The user-friendliness of blogging software has made it easy for anyone who would like to communicate with the world to do so. That explains a large part of the millions and millions of blogs that now populate the blogosphere. Others who see the moneymaking potential of blogging by adding advertisements to their blogs add to the flood. Given this cacophony, how does anyone with a serious view to express ensure that it stands above the crowd?
This post will suggest a way of doing this. You may not wish to go through the full process for every blog post you write, but when the topic is important to you, then it will be effort well spent.
Of course a large part of being visible on the Internet now means that the blog must be search visible. In other words it should appear early in the keyword search engine report pages (SERPs) that the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, MSN/Live or Ask serve up when a searcher looks for particular keywords. That is what is achieved by the process of Search Engine Optimization
Search Visible Titles
Part of this is involved with the content of the blog post. Steven Johnson
had a good article on this in the New York Times called Own Your Own Words
. A critical element here is the Title of the post. There are some differences of opinion on how best to create the Title. However a good introduction to the issues can be found in an article by Jill Whalen
entitled All About Title Tags
Online Newspaper Headlines
Traditional newspapers as they develop their online versions have had to grapple with this same challenge. For the print version of a newspaper the headline attached to an item was rarely written by the journalist who wrote the item. An editor would write an eye-catching headline that would often present the subject in a provocative and sometimes humorous fashion. Such headlines would draw the eye as the reader scanned that physical page.
Things don't work the same way online. Many viewers will rely on a search engine such as Google or Yahoo! to find items of possible interest. Such search engines do not appreciate or understand witticisms or clever plays on words. The don't care about grammar. It's only the words that count. In consequence, journalists are now learning to write headlines
or titles for their pieces that will help them stand out to the search engines.
Being search visible does not mean that a newspaper item or a blog post will turn out to be a memorable read. Filling newspapers or churning out blog posts can produce turgid prose that satisfies no one. As Darren Rowse
suggests, memorable blog posts should add value
to the blogosphere dialogue rather than merely echoing what others have said. The author should be bringing his or her own take on the subject. That isn't to say you will work hard on every blog post to make it memorable. However when you have something important to write, how do you turn it into a memorable blog post that will also be search visible.
The Golden Rule
It is important to realize that the Internet is different. There's a great deal of information already out there on any topic you care to name. This memorable blog post you're trying to create has to compete with all that pre-existing stuff. How should you start? Established practice is to think of a catchy (or even search visible) title when you have completed the article. The Golden Rule turns this on its head:
Start With The Title
You may not get the title right immediately but in this Internet age, that is where you should start.
The title is likely what many readers will pick on in a keyword search to decide that your article is what they would prefer to read first. So think what keywords a potential reader might have used to find the article. Then think of a title that features those key words and will pique the interest of the reader. Here are some examples of that:
Your first attempt may well not be the final version since this title is used to achieve the two goals we have for this article: it should be memorable and it should be search visible.
Researching The Title
In order to better understand the competition for this article, you should first do a Google Blog Search
on the title. This will show you whether others are writing on the same topic and how they are handling the topic. Perhaps if there are too many or you do not have something new to say you may immediately abandon the topic. Otherwise keep notes on the more interesting competitive articles you find.
If the topic still seems to have the capability of being memorable, then you should do a regular keyword search with your favourite search engine of that same title. The Google search is convenient since the Google Blog Search includes an additional button for the regular search. Again the results will show you whether your topic can be memorable and whether you have something new to offer. In some cases it may also be useful to do a News search if it is something the traditional media might cover. Again keep notes on the more interesting items you find.
Tuning The Topic
The research you have done will help you write a much better blog post. Good blog posts can be a launch pad for the reader in offering further ways of finding more information about the topic. If the post is sufficiently well written, it may even become an 'authority' web page because of the quality of its hyperlinks to other relevant and related items.
Knowing what has been written already, helps in determining how you can bring a new view on the topic. Again this all helps in making this a memorable blog post for the reader. It will also be clearer what keywords seem to come up in the field. For a sufficiently important blog post, you may even decide to do some keyword research to see how often people click on the various keywords that are used.
Writing The Blog Post
With all this research you are now well placed to write the post. You have the title, you have some important keywords that are used in the field and you have some links to other important references. It now comes down to applying your good writing skills so that you present your ideas in the most compelling and attractive way.
It's always good to have an introductory paragraph that suggests what the item will cover, and also a closing paragraph that summarises what has been said. Both of these should feature the important keywords. These keywords should also appear at an appropriate frequency throughout the article. Google and the other major search engines do take into account synonyms of these keywords so these alternate words can be used. The total effect should mean that the reader is unaware that there has been a subtle reinforcement of the keywords.
If you analyse the quality of most blog posts, you will find that they are not very good at applying the rules we have set out above. If you do, then there is a good chance that your memorable blog post will rank well with the search engines and will be selected by that human searcher as their preferred read.
If you have any comments on, or modifications to, this approach, please add them so that we can all benefit.