It’s been known for a while now that having a blog and writing on it consistently is a great way to attract your ideal clients and communicate your knowledge of the industry you work in. Your blog can serve as a portfolio of past clients, a trophy case of awards and achievements won, and a helpful guide for clients to get started using your products or services.
But there’s more to writing a blog post than just typing some words and clicking “Publish”.
As you can probably tell when you log into whatever blog publishing tool you use, whether it be WordPress, Squarespace, Medium, or another, there’s a ton of information you can use to track and manage your blog. Are you taking advantage of everything you could be using?
#1: Categories and Tags
One thing that I see quite frequently with blogs that are not fully developed yet is the misuse or disuse of categories and tags. Categories and tags are the easiest way for you to group your blog posts (especially if you talk about more than one topic), and are a quick way for visitors to search for more posts that are relevant to what they’re looking for.
I always like to think of Categories as the big picture subjects. It’s how you sort topics on your website so people can find the information they’re looking for. It’s also great for yourself too if you’re struggling with what to write about. With set Categories, you know what your audience has come to know from you.
Tags, on the other hand, are the smaller topics that I talk about within the post. Contrary to popular belief, they are not really for external purposes. Unlike hashtags on Instagram or other social media platforms, tags on your website are for internal structure. They’re smaller things you might be mentioning that cross over multiple categories that people might be using to search for. Examples could be popular brands you write about, styles of posts, or other ways to sort your posts when they don’t fit into a specific category.
Why are categories and tags important? It’s not just for internal structure – this is information that your readers will see on the top or bottom of your post. Making it easy for people to continue browsing your site means that they will continue to read if they find something that interests them. The cycle continues with every page they land on!
I use WordPress, and one of the first plugins I downloaded for my site was Yoast SEO, and I have implemented it on every page.
A little refresher, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), is at its core a way to structure the data on each of your webpages so that search engines, like Google, know what’s on the page. This is ridiculously important because if someone searches for something related to your business, Google needs to know that your page is relevant to their search query and offer it as a link. The more relevant Google thinks your page is, the higher in the search rankings it’ll show up.
For example, if someone searches for “best ice cream Toronto”, and you’ve got an ice cream store in Toronto, setting the SEO so that the focus keyword of one of your pages is that long-tail keyword tells Google that your page is all about the best ice cream in Toronto.
Why is this important to your blog? Having good SEO means that it will be easier to find you through ways other than your own promotional efforts. Someone could stumble upon your website via Google without you having to directly send them to a specific page. (This is called organic traffic).
The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress specifically lets you see how your page will look in search engines, both on Desktop and Mobile, so you can directly control what is shown to potential website visitors. It also gives you a rating via a traffic sign whether your SEO could use some work, if it’s ok, or if it’s good to go.
For other platforms such as Shopify or Squarespace, basic SEO options are built into the platform.
#3: Excerpt and Featured Image
You want your content to be share worthy, right? You want it to look amazing, no matter what platform it’s being shared on, and understandably so!
Having a custom excerpt and featured image set are important for two reasons. First of all, this information has the potential to be displayed on your website, depending on the theme you’ve chosen. Excerpts are small summaries, usually 1-2 sentences, about the blog post (or page). In my theme for example, this excerpt is shown on the main blog page. If I didn’t have a custom excerpt, the first few lines of the blog post would show instead, probably trailing off with an ellipsis (the three dots – …). The first couple sentences of the blog post probably don’t give a good overview of the subject of the post, and it doesn’t look the most professional in my opinion. Excerpts are also the text that is shown as a preview for a lot of social media platforms.
Featured images are also used both on your site and for social media. Gone are the days of just sharing a link with no context – people except both a custom image for that post and a quick summary of what it’s about. Just like your excerpt, the featured photo is also shown on social media platforms, so it’s important that the images work at many different sizes.