Muschamp Rd

Better Blogging

August 3rd, 2006
#winning

Some people are obsessed with the popularity of their blog, trying to acquire an ever higher rankings and vanity metrics. As a result a lot gets written on how to make a blog more popular. I don’t think popularity should be the reason you do anything, especially writing. However if you do want to improve your writing, specifically your blog postings I’ve given the matter some thought and am happy to pass on my advice.

The two most important qualities to strive for are:

Timelessness and Timeliness

A posting has timelessness if once published it will remain relevant for an extremely long time, ideally forever. If you can achieve this with a blog posting it will rank well in the search engines for a variety of keywords and continue to be read for as long as it remains online. Yoast would call these timeless posts cornerstone content others might call them ever fresh.

A posting has timeliness if once published it becomes the first or amongst the very earliest writings online to discuss a particular issue, event, or subject. This is the proverbial scoop from traditional journalism. If you can achieve this with a blog posting you will get a sudden increase in traffic and possibly gain links and readers. This is more commonly known as going viral.

A third quality to strive for and one which will take more than a single posting is being authoritative. To achieve this it really helps if your blog is focused on a single topic or a very small range of topics unlike this one. In an effort to maintain focus you can have multiple blogs, use subdomains, or rely on tags and your blog software to bring further focus to your writing. If you can become an established authority on a subject as determined by Google you will continue to attract more readers and incoming links through dominance of the search engine rankings.

Improving Your Blogging

If you really want to improve your blogging, particularly how it performs in the various search engines you should also pay attention to the following:

  • title a well chosen title which includes relevant keywords but also entices potential readers to click on it is the most important words in every blog posting.
  • quality control proofread, spell check, verify links, make corrections, update the information through comments or follow up postings.
  • link no webpage is an island, link to other sites of authority and potential interest to your readers, it may attract reciprocal links and will likely improve your search engine rankings.
  • participate it is called the blogosphere and the world wide web for a reason, respond to comments and actively comment on other people’s blogs.
  • scanability is the ability for a reader to quickly scan your posting looking for the exact information they want. This is extremely important online and is achieved by using bold text, italics, subtitles, bullet points and other aspects of typography.

If you are interested in further tips on improving your blog and your writing in general there is a lot of advice online though it can be a bit repetitive. I’ve provided links to a few more articles below but the best way to get better at anything is practice. However if you want to become a better writer, it helps if you become a better reader, this involves taking the time and effort to read more challenging authors and a wide range of subject matter and styles of writing.

Expert Advice

Longevity

Instafame is what many crave but if you want become an authoritative voice in your niche, if you want to create timeless ever fresh content that day after day, month after month, year after year gets read, stolen, and shared you need to give some thought to organizing your online empire. You need to focus, choose your niche, choose your keywords, choose your technologies, and develop your voice/brand.

Additional Recommendations

I recommend you have a plan, a goal, maybe even a philosophy on why you blog, what are you trying to accomplish? Is it just clicks, likes, and seeing your name in Google results? What are your passions? You need to keep going, keep doing unglamorous behind the scenes tweaking and patching while you wait to be featured on Conan or Colbert.

You Need a CMS

What is a CMS? In this case it is a content management system and if you’ve read down this far you may wonder what am I using to do my better blogging? The answer is WordPress, I’ve used WordPress since 2005 and I’ve been self publishing online since 1995. I still code HTML, CSS, even actual programming languages by hand, but the average blogger does not. If you’re serious about blogging you should also get a domain, most people will be served fine by WordPress.com’s free hosting, I have always paid to host Muschamp.ca.

Why WordPress?

There were competitors back in 2005, but apparently I backed the right horse as WordPress has grown to be the most popular publishing platform online. WordPress or whatever content management system you choose can take care of issues both big and small letting you focus on creating and sharing rather than coding and debugging, at least most of the time.

SEO is a 4 Letter Word

SEO stands for search engine optimization and it is an obsession for some. There are dark arts. There are shady characters. There are Russian hackers. What worked in 1995 might not work in 2005 let alone in 2025. If you have a content management system such as WordPress it can take care of a lot the technical aspects of search engine optimization including: structured metadata, sitemaps, and analytics. The biggest name in WordPress search engine optimization is probably Yoast which is ironic because his name is actually Joost.

How much money will I make?

I got some bad news there folks, for every blogger who gets a book deal, there are thousands and thousands who abandon their blogs without much ROI. I have not abandoned my blog, but I have not gotten near enough return on my investment, none-the-less I persist. I’m not sure if blogging has been good for my personal brand, it definitely has not lead to a better career. Though I have blogged extensively about looking for a job online, especially in Vancouver at one of the city’s larger or fastest growing companies. In fact, my latest blog overhaul is part of my continued job search efforts so be sure and view my resume.

In Conclusion

I recommend you be careful with your blogging. It is not publish or perish. What is done, can not always be undone. Remember you are always writing for your future boss. You are your Google results. People continue to learn the dangers of social media, but they don’t always learn the lessons of those who have gone before them. Finally you should try to monitor your efforts, celebrate your successes and learn from your mistakes. No blog is an island so be sure to link to this post or at least leave a comment below.

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20 Comments

  • Muskie says:

    I added another link to a posting over at SEO Blackhat, one of the blogs in my Blogroll. It reminds me a bit of some of my postings due to the high number of external links. Although you can go overboard, the potential for reciprocal links or even just a Trackback appearing in the comment section can give exposure to your own writing. Many believe external links, especially relevant carefully chosen links, is a factor in search engine rankings beyond the onpage benefit of carefully chosen anchor link text.

  • Muskie says:

    Through Signal vs. Noise I learned of an interview with Jason Kottke about his blogging. I’m vaguely aware of Jason Kottke, I don’t read his blog, I don’t read many A-List bloggers, unless I read them before they became A-List bloggers. Anyway if you want to read the advice of someone who has 700,000 unique visitors a month to his weblog and ranks in the Technorati Top 100…

  • Muskie says:

    Over on A List Apart is some advice on improving your writing. It is a lot different than the usual advice people give more philosophical than practical. It stresses the bond neigh partnership between writer and reader. It’s worth a read if you are serious about improving your online writing, however it is not as simple as just choosing a better title for your blog posting.

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