Tips for Blogging Success

Tips for Blogging Success

A few weeks back I put together a some tips and guidelines for our guest bloggers. I’ve been told that the information is useful so I thought I’d share it with you guys as well. Much of this is what has contributed to WPMU.org becoming such a successful blog. Hopefully you’ll be able to use these tips and put them to work on your own blog.

Types of Post

Here are some examples of the types of posts that we do on WPMU.org:

  • Tutorial – these are long form articles which should have a good structure that guides the article through a process. They should be easy to follow – if a person follows the exact steps they should be able to achieve the same results as you. (Example)
  • Hack – A hack will normally show a user how to do one thing quickly and easily. It will often contain code that can be copied and pasted. (Example)
  • Tip – A tip will alert readers to a plugin or other useful resource. (Example)
  • Showcase –On WPMU.org a showcase post will show off the best WordPress plugins and/or themes. On other blogs a showcase could feature anything you like. (Example, Example)
  • Interview – an interview with someone interesting, or who does something interesting, or controversial. These can be video, audio or written (Example)
  • Research –  well-researched posts can reveal something interesting (Example)
  • Discussion – a discussion of different aspects of WordPress, including the pros & cons, things you feel could be improved, and where things are going (Example)
  • Infographic – if you are more design inclined an infographic can be a great contribution (Example)
  • Reviews – book reviews, software reviews, theme reviews, plugin reviews, service reviews, reviews of anything related to WordPress (Example)
  • Resource – a resource post is something that people will bookmark and return to again and again ( Example, Example)
  • News – short posts that are quick to the mark on reporting WordPress news. Normally we only publish news that we feel will be directly relevant to our readers, including updates from WordPress & BuddyPress and security incidents (Example)

 

Style

The great thing about writing a blog is that it’s an opportunity for your own voice to shine through. Your style should be engaging so that it carries people along through difficult ideas and encourages readers to come back to read more. It also encourages people to comment and interact with you, which is great for traffic! All of our writers have their own individual voice – you should try to find your own!

Title

The title of your article should be descriptive while being hooking your reader in. If you can keep the title of your article to 70 characters or less then it will appear in total on Google’s SERP.

Here are some tips for crafting titles:

  • Don’t make your titles too long – they should be concise and to the point
  • The title should reflect the content of your article
  • Don’t try to be smart, or funny, or cool – you’re not, deal with it
  • Don’t hop on title fads

Check out this post from Problogger for some tips on what not to do.

Internal Linking

Internal linking is both good for SEO and is helpful for your readers. Search for other relevant posts on your blog and link to them in your own post.

Formatting your text

Formatting is your friend. It breaks the text up and guides the reader’s eye to the things that you want them to focus on. Check out this text without formatting.

 text without formatting

Now look at the same sample with formatting:

post with formatting

Bold

Use bold to emphasize key words and phrases throughout your text. For every point that is made you should have highlighted at least one thing in bold. When people read content on the internet they often scan through an article. Highlighting words and phrases in this way means that you, as the author, are deciding which words the visitor is picking out. It gives you greater control over what your readers are taking away from your article.

Headings

Headings are useful for three main things:

  • Organization
  • SEO
  • Accessibility

How to use headings:

The title of your post will use <h1> tags so you should move downwards through <h2> – <h6>

Never skip a <h> tag moving downwards, you can moving up.

  • Wrong: <h2><h4><h5>
  • Correct: <h2><h3><h3><h4><h4>
  • Correct: <h2><h3><h4><h2>

Block quotes

Block quotes can be used to pull out a piece of information that is relevant. The way that you use blockquotes will normally depend on how they are styled. At WPMU we normally keep them for shorter pieces of text.

Lists

Use both unordered and ordered lists to pull out information and make it easier for readers to digest.

Images

Images are a really important aspect of a blog post. You should use as many as is necessary – the more the better!

There are a number of different types of images you can use:

  • Screenshots – these are an important aspect of blog posts on WPMU.org. You can use them to show off different aspects of plugins, themes and WordPress
  • Icons – if your post is looking a little light on images you can use icons to brighten it up
  • Charts and Graphs – these should have relevant information that demonstrates a point
  • Tables – tables are great for showing off information in a different way. We particularly like comparison tables!

You should never simply search Google Image Search to find images – many of these are copyrighted.

You should either use your own images or use those with a Creative Commons License. If you use an image with a CC license you should add an attribution at the end of the post. For example:

<em>Feature pic CC <a href=” HYPERLINK “http://www.flickr.com/photos/link” http://www.flickr.com/photos/link to image”>License Holder</a></em>

A few more tips:

  • Images should have good, descriptive alt tags
  • Images should have descriptive titles
  • Captions are also good
  • Write on images, add arrows or highlight – add your own personal touch.

Snag it is a fantastic program that I use for taking screenshots. Windows users could try out zScreen for a free option.

Places to look for images:

You could check out this video from SEO Moz for some additional tips.

SEOmoz – SEO Software

Video

Video is also great –there are loads of videos on Youtube, Vimeo and other sources that you can use to illustrate your article. Like this:

Categories & Tags

Categories are an important tool in your site’s organization. People often use them inter-changeably but they both do quite different things.

Categories

Use categories to organize the content on your site – think of them like a table of contents. Some things to keep in mind when using categories:

  • Don’t have too many categories or your site could become unwieldy
  • Don’t put posts into too many categories. At WPMU.org we try to use up to two categories per post
  • Think of categories as navigation elements and build them into your site structure

Tags

Think of tags as your site’s index. These are all of the things that are mentioned on your site:

  • Try to reuse tags over and over again so that if someone clicks on one you get a grouping of posts that are related
  • You don’t need to post a whole list of tags – this would become silly
  • A tag cloud is a great visual representation of what your site is about

Hopefully you’ve found these tips useful. Got any yourself? Let us know in the comments!

(header image CC License Wesley Fryer)