Friday, June 7, 2013

How to blog actively.

Analytics are free with Blogger.





In the last twelve months this blog has received about 64,000 readers using the principles of active blogging, which I define as reposting it on a number of social platforms, rather than just writing something and waiting for the readers to discover it. I rarely worry about the small number of actual followers.

Principles of Active Blogging.

Another principle is regular blogging, and a third aspect of it is audience-building. The blog should have as much original, unique content as the writer can create, and it helps to stay on topic and avoid the more virulent rants although the writer should have something to say.

There should be some deep and fundamental message overall from your work, which will mean that your blog is greater than the sum of all its parts when taken as a whole, an ongoing work of performance art that can outlive its maker. Your personality should be stamped all over it. What is the theme of your blog?

In the article on Active versus Passive Blogging, I mention Squidoo and Hubpages. I haven’t been there in a while. First, with a free account you rarely get any analytics. I have no idea how many people read them, and in order to build up an audience you need some feedback. Also, it’s probably better to focus on one or a small number of platforms and find out what works. Then the knowledge can be applied to any platform. This is what I call Experiments in Publishing, where I talk about measuring results and keeping an open mind more than anything. It’s about constantly trying new things and discarding that which clearly doesn’t work.

Search Engine Optimization

The simplest things you can do about SEO includes a good title. The title should be matched in terms of key words in the first line, within the body of your text, and in the tags. The search engine bots look for key words. Original content is better than a quick paragraph linked to other people’s material, a sterile sort of writing that is effective at SEO and simple page-hits, but disappointing to the reader who searched for the information with some good reason in mind. You have wasted their time in a quick grab for page-hits and that comes across just fine to the readers.

Common hallmarks of an SEO optimized story are little headings—you can use them too, things like lists in bullet-point, because search engines don’t analyze style. SEO-type articles often lead you off to much better stories when you click on the links. I use SEO principles, but not to the exclusion of new, original, and if you don’t mind my saying so, superior content. I say that because I have done this and received these results. I have made myself an ‘authority’ in certain subjects. It takes time and application. How-to articles on anything you are good at make for excellent, search-engine friendly stories because there is always someone looking it up online.

This morning I got up and had breakfast and then my mom called and we talked for fifteen minutes, and then I made a cake.

On bakery, and all things foible.

How to make a devil’s food cake.

If someone needs to know how to make a devil’s food cake, what key words are they most likely to type into their search field? Simple and specific is good.

Here is an example of a good story written with SEO principles in mind, but also with an eye to what someone might actually want to read for its own sake. Look at the title, the tags, and the content of Zach Neal's story, 'Ontario has Natural and Historical Diversity.' The funny thing is, it doesn’t look like an SEO article. What it has is unique content, with a unique combination of elements—pictures, trees, animals, rivers, streams, and personal anecdotes. At least one picture is required to post anything on a site like Pinterest, yet bloggers constantly post stuff without a picture at all. Most of them have cameras on their phones if nothing else. Morguefile has thousands of free images. All you have to do is crop it and you can use it anywhere, (read the license.)

Goals.

The blog should have a clear goal. If you want to blog and be read by as many people as possible, that represents a goal. If I want my blog to be read because it helps people to discover my books, then the goal is slightly more complex, but it’s still a clear and resonant goal. One might judge this blog a failure because it’s not getting a million hits a year. But judging by previous performance, about 5,900 views in four years or so, it’s clearly well on the way to success. In ten years, at the present rate, I would have 700,000 hits on a free, ‘amateur’ blog. If I want more hits, I can do a number of things. I can post it on more platforms, I can write more often, I can write more focused material, and of course I can keep building up that audience on Twitter, Facebook, etc. I can interact more, which results in retweets and re-posting by others. People will pin my stuff on Pinterest and bring it to their own unique audience.

Are you too passive in your blogging? (Adjitize.net.)

This story was published at lunch hour, and will be posted to a half dozen major social platforms. A blog with ten entries carries less weight than one with hundreds, and over time this has an effect as well. It helps to develop a core readership who will come back for a read time and time again.

END

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