Blogs have become an integral part of online marketing, when employed as a tool to open your site to regular content posting and new collaboration opportunities. The meteoric rise of the blogosphere means that it’s no longer uncommon to see a business harness the powers of blogging to help bolster their online marketing efforts. However, it is clear to see that some businesses have more success than others – but why is this?
There is no big secret to being a successful blogger. In fact, there is one simple rule: if you take the time to create interesting or useful content, your audience will take the time to read and interact with it.
It is undeniable that content is king in blogging; however, there are other certain considerations that need to be made – for example regarding the layout and design of your blog – that too can impact how successful your blog is.
To help improve your chances of success when blogging, here are 5 commonly-made mistakes to avoid when designing a blog for your business.
Lack of customization
The ability to easily customize the layout and design of your blog is essential when running a business. Being able to change certain elements, such as headers and banners, can help align your blog with your business’s current marketing campaigns without the need for hours of development time.
Subtle visual cues, such as changes in color, can tie your blog into your existing marketing efforts and create a digital base for your offline marketing efforts. It can even help you transfer some of the momentum generated by offline marketing campaigns onto your blog.
The easiest way to maximize your blog’s customization without developer knowledge is to utilize a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress. WordPress makes it possible to quickly add, remove and edit content pages on your blog, as well as manipulate and change the design elements that make up your pages.
For more information on how WordPress could be used in your small business, or for training in WordPress, click here.
Support sharing and newsletters
The ability to share content has made the internet what it is today, and it is fast becoming one of the most crucial things to consider when designing any website on the internet. Social media plug-ins have simplified the sharing processes to the click of a button, but how you choose to position these sharing buttons on your blog could strongly influence how much your content is getting shared.
Traditionally bloggers will position these buttons at the beginning and end of their content because users are most likely to be in the mind-set of sharing your content just after finishing your article, or after reading the headline. However more up-to-date plug-ins can ensure that social sharing buttons follow the user down the page as they scroll to maximise your chances of getting the content shared. There are both pros and cons to using this method, and it might be a case of trial and error to see if it will work for you.
Another way to improve the interaction with, and sharing of, your blog’s content is by compiling an email list. An email list allows you to send your content directly to your client base without the need to entice them to your blog. However, much like the social sharing icons, the position of your email list sign-up form is essential to building a solid following.
Usually, site owners will position an unobtrusive sign-up form with only two, or a maximum of three fields to fill in. This can usually be found above the fold (the first half) of the page, and positioned off to one side. This will more than likely garner you some success, however more recently bloggers have been utilising other techniques to try and encourage more visitors to sign up. Some of these methods include access to “premium”, or additional, content that would be otherwise inaccessible.
There are many arguments both for and against more aggressive techniques such as these, but, again, the best way to find out what works best for you is with good old fashioned trial and error.
The ability to navigate between pages easily is another feature that some bloggers overlook when designing their site. There is nothing more annoying than visiting a website with an overly complicated navigation structure. Make it easy for your visitors – not only could this improve your average time of site, but it could even result in more multi-page sessions which can positively impact on page views and sharing.
A simple navigation bar that utilises the application of Meta tags when producing a page for your site is one simple way to organise your content – again WordPress and other CMSs can help you properly tag your content. This method will allow users to easily access related topics which can also improve the chances that a user will conduct a multi-page session.
Another alternative that some blogs choose to implement is the use of “older” and “newer” links at the bottom of your article feed. However, it can be frustrating if enjoying a blog post and then having to trawl back through past posts in order to find other related content.
The navigation of your blog will largely be dictated by the breadth of your content, but your number one priority should be to make it as easy as possible for users to find other related content.
Balance content with plug-ins
There are a number of plug-ins that can be utilised in WordPress and other CMSs. Plug-ins are a simple and easy way to make your website useful to your users, but it’s important that they are used in moderation.
Before you begin installing plug-ins for your website, it can help to consider which will be most useful to your users. For example, if you have a chat plug-in that is always empty, you may want to disable it, as it could be deterring new visitors from interacting.
A few recommended plug-ins that can prove useful include: accessibility plug-ins, such as WP Accessibility, which allow you to change the size of your website’s font, and of course the ever popular social sharing buttons are solid additions.
For more information on what plug-ins might be useful to your small business, click here.
Blogs are an ideal tool to open up new avenues of collaboration for a business, which can be helpful when link building. An efficient way to attract guest writers for your blog is to include a “write for us” page specifying any writing guidelines you may have, along with easy-to-access contact details. This shows potential guest posters that you are open to collaboration and gives you the opportunity to engage with other like minded blogs.
It is important that you scrutinize the content that you receive to ensure that it is of a good standard, and of relevance to your site. Often blog owners will include a comprehensive list of stringent guidelines on their “write for us” page as an attempt to raise the quality of the content they receive. But, sometimes it is best just to say no.
Blogging, as a tool for marketing, is ever-increasing in popularity amongst small business owners, because it is relatively low cost and has huge amounts of potential. However, as you can see, there are many considerations that need to be made when creating and maintaining a blog for business purposes, and this article illustrates a select few.
If you’re looking to incorporate the power of blogging into your business’s digital marketing strategy, you should improve your chances with courses from WP Artisans.
Author Bio: This article was written for WP Artisans by James McAllister, an energy and small business expert for www.makeitcheaper.com. If you’re interested and want to read more from James, make sure you follow him on Twitter @JaMacca01 and on Google+.