This article picks up on where I left off in a previous article. In that piece, I covered the importance of creating a great headline, explained how linking to older posts can help you, and why you should link to other bloggers. I also touched on details such as filling in your page title and description, creating URLs that look good in social media, and attracting and keeping an audience by blogging more than once a month.
That may sound like a lot, but there’s always more to learn. Neil Patel introduces these points in the form a negative – “don’t do this” – but I prefer phrasing them in a positive way. I believe you’ll remember them better if you’re told what to do up front rather than what to avoid.
I’ll start these new tips off by talking about how you write your post. The phrase “keep it simple” never applied to anything like it applies to the web. For all the images and videos you may find online, much of the most valuable web content comes in the form of text. Unfortunately, most people reading on the Internet have short attention spans. There’s always the distraction of something else to click, checking Facebook or Twitter, and the fact that an electronic display still isn’t as easy on the eyes as words on paper – especially if your visitors are reading your words of wisdom from a small mobile device.
You need to write in short form for short attention spans. That means short paragraphs, short sentences, even short words. In fact, the paragraph I wrote above is probably a little too long for the web. “Resort to long blocks of copy and you are stacking the deck against your blog post,” Patel noted.
Speaking of all those social media sites distracting your blog’s readers, will they find YOU anywhere on those sites? They should. These days, if you want to promote your blog, you need a presence on the social sites where your readers hang out. That means you need profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ at least, and you need to USE them. “Every post you publish needs a boost from your social media presence,” according to Patel.
You promote your blog in social media to attract more people to read it, but you want visitors to do more than just read; you want them to react. A visitor who stops by your site and sees comments on your posts knows that it’s not abandoned. You need to encourage these comments, and fortunately, there are a number of ways to do this.
The easiest way to promote comments is to ask a question at the end of your post. For example, if you’re writing a blog about gardening, you might ask “What are you planning to grow in your garden this year?” at the end of a post on getting ready for the spring growing season. If you can, you should do this on every blog post you write, even if it’s a guest post on someone else’s blog. It invites feedback, and gives you a chance to reply. You can show your readers that you’re a real person with expertise that can help them.
Another way to promote comments is to write about an advanced, relatively technical topic. If you have that level of expertise, go for it. You’re likely to get questions and requests for clarification – and that’s exactly what you want to see. You can reply to those questions and comments; they might even be the seed for your next blog post.
Of course, it’s probably going to take a while before you receive your first comment – a few weeks, at least. Which brings me to my final point: if you want your blog to stand out from the crowd, you have to keep with it and give it time. Not only must you write more frequently than once a month; you must keep it up for a long time.
So how long do you need to keep blogging before you become known? That depends in part on how long the major blogs covering your field have been around. They’re your competition, and you’d better research them if you want to know what you’re up against.
It’s not just a matter of time, though that’s a factor; it’s also a matter of quality. If you’re going to show the world you’re better at covering SEO than SEOmoz (or SEO Chat), you need to remember that the writers for these sites call on many years of experience in the field. You need to at least be able to match that if you want to stand out. It’s not impossible, of course; everyone needs to start somewhere. But that’s what you need to remember.
My point is, you’ll have a tough time fighting against those with more time in the field unless you give yourself enough time to do it. According to Patel, most people give up on blogging about nine months in, which means they miss out. The wildly popular Regretsy.com took at least a year to get really popular, and it has a number of advantages going for it. Unless you’re fortunate enough to go viral (and no one can predict that), you can expect to spend at least two years growing your blog before it catches on.
As Patel correctly points out, blogging is hard work, and can easily fall by the wayside when higher priorities demand your attention. “That is why it is so important to count the costs before starting a blog,” he explained, “because in th end giving up on your blog will kill every post you’ve ever written…and success will not come.”
What have you done with your blog lately to get it a wider audience?