One of the most important parts of inbound marketing is content creation, and your blog is typically where you are creating the highest volume of that content. Most inbound marketing experts (Hi!) would tell you to blog at least once a week, but generally, more blogs mean more website traffic. Given that you'll be driving website traffic to your blog - let's talk a little about the actual look and feel of your blog.
Does your blog have the same design as the rest of your site? There are times when clients will come to us and their blog will have a totally different look from their main website. They may be hosting it on an external server or service (which is fine as long as you are using a subdomain) but the template needs to match to give you that unifying theme that we discussed a few weeks back.
Having people share your content is amazing. When I see the share numbers go up on posts that I write I get giddy. And I mean "happy dance" giddy.
The downside of this is that people get greedy. They want to put every social sharing button ever on their site. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn StumbleUpon, Reddit, Google+, Pinterest, Digg, Hacker News and on and on forever. There are tons of social sites out there that you can share to. But should you? Probably not.
Don't offer tons of choices to your readers. They may pass on sharing if you offer too many options and they can't easily find their preferred network to share on. Typically you'll always have Twitter and Facebook, but which other networks should you offer? It all depends on your audience. If you're writing a blog geared towards new mothers, they're most likely not going to share your content on LinkedIn. Pinterest might be a better option. But if your content is geared towards professionals and executives, they'll probably be sharing on LinkedIn.
This is the place where people go nuts on their blogs. They'll list out tags, categories, blog archives, Twitter feed, Facebook this, newsletter that, ads, Jimmy Hoffa (we found him!), blog roll, whatever.
We've seen so much clutter in the side bar that it doubles (sometimes triples) the height of the page. That's not good design. Less is more - don't distract people away from the main purpose of your blog - the content itself
Tags and Categories
Instead of listing out every single tag, pick your most popular ones - the ones that related directly to your business - and create a static list of links (as opposed to a dynamic list). A short static list will benefit your readers more than a dynamic list of tags that may only have one or two posts associated with them.
Making sure that your readers can find you is important, but are people engaging with the social modules on your site? Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and others provide you with the code to put a social stream on your site, but should you? That's something that only you can answer. If people are clicking through on those modules and liking you on Facebook, or following you on Twitter, then keep it up. Otherwise you may want to save some of that sidebar real estate for something more engaging.
Ads and Calls to Action
If you're one of the lucky people who blog for a living, you may have ads on your site. Hopefully they are not overwhelming and they don't interfere with your content. If they are, you may want to rethink your ad strategy and partnerships. Your content is the reason that people are coming to your site, don't have the content hidden behind ads or pop-up/over windows. It will do nothing but drive people away.
Calls to action are a popular item for sidebars. Always make sure they are relevant and up to date. If your blog gets many visits each day or week you may want to rotate those CTAs out more often to increase clickthroughs.
But it all comes down to...
(Really, really good) content! Make sure that you are blogging, and blogging often to drive that traffic to your site!
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