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    Business Blog design: here are all the key posts


    When creating a successful corporate blog, there are a number of elements which come together to make it what it is. The content itself is key to this, but the words just form the final part of the blog and one which is supported by a number of other layers or building blocks. Together, they help to determine the blog’s focus and its effectiveness.

    The more that I work with companies (large and small) on their business blogs, the more I see how these different layers must work together to give the right results. This is the case whatever the size of the organisation, though the timescales can vary enormously. A large corporate blog may take several months to come to fruition, not because there are additional elements but due to the number of “interested parties” involved. With a small business blog, the decisions are often made instantly and so the timeframe is shorter; however, the business challenges are similar.

    In both business and corporate blogs, the structure and elements involved are made up as shown below.

    Anatomy of a Blog: Layers and Building Blocks

    1. Philosophy Layer
    The foundations of any business blog should include the basic principles of blogging, which hold true for organisations just as they do for individuals writing their own personal blogs. These would include openness, two-way communication, passion, writing with an authentic voice, authority and personality.

    An organisation intending to establish a blog should consider these carefully as well as the business ideals they embrace. If the company culture is one which does not have the flexibility and openness to accept and apply them, then it is unlikely that it will be able to use the blog to its full potential and it may be better served using other online marketing media.

    2. Technical Layer
    The selection of the blogging software to be used forms an important part of the technical layer together with how the blog is integrated with the company website (or set up separately), the internal IT requirements of the company and the hosting structure required.

    The choice of blogging platform can compromise a corporate blogs potential from the outset if it cannot support the elements needed to achieve the blogs goals. To help future proof the investment in time and money, the platform should therefore not only cover the initial requirements but also have the scope to develop over time as the business needs of company and blog develop.

    This might also take into consideration the technical aspects of Search Engine optimization, for example, which should ensure that the blog has the flexibility to allow page level customisation of elements such as title tags, blog tags and metatags.

    3. Business Layer
    Some of the most important decisions during the preparation phase relate to the overall business requirements of the blog and how it will be used by the company. The basis for these decisions will come from the answers to the 3 key questions which need to be answered right at the start of the process, namely what the aims and goals of the blog are, who its intended audience is and what it is designed to achieve.

    The answers to these questions will effectively decide the format and focus of the blog which in turn will dictate who is the best person/people to write it, how often to add posts, how it will be marketed and what impact it will make on various departments throughout the company. All of these elements form part of the business layer.

    Every successful business blog will have a particular business focus which will influence the way that it looks, its focus and the content that it contains. This focus can take many different forms given that the blog could be an internal blog (sometimes called a “dark blog”) serving a company, project or team or an external one used for branding, customer service, product development or any number of customer facing uses. [Some examples of business blog uses.]

    4. Blog Interface & Graphic Layer
    The graphics and branding elements are important parts of this, but they do not make up the whole story. In addition, the layout of the blog needs to be consistent with the business requirements of the blog so that best use is made of the space available to promote the elements which will support its business goals.

    If your business requirements dictate that you are pushing to get subscribers then your RSS and email subscription areas will be very prominent. If there are special offers or specific service areas which are key to achieving the blog’s goals then these should be made highly visible within the layout and design. Some of the other elements relating to the interface and graphic layer can be found in the Business Blog Design Series.

    5. Content Layer
    Last but certainly not least, the content itself. This is the most important single layer because it is the one that the blogs readers are most aware of and it is the content which will attract them back and turn them from “passers by” into avid readers. However, the content only comes into its own because of the interaction and support of the other layers.

    In truth, many companies and businesses tend to concentrate solely on this layer. However, the blog’s content needs to build on what was outlined in the business layer to achieve the right business focus for the company. This content will then be promoted, highlighted and pushed by the elements in the other layers.

    One important, yet often overlooked, part of content element is the specific use of the individual post titles and specific Search Engine oriented elements such as the titles tags, meta tags and general blog tags, all of which should be provided for in the technical layer.

    Summary
    A blog needs all of the different components to be working together to be really successful and, for a corporate blog, doubly so. A blog using a standard template rather than the organisation’s branding will be less effective, as will one built on a platform which makes leaving comments difficult or one that reads like a sales brochure. Equally, a business blog where all the other aspects are in place but which is aimed at the wrong audience will not achieve the success that it perhaps warrants.

    However, with each of these different layers working together, then the results can be excellent. The day-to-day focus can then be firmly on maintaining the quality and focus of the content and promoting it in the right areas to ensure that it can (and will) achieve the business goals it was designed for.

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    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]


    Being able to open up a dialogue between author and readers by leaving comments is one of the key aspects of a blog and one of the elements that make them as effective as they are. They open a door onto the interactive side of the web and give the opportunity to engage with people, start conversations and create connections.

    However, just as in the real world, its important to show that you are willing to talk with people rather than turning your back on them (proverbially or otherwise) or give the impression that you are unapproachable and arent looking to engage with them.

    Allow and learn to love comments
    You should always allow people to comment on your blog, unless you have very specific reasons why not at the same time, you should make sure that you have the ability to deal with the comments that come back. I dont just mean in terms of time (for most that will not be an issue – and if it is, it’s often a good one to have!), but also in terms of responding appropriately.

    Whether the comments you receive contain information, praise or criticism, you need to deal with them openly and correctly. You can achieve a huge amount by doing this, gaining respect in the process, especially when responding to negative comments. You will also encourage additional comments by the way that you have dealt with previous ones, so take the time to do so.

    Actively encourage comments
    Creating dialogue through getting responses is a key element to a successful blog, so dont sit back and wait for comments help to initiate them, either on your own blog or on those of others. Dont be afraid to openly ask for comments you should feel comfortable enough to encourage or challenge people to reply, or ask them for information. Basically, start that conversation!

    You can also encourage comments simply by the way that you write, either through inspiring people to respond, goading them or by opening up a discussion on an area that you know people will have an opinion that that they want to express. Some other ways might include:

    • Asking for opinions in general or asking a direct question at the end of your posts;

    • Challenging people to put their point of view forward on the topic;

    • Writing in an open ended style which allows people to add further thoughts on the topic rather than consider you’ve covered all aspects of it;

    • asking for additional information to help build up a bigger collection of thoughts and ideas on the subject

    • Running a competition (prizes help encourage participation!)

    • Starting group writing projects such as a Metaphor for Blogging

    • Drawing attention to comments made either by referencing them or by displaying “Latest Comments” in your sidebar

    Make it easy to comment
    We want people to comment, so make it easy for your readers to do so and don’t put barriers in their way which may put them off. Probably the biggest barrier in this regard is where you ask people to register before they can leave a comment – while I recognise that comment spam is a very real issue, there are other ways around this which will not impact on the relationship between author and reader.

    How to deal with them
    You should try to respond to the comments that your readers leave where appropriate – in most cases, you are looking to engage with the people who leave comments, so if they respond and ask a question then make sure that you reply to it.

    Of course, there will be cases where the comments will not be favourable this is to be expected. You cannot please all the people all of the time. You should still try to respond to their points and present your point of view – its best not to ignore this type of comment because at least on your blog you have the chance to put forward your side. Elsewhere, negative comments will go unanswered. You will also often gain greater respect by handling objections with grace and tact by doing it this way.

    How to avoid Spam Comments
    Spam comments appearing in our comment section doesn’t give a good impression, but luckily there are a number of ways to avoid this. So what are our options – other than turning off comments all together, which I don’t advocate.

    The main ones you might consider are:

    • Specialist Software: like email, there are providers of specialist software which can help us and here, in my opinion, the leader in this respect is called Akismet. It identifies the comments that it believes are spam and impounds them – free of charge, except for commercial use and very good.

    • Comment Moderation: moderating out spam by looking at each comment which has been left and allow genuine ones to appear on your blog while deleting the spam comments. This can become very time consuming (not to mention frustrating!)

    • CAPTCHA methods: this is the distorted series of letters and numbers which appear on the page and that you have to type in to prove that you are a human and not an automated visitor. Good but a bit of a barrier to readers.

    • Registration: only accept comments from people that have already logged in to a registration system which you run on your blog secure but can dissuade people from commenting.

    Designing your business blog to encourage and display comments appropriately will hopefully help to develop more and more feedback, thereby developing an ongoing dialogue or relationship with your readers. This in turn should have a positive effect in terms of both reputation and trust.


    Learn to love comments (positive and negative), encourage readers to leave them and make it easy for them to do so!

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    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]

    I see so many blogs that are clearly well thought out in terms of their content and seem to have a lot of things going for them which then go and spoil it by plastering Google AdWords adverts or other onpage advertising all over their blog.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against onpage advertising per se – it’s a perfectly good way of developing revenue from a blog, albeit one that is seeing diminishing returns for those who are merely “dabbling” with it, rather than looking at it as a business activity.

    Planning and Goals
    Once again, it comes down to the planning process and your blog’s goals. If you are looking to have a blog which has a primary goal of using onpage advertising to generate revenue, then of course you are going to make best use of the key areas on your blog and populate them with suitable advertising banners and links.

    If, however, you are using a blog to promote your business and develop relationships with your clients, then this advertising is likely to be both distracting and detrimental to your activities. In addition, the advertising needs to be prominent to work well and so will need to occupy the space that you would otherwise use for elements of your own business that you want to promote. Basically, you will be using your blog’s key areas to market somebody else’s products rather than your own!

    Change of Mentality
    It also changes your mentality when you write and promote your blog. If you are writing a blog which is strictly focused on your specialism and your industry, then creating content which will be of interest to this type of reader will be your main concern, no matter what size of market this represents.

    However, the general strategy behind a successful onpage advertising campaign is always going to be a numbers game, therefore the more visitors you attract the greater the number of clicks you will achieve. This means that you are more likely to be looking at posts with a wider appeal or perhaps more contentious ones which will attract more attention … but for attention’s sake. Equally, your blog promotional strategy will need to be focused more on quantity of visitors rather than on quality, again distracting you from targeting readers who would be most beneficial to your own business.

    So, overall, if you are intending to use onpage advertising and are serious about doing so, then make that the focus of your blog following all the principles of placement and use of key “real estate” areas that we have discussed elsewhere in this series. However, if your business blog is intended to develop additional contacts and marketing opportunities, then avoid distracting your readers with adverts for other people’s products and concentrate on helping them discover your own.


    If you intend to use onpage advertising then make it the focus of your blog – if not, then avoid it !

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    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]

    RSS is a key element of blogs and for their successful use in business it is also one of the 5 Rs that I consider to be key to business blogging. This is primarily because of the enormous benefits of what is effectively an instant and very efficient method of distributing information, as well as a great marketing tool.

    For publishers, RSS should really have a similar importance as an newsletter sign up box because it gives you the same opportunity to communicate with people who have expressed an interest in what you have to offer. The added benefit is of course that you have an assured method of delivery which is not hampered by email filters and the like.

    If gaining loyal readers (and hence subscribers) to your blog is important – and let’s face it, it is to 95% of business bloggers – then it’s important to consider where it appears on your blog design. Higher up the screen and certainly above the fold is clearly going to be better, though this needs to be balanced with the other elements that you wish to promote – however, if RSS subscriptions is a key aim, then get that up at the top, big and bold.

    Remember that there is also no need to restrict yourself to a single feed – if you are writing material which is has very distinct areas, then use the capability to set up an RSS feed for each category and promote them individually. Let your readers decide which parts they want to receive, they’ll appreciate that more than having to filter out the elements they want, particularly if you are a prolific writer.

    Other things that you should consider to encourage signups from your blog are:

    • Use Feedburner to optimise your RSS usage: I’m a great fan of Feedburner because they offer a number of services which allow you to increase the usability and marketing potential of your RSS Feed – I outline some of those in this post about Feedburner.Give yourself the best chance of using RSS - sign up to Feedburner.

    • Use a Giveaway to encourage Subscriptions: Taking a leaf out of email subscription good practice, use a giveaway to encourage sign ups to your RSS feed. Its sensible and it works! How to do it though? Well, using Feedburner, you can create a custom FeedFlare which links back to a download page on your site. Still unsure? contact me here!
    • Email subscription to RSS: even for readers who are not familiar with RSS, you can make sure that they can still benefit from the instant access that RSS offers by offering them a subscription via email. There are 3rd party services which allow you to do this such as Feedblitz or the email subscription service from Feedburner.
    • Link from each post: to cater for readers who arrive at your posts directly, encourage readers at the bottom of each post to sign up for the RSS feed. This can be done directly, or if you are a WordPress user, this can be done through a plugin such as Subscribe Remind.
    • Highlight Feed Readers: you may like to consider using the little chicklets highlighting the different Feed readers that people could be using to receive your feed. Don’t go overboard (there are more important things you can have in your sidebar) but you could benefit from using some.

    One final thing to reiterate is that promoting your RSS in your blog design is no good without the content behind it – it is easy to unsubscribe so that puts the onus on you, the writer, to make sure you give content that they’ll want to come back to read. The inimitable Hugh McLeod summed this up beautifully in one of his cartoons, which is what I leave you with.

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    Landing PagesWhether you use a blog as part of your company marketing strategy or it is your only online presence, youll no doubt be looking to promote your blog as widely as possible.

    Unfortunately, much like normal websites, it is not simply a case of build and they will come there are, however, lots of ways to encourage visitors and readers, some of which are outlined in the
    52 methods of blog promotion.

    Consider Landing Pages

    Whichever ways you choose, I would encourage you to also adopt one of the key elements of successful online marketing and develop specific relevant landing pages to complement the marketing. In case you are wondering, a landing page is the page on your blog that visitors arrive at after clicking on your promotional creative, whether that is a Pay Per Click advert, email marketing link, magazine or newspaper advert or a Word of Mouth recommendation.

    You should make the page completely relevant to the keyword phrases they have been searching on in the case of Pay Per Click advertising or the subject matter of the promotion – effectively, your first goal is to reassure the reader that the page (and by implication your blog and company) really does provide what they are searching for.

    This is equally effective when you are marketing offline, perhaps in magazines or at seminars, as you can create individual landing pages which offer information which is going to be relevant to these groups – then just provide them with this URL rather than your homepage.

    What are your aims?

    A landing page needs to be focused not only on where your reader has come from but also very clearly on what you want them to do and where you want them to go as a result of reading it. There are a number of different options which are nicely summarised by Seth Godin as follows:

    • Get a visitor to click (to go to another page, on your site or someone else’s)

    • Get a visitor to buy

    • Get a visitor to give permission for you to follow up (by email, phone, etc.). This includes registration of course.

    • Get a visitor to tell a friend

    • Get a visitor to learn something, which could even include posting a comment or giving you some sort of feedback

    The information that you decide to have on each specific landing page and how you build the page will depend on what you want to achieve with it. The whole page should point to the “call to action” that you are looking to achieve, but at the same time should motivate your readers by showing them the value in it. It that means using a “giveaway” as a taster then do that too.

    Creating the Landing Page

    You could use a highly relevant single post or, more appropriately, a category page, with a specific sticky post at the top to make sure that you press home your message. Lets face it, posts on business blogs will tend to be specific and focused on a particular subject or subject area.

    However, to get the developed landing page we outlined above then ideally you should create one which is tailor made for the job. If you are using WordPress, then this is very straightforward just create a page (rather than posts) which sits outside the chronological structure of the blog and link directly to that. With other systems, you should be able to use the same functionality that you use to create your About page .

    In terms of content, try answering these questions as you create each landing page:

    • What benefit am I offering? (may be more appropriate than what service or product)

    • What specific group of people do I want to appeal to?

    • 5 reasons why they would be interested in what I have to offer?

    • What do they need to do to take the next step? (ie. subscribe, buy etc)

    It is helps, you could consider that each landing page is really a summary of all the pages covering the product or service you are offering which needs to be motivational and persuasive without being hyped.

    So to summarise – I’m not suggesting that we start to turn our business blog into purely a direct sales tool. Far from it. However, the blog is a business tool and we should use it to develop connections and new opportunities as best we can to support the marketing activities we employ to promote it and our business. Astute use of landing pages will help to achieve this.

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    When companies are looking to incorporate a blog as part of their online marketing then this will involve either integrating the blog into their current website or setting up a separate site using a separate domain name. (More thoughts here on this point)

    If the blog and its focus is likely to be complementary to the rest of the website, then the sensible choice will be to integrate the blog into the site itself, ideally at a graphic and functional level. You’ll also want to make sure that the blog reflects your site’s navigation and menu as far as possible while offering the information and connection opportunities that we are, I hope, familiar with by now.

    However, what I have seen on numerous occasions is that while the blog is there and complete with links back into the other pages of the website, it does not appear in the main menu of the site. Indeed sometimes, there is no link to it anywhere on the site!

    What a waste!

    • Great Marketing: Firstly, it is perhaps the cheapest and easiest form of marketing that you have access to for your blog. The visitors to your website form part of your target market and are already likely to be familiar with your company products. The blog should help to enhance that and help to open the dialogue with them so help them find it, wherever they are on your site.
    • Have Confidence: it also demonstrates either a lack of thought or a lack of confidence in what the company is doing – if you have spent time in planning your blog (Green Cross Code and then answering the 3 KEY questions especially) and writing it, then have the courage of your convictions, put it out there and link to it! If you don’t think it’s good enough to display your name then re-think your blog, don’t just hide it.
    • Consistency: users of websites tend not to like surprises, therefore not knowing that there is a blog but not being able to find it easily will prove highly frustrating for them and result in people leaving the site. Not good for the desired “stickiness” element that most sites look for and that blogs can really help with.

    So remember, if you have a blog that you want to work for you, whether it’s for marketing and PR purposes, as part of your customer service or just as an expert information resource, make sure that the links from the rest of your site are visible and strong. It’ll help your readers find you and that will then help you in return.

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    Spam Comments and how to stop themIt seems that no matter what new online communication tools we come up with, there are going to be those who want to abuse them. Let’s face it, email has revolutionised the way in which businesses and individuals communicate (and the genuine commercial opportunities it offers) but has also been notoriously blighted over recent years by the avalanche of spam messages we also receive.

    Likewise, blogs are open to abuse from individuals looking to exploit them at the expense of others, primarily through the use of Spam Blogs (Splogs) and Comment Spam. For now, let’s concentrate on Comment Spam and see why it exists and how we can go about stopping it on our blogs.

    What is Comment Spam?

    Comment Spam is where a spammer leaves comments on blog posts that have nothing to do with the post itself but merely contain multiple links back to the spammer’s commercial website. Most Comment Spam is now carried out automatically rather than by individuals and its goal is simply to create links back to a target site (and so improve its Search Engine ranking), though it may also attract a small amount of traffic as well.

    If the contents of my Comment Spam filter is at all representative, then the subject matter will be familiar to all of us using email, since the same types of subjects and messages tend to crop up in both.

    How do we stop Comment Spam on our own blog?

    So what are our options when it comes to avoiding having comment spam swamping our blogs, other than turning off comments all together of course – something that I’m certainly not advocating!

    • Comment Moderation
      The most time consuming way is simply to moderate out all of the spam comments – that is to say, you look at each comment which has been left and allow genuine ones to appear on your blog while deleting the spam comments. This can become very time consuming (not to mention frustrating!) because once you are “found” by the spam commenters, you are going to be receiving a lot of these. Rule of thumb – the more successful you are, the easier you are to find and the more you will receive – I imagine with such a high profile blog, Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger suffers more than most, as he comments here.



    • CAPTCHA methods
      CAPTCHA is actually an acronym (ok, since you asked – Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart – there, now wasn’t that interesting!) but you’ll know it as a distorted series of letters and numbers which appear on the page and that you have to type in. This is designed to prove that you are a human and not an automated visitor – or, in this case, spammer. Typed in correctly, it allows you to submit your comment, but will stop most forms of automated comment spam getting through.



    • Specialist Software Intervention
      Just like with email, there are also providers of specialist software which can help us and here, in my opinion, the leader in this respect is called Akismet. Here, the software identifies the comments that it believes are spam and impounds them – it’s also provided free of charge, except for commercial use, which is an additional bonus. Although it was developed by the company involved with WordPress, it has been modified to work with many other types of blog software so it’s worth checking out. Another plug-in for WordPress is Spam Karma which also comes highly recommended.



    • Getting commenters to log-in
      You can of course elect to only accept comments from people that have already logged in to a registration system which you run on your blog – this way you can be fairly sure that they will be leaving real comments because you have effectively “pre-vetted” them.

    Which method is the best?

    All of the methods above work well from a functional level and will help to avoid the vast majority of comment spam from arriving in your posts. Therefore, when deciding which method to use, I was personally swayed by the impact that it would have on readers wanting to leave genuine comments. Basically, I wanted to make sure that it was as easy as possible for them to do so.

    Therefore, I elected to go down the specialist software route which has no impact on readers leaving comments and nothing additional for them to do – I therefore use Akismet on my blogs and those that I set-up for the businesses and individuals I work with. The results? Well, so far so good. It stops 95% of spam and also learns from all the blogs using it, so keeps up with (if not stays ahead of) the comment spammers and their methods. Overall, a big thumbs up from me.

    BTW - to make sure that you have all the information at your finger tips to make your own decision, no matter which blog platform you use, I’ll be doing a second post on the subject of comment spam next week where I will try to lay out the different options available for each platform. In the meantime, any thoughts you’d like to share on what has worked for you, then please leave a comment – a real one preferably! :)

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    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]

    I realise that this might be verging on a bit of an obsession with me, but I dislike standard generic blog templates with a passion. Just to clarify, these are the templates that are supplied as standard with the blogging software – one such example is the basic Kubrick template that comes with WordPress.

    It’s not that they are bad as such because they’re not. The trouble is that they aren’t going to help the aims of your business blog very much either and, in certain circumstances, they will actually hinder your goals.

    So what are the main reasons for avoiding the generic templates and making sure that you use a more bespoke one for your business blog?

    • Differentiate yourself – to run a successful business blog, you will need to spend time setting up and writing your blog. Let the look and feel of your blog support and promote your posts and help to differentiate them;

    • Avoid looking like a splog: “splogs” are “spam blogs” which are most often created automatically and, because of this, use the basic template that the software is supplied with. You only have a few seconds to attract a new visitor to your site so make sure you don’t give the wrong first impression;

    • Show that you care: don’t hamper the good work that you are putting into other aspects of your blog by displaying a lack of care and effort in how it looks. You want others to care about what you are writing about so show that you do as well;

    • Optimise your Information: generic templates will never optimise the information in your blog to make the most of what you are writing. To use your content properly, select the right software and then getting your template working for you;

    • Highlight your important elements: you need to use your blog layout to promote and highlight the elements which are most important to your business – get a template which displays your sign up box and your special promotions in the prime positions.

    Ideally, get a blog design which is going to fit with the aims and requirements of your company and what you want to achieve with your blog. If not, then at least choose a template which appeals to you and work with it to achieve your business objectives.


    Make sure that your blog template supports your business goals and so avoid the generic templates your software comes with!

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    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]

    Making it easy for readers to get around your blog is essential – it’s also very sensible. You put a lot of time and effort into writing your posts, so you want to make sure that they can be found easily and any associated information also highlighted to your blog readers.

    As I mentioned in the original article, if you have special elements – these could be promotions, services, products, giveaways etc. – that you are looking to highlight, then these should be positioned accordingly at the top of your blog, above the fold. This will make these elements easy to locate and additional variations to the blog, as they will no doubt vary over time as your business priorities change.

    However, the rest of your content also needs to be shown off to best effect! The main methods will be via the individual categories and the archives and, from personal experience, the categories which will be most frequently used, so make sure that they are prominently positioned.

    There are some other ways and means that you can include to help encourage people to explore your blog further and therefore allow you to gain maximum benefit from the time that you invested in your posts. Some that you might like to consider are:

    Related posts
    Link to other posts on your blog which contain information related to the post that they are currently reading they are clearly interested in the topic, so help them find more details about it. In WordPress, you can do this with a plug-in called Related Posts.

    Links in your posts
    Within your posts, reference other posts on your blog so that you make it easy for people to find them. Just as you should reference other people’s blogs in your posts as sources of additional information, theres no harm in referencing your own as well.

    Key posts
    You probably have set of key posts (which I call Foundation posts) and which contain information that is key to your services and your business in general – so highlight them, perhaps by creating a list under the heading of “Key information”. If you can’t specifically identify ones, then check your stats package for the posts that attract the most hits or appear most prominently in the Search Engines and then highlight them.

    Most Popular posts
    Check which posts attract most comments or which have the most visitors (again a plug-in can help WordPress users here) and make sure that they are highlighted so that more people can read and share them. The sidebar is a good place to create this list although you could alternatively make a special page.

    Recent Posts
    List your last 5 posts in the sidebar thus encouraging people to read your most recent (and possibly most relevant) offerings. You might avoid these on the main blog homepage as they will be visible but is great for individual post pages – a quick modification to your template will allow you to achieve this.

    Recent Comments
    With blogs being all about communication, show the last few comments in your sidebar so that people can read not only your initial posts but also the comments that your readers have taken the time to leave.

    Show Categories in the Post headers
    Include the names of the categories that the post appears in alongside the title or at the bottom of the post. It will help people to find other posts which are related and that you have categorised in the same way.

    By using these methods, you are giving additional value to your readers by helping them find further information that is relevant to them – at the same time, you are of course promoting more of your own content and so helping the marketing of your blog. As an added bonus, you are also extending the internal linking within your blog which the Search Engines will be pleased to use and give you an extra “plus point” for.


    You spend a lot of time creating good content on your blog so make sure that your Blog Design helps and encourages your readers to find it!

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    5. Business Blog Design: RSS Feeds & Subscriptions

    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]

    While Ive written on this subject before, I feel that it is worthy of inclusion again as part of the Business Blog Design series.

    It’s all about communication!

    When we talk to someone face to face, either at a personal or business level, there will be a point when the conversation turns to questions such as “what do you do?”, “where are you from?” or something akin to “what team do you support?”. Why? Because we are interested in knowing more about the people that we deal with – its in our nature

    In the same way, blogs are really all about communication too, as well as interaction and conversation. Personal blogs approach this with certain goals in mind – getting in touch with people with common interests or just wanting “to be heard” for example – while companies using business blogs have a different agenda and may be looking to generate trust, differentiate themselves and ultimately develop additional business.

    In both cases, you need to make sure that people can find out more about you … and also find you! When you are reading a business blog and find what is being said interesting, it can be very frustrating if you want to contact the person or find out where they are based only to discover that that little (but crucial) bit of information is nowhere to be seen. Not only is this frustrating but it can also be damaging from a business point of view too!

    Make your details easy to find

    So make sure that you provide your readers with a clear way of finding out about the person who is writing the blog and who they are communicating with. They’ll already have a good idea but what you write and how you write it but help them on their way – always remember to put up a profile up on your Business Blog as well as a way for your readers to get in touch with you, though of course those can be on the same page.

    If you prefer to include your details as part of your sidebar then keep it short and sweet thats part of your prime real estate that we talked about in the original post so youll have lots of business specific stuff that you also want to be highly visible there. I personally prefer a link through to a separate page where you have a little more space to include whatever details seem appropriate to you. And a photo … always remember a photo! Most of us work visually, so that help your readers picture you, even if you’re not totally comfortable with it like me.

    What to include?

    Some profiles will focus on past work and experience ( no CVS though, please), others will have more of a current focus and outline future plans. What ever you put there, try to make it personal though and don’t forget that picture as well! :) Remember that from a networking perspective, your Business Blog acts as the hub at the centre of that network – people are therefore going to be interested in the real you and what makes you tick so give them some insights into the person behind the Blog.

    You also want people to be able to contact you. They can do this by posting comments on your blog, but they may also want to get in contact with you directly. So, make sure that you also have your contact details on your blog, either as part of your profile or in a separate section or both!

    Don’t forget your legal obligations

    Finally, in Europe at least, a new law which came into force at the beginning of 2007 requires that emails and websites (and hence blogs) to display certain details about the company and/or individual that is writing them so make sure that you comply if necessary. Theres more information about this here.


    Make sure that your profile and your contact details are clearly visible on your Blog – make it easy for others to find out more about you and contact you!

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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