Creating a successful blog is akin to cooking a gourmet meal. One wrong step can prove disastrous. However, if you use the ingredients in their right proportions, you can come up with a delicious spread. Likewise, an impressive blog results from a combination of certain aspects that make it interesting and popular.
Listed here are some features that will help drive traffic to your blog.
Ingredient 1: Purpose of the Blog
Half the battle is won if you have a clear idea on why you want to start a blog. Is attracting customers the main aim of your blog? Or do you want to communicate with like-minded people? Or do you want to build brand image? First of all, you need to have clarity on the purpose of your blog.
Ingredient 2: Focus on the readers
Seriously, would you revisit a blog that lacks relevant facts? Similarly, it would be foolhardy to expect your readers to do otherwise. A good blogger considers the POV of the users and tries to find out what they want. Give your readers useful and informative content to ensure that they keep coming back to you.
Ingredient 3: SEO Tips
A little assistance from on SEO will earn your blog more views. Writing long-tail keywords, optimizing the title, incorporating well researched keywords, managing keyword density etc. can get your blog indexed in search engines.
Ingredient 4: Frequency and Length of Blog Posts
You need to blog at least three to five times a week to be on the radar of search engines. Google, MSN and Yahoo may not give a high ranking to your blog if your frequency of blogging is low. The length of the blog post also plays a role in getting a good ranking. Longer posts, as opposed to short ones, act in your favour.
Ingredient 5: Blogging Platform
A versatile blogging platform or CMS (Content Management System) is a prerequisite to maintain your blog. Therefore, choosing the right platform becomes crucial for an effective blog. WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr etc. are some of the popular platforms. Check whether the CMS you select to host your blog has the following features:
- Human-friendly membership system to handle huge traffic
- User profile that is extensible as per the requirements
- Search Engine friendly to get high rankings on Yahoo, Google and MSN
- Sensible categorization system to sort and classify content
- Ability to handle content types such as video, audio, HTML, PDF, PHP etc.
- Provides Live Bookmarking and RSS Feeds for users
- Readable URLs for Google and users
- Displays name of the website, title and slogan in the web browser header
- Free from default meta tags that might negatively affect rankings on search engines
- Search Engines should be able to easily read and quickly index the content
- There should be no proprietary licensing and the content should be used, developed, modified and enhanced freely
- Free from advertisements and CMS logos and links
- Display statistics and referrers to check users’ views about the website, keywords being ranked by Google and so on
- Contact form for feedback and inquiries. Avoid using firstname.lastname@example.org since it has a high likelihood of getting spammed
- Register user activities and logs to check registrations, what users are seeking, etc.
- Ease in changing logos, icons and link without editing the template
- Modules can be easily installed, set up and updated
Ingredient 6: Plugins
Plugins increase the page rank, traffic and popularity of the blog. They make the blog more user-friendly and help in optimization. Plugins provide a whole new experience to readers that will motivate them to return to your blog. Some of the popular plugins for blogs are:
- Members: Justin Tadlock’s plugin Members is used for member management. It provides you with the tools required for any member-related task. You can easily restrict pages/posts, create user roles/capabilities, lock down an entire blog by making it private, and also ‘restrict’ certain parts of post/page.
- More Fields: This plugin is used for Custom Field Administration. It assists in creating the input forms for the custom fields. It is easy to deploy and comes with many options like WordPress TinyMCE. It has small database footprint. The data is stored in the options table.
- Adminize: This plugin is handy for site administration. It helps you control each aspect of the administration pages and select options as per user roles. The plugin is ideal when you have a highly customized client site that would not need access to many default functionalities.
- W3 Total Cache: A good caching plugin that will help you manage a large site with heavy traffic. It combines all object and file caching techniques of WP Super Cache. It is used to better the performance of the site. If you ever go viral, then this plugin will come to your rescue.
Ingredient 7: Trending topics >
Writing on topics that are in demand will get you more traffic. You can use Twitter’s Trending Topics or Google Trends to ascertain the popularity of a topic.
- Twitter’s Trending Topics algorithm: It identifies immediately popular topics to let people know the hottest and most interesting trends. The sidebar on the right of the homepage lists the most-tweeted topics on Twitter. These topics might be popular either worldwide or in a particular country. Clicking on a topic will give you an idea about people’s views on it. You too can tweet on the topic.
- Google Trends: This shows how often a specific search term has been entered in relation to the total searches in the world and in different languages. A Search Volume Index graph appears with the results; this is followed by the News reference volume graph that displays the number of times the search term appeared in Google news stories. The top cities, regions and languages where the search term was entered are also displayed in Trends.
Besides popularity and reader interest, you need to account for the profitability potential of the topic. The topic should have a sufficient advertiser base in the PPC advertising network. The two major PPC programs are: Yahoo Publishers Network and Google Adsense. Study other websites to find out topics that attract advertisers and visitors alike.
Ingredient 8: Guest Bloggers
You can invite guest bloggers to write for your blog. This way you can combine different approaches and fresh perspectives on blogging.
Ingredient 9: Interaction with Visitors
Engage your readers with thought-provoking questions at the end of the blog post. This will encourage them to leave comments. Make it a point to satisfy the queries of the readers and reply to their comments. Such interaction will impart a personal touch to the blog.
Ingredient 10: Market the Blog
Once you have created a blog, you need to market it for traffic. With a range of social media marketing tools to choose from, you can promote your blog easily. Before you embark on a marketing spree, develop at least 10-odd crisp and catchy posts for early visitors. First impressions do count!
As a final word, master these 10 ingredients for successful blogging to create a blog that sets a benchmark for others in the blog sphere.