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From the Trenches

6 Features Your Blog Should Have

Will Davis | June 10, 2011

While having great content is the key to blogging, content marketing, social media, and really any type of marketing, ensuring that your blog is set up correctly with the right components is also incredibly important.  If you have great content, but nobody can find you, you are losing the battle.

Almost 2 years ago I wrote a post around some of the basics in9 Simple Features Your Blog Should Have.  In the interactive marketing space 2 years is like 30 (double dog years), but I’m happy to say that each of those 9 points are still relevant.  If you haven’t read that post I encourage you do so – think of it as the 101 version of this post.

Here now are 6 things to consider when designing or redesigning your blog:

  1. Highlight Your Authors – People like to read posts from other people and blogging is a way of displaying thought leadership, right?  So make sure you are highlighting your authors.  At a minimum,  have names, bios and a picture for each author on the blog.  Also consider linking to their email addresses and relevant social media properties if appropriate.  As an added bonus, set up Gravatars for authors to show a picture when they comment on blogs or reply to comments on your own.  In my initial post I talked about setting up RSS feeds.  If you really want to go to the next level, include RSS feeds for each individual author so readers can follow the ones that they are interested in (Feedburner is great for this).
  2. Use Semantic URLs – While this sounds jargon-y, this is just a fancy way of saying have URLs that describe the page.  Doing this is valuable for both users and search engines because it helps them understand what the page is about.  For instance this post’s URL tells you it is about content marketing and features for your blog – helping users and search engines much more than something like www.marketingtrenches.com/?p=1612
  3. Include an XML Sitemap – Most web users are familiar with a sitemap page on a website – which shows people what is on the website or in this case blog.  An XML sitemap is similar  but operates behind the scenes to tell search engines when you have new posts, where they are and other key factors.  You can learn more at www.sitemaps.org.  Added note – for more complex data the new Schema format released recently may eventually replace the XML Sitemaps for some sites – stay tuned.
  4. Use the Read More Tag – Your blog homepage generally shouldn’t have the full long posts display on it.  Instead, show a few paragraphs and then use the Read More tag to insert a link where visitors can read the rest of the post.
  5. Use Your Own Domain –For a whole host of reasons including SEO, branding, control, planning, flexibility etc. (this could even be a separate post all its own) in most every case you want your blog on your own domain rather than on somebody else’s.  Even if you use a hosted service like WordPress.com they will still let you use your own domain name instead of theirs (i.e. blog.yourcompany.com), or a separate name for your blog, like we have with Marketing Trenches.
  6. Link It from (and to) Your Website – This one seems so obvious but is so often missed.  Make sure that visitors can find your website from your blog and your blog from your website.

So whether you are designing a new blog from the ground up or just want to make sure the one you have is doing everything it can, you now have 15 tips between this post and the last.

Agree, Disagree, have a tip of your own?  Share away in the comments below.

 

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