Friday, January 8, 2010 , Posted by Johnny Fuery at 1:16 AM
Originally Published 2007-04-09 18:37:53
- Create a sitemap and submit it to Google Webmaster Tools and the equivalent toolkit over at Yahoo! (login is required for both). A sitemap is an XML file that describes all of the URLs available on your site. You can check out sitemaps.org for more info. If you use WordPress like I do, you can use the Google Sitemaps plugin
- Show your love by linking liberally. Love your fellow bloggers, and they'll love you back. A link to the latest Wired Magazine article or a recent Apple press release will probably go unnoticed, but reference a fellow blogger, and chances are they'll at least come visit you to see what you're all about. Plus this helps the web become a better place and tends to improve your content, not unlike how including a million citations in your last research paper helped you become a better writer. And, as everyone agrees, content is king.
- Use pingbacks and trackbacks. You'll know who is talking about you by enabling pingbacks. A pingback is generated (by default in every blogging platform I've ever used) when you actively link to another blogger within your post. A trackback is simply an acknowledgment. Because a trackback doesn't contain the verification step (i.e., was there a linkback or wasn't there?), they are more prone to spam and therefore typically less effective, because many bloggers simply turn off trackback notification. Still, including URLs in the trackback field of your blogging application is still a somewhat effective way of acknowledging your fellow bloggers with similar ideas and/or interests. It is also a great way to get noticed. Problogger has a relevant trackback anecdote.
- Comment on the blogs you read. If you don't have much to say, find new blogs to read that you can comment on. Blog owners notice comments. Blog readers notice comments. Many bloggers even provide some linkback love to "top commentators". (Yes, there's a wordpress plugin for showcasing commentators. It's my list of things to do for Smart Guy.) You've joined the blogosphere by blogging, now engage in the social aspects of it by engaging in active discussion.
- Write good titles. Controversy sparks discussion, so if you have some thoughtful analysis (and here's hoping you do), don't hide it underneath lame, boring, uninteresting post headings. Search Engines (google), people (you and me), and the aggregators (digg, stumbleupon) all notice headings over almost all else. Well, no, that's not true, but you're not going to get the attention required to get the reader engaged enough to even click-through to the full blog entry in the first place with a boring title. Need an example? "Google Musings" is a bad title. "Why Google's ever-growing power is bad for everyone and 'do no evil' is just a marketing slogan" is better. See?
- Spend some time on site optimization. How fast does your page load? Does your site presentation match your content? For instance, if you're blogging about toys, having an uber-professional, not-much-fun site with a gothic look and feel probably doesn't make much sense. If you blog mostly about how much House Music kicks tail (and no, that doesn't mean techno, dammit!), then maybe having a rotating flickr widget prominently displaying your two year old's birthday party isn't the most audience-focused idea. (That being said, it's your blog, so take this with a grain of salt. Lord knows I wrote for an audience of one for years.)
- Take it easy with the site monetization. Ads cause sites to load more slowly. In-your-face ads can turn off readers, old and new alike. Ads can make it seem like you don't care about your readers, and readers like to be cared about. My point? Ads should be used with balance. One of my best friends checked my blog recently, for instance, and after commenting positively on the site redesign, said "you really went wild with the ads! Top, right, and bottom?" And he would read anyway -- which just goes to show you that finding balance is a constant struggle. With your ad rotation, not just your habit of blogging instead of sleeping!
- Write good content. Compel, inspire, even (once in awhile) infuriate. Strike a chord. Light up your audience. This is #8 because, well, it doesn't count as a tip. You better be doing this already or the other seven don't really matter a whole heck of a lot.