4 Keys to Advanced Blogging Success- D is for Design
by Patsi Krakoff, Psy.D., The Blog Squad
Simply writing on a blog isn’t enough to drive business. You have to pay attention to four key areas to have a successful blog: Content, Outreach, Design and Action.
The CODA system is an easy check list for paying attention to what really matters on your business blog. If you aren’t getting the kind of results you want from your blog, study each of these areas to find where you can improve and then make the necessary adjustments.
D Is for Design
When readers arrive on your blog for the first time, is it easy to understand what it’s about? Is it easy to read? And is it easy to find information they’re looking for? Or, do they get distracted by too many widgets, ads, and opportunities so they flee?
How do you improve the visibility and the usability of your business blog?
First, make your blog content readable by using a lot of white space. White space is created by:
- Short sentences
- Short paragraphs
- Only one space after a period ending a sentence
Next, organize your blog posts to make them easy to scan. Many people read blogs in a hurry, so help them out:
- Use sub-titles and sub-headings
- Use bulleted lists and number lists
- Use the extended post feature so a blog post is only 2-3 paragraphs long, and then they can click to continue reading
Design for Trust
Build trust with your readers by using the following elements:
- Photo – a professional photo is preferable to a family shot
- Bio on the “About” page
- Use the first person personal pronoun “I”
- Write in a conversational way, avoid using a formal 3rd person impersonal business bio
- Put on a separate, stand alone page
- Or put in a side-bar or Typelist
Make it easy for readers to subscribe
Put the subscription form up at the top left side so it is on of the first things people see.
- Use an email subscription form through Feedblitz.com or Feedburner.com
- RSS feeds: can extend the reach through Feedburner.com
- Include a list of related posts on each post so people can read further when they like a topic.
- You must find other posts that are similar and link to them
- Use the post’s permalinks when you link to previous posts
- Make it easy to find content on your blog. Here are some important tips to help organize your blog posts:
- Categories – make sure this is enabled and that you assign every post to a category (makes it easy for readers to find specific content)
- Try to limit the number of categories to 10-12 as anything more becomes confusing.
- A page with links to top posts, then create a sidebar list
- Descriptive headlines with keywords – helps people to find specific topics and content useful to them
- Use descriptive words in your links, not “click here”
Add-Ons, Plug-Ins & Widgets
Blogging software offers many features to enhance your blog, however, you don’t want to have too many because you’ll confuse your readers. Too many choices, and too many distractions, will make readers leave.
Before you add features, ask yourself: “What is the purpose and how does it help me achieve my goals for this blog?” Here are several features you’ll want to consider:
- Blogroll – a list of your favorite blogs
- Widgets – search boxes, blog services, social sites
Be cautious and strategic – does it add to the value of your blog? Affiliate links and ads may make more sense and be more on-topic for your business
Books – be sure to use your Amazon or other affiliate link
Branding and Your Blog
If your blog isn’t hosted on your own website, register a domain name and use domain mapping for branding your blog. It isn’t important if it is on your website or hosted by a third party provider, as long as you link back and forth from your blog and website and you keep branding consistency.
Branding elements you need to consider are:
- Your logo – You can get a customized banner created to include your logo, picture, blog name and tagline
- Tagline – describes 1) who the blog is for, 2) what are benefits of reading the blog and 3) who is the blog author
- Topic definition – can expand on about page or a separate page
- Colors – most people will want to use the same colors as their website for consistency