A blog can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Amongst other things, it can help connect people with your brand, boost SEO, and create opportunities for sharing. With fairly minimal effort, a blog gives you the opportunity to foster relationships with your online community and establish a voice within your niche. Content, of course, is the key to having a great blog – but these features can help you take it to the next level:
#1 RSS Feed.
Short for “rich site symmetry”, RSS feeds allow users to get updates on your site without actually checking back. If you’re unfamiliar with RSS, think of it like a magazine subscription – the new issue shows up in your mailbox every month, automatically delivering any new content (without having to go looking for it). A RSS feed does the same thing for your readers. Offering an RSS feed is the perfect way to make sure your audience sees all your updates, even when they forget to check.
#2 Display categories.
By clearly displaying content categories on your blog’s sidebar, you make it easier for the reader to find exactly what they’re looking for. Rather than spending precious minutes scrolling through everything you’ve written, they can simply click on whatever interests them most.
This again comes down to ease-of-use and time-saving. If your reader is looking for a past blog, having an archive makes it much easier for them to dig through everything. Rather than scrolling all the way through years’ worth of writing, they can simply click on whatever date they are interested in.
#4 Search feature.
Having a search bar is just one more way to make it easy for your readers to find what they’re looking for – and making things easy gives them a reason to stick around. We all know that internet users have the attention span of a goldfish – if they can’t find what they want within a matter of seconds, they’re gone.
#5 Commenting functionality.
Consumers today want to feel like they’re doing business with an actual person – no some faceless entity. Allowing them to comment on your blog gives you a way to engage and connect.
#6 Comment spam protection.
This feature is both for your convenience, as well as that of your audience. Some internet marketers like to spam blogs with shady links and annoying sales pitches. This makes your feed virtually unreadable. Your hosting service likely has features to help protect against spam (such as enabling reCAPTCHA, or requiring first name and email), so use them!
#7 Social Media Integration.
Social share buttons make it effortless for your reader to share your content. All they need to do is click on the appropriate button and -BOOM- they’ve shared your blog to Facebook. Now, think about it – if they had to go through the trouble of manually copying the link, and then sharing it on their social media, do you think they would?
You might be saying, “What the heck is a blogroll??”, but it’s simple. It’s really just a list of links to other websites. Bloggers use blogrolls to share other content that they like and think their audience might enjoy. You can put it anywhere on your page, but most people like to stick to the sidebar.
#9 Quality Images.
Don’t just go grabbing whatever you like off Google Images because 1) you’re probably committing copyright infringement and 2) everyone else is using those same photos. If you want your site to stand out, use quality images that are sharp, clear, and on-brand. If you can’t afford to buy expensive stock images right now, there are several websites which offer great free options (or you can take your own original photos!).
#10 Contact method.
Lastly, make it easy for your readers to contact you. You want business, right? Don’t make people go digging through your site to figure out how to reach you.
You can do most of this stuff on your own, with minimal effort (for free!). There is no reason to sit around and wait. Now go optimize your blog, and watch the business come rolling in!
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