Lately, I’ve been working with a number of companies and individuals who are either looking for a blog makeover or who want to set up a blog for the first time.
Particularly, as I have carried out the Blog Appraisal which forms part of the blog makeover, I have noticed a number of areas which are important when starting a Business blog before you ever “put finger to keyboard”, as it were! Yet often they have been overlooked so I thought I’d share some of the main ones here – let me know if there are others that you think should be included!
a) Dont skimp on time spent planning your Blog
The planning process for your Business Blog is a crucial time but one that often seems to be skipped over or done hurriedly. You can save a great deal of pain later on by spending a little time planning out what you want to achieve with your blog and how to do it. Time spent in outlining the focus and the target audience of your blog is time well spent and ideally also make time to map out the posts for the first few weeks so that the initial postings go smoothly.
b) Keep Navigation Easy
Your blog gets structured automatically for you but I’d still make sure that the category names are well chosen and visible – I find that new visitors to a blog use these most often to get around. Help your readers find your blog home page quickly and easily – convention suggests that clicking on the banner at the top should take you back to the home page, but be aware that there are new readers of blogs everyday who will be more familiar with a “home” link.
c) Make Key Posts easy to find
As you increase the number of posts on your site, make sure that readers can find the posts which really get to the heart of your business – these could be the initial “Foundation” posts or ones you have added later. One possibility is to create a page (linked directly from your sidebar) called Top 10 posts or Key Articles or whatever you feel best describes them. This page can then contain links to all of your key posts. In this way, you make sure that they are highlighted in amongst all of the other information that you provide.
d) Profile and Contact details
Not putting a profile and contact details on your blog is missing out on an opportunity and potentially shooting yourself in the foot particularly if your blog is a stand alone site rather than integrated as part of your company website. If I find what I am reading interesting then I may want to get in touch with the author, so make it easy for me to do so! You should also use your profile page as the place where you can outline the goals of your blog as well as presenting yourself use this to achieve maximum effect for yourself.
e) Create your own look and feel
All blog software comes with base templates which dictate what a Blog looks like whatever you do, dont leave it as this default base version! There is nothing worse than spending time creating a wonderful blog full of excellent information and then leave it looking like thousands of others would you do that with a website or with a book? No! Make sure that you change it either yourself or get someone in to do it for you it will differentiate you and what you have to say as well as help with your positioning, so make the most of it.
f) Avoid free hosted blogging systems for a Business Blog
Sorry, this is a bugbear of mine but I feel that you should have control over any important aspect of your business and a Business Blog is just that, so dont leave it on a hosted system which gives you little flexibility or control. Also remember that you should try to choose a blogging platform which will grow with you as you discover other areas where a blog can help your business. Changing blogging platforms is a pain that is best avoided, so choose one which means you don’t have to!
g) Not setting up friendly permalinks
Setting up search engine and visitor friendly permalinks and URLs for your blog is beneficial from all points of view and something you should do as part of the set-up. If you leave them in a format such as www.yourblog.com/?cat=34 then you are missing out in a number of ways – so set them up correctly from the start and make sure that you are not left ruing this as your Blog develops and it becomes more difficult to change.
h) Add Clear RSS Feed details
RSS is already a key tool and is only going to get more important, particularly as its visibility starts to increase following the release of Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 over the past weeks, both of which include an RSS reader (of sorts!). Give readers options and where appropriate explain what RSS is and how it can benefit them!
Tags: Blog Appraisal, Blog Makeover, Blogging Basics, Business Blogging, RSS, Setting up a Blog, Starting a Blog