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67 Blog Best Practices

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Tip #1: Define Your Target Audience

Here is a list of blogging best practices that apply to business blogs. If you’re just starting out with a blog, these tips may save you a lot of time – and perhaps a little heartache as well. If you already have a blog, please let us know if you have additional tips or see items here you beg to differ with.

Strategy

  1. Define your target audience(s) as precisely as possible
  2. Decide whether blog will be primarily informational or editorial in nature
  3. Determine a writing style: formal, informal, controversial, etc.
  4. Establish broad topic categories
  5. Articulate how your audience will benefit from reading your blog
  6. Determine what action(s) you want visitors to take after reading a post
  7. Define your commenting process: Will comments be allowed, will they be moderated in advance of publishing, etc.
  8. Establish a commenting policy to set ground rules for what constitutes appropriate discussion
  9. Ensure that writers and editors understand legal and corporate policy guidelines for issues such as confidentiality, libel, etc.
  10. Create an editorial calendar detailing post frequency, the category of each post and a topic
  11. Articulate goals to serve as measurements of success
  12. Identify metrics to associate with each goal

Design and Functionality

  1. Select either a two-column or magazine style format
  2. Avoid dark background/light text color schemes: too hard to read
  3. Make sure font size is readable for your target audience
  4. Set up RSS subscription feed
  5. Set up email subscription feed
  6. Create a unique email address from which to send email subscription emails
  7. Create a name for your feed that is clear and memorable
  8. Add social media links to company Twitter page, Facebook page, etc., to sidebar or header
  9. Place RSS and email feeds high on the blog sidebar
  10. Set up a post category block on the sidebar
  11. Set up an archive block on the sidebar
  12. Set up a recent post block on the sidebar
  13. Make sure post title links are clickable
  14. Make sure author name(s) appear as desired on blog post home page and permalink page
  15. Set up comment subscription capability if comments are allowed
  16. Do not require readers to login in order to leave a comment
  17. Add socialization buttons at top and bottom of each post
  18. Important socialization buttons (as of this writing) include Twitter, Facebook Like, Google+ and StumbleUpon
  19. Display 7-10 recent post excerpts on blog home page
  20. Never assign more than one category to a post
  21. Configure permalink URLs to display the post title
  22. Make sure anchor text color is clearly visible
  23. Check styling of H tags, block quotes and image captions for readability
  24. Thoroughly test design and functionality (in all popular browsers) before going live

Search Engine Optimization

  1. Train all writers and editors in SEO copywriting
  2. In the editorial calendar, assign at least one keyword phrase to each post
  3. Have an SEO specialist determine optimum word counts for posts
  4. Include primary keyword phrase in the post’s meta title and H1 title tag
  5. Include keyword phrases in H2 titles and body text up to three times per phrase – if it can be done naturally
  6. Add a related post plugin that displays 4-5 contextually (not randomly) related posts
  7. Make sure blog platform allows for customization of URLs, meta titles and meta descriptions
  8. Always optimize image titles and file names
  9. Seek to optimize image ALT descriptions and captions
  10. Avoid tags and multiple categories assigned to a post, as they create duplicate content issues
  11. If an extensive blogroll is desired, place it on a unique page rather than on the blog sidebar: too many outbound links can dissipate authority

Writing Tips

  1. Blog posts can be less formal than business Web pages: write as if you are talking to a real person
  2. Keep paragraphs under six lines whenever possible
  3. Use bullets and numbered lists to break up text
  4. Word counts of 300-500 are sufficient for most editorial and basic informational posts
  5. Word counts of 500+ are fine for detailed informational posts – but the information must be valuable
  6. A high impact blog post often tackles only one issue or makes only one point: avoid the tendency to say it all
  7. Place images above or at the top right of the post: this positioning flows easily with the reader’s eye
  8. Especially for a complex post, have one or two people preview it for clarity
  9. Start with your conclusion and work backwards: a good business blog post has a point

Socialization

  1. Use standard socialization buttons so readers can quickly locate them and understand what they do
  2. If comments are moderated in advance of publishing, make sure a system is in place to publish them quickly: slow approval discourages commentators
  3. Respond thoughtfully to every comment (using common sense as a guide)
  4. Learn to recognize and do not publish spam comments
  5. Leave posts open-ended enough to encourage readers to expand on or react to key points
  6. Conclude posts with a question or provocative statement
  7. Popular posts most often shed light on complex issues, present a creative point of view and/or consolidate valuable information and resources
  8. Post titles and subheads are read far more often than body text, so they should be written to attract attention and yet remain relevant to the subject matter
  9. Soliciting guest bloggers is an effective method of attracting new readers and building a social network
  10. Becoming a guest blogger is also effective for attracting new readers and building a social network
  11. Authenticity is a key trait for building a community: it’s OK to say “I don’t know,” or “I made a mistake.”

OVER TO YOU
What blog best practices tips can you add to my list?

Do you see tips above that don’t belong?

 

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9 Responses to 67 Blog Best Practices

  1. Thanks for the post!

    I’d add, “Before writing your post, make sure you have something interesting to say. Your readers will spend their attention while reading your post, and readers’ attention is a very valuable matter”.

    • Hi Kirill, Great addition to the list! You certainly aren’t going to earn regular readers without offering value – a unique perspective, an entertaining style, discerning curation – something. Thanks for taking time to share your wisdom.

  2. It really annoys me when you are asked to log in to a site to post your views as it is surely a good thing to increase the popularity of your site by people voicing their opinions, why would you want to cut the amount of people doing so?

    • From experience, I’ve found that spammers will take over your blog if you make it easy for them. So it becomes a tradeoff between easy comments and often nasty spam messages!

  3. Brad,

    This is a comprehensive recipe for the success of any corporate blog.

    And you displayed a crucial aspect of good blog writing in this post in your imaginative title. Many blog posts giving advice tell you about the ten best such and such or the ten (or five, or twenty) secrets to such and such. In that context, your use of 67 rather than a round number really stands out and grabs attention.

    Do you think that lists of five, ten and other even numbers have become so commonplace that they have lost their impact?

    On another point, I share Michael’s sentiments about having to log in to sites in order to post comments (though there are exceptions). I can understand companies wanting to stop spam or inappropriate comments on their blog, but there are ways to do this (CAPTCHA, spam filters, holding blog posts in moderation pending approval etc.) which don’t involve making would be legitimate discussion contributors go through the hassle of signing up and logging in.

    Of course, there are exceptions. Blogs of trade or professional associations, for example, may wish to restrict discussion to members of that association in order to ensure that comments are restricted to those with professional expertise on the subject in question.

    But for most corporate blogs, I would think you would want to promote active and engaging discussion as much as possible.

    • Hi Andrew, Top 10, Top 25 posts have been done to death, but I think they’ll always be popular because it’s a timeless formula. In posts like this, I write what I think is pertinent and whatever the number of tips turns out to be, that’s the number. I’m glad you find this appealing – maybe randomness works! I agree with you and Michael about logging in to comment – generally a bad practice because it discourages comments. I’d consider not allowing comments at all before forcing people to log in.

  4. Brad,
    I have to agree with you and Andrew about logging in to comment;it does discourage comments because it is annoying. I think that once readers value your content and know that you can help solve a problem or provide information they don’t mind signing up but initially blog owners are asking a lot if they think people will register just to join the discussion. Thanks for this list! I actually saved this post in Evernote to use as a checklist for my blog and make sure I am up to par.

  5. Fantastic list! I shared a link to it with all my friends and clients. Thanks for taking the time.

  6. Great points!!! Choosing the best topic to write is always the challenging part. Catchy keyword title with trendy post on your niche will definitely give more exposure. If this is done promptly, the next blog promotion step would be very simple.

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