Blogging is a powerful tool that can help you promote your business, artwork, and ideas. Many people use blogs to communicate, share the latest news stories and trends, and provide information about their brands. As with all things internet-based, there’s a bit of art and some science to creating a blog with meaningful, entertaining content that people visit regularly. Keep reading to learn more about how blogs work, their benefits, and some common blogging terms.
Image via Flickr by dimnikolov
A blog is an online journal or an informational website with a variety of posts or articles. Most blogs display the latest posts first, and they let you search for earlier content. When blogs started in the early 1990s, they were more like personal diaries that people shared with the world. The word “blog” is an abbreviation of “weblog,” a term for a website that posts updates often. According to FirstSiteGuide, there are 31.7 million bloggers in the United States, and 77% of people read blogs online regularly.
A blog can focus on just one subject or cover a wide range of topics, and you can find blogs about pretty much everything, from hobbies to home improvement to career development. Many people post new content every day, and some bloggers post even more often. Along with text, blogs can contain images, videos, animated GIFs, and even scans or photos of old physical journals or other documents. People sometimes call blogs with lots of video content vlogs.
While blogs get frequent updates, other websites may not change as often. Some sites have a blog section that gets new posts regularly even if the rest of the website stays mostly the same. Many blogs also promote reader engagement by asking people to comment on what they read, share it on social media, and discuss it with others. However, some blogs are only for personal use or for a limited group of friends or subscribers. Most blogs include:
Each blog post usually shows a publishing date, the name of the author, and a short summary of the category or subject it discusses. You can click on it to see the entire post.
Blogging is the collection of skills that someone needs to run and supervise a blog successfully. It includes building a web page with all the tools needed to make writing, posting online, linking to other sites, and sharing content easy.
The blogosphere is a collective community composed of all blogs and blog authors. The most notable and widely read blogs are particularly important parts of the blogosphere. Since all blogs are on the Internet by definition, they’re connected with each other through links and comments. The media sometimes uses posts from bloggers and comments from users to gauge popular opinions, and Internet marketers often keep an eye on the blogosphere to spot emerging trends and take advantage of them.
Blogs can help businesses improve customer satisfaction levels and keep clients and customers up to date. When more people visit your blog, your brand will receive more exposure. Providing people with useful information also makes your brand more trustworthy to potential customers. Individuals can start blogs as well, and a good blog can actually become profitable on its own.
Many people start blogging as a side gig or hobby, and your blog can be whatever you want to make it. You can post pictures from your latest fishing excursion and let people from around the world share your adventures, or you can share the first chapter of your awesome novel and ask readers to download the rest as an eBook. An entertaining blog attracts lots of visitors, and you can monetize it through ads or use it to direct people to your online or physical store.
You can also use a blog to share your thoughts and showcase your creativity, talents, and skills. An outstanding blog can help you become an authority in your industry and network with others who work in the same field. Many nonprofit organizations and political blogs use their platforms to influence popular opinion as well.
There are several types of blogs. Many newspapers, universities, advocacy groups, and other organizations host multi-author blogs (MABs) with multiple contributors. That way, they can share the opinions of all the experts on a subject. These blogs are also called collaborative or group blogs.
Microblogging on platforms like Twitter features very short posts, and these posts are often called bloglets. Blogs with short posts and several types of media are called tumblelogs. Edublogging means creating instructional or educational blogs. A podcast is an audio blog similar to a radio talk show, and autocasting is an automated form of podcasting. It lets bloggers generate audio versions of their text blog posts and post them on the right podcast platform.
A personal blog is made by just one person. Personal blogs are usually only read by friends and family members, but a few personal bloggers have gained lucrative sponsorships and become widely popular. Aggregated blogs or blog farms provide links to content about a specific topic from many websites. That way, readers can get the best content without having to search for it. People sometimes call this a linklog because it’s mostly composed of links to other sites. A site with mostly sketches is called a sketchblog, and one with photos is a photoblog.
A corporate blog is only accessible to the employees of a company, and it can help increase morale and reduce turnover. An organizational blog is run by a nonprofit, a business, or a government organization. For example, around tax time, many people depend on the IRS website for the latest news about tax deadline extensions, how to file, and which tax credits are available. Blogs can also come in several other genres, including:
In order to create a successful blog, you’ll need to understand some common blogging terms, such as:
This service shows ads on your site for you, which means you won’t need to spend time finding advertisers for your blog. You can customize the types of ads you want to show and generate revenue so that you can keep creating great content. Signing up is free. However, you won’t be able to communicate with advertisers directly.
Google AdSense takes care of finding ads that your blog’s viewers will like, displaying them, and collecting payments from advertisers. They send you most of those payments and keep a small percentage for themselves. Advertisers either pay per click or per impression, or view, that their ads receive.
A landing page is where a person lands after clicking on a link in an ad, an email newsletter, or another blog. This is different from the homepage, which is the page that shows up when people type in the address of a website. While a homepage tries to give visitors as much information as possible, a landing page attempts to accomplish a specific goal.
Designing a landing page is an effective way for you to build your brand and enhance your blogging efforts. For example, you might want to promote your store’s annual back-to-school sale. When people arrive at the landing page, they can enter their email address to earn a coupon code. With the coupon code, they’ll get a link to the latest blog post, “Back-to-School Styles That Will Last All Year,” where they can learn about children’s clothing options that can resist wear, tear, stains, and tumbles.
The landing page can generate leads, inform them, and get their email to continue providing them with relevant content. If you’re promoting a new product or a special event, using ads and links to direct people to a landing page can be more effective than sending them to a homepage.
Every good landing page has a call to action (CTA) that asks readers to take an action. This prompts the conversions that every business needs, creating new customers. Here are some examples of calls to action:
These simple messages are designed to convert leads to customers, build your brand, and expand your business.
A case study is a formal review of your product or service. It’s a fact-based account of a problem that someone encountered, how your business solved it, and what the result was. Case studies show readers real-world examples of your expertise using data, visuals, and client testimonials.
They’re much more effective than typical four-star reviews where a customer simply says “I love this product;” and they provide meaningful, engaging content. For example, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) could publish a case study demonstrating how it upgraded the phone system for a business, provided a secure connection, and helped employees stay engaged and productive.
Today, online networking is just as important as face-to-face networking, and online avenues can help you promote your blog, business, and brand. Businesses, industry insiders, and other influencers often link to each other’s websites in an effort to put their expertise at the top of everyone’s minds. Online networking can also open and create a dialogue between your brand and the people in your industry and create new opportunities for cross-promotion. For example, a bakery and an event center located near each other could link to each other’s blogs, benefiting both parties.
A/B testing is comparing two different versions of content to find the best match for different audiences. You can use A/B testing to compare different subject lines for email marketing or see which types of blog titles are most effective at getting viewers. For example, you might find that how-to articles, titles with questions, or those with colons or dashes do better than others.
Analytics is sometimes called marketing analytics or marketing data analytics. It involves measuring and analyzing data to determine how successful your blog is, and it’s closely related to A/B testing. Analytics can give you the information you need to maximize the effectiveness of advertising or publicity campaigns. It can help you learn about new trends and act on them as soon as possible.
Along with blogs, you can use analytics to assess the effectiveness of billboards, TV ads, and other types of marketing. Google Analytics lets bloggers measure the amounts of traffic their blogs receive, where those readers come from, their demographics, and other information.
An affiliate is a blogger who uses affiliate marketing or is part of a referral or revenue sharing program that compensates the affiliate in return for recommending a product or service to their audience. Affiliate marketers earn commissions by promoting products on their blogs via affiliate programs.
An avatar is a thumbnail image used to represent a blogger online. It can be a small picture of their face, a cartoon, or a drawing. Many bloggers use an avatar at the top or bottom of their page. They usually place it next to their name and a short biography. Some companies use the business’s logo as an avatar instead. A gravatar, which stands for globally recognized avatar, is an avatar for a guest poster.
This is the text that a reader clicks on when you use a link. Choosing relevant anchor text makes people more likely to click on links.
Alt text or alternative text is a word or phrase that tells readers and search engines about the content of an image. It makes searching easier and helps people with vision problems understand blogs and other websites.
Many people use blog hosting software to create a machine-readable version of each blog post in an RSS- or XML-based format for content syndication and further distribution throughout the Internet.
Readers who follow the links in a blog post often end up blog hopping, which means jumping from blog to blog. People sometimes call this falling down an Internet rabbit hole because it’s easy to get lost in a series of links that lead to other blogs with engaging content.
A bot or bot account is an automated social media account that’s often used to leave spam comments on blogs. Bots can also boost the number of followers that a blog seems to have.
A backlink is a link on another website that points to a post or page on your blog. Many bots post backlinks to attract more people to visit certain blogs.
The bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit just one page on your website before leaving. A high bounce rate means your readers aren’t as engaged as they could be.
This is a sensational or misleading headline that persuades readers to click on it or share it. Clickbait can attract new readers to your blog, but those people won’t become repeat visitors if the content doesn’t continue to be interesting after the headline.
The click-through rate (CTR) measures the percentage of people who click on an ad or promotion and then arrive at your blog. People use the CTR to measure the success of an online advertising campaign and find out how well the keywords in your ad campaign are performing. However, a high click-through rate doesn’t always ensure a good conversion rate.
CAPTCHA is short for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart. Bloggers use this technology to tell humans and bots apart and make sure that only humans can post comments and take similar actions.
People can often get a content upgrade, also called a lead magnet, in exchange for signing up to an email list or paying a monthly subscription fee. A content upgrade is usually closely related to the topic discussed in the article it’s mentioned in. It might be a free course, a template, a worksheet, an eBook, or another type of content that elaborates on the blog’s topic.
This is the percentage of visitors to your blog who become customers or complete a similar success metric, like subscribing to an email newsletter. A high conversion rate means that your blog is successful at persuading people to become customers.
The cost per click (CPC) is how much you spend on average to receive each click on an ad platform like Google AdSense.
The cost per mille (CPM) is the amount of money you spend for every 1,000 impressions or views that one of your advertisements receives.
The amount of direct traffic you receive is the number of people who type in your blog’s URL or web address directly, navigating straight to it without clicking on any links or ads.
The dashboard is the behind-the-scenes area of your blog where you can take care of tasks like uploading blog content, installing plugins, and making visual or stylistic changes.
Deep linking or internal linking is linking to other pages or posts on your blog. This encourages readers to spend more time looking at your content.
Evergreen content is designed to stay relevant for years. It usually doesn’t mention dates, making it seem current no matter when people read it. It’s usually very thorough and in-depth as well.
The image that’s displayed for a website on your browser’s tab. It’s a small thumbnail, and many companies use the organization’s logo.
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It’s a popular way to download or upload files from or to a server.
This is a visual that helps break down complex information. It can have several images and blocks of text. Many infographics include charts or graphs as well.
Keyword research is the process of finding keywords that your readers search for and adding them to your blog. This increases your website’s ranking in search engine results. Several keyword research tools are available, including Google Keyword Planner, Twinword Ideas, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, and Moz Keyword Explorer.
This is a list-based blog post with several items on the list.
Long-tail keywords are phrases with three, four, or more words. They’re usually related to a very specific, narrow topic, and adding them to your blog can help you attract highly targeted readers.
This is a document that contains relevant statistics about your blog and its audience. You can use it to persuade companies to sponsor your blog.
A meta description describes the content of a blog post for search engines, and it sometimes appears in the text underneath titles on search results pages.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of using keywords to increase search engine rankings and drive traffic to a blog.
This type of content is designed to be extremely informative. It’s usually longer, and it has a long-term appeal to readers.
With a good blog, you can promote your brand without needing to spend additional money. Providing good content will also make your company more trustworthy to new and existing customers.
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