Over the last few months I have been traveling the country managing the Authors Center Stage events as part of my involvement with the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. I sit on the board and as the resident publishing expert, was called on to coordinate the authors for each event at the Travel & Adventure shows. From Dallas, to Long Beach, San Francisco, Chicago and ending in Washington, D.C. I met thousands of travelers, journalists and “wanna be” travel writers. All asking me the same questions about getting their blogs started, “How will someone find me?” being the most popular one. So for all of the future writers and even current bloggers out there, here are my top 6 tips to make your blog shine (and yes, Google will like you too!)
- Content is king. Many of the writers are so concerned with writing for the search engines. Forget about that. Write your content for your audience and from your heart. An article that is interesting, informative and is complete, well you can’t go wrong. Don’t force it. The audience will find your work. Great work will rise to the top. All they have to do is search.
- Publishing platform. Second most popular question I get is, “What platform should I use to publish?” This question came from more journalists who are doing traditional work in magazines, newspapers and electronic mediums. Personally, I’m a fan of WordPress because there are so many plugins that help with building the site, provide RSS feeds and easily incorporate social media widgets. Even a novice online user can master it without much effort. There is blogspot.com and a variety of others platforms available. Whichever online blogging platform you choose, make sure it is something you’re comfortable with and provides you the tools you need to help market and distribute quickly and effectively via social media and other distribution outlets.
- Maximizing your content distribution. It doesn’t matter if your blog is established or brand new, the biggest question I have for you is, “Are you maximizing your content distribution?” What I mean is, are you pushing your content out to as many audiences as technologically possible. Your blog should be auto-posting on your Facebook fan page, Twitter and LinkedIn. You want your blog to have an RSS feed so you can drop that URL (i.e. http://www.yourewebsiteaddress.com/feed) into sites that are looking for content to be auto-delivered.
- Does my blog have to be pretty? “Pretty” requires personal interpretation, right? Search engines like content and are not much concerned with the aesthetics of a site. The end user however does enjoy navigating a site that is user-friendly. Keeping the layout simple and clean helps to extend the invitation for visitors to linger on your blog.
- Say Cheese! Photos add to the visual interest of your site and offer the chance to re-purpose your blogs to Pinterest, driving content via your site photos. Post your blog, then pin it!
- Hyperlinks count. Using hyperlinks within your blog articles to link over to other pages on your website and other sites you’re writing for. This simple tip will help search engines to better connect your content to your online platform. Always link to at least one page on your website from every article you post. Don’t forget to have that link open in a new tab, so that you don’t completely take the visitor away from your site.
Blogging is a means for any writer to publish and control their content. Do it well. Do it up write. Happy Publishing!
Image courtesy of Jakub Krechowicz.