In today’s post, I’m going to go over 30 blogging tips derived from more than three years of blogging here at KISSmetrics. Some of these tips are tribal knowledge we’ve chalked up in that time, whereas others are more SEO focused.
And just to reiterate why blogging for your business is SO important:
- It’s a great way to build brand awareness.
- It’s a great way to build links and improve your site’s visibility in the search engines.
- It’s a great way to educate people and establish trust with them – which helps to build a customer base!
So without wasting any more time, let’s get down to brass tacks!
1. Cut Down Your Page Loading Time
I don’t read about 20% of the internet articles that I WANT TO READ simply because the page doesn’t load in a timely manner. But don’t take my word for it – this infographic goes over the issue in detail:
Page loading problems can be attributed to technology issues (your web host or other junk you have installed on your blog might be slowing things down).
Other times it is because you have too many large images or the file size required to download is substantially large.
Whatever the cause – be sure that your page loads in 5 seconds (and ideally 3 seconds or less) on:
- Phones, tablets, and desktop computers
- Windows browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer)
- Mac browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox)
Do some homework and check out your blog on multiple devices. If you are with a friend or family member, use their mobile phone to check your website or blog. It’s a great habit to get into.
If your blog does load slowly, then you will have to do some investigative work to see what is causing the problem. Check for troublesome blog plugins or call your web hosting company to ask them to look for anything causing slow server performance. And, finally, keep those image sizes to a minimum!
2. Create Small Image File Sizes
Reducing image file size can mean the difference between night and day for your website or blog – especially when it comes to viewing your site on a mobile device.
I come from an eCommerce background, so I got heavily into image optimization years ago. As a result, it’s still a shock to me that most people don’t know anything about reducing image sizes. Granted, if you don’t have access to Photoshop, I can see how it would be difficult to slim down your image sizes.
However, it’s important to understand the difference between types of image files so you know which file will work the best in a particular situation. Let’s go over them now:
- .gif – Gifs are becoming obsolete because of .png. But back in the day, you would use .gifs for images with transparent backgrounds, images with lots of white space, or images with lots of the same color (usually decorative images). You could get away with WAY smaller file sizes than .jpg.
- .jpg – JPGs are great for photos or images with lots of colors and lot of things going on. If you had to settle with one image file type, I would say just make all your images .jpg. The quality will look the best, and the file sizes can be very manageable.
- .png – PNGs are a relatively new image file type. They are kind of like a hybrid between .gifs and .jpgs. I no longer use .gifs – and I have completely gone over to .png for decorative images or images with lots of white space. However, BE CAREFUL! – Don’t make photos .pngs! The file size will blow up on you. And be aware of PNG-8 and PNG-24. PNG-8 works more like an old school .gif. It’s great for decorative images and screenshots of text with lots of white space. PNG-24 is almost unnecessary. The file sizes become way too large, and .jpg can make the same image quality at a much smaller file size.
You want to use photo or image editing software to adjust your file sizes and quality settings. That’s the key to getting this dialed. In Photoshop, you want to use the “Save to Web” function to optimize your images. Photoshop makes it really easy to adjust the quality of your images, while flipping back and forth between .gif, .jpg, and .png previews to see what image has the smallest file size, yet still has an acceptable image quality.
If you don’t have the bucks to shell out for Photoshop, Photoshop Elements might be a more affordable choice for you (I notice it’s coming free with a lot of PCs these days). And, of course, there is always GIMP which is 100% free and open source. It’s a bit clunkier than Photoshop, but apparently, it can do everything that Photoshop can do.
3. Host Images On Your Own Domain
Now, if you have some serious traffic, this might not work as well as using a content delivery network (CDN). But for sites that get fewer than 50,000 visitors a day, you should be fine hosting your own images.
The reason I recommend hosting your own images is that you get more SEO “credit” if they exist on your own domain. Think about it this way: people will link to your images. But if they are linking to an image on a CDN, then the CDN gets the link juice.
This becomes a more serious issue if you are doing infographics. You are going to want to make sure you get all the link juice possible for your infographics. And remember, backlinks are vital to your SEO efforts.
There are ways to make your images look like they are coming from a subdomain of your main website. But to be 100% safe, it’s best to host your own images.
4. Don’t Nofollow All Of Your Links
Using nofollow links in your comments is still a very good idea. Comment spammers are at it like never before. I would actually consider moderating your comments manually these days because it’s starting to get out of control.
However, the content and images you link to within your post should be followed. Stop worrying about giving away too much link juice. Stop being greedy and help support the internet the way it was meant to be.
By letting search engines follow your links, they will have a better idea of how to categorize your content so that you get more relevant traffic. By plugging up your links, you are reducing their ability to do their jobs. If you help them, they will reward you for it!
5. Add Images, Videos, And Other Forms Of Media Content
One way to increase the power of your posts is to add images, videos, and other forms of media content. Adding this extra content will make your page well rounded in the eyes of both your human visitors and your non-human visitors (search engines).
Posts that include images and video as well as great textual content provide a richer reading experience and usually have higher information density. By doing this, you will instill trust in your readers that you have something valuable to say – which means there is less chance they will click back.
Also, by having additional video and image content – the search engines will have even more material telling them what your page is about, and hopefully, rank your content higher in their search engine!
Another awesome thing about videos is that they usually increase the time visitors stay on the page, which obviously helps your blog in numerous ways.
6. Add Alt Tag Descriptions To Your Images
An often overlooked mistake is not filling in your alt tags for your images. These are little snippets that you can embed in your image tag source code that describes what the image is about. And of course, this brings in more search engine traffic.
Each image on a webpage can have an alt tag. Here are some quick tips to help you get the most bang out of your images:
- Include only one alt tag per image.
- Do not repeat alt tag descriptions across your blog or website.
- Do not keyword stuff your alt tags (e.g., alt=“cheap toys, great toys, best toys, fun toys, toys,”).
- Do not write long descriptions in your alt tags – keep them short and concise.
- Name your image file names like your alt text. (e.g., my-great-photo.jpg).
- Captions also help tell the search engines what the post is about.
7. Don’t Talk About Your Company Too Much
This is a common newbie mistake. Most new blogs usually post articles on:
- Press release type stories
- Office events
- Annual celebrations
- New features
- Case studies
The problem with this content is that most readers aren’t interested in the information because it rarely helps them solve a problem or learn about a particular subject. Remember, the best blogs teach.
I do recommend posting about new features if you can quickly highlight the value of the feature and show awesome examples of it in action. Even though the article might not get a lot of pageviews, tweets, shares or whatever, it will reach some people who will find this information useful – and those particular people are really important to keep in the loop.
8. Always Respond To Comments
One reason you should respond to comments is because it adds more content to your posts, which helps with your longtail SEO. Additionally, the more frequently your website changes, the more Google comes back to your site to keep up to date (psst… it makes your site appear important to Google).
We regularly have posts on this blog where the content created by commenters almost exceeds the content in the post itself. Think of all the additional search terms and phrases that will be picked up in that extra content!
Finally, think about this: how many times have you searched for a solution to a problem and found it in the comments section of an article?
9. Keep The Comment Spam Away!
Spam in the form of comment spam can hurt your website. Once the search engines find out that you’re a bad neighborhood for seedy backlinks, well, it can bring down the whole blog.
Spend some time each week going through your blog comments to see if any fishy links appear. Usually comments that are short and don’t add any value to the conversation are spam.
Another thing you need to watch out for is comments that appear on old posts. Sneaky comment spammers will target your older material, hoping that you won’t see their new spam comment. You might want to consider closing comments on older posts to keep them away.
Additionally, it appears that 90% of trackbacks and pingbacks are spam. It was a great idea when they first came out, but these days you might want to turn off trackbacks and pingbacks in your settings.
10. Make Your Social Media Buttons Visible
I know this is pretty obvious, but I encourage you to test out placing your buttons in different locations around your pages. I would even encourage you to put them at the top and the bottom of your posts.
Consider allowing a “sharebar” to scroll with the page as the reader reads the post. That way, the social media buttons are always visible no matter what portion of the page the reader is on (top, middle, bottom).
Also, consider using only the social media buttons that work the best for you. Including all of the social media site buttons on your share bar will clutter your page.
11. Blog Frequently
Blogging frequently is important because it will tell the search engines to visit your website regularly. It basically says, “We’re not some stale site that is unimportant and never gets updated.” You want to make your blog important and relevant.
And there is an interesting correlation between post frequency and traffic:
As, you can see from the chart above, blogs that post more often get more unique views per day. And the sites that can produce 30 or more posts a day get a lot more traffic. Perhaps that is because those are more “news” type sites.
But blogging frequently and consistently is the only way to build a real readership. If you’re posting rarely and randomly throughout the year, chances are you’ll never build a loyal following.
12. Create Original Content And Don’t Give It Away
We have been talking a lot about the detriments of duplicate content on the KISSmetrics blog recently. Not only is it important to write your own unique content, but be very careful of over syndicating your content as well.
First of all, copying content from other sites is a great way to get kicked to the back of the line when it comes to SEO. Your sole goal should be to be a thought leader, educator, and purveyor of original ideas. Copyright your blog, fight against content thieves, and keep on trucking.
Also, people will contact you to ask if they can use your content on their blog. On one hand, this is an easy link building strategy, but on the other hand, you’re watering down your own content. I say it’s O.K. to let other blogs use your content once in a while, so long as they are an authoritative site.
13. Allow For Great Guest Bloggers
Notice I didn’t say “any” guest bloggers.
One problem with the guest blogging fanaticism these days is you will get a lot of submissions of low quality content. Be sure to have some guidelines on what kind of content you will accept and a way to measure the quality of the content.
I’ve also heard through the Grapevine that sites that have only guest posts and little in-house content are starting to get dinged by Google.
But the real value of a well-known guest blogger is that they have their own network they can share their content on. Therefore, the more you can get good guest bloggers to write for your blog, the more bang your posts will get.
14. Write Long Posts
If you ever click on an appetizing headline and arrive on an incredibly short post (one that doesn’t go below the fold of the page), you’re usually disappointed by the lack of information. At least, I know I am.
Longer posts generally appear to have more details and important information. Also, search engines will have a better idea of what the post is about, especially if you have linked out to more relevant sources and have tons of textual content for them to chew on.
We’ve also found that it’s better to have really long posts than to break posts up into series.
15. Manually Tweet And Facebook Share Your Content
They say that your tweets and Facebook shares go farther if you manually tweet them. That means log into Facebook and Twitter and post updates.
It’s easy to load your updates in automated software and forget about it. But the best headlines and authentic updates happen in real time! The point of social media is to be social and to be an active participant on social platforms. So check in once a day and see what’s happening – this is where the magic happens.
16. Use Google Authorship
A great way to prove that your content is yours is by using Google Authorship. This is a great way to “timestamp” your content and protect it from content thieves who may steal your post and re-publish it on their own blog.
I mean, do you really want someone else outranking you for your own content?
(An ironic note: I don’t use Google Authorship yet because Google doesn’t believe that my real name IS my real name, and therefore, I have a Google Plus account that is in limbo.)
17. Write Link-Worthy Content
This is a no brainer. Again, it’s easy to re-hash content that has already been created. Every time you sit down to prepare a post, ask “What will make this link-worthy?” I guarantee you the more you make this a habit, the further your blog will go!
Here are some tips for writing link-worthy content:
- Write on breaking news subjects in your industry, but add value and takeaways. Teach your readers something!
- Be controversial (more on this in a minute…).
- Educate, and make what you are trying to explain as easy as possible to understand.
18. Find Your Publishing Time Sweet Spot
It’s really easy to get into the habit of publishing and disseminating your content on a regular schedule. But what if you’re pushing your content out at the wrong time of day?
Unfortunately, there is only one way to know when the best time to publish and share your content is – by meticulously recording data based around these events.
Luckily, for tweeting it’s a bit easier – you can use this tool to determine your best tweeting time. There is one catch, though: you must have enough history of random tweeting times for it to give you an accurate answer. If you have been tweeting at the same time of day, every day, then it’s going to give you that same ole’ time again.
19. Link To Older Posts
One of the main reasons for linking to older posts is to boost up the SEO of your older posts. It’s a great way to reinforce anchor text toward content that you want to rank for certain keywords. It’s also a great way to keep readers on your site longer.
As your blog grows, these links will increase in power because of wonderful benefits that happen to blogs that age:
- The older a website or blog gets, the more trust it earns in the search engines.
- The longer your posts are up, the more links they generally acquire. These links help boost your internal links to your other posts.
- As the volume of your blog grows, your site architecture reinforces your internal links and adds power (more “link juice”).
20. Update Your Blog Software
Update your blog software, especially if you are using WordPress. The main reason to do this is to fix security vulnerabilities. The last thing you want is to get your blog hacked and lose all your hard work.
Updating your blog can be a scary thing if you’ve never done it before. But it’s a great exercise and habit to get into. You are going to want to know that you have the ability and confidence to take care of your blog if anything ever goes wrong.
If you have never updated your blog before, call your web host and ask them for help. Some web hosting companies will take care of everything for you, while others will simply point you in the right direction. And if you still don’t feel comfortable updating your blog by yourself, hire someone (psst… it’s not that expensive).
One final note about updating: An update may not jive with your current blog theme. You might find elements of your blog out of place after you update. Be sure to let your designer know that you’re planning on doing an update before you go for it. And if you’re setting a WordPress blog for the first time, be sure to use child themes!
21. Kill Duplicate Content
Let me define what I mean by duplicate content first before I go any further. The duplicate content that you should be concerned about is really: any paragraph of machine-readable text that is repeated more than once on more than one URL.
A lot of blog content management systems (e.g., WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla) will automatically make duplicate content. Most of this duplicate content will be generated in the form of comments, archives, and category pages.
An easy way to fix this problem is to block search engines’ access to these pages by excluding them in your robots.txt file.
However, you’d be surprised what content management systems can spew out in terms of duplicate content. I go over how to stamp it out in detail in this post.
22. Allow Authors To Be Contacted
Allowing your authors to be contacted by giving them a bio at the end of the post enables them to build their follower lists and engage in deeper dialogue with readers. This can lead to sales. And for guest bloggers, it can even get them more business. In turn, they will be eager to write for your blog on a continual basis.
Additionally, other bloggers will see that you allow author bios, which will attract more guest bloggers to inquire about blogging on your site.
23. Make The CEO Blog and Tweet
If your CEO happens to be well connected and has a lot of followers, the CEO’s content might be some of the most link-worthy content that you can generate. It’s great for getting links from reputable news sources and stirring up buzz. Consider these objectives:
- Make sure they share their own content. If you can, try to get them to update their social profiles daily with your blog content.
- Try to get your entire team sharing content. There might be a lot of resistance at first, but try to explain the benefit to them.
- Finally, make sure your founders are aware of social mentions, hashtags, and other online social cues that facilitate staying connected on the social web. Not all business leaders are social media experts.
Of course, your CEO’s time should be weighed here, but consider the potential. And in the spirit of testing – it’s always worth a shot.
24. Be Controversial
Play this card carefully, but this is another great way to get more backlinks. A lot of information on the internet tends to get re-hashed over and over again. So if you really want to get your blog well known, it’s a good exercise to be controversial once in a while.
The Shocking Truth About How Web Graphics Affect Conversions – is a great article written by Bnonn Tennant that challenges the conventional wisdom that beautiful and professional images on websites increase conversions, when in fact, images can be the most deadly distractions if used incorrectly, and they can cost you sales.
And one of my all-time favorite posts by our own Neil Patel: Open Challenge to Jason Calacanis
25. Optimize Your Blog’s On-Page SEO Power
All the value from your blogging work will ALWAYS be cut short if you don’t optimize your on-page SEO.
What this means is you need to optimize:
- Your blog architecture
- Your use of H1 and H2 subheadings
- Your title tags and meta descriptions.
Be sure to knock it out sooner rather than later. You’ll get more gains out of your blog if you take care of it now. Read our post on The On-Page SEO Recipe for Peak Inbound Marketing Efficiency.
26. Break Up Your Paragraphs Into Smaller Chunks
I’m sorry, but I don’t have awesome scientific evidence to support this particular claim. It’s just that after years of running the KISSmetrics blog, I’ve noticed the heavier the paragraphs, the more of a turn off it is to our readers.
My assumption is that people are scared of the thickness. They see it as a chore to read such dense paragraphs.
It makes sense when you think about how most of us read internet content: we scan. Smaller paragraphs are much easier to scan. People are trying to digest information as quickly as they can – so think about that when you’re writing.
Some tips to make your content more scannable:
- Use bullets instead of long strings of words separated by commas.
- Keep paragraphs to no more than four sentences.
- Make sure your subheadings are a big font size.
27. Try Not to Use Stock Photography
Nothing says “filler” content like stock photography. Stock photos can stain your content and make it look unprofessional.
The golden rule of using images inside blog posts is: use only images that add value or help illustrate a point.
Obviously, infographics are a great example of an image that adds value. Diagrams, charts, and any other images that serve a purpose should be used in your blog article.
28. Put Important Points And Tips In Bold Typeface
Sadly, most people are not going to read every word of your beautiful prose. In order to give the casual scanner value, emphasize your important points in bold typeface.
There is a secondary benefit to this: search engines will give you a little more consideration for bolded keywords. But, of course, don’t go crazy by bolding too many words and sentences. Do so only where it makes sense.
29. Number Your Subheadings In A Numbered Post
If you’re going to write about “50 things that do this, that, or the other,” number each item from 1 to 50, especially if it works with the title. (Example: “22 things home buyers should look out for.”)
Numbering your posts helps when you want to refer to a previous point, and it just “feels” logical when you read a post that has X number of tips, hints, or points. And if you don’t number ‘em, your reader will wonder why you didn’t.
Also, be sure to count your subheadings to make sure you are not missing anything. I’ve made that mistake a few times!
30. Back Up Your Blog Database
Nothing is worse than losing all your blog entries. At any moment your database can be corrupted or a hacker can potentially wipe out your blog. So make sure you know how to back up your blog database.
One of our regular bloggers here at KISSmetrics, Sherice Jacob, has a great post for protecting your WordPress blog here.
Here are some options that may help if your blog database has been wiped out and you don’t have a backup:
- Call your web host. There is a chance that they have a stored backup of your content.
- Go to Google and find all your indexed content. You can copy and paste anything that has been cached. Just click on the arrow icon that comes up next to your URL in the Google search results page. You will see a “cached” link over to the right.
- You can use the “Way Back Machine,” and hopefully, they have your content stored in their index.
- If you are able to retrieve a lot of your content, try to restore your blog using the same URLs you used before. If not, use Google Webmaster Tools to see what your old URLs were. Google Webmaster Tools will notify you of URLs that they can’t find – be sure to 301 redirect those URLs once you have your content back in place.
31. Bonus Tip – Reach Out to Anyone You Have Linked To
A great way to spread your content further is to contact blogs, websites, and authors that you have linked to. Nothing is more flattering than knowing that someone has cited your work.
When contacting them, just thank them for their work and ask for a tweet. Don’t be pushy – what you are really doing is relationship building. Don’t get upset if they don’t tweet your link out – just know that you’ve taken an important step in networking.
It may be tedious, but it’s wise to keep a spreadsheet of all the people you contact throughout the years.
That’s All Folks!
I’m SURE you have some tips that we missed here. Please enlighten us in the comments below!