These days, maintaining a blog has become a necessary part of owning and running a successful business. Not only does a blog provide new, unique, and relevant content for the search engines to index, but it is also a great marketing tool that help you connect with your customers and provide them with quality information.
Below are 14 components that every blog should utilize in order to be successful.
- A Great Design – The fact of the matter is that the design of your blog is the first thing a user sees. Depending on how it looks can directly impact whether or not they decide to stay on your page. If it looks cheap, chances are the user might not take your seriously. Many of today’s Content Management Systems have easy-to-implement themes scattered across the internet that not only look good, but are inexpensive as well. Take some time and decide of the design of your blog is up to par.
- A Search Box – Having a search box allows users to find what they’re looking for fast. It is also simply to mine that data and decided what content users are looking for the most and then write new posts based on that data.
- An RSS Feed – Every blog should have an RSS Feed. An RSS Feed allows users to subscribe to your blog. It is the easiest way to ensure repeat visitors.
- Breadcrumbs – Many people have no idea what breadcrumbs are but they are extremely important http://lmgtfy.com/?q=breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs help users navigate where they are on the site, they help increase indexation in the search engines, and help to categorize your content.
- Navigation – Navigation is extremely important when it comes to blog design. The only right answer I can give you on navigation is to make it simple and strive for a “flat” architecture. The fewer clicks it takes to get to the information, the more likely a user is to stay on your site.
- Images – I highly recommend using images in your blog posts, however, make sure they are unique and relevant to your content. In my opinion, using stock photos is so 90’s. Don’t forget to add alt text to your images as well to help with SEO.
- Utilizing the Fold – For those of you that don’t know, the “fold” is the portion of the page that is visible to the user without scrolling. Be sure to place your most important information and messages about the fold to ensure that users see it.
- Linking – Sites like Wikipedia and Amazon are the masters of linking and that is why they hold so much weight in the search engines. Be sure to link your best blog posts via keywords in your content or something like a “Related Posts” widget.
- Don’t Go Overboard - Linking is definitely an important component of a great blog, but it is important to not go too far. Having too many links on a page can actually hurt you. It’s a good rule of thumb to keep it under 100 links per page.
- Ad Space – Having ad space on your blog is a fantastic way to monetize the content you’ve created. It is important to note, however, that you shouldn’t go overboard with this. Don’t be overly obnoxious with your advertising and choose carefully where you display your ads. Over-doing it can be a big turn-off to a user.
- Comments – Allowing users to comment on your blog is a good thing. It encourages both interaction and sharing. It also a great source for generating new content on your page that you don’t have to write!
- Sharing – When people find content they like online, they tend to share it with others. Make sure you incorporate some sort of sharing capabilities on your blog whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Google+1, or Social Bookmarking.
- Speed – People simply don’t have patients like they used to. They want their information fast. If your page doesn’t load quickly, chances are the user isn’t going to stick around and wait. Be sure to test your page for speed.
- Platform – Picking a platform or Content Management System isn’t easy, but it is important. Choose something that fits your needs. Personally, I’d go with WordPress or Tumblr because they are constantly striving to improve their product and are also the easiest to use.
There are obviously plenty more things you can do to have a great blog, but in my opinion, these are the most crucial. Let us know in the comments if I missed anything, or what elements of your blog work best for you!
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About Ryan Bailey
As Co-Founder and President of TravelNet Solutions, Inc, Ryan Bailey has been instrumental in TravelNet’s expansion from a first generation vertical travel site company into a diversified platform company. TravelNet Solution’s vertical sites connect thousands of travel companies to it’s loyal travel-minded communities that spans 65 countries around the world, with the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia leading the list. Ryan is responsible for TravelNet Solution’s top line revenue across all product lines on a worldwide basis. He also leads sales and marketing for TravelNet’s four product divisions, including the ResortsandLodges.com site – the world’s largest online resort and lodge destination marketplace that connects travel planners with hotels, resorts, lodges, vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts. The ResortsandLodges.com site is projected to generate over $100 million in business for travel companies in 2012. Under Ryan’s leadership, TravelNet Solutions has achieved profitable growth since 2004. With more than 10 years of experience in the digital travel industry, Ryan has spoken at several hospitality events and advised thousands of hoteliers on strategic digital planning, transient direct marketing, group direct marketing, and analytics. Ryan attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth before the company moved it’s offices to Minneapolis / Saint Paul area.