Starting off as an alternative publishing medium, blogs have evolved greatly to become the best way to demonstrate thought leadership and build an audience for your products and services. The history of the web is replete with blogs being started up in somewhat amateur fashion dramatically changing form and content to first become high-traffic sites and then integrate into larger web-sites or portals. To increase the chances for your blog to go big, certain best practices can be adopted with regards to content, layout and publicity.
Narrow Topic, Deep Coverage
The most fundamental need for a blog is to have a narrow focus area rather than choose a topic that is very generic. As an example, “Mid-market Smartphones” could be a good topic for a blog whereas “Mobile technology” would be far too generic. The advantages of choosing a specific topic are manifold – The ability to demonstrate depth of expertise, more rapidly gain visibility in the market and far higher rankings in search.
It’s all about the much clichéd but key anyways – ‘value-add’. In an era where it is said that most digital content is of zero value and takes almost no cost to create, needless to say, the quality of the content will always be the critical differentiator. Considering the deluge of information flowing in from web-sites, emails and instant messages, its only what is truly the expert voice that is going to be seen, heard and respected. The blog’s voice should be one that is often advisory in tone although it could be recommending or purely informative in nature too. What this means for a company is that – maintaining the blog is not a low-visibility, nice-extra kind of responsibility to be given to the mid to lower level employees. Rather the responsibility for maintaining the blog is a humungous one and a genuinely expert-authored blog can considerably improve market visibility and greatly increase both sales enquiries and final conversions.
Once again, it’s an extremely challenging task to get even high-quality information be noticed in the digital deluge. So it’s incumbent on the authors to bring in the passionate human voice in the blog to go with the quality information and advice that is being provided.
Use of Newsletter Subscriptions and Free Download Links
Often seen in high-earning blog-sites, one can intuitively understand the value of providing links by the side of the text to free content such as research reports and downloads such as software evaluations. However, one also has to be wary of the fact that providing links to poor-quality content/software will backfire so one has to absolutely provide only few top quality links. Similar is the situation with newsletters (often weekly). The use of newsletters represents one of the most effective ways to keep users loyal to the blog and drive sales of paid reports/software. If the blog managers have a commitment to closely understand the target audience and always provide only links to high-quality content, this technique is guaranteed to be a smashing success.
Recommended Reading: How to Promote a Blog »
Style of Presentation and Visual Design
The much-known and sometimes-ignored part of designing any web content is of course UI and presentation. Elegant, clean design that is neither too minimalistic nor too cluttered goes a long way towards sustaining user interest and increasing hit-rates for the blog. With the dominance of mobile computing, the current trends lean towards minimalistic design that places a high premium on visual appeal, touch-screens and tiled UI’s. Hence, user mind space that is available for longer-form content is at a premium. The presentation styles that are used need to take this into account.