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Four-Armed Martians and Bloggy Best Practices for Blogs and Blog-like Sites

BLOGGYBLOG(Note: This is the sixth in a series of Blogmaster 2000 posts about four-armed Martians in which I don’t actually discuss anything that is truly useful with regard to Martians, or even mention them at all. I wrote the following up for a friend that was starting a blog and just needed some high level direction on what kind of main things needed to be focused on. I threw this together quickly in order to help set a decent foundation for them to get kicked off.)

Blogs have evolved a lot from the early days of the “net”, now they are a robust and self-perpetuating community of niche websites that cross promote and build upon the success of competitors and contribute to that success by sending traffic back that way.

The 3 (or 4) rules of blogging (depending on how many I come up with):

1. Always add content (POV)
2. Post lots and lots (but not annoyingly so)
3. Always give credit where due (link backs)
4. Pictures are good
5. Social Plug-ins are a must

Always add content (POV) – whenever you post something or, as in most cases, repost something from another website, do more than just share that content. Add your own insight to it. The way this is usually done is: an opening paragraph that gives context to the news story under discussion, followed by a distinctly identified quote from the original article or blog, followed by your own added commentary to that information.

Post lots and lots (but not annoyingly so) – you gotta, gotta have content and be posting regularly. The more you post, the more opportunities you have to show up in search results or news feeds or lucking out and clicking with someone’s hot button. But you don’t want to be posting so much that you become the dominant feature in news feeds, etc. If you are all someone sees, they will decide to not see you at all. Build out a rough schedule, and stick to it as much as possible. Create consistency and reliability so readers know when to look for you, and then irregularly throw in some curve balls.

Always give credit where it is due (link backs) – it is important to always share where you first came across the story you are posting about. This is important for more reasons than just common courtesy. Google and Bing and Yahoo all have search algorithms that determine how legitimate your site is (and therefore relevant to its users) by which sites you link to, and which sites link back to you. This is referred to as backlinking, and when done consistently and correctly can boost your search standings higher up on the results page. There are two places (more often than not) that you can take the opportunity to link to other sites – hyperlinked at the beginning of a quoted piece (be sure to track back to the original quoted article and not just quote from the quote of another blog), and at the end of your post: (via Blogmaster 2000 – with the name of the site hyperlinked to the referring page).

Pictures are always good – I swear, it’s true! Pictures (that are correctly metatagged and conceptually relevant) draw more traffic, help with Search indexing and break up those endless blocks of text with something interesting to look at it. Pictures are even better on social networks like Facebook, which give newsfeed precedence to uploaded photos. A good trick on social networks (again FB specifically) is to post a relevant picture to your fan page, and add to the update field a quote or a provocative statement that ties in with the new blog post and then add the URL at the end. Traffic will go up, and shares on FB will go up as well.

Social Plug-ins are a must – these are the little icon items on blog and website pages that allow people to like stories and then appear as liked in their newsfeeds and on their walls. Blogger should have a default plugin that allows you to add this.

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