding your post to a pool of popular keywords, and you’re bound to get lost in the shuffle.
- Keep it Short.
Don’t try to cram all of your keywords into your title. It becomes cumbersome and it’s also going to be truncated in Twitter and search engines. If Twitter has taught us anything – it’s how to be concise.
- Get to the Point.
This goes with the first two points. You shouldn’t ramble! Not “Top 10 Ways to Find Out How to Get The Best Image Editing Software Tools” but just “Top 10 Image Editing Software Tools”.
- Use Free Sparingly.
Some bloggers use “Free” in a ton of their blog post titles. You should only use it if it applies to something being free in the article – not the content itself. It’s a given that your content and tips are free! This works: “Top 10 Free Image Editing Software”. This doesn’t work: “Top 10 Free Tips For Staining Your Furniture”. And if you do use the word “Free” – be careful if you pull it into e-newsletters. Spam-bots don’t like the word “Free”.
- Make Your Title List.
Lists are powerful, easy to read, and everyone loves them. By noting how many items are in your list, your title is easily understood and your reader know what they’re getting when they click through. 8 Ways … , 7 Things … , 9 Uses … You get the picture!
- Give a Call to Action.
By providing a title with a call to action – Learn How to … , Get Rid of … , Have a … – you entice the reader to follow through and act on your information.
- Be a Little Bit Creative, Humorous, Snarky.
A little bit. And only if it fits the above criteria. Play on words a little, entice your readers to click through, but make sure your headline is still relevant and contains the keywords applicable to your post!
For more tips and tricks, Alli put together a list of 27 bloggers talking about writing a better blog headline.
I’m curious … What’s your highest traffic blog post title?
Image Source: SXC
30 Days to a Better Blog: Perfect Your Voice
Because a website is pretty two-dimensional, your writing needs to jump off the page and engage your audience. Your voice is what makes your blog unique. It’s what differentiates you from the masses. It’s what keeps people coming back again and again.
If you haven’t yet perfected your voice, this is the month to do it. I already wrote an article on five tips for finding your voice. Start there to figure out exactly the voice you want to portray. Then you need to perfect the voice you’ve established.
- You’ve chosen your voice. But is it really you? I’m a firm believer that your voice needs to be pretty authentic. If someone meets you in person, will they be shocked to find that you’re nothing like your blog persona? That’s not a good thing! Stay authentic … but make it
- You … only better. If you think you’re a little flat or stale, feel free to up the voice a little. As long as you keep it consistent you can add more sarcasm, humor, personality, etc.
- Ask someone to define your blogging style. Is that the voice you’re going for? If not, figure out what’s going wrong.
- Try a video blog. I find that my vlog style tends toward a mix of snark and wit. Maybe even more than my blog voice. If I can translate that to my blogging, I’d be golden!
- Stay consistent. The best way to perfect your voice is to stick with it and stay consistent. Have a favorite catch phrase? Use it often. Want to sign off your posts with a quote or saying? Do it every time.
How do you perfect your voice? Share in the comments below.
Image Source: SXC
30 Days to a Better Blog: Schedule Posts in Advance
Now that you’ve developed an audience and you have your editorial calendar in place – today’s tip is an easy one to implement. Schedule your posts in advance.
Going on vacation?
Work getting busy?
Hectic weekend ahead?
Family coming to town?
Don’t stop posting. Don’t tell your audience that you’ll be “offline” or “taking a hiatus.” Instead, write your blog posts now and schedule them to hit your home page at a later time. Then all you have to do is keep up with your comments as they come in.
Image Source: SXC
30 Days to a Better Blog: Make an Editorial Calendar
Frequently used by journalists, an editorial calendar is a great way to plan out your content for an extended period of time. This is a great tool for motivation and organization – and it helps you fill in any content gaps in your blog. Here are some simple steps to making an editorial calendar for your blog:
- Determine how you want to document your calendar. This could be a spreadsheet, document, Google calendar, physical calendar, or even a WordPress plugin!
- Brainstorm content ideas and decide how you want to distribute them. Do you want to rotate through various topics, focus on a topic each week, or even create a weekly column (i.e. Thankful Thursday)? Once you decide, try to stay consistent so your audience (and future sponsors) know what to expect.
- Consider holiday and topical posts to include.
- Move things around if they don’t fit! This is why it helps to use an online tool at first.
- Don’t be afraid to add additional content on top of your editorial calendar posts. Depending on your blog topic, timely information may need to be included. You can slot in a generic spot for news-focused posts, or add them in on top of your planned content.
Once you’ve established your editorial calendar for the next 30 days, keep it up! Spend time each week making edits and brainstorming further. By developing your content ideas earlier, you can begin to reach out to potential sponsors and affiliates for your posts!
Here are some other great resource for ideas on making an editorial calendar:
Have you created an editorial calendar? Tell us what you include below!
Image Source: SXC
30 Days to a Better Blog: Do a Competitive Analysis
Want to have a better blog? Analyze your competition! You’re bound to find things you can improve. Many sites just focus on an SEO analysis, but I think there’s much more you should look at.
The first step is to find the top five or ten blogs in your space. These may not necessarily be the highest rank in Google, Compete.com or Alexa – instead they may have a large amount of followers or be considered in authority in your niche. Put together a spreadsheet and take a look at the following for each blog:
- Layout. How is it different from yours? Are there elements or plugins that it makes sense for you to include?
- Content. What categories do they have that are the same/different? What is the length and layout of the posts?
- Navigation. How easy is it to find related posts, search their site, and find their other topics?
- Posting frequency. How frequently are they posting? Are you possibly posting too little or too much?
- Voice. How is their voice unique and different from yours. Is there anything you can improve?
- Community. Does this blog have a large following or a significant amount of comments? How is the blogger interacting with his/her community and are they inviting comments with each post?
- Linkbacks and social media. A great tool to easily check out how your competition is doing in this area is Website Grader.
What else do you look at when doing a competitive analysis?
Image Source: SXC
30 Days to a Better Blog: Install Google Sitemap
Today we’re setting up the Google Sitemap. A Google Sitemap is a file which contains URLs and some additional information for all public pages or documents of your website. Google reads this file and adds the page to their index.
While there’s no evidences that a Google Sitemap will affect your Google rank, it does help search engines to index and crawl your page better, making your information easier to access.
And if you updated WordPress already, this task is only going to take you about 3 minutes!
- Click “Add New” under Plugins
- Search for Google XML Sitemaps
- Click “Add Plugin”
- Enter your FTP info
- Click “Activate Plugin”
If you’re on Blogger – here are some complete instructions with screenshots!
30 Days to a Better Blog: Analyze Your Statistics
If your blog doesn’t come with some sort of statistics or analytics package, install one TODAY! I personally suggest Google Analytics because I find it easy to use and … well … analyze.
If you have a WordPress theme like Genesis, you can sign up for Analytics and install the code in the Header script. Otherwise you can download a Plugin like Google Analytics for WordPress to embed the code on all your posts and pages.
Once you’ve added your code and have a few days of data, it’s time to start analyzing your blog. Items you’ll want to look at include:
- Number of Visits and Pages/Visit: This is your first indication of traffic and is best to track over a long period of time. Look for spikes and trends throughout the weeks, months, and years.
- Bounce Rate: This percentage that shows the amount of single-page visits to your site. You want it as low as possible.
- Average Time on Site: You want this to be as high as possible! If it’s too low it means readers aren’t finding the content they are looking for, your navigation is week, or there are other problems with the site.
- Content Overview: This will show the highest single pages on your site for a specific period of time. You can look for trends and what your readers are interested in!
- Traffic Sources: Find out how readers are finding your site.
- Exit Pages: Are there post or pages with a high exit rate? If so, add better navigation and links at the bottom of the content!
- Keywords: Learn what keywords search engine users are entering to find your site. These may come as a surprise – either good or bad! If people are finding your site for the “wrong” reasons – your bounce rate and time on site will be low. This means you need to take a look at your keywords and up your SEO efforts.
What else do you look for when analyzing your stats?
Image Source: SXC
30 Days to a Better Blog: Break Up the Text Monotony
Yesterday we talked about adding images and video to your blog for visual interest … and today we’re going to talk more about breaking up the text monotony by using your font tags.
Lets face it: Nobody wants to read blocks of text.
Blocks of text remind us of text books. Blocks of text are boring. As a blogger you can spice up the page by adding a variety of font tags. And I’m not talking about turning your entire post blue. You want to use strategic tags, and the key is to be consistent, so readers of your blog know what to expect.
Here are a variety of ways to use font tags:
- <h1> Use heading tags for your section headlines. This helps your reader identify the different sections of your post – and helps SEO too!
- <b> Use bold for keywords/key phrases. Not only should you interlink these, but bolding them helps draw the eye to the most important part of your sentence/paragraph.
- <i> Italicize quotes and titles. I typically italicize quotes from people and any book, periodical, or movie titles.
- Add color strategically. I rarely use color, but I see many bloggers use color effectively to really bring attention to specific words on the page.
Image Source: SXC
30 Days to a Better Blog: Add Images or Video to Each Blog Post
Images and video are important to blog posts and pages because they immediately draw in the reader’s attention and help break up the monotony of all that text! Today’s tip is to incorporate these visual elements into each and every blog post.
Adding Images To Your Post:
- Upload the images to your blog. Don’t hotlink to other images because 1. It’s bad practice and 2. You never know when the hosting site will remove the image or replace it with something else altogether!
- Make sure that you images are of a good quality and source them at the bottom of the post. Don’t steal! If you are searching for pictures online, make sure you look for the Creative Commons License (more on that on our Creative Commons 101). My favorite sites for free photos are SXC and Flickr (if you search correctly).
- Align images properly. If you right or left align them, make sure the text wraps around the image, and I personally think it looks best if the image is less than half the width of your main container. If your image is going to be larger than that, I think its best to center the picture and not have the text wrap at all.
- Resize your images. If you have a very large image, resize it to fit the container of your blog. This way you don’t have to worry about it breaking your computer or taking a long time to load!
Adding Videos to Your Post:
- Search for the best quality of a video. Many people upload the same videos (from television, interview clips, etc) – but some are better than others!
- Embed a size that fits your blog. You don’t want to break your container.
Image Source: SXC