How to Maximize Your Return on Blogging
Regardless of whether you’re a newbie or experienced blogger; or you’re an independent or business blogger, you need to use a combination of tools to maximize your return on blogging.
The best blogging tools support a combination of social media, content marketing and search optimization. Here are seven tools that are core to blogging success.
- WordPress. Since blogging is an important form of social media and content marketing, the underlying platform is a critical tool. While you can use the free WordPress.com hosting option, it doesn’t translate to long term success. Instead, run your own WordPress-powered website/blog (aka self-host) on your own URL. WordPress is user friendly, has millions of users and an extensive support community. (Personally, I let my webmaster, Larry Aronson, take care of all the technical aspects of Heidi Cohen.com.) Actionable Marketing Tip: To increase your blog’s effectiveness, install the proper plug-ins and ensure your blog is as fast as possible to aid search optimization.
- Google analytics. Without measuring your blog results back to your objectives, you won’t know if your blog is successful or what you need to improve. Here’s a list of 65 blog metrics to guide your blog tracking.
Actionable Marketing Tip: Determine your blog’s goals and related metrics before you start creating blog content to ensure that they work together.
- Flickr. Images are reader magnets. Include a photograph at the top of each post to pull prospects into your blog. It can be a shot of the writer or something more creatively related to your content. Most readers can tell stock photos a mile away. Therefore if you don’t have your own images to use, then check out the recently revamped, Flickr. It’s a useful source of free images as long as you make sure you have the rights to use them and that you give proper attribution. Actionable Marketing Tip: Use Flickr to attract links back to your blog by posting your own images there and requiring users to link to your blog when they use your images. This helps build your search rankings.
- Google author rank. It’s not enough to have an audience on your blog. To ensure your blogging authorship is recognized by Google, you must associate your content with your Google+ account. This helps your blog’s searchability and makes your posts that appear in search results more attractive by showing your image with your content. Actionable Marketing Tip: Be active on Google+ and share several times a day. (Here are 62 Google+ resources.)
- Social sharing. Make it easy for readers and visitors to share your blog content through the use of social media sharing buttons. By accruing social shares, you gain proof that others recommend your content. Select the buttons your audience uses most, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. Make it easy for visitors to share your content. Place these icons at the top and bottom of each post to increase the probability of sharing.
Actionable Marketing Tip: Include social media widgets in your blog sidebar to encourage visitors to join you on other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Comment software. Comments are like manna for bloggers. They provide bloggers with warm fuzzies that social media counts can’t do. Additionally, they help build community around your blog and enable you to gather insights from readers. When Facebook expert Mari Smith tweeted me that her comments weren’t appearing on my blog, I looked and discovered them in my blog’s spam folder. At that point, I switched to Disqus, a blog commenting platform. Disqus also provides the ability to track who’s active on your blog as well as your interactions on other blogs. Actionable Marketing Tip: Respond to every comment on your blog to encourage others to join the conversation. Also, provide commenting guidelines on your blog so readers know what’s acceptable and what’s not. (Here are three tips to generate comments.)
- Email. Yes, email. While new tools are continually being created for blogging and social media, the most underrated tool is email. Although it’s far from sexy, building your email list is essential. If all of the social media platforms go away, you’ll still own your email housefile and be able to communicate with your audience.
Actionable Marketing Tip: Leverage every opportunity to build your email list since a large proportion of your visitors may not return to your blog without prompting. Place opt-in boxes in multiple locations, use a call-to-action, as well as provide an incentive to encourage registrations.
As an owned social media entity that provides new content on a continual basis, blogs are a powerful element of any marketing program. To ensure your blog effectiveness, use these seven tools.
What do you think the most important social media tools for blogging are and why do you think so?
What other tools do you find effective for maximizing your return on blogging and why do you recommend them?
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This blog post was inspired by the Blogging and Social Media Panel at Columbia University’s School of Journalism Social Media Weekend.