Saturday, August 9, 2014

Eleven Blog Best Practices

Clip board and pen
Image courtesy of Dave Crosby
Best practices

There are at least eleven aspects of web log creation the inclusion and optimization of which could be described as best practices for blog authors looking to improve their contributions to the form, grouped in three key areas: content and style (substance); layout/design, widgets, links, and informational sections (function); and title, body, labels/metadata, URL/permalink, and images (form).


Substance

Most important are the content and style of the blog’s main text, for this is where a writer establishes a connection with his or her audience. Content refers to the subject of a post and the examples and evidence used to support it; style refers to the author’s tone, objectivity, humor, punctuation, and sentence structure.

The content of the blog may be informative, argumentative, analytical, or interpretive. It might be personal or professional, factual or anecdotal, formal or conversational, Whatever the case, a blog’s content should be consistent in both theme and style, attracting a following by establishing a rapport with readers who themselves promote the blog.

Function

A blog’s utility and function are a product of the page elements and layout as well as design features that promote further exploration and sharing of the writer’s background and/or information beyond the primary content. Widgets enable a blogger to add functionality to a page by easily embedding multimedia information from outside sites; hyperlinks offer interconnectivity and point readers to sites the author has deemed noteworthy; different informational sections or pages can provide background information about the site itself, the author, or the practices adhered to on the site. The layout includes whether images, columns, links, widgets, a title, and other web page elements are appear on the blog as well as how they are formatted and where they are located.

Form

The web log form is distinguished by several elements including a large titlebody paragraphs, typically appearing in on larger column often flanked by one or two more narrow columns with additional images, information, or links; labels/metadata not always visible to the reader but able to be scanned by search engine indexing crawlers; a customizable URL/permalink for specific posts and images; and eye-catching images relevant to the subject matter that will show up if the entry is linked to in a social media site such as Pinterest, Facebook, or Google+.

Best practices

The best practices for web log creation could be summed up thus:
  1. Provide rich material that is consistent in style and theme and informative, entertaining, analytical, and/or about a specific topic that may be of interest to a target group
  2. Write in your own unique style, and be consistent with that voice
  3. Develop an attractive yet functional page layout that emphasizes your unique content while also providing functional access to additional information and resources
  4. Incorporate relevant widgets that improve your readers’ experience without overshadowing your main content
  5. Within your blog entries, provide hyperlinks to external websites that you referred to in your own content development or that would prove useful to someone interested in your topic
  6. Provide sidebar features that provide additional information about the blog itself, its author(s), and its policies. This might include an “About the Author” section, history or background information, an overview of the topic or subject matter, a disclosure policy, and/or information about copyright or creative commons policies.
  7. Develop a clear title, preferably of 70 characters or less to decrease the chance of it being cut off when it displays on a search engine results page (SERP)
  8. Employ metadata to make it easier for search engines to identify the key ideas in your writing. Blog creation sites often provide tools to facilitate the listing of keywords or labels.
  9. If possible, design a custom URL for every entry that reflects the title and contents of each post. Consider using hyphens between words to increase human readability but omitting unnecessary words like articles for brevity’s sake.
  10. Most importantly, incorporate at least one relevant image on each post. For starters, image searches often drive traffic to the pages hosting the image files. Additionally, links to your page via social media sites will include a thumbnail of one picture; having an eye-catching primary image on such third-party recommendations could boost traffic even further. Furthermore, some image-based sites such as Pinterest will be unable to showcase a writer’s material without a captivating image to display. 
  11. As a follow-up to the recommendation to incorporate an image, do so only if you have taken the picture yourself and/or own the rights to it, have permission from the copyright holder, or fulfill the terms of a creative commons license (usually just including attribution to the source; even better is to make such an attribution a hyperlink to the page the image was found on).

Post adapted from an article at my former Knowledge and New Media blog

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