Vaspers the Grate has an interesting experiment going looking at the last 5 titles on a variety of his favorite blogs. Steven writes:
‘I’m of the opinion that the title of your post is the most important text of the post.
If the post title is not good, many potential readers and RSS subscribers may just skip it. The post title is also vital for search engine optimization, and for grabbing the attention of blog surfers.’
The list of blogs he examines is a good one in itself (there are some great blogs there (not just because ProBlogger.net appears either).
I agree with Steven that the title of your post is crucial in a successful blog on a number of fronts:
- SEO – search engines head straight to your title to determine what it is about and how to rank it.
- Search Engine referrals – your title is usually what is listed in Search engines and is an opportunity to hook people in.
- RSS referrals – people scan their News Aggregators looking for the posts that captivate and intrigue
- Loyal Readers – Even those that bookmark your site and log on regularly to look at what you’re writing scan your page. Titles are attention grabbers that can pause their scanning and make them actually read what you have to say.
I know a lot of bloggers try to get quirky, cryptic and creative with their titles – I personally have nothing against this – but over the past two years have decided that it’s probably not the best way of attracting readers considering the above four points.
Rather I tend to go for a descriptive post that tells the reader what the post is about. I also aim to put the keywords I think people will be searching for for such a post in the title and make it as sharp and to the point as possible.
Of course rules are made to be broken – and the intriguing cryptic title can work from time to time – however if you use them too much you might just find your readers get frustrated with you and stop dropping by to see what that latest post is all about.
This is the second part of a post on extending the life of Evergreen posts. Take a look at the first part here.
Related Articles – Many Bloggers use a ‘related articles’ feature in at the bottom of each of their posts. In most cases these are automated links from a plug in. WordPress and Movable Type both have such plugins available.
Once again such a strategy is good for both getting readers to go deeper within your site and for your search engine optimization.
Deep linking within posts – Similarly deep linking is an effective strategy. To actually refer to previously written evergreen posts within an article (where relevant) is another strategy that you should consider. This could be more effective than a ‘related articles’ feature simply because you have a bit more control about their positioning and the links that you highlight. Also people are more likely to take an ‘in content’ link recommendation than an automated one – it will also mean that the links is a highly relevant one – which SE’s tend to like.
Site Maps and Highlighting Categories – Whilst these may not specifically increase the profile of Evergreen posts – highlighting other key pages on your site (categories especially) helps to generate repeat page views and assists the Search Engines in indexing your blog. What you should be aiming for is that a reader or SE bot should be able to navigate to any page on your blog within two or three clicks. The simplest way to do this is to have your categories listed in your sidebar or menu and to use a pagination system (the little numbers at the bottom of this page that lead you to different sets of older posts).
What I’m really highlighting here are different ways in which you can interlink your site whilst highlighting your key pages.
So take a surf through your archives and make note of the underrated evergreen posts that you find and consider finding places on your blog to highlight them. You might be surprised what impact it has.
Feel free to share what strategies you use to highlight your evergreen posts in comments below.
Last week I wrote about the nature of two types of blog posting in Evergreen vs Time Related Posts (or posts that are long lasting in their relevance and appeal to readers versus posts that are time or event specific). I wrote that each can be profitable forms of blogging – but I failed to give any tips on how to get the most from your Evergreen Posts.
One of the best ways in which you can lengthen the longevity of your posts and take them to ‘evergreen status’ is to be smart about how you integrate them into your blog.
Let’s look at how most blogs operate.
- You write a wonderful post with evergreen potential and hit ‘publish’ – your post appears in the prime position of your blog – front and centre where anyone coming to your blog will see it. At this point it will be read by virtually everyone who comes to your home page.
- You write another post an hour, day or week later and your evergreen post begins its decent down your page. You might allow 10 posts on your blog’s main page and so after 10 new posts it slips away into another blogging dimension – your archives.
- At this point your post drastically reduces its chances of ever being read again in large numbers – it is out of site to your readers and because its no longer on your main page the chances of search engines sending traffic its way decrease also.
So what is a blogger to do? Is there a way (short of letting your main page contain 100 posts – and slowing to a crawl) of keeping your wonderful post in the spotlight?
I’d like to suggest that there are a number of ‘in house/on blog’ strategies that smart bloggers use to increase the life of their evergreen posts (note there are also off blog strategies that I won’t go into here). Let me outline a few before I invite your opinion:
Wayne writes a good post on the topic of follow up posts:
‘Returning to a previous ongoing controversy or concept, provides a useful and interesting source, of blog post ideas. Often your longer term readership will appreciate finding out more information on an idea previously presented in your blog.
Blog SEO efforts are also enhanced, by picking up previous themes or topics, and running with them in several new directions.
Followup posts are ideal for political, legal, and sports blogs. Each those blog categories is ideally suited to continuing column ideas. Most regular readers will be very intrigued as to how the initial case, policy, or game under discussion, was resolved.’
Nice post again Wayne I’m sure I’ll write more about this – in a later post…
Stephan Spencer writes a good simple tip on keywords.
‘To rank for the most generic (yet still relevant) keyword possible, your page content needs to be focused on one (or possibly a couple, but certainly no more than three) central keyword theme. Each page of your site should “sing” its own unique “song” (keyword theme) to the search engines.’
This is one of the key pieces of advice I am constantly giving bloggers. The way I look at is that each Blog should be focused on a niche – but that each post (page) within it should focus in on a sub-niche of the larger one.
To take Stephan’s ‘song’ analogy – see your blog as a compilation album (I’m thinking of some of my 80’s CDs) that is a collection of songs on a larger theme. Each song (post) has its own characteristics and focus that tie into a larger theme.
Whilst there is a place for the larger post that is a little more general in topic – its can often be more effective to break such posts up into smaller ones (a series if you like) and make each part focus upon one element (keyword).
I finally got around to listening to the last third of the Business Blog Roundtable and was struck with one of the comments that Stephan Spencer (I think it was his voice) said about evergreen versus time related posts.
I’d not actually thought of my blogs and the posts in them in these terms before but on reflection find the classification very helpful.
Evergreen posts are ones that don’t lose their relevancy over time. You write them today and they will be as helpful to readers in a few months (or even years) time – for example my Adsense for Bloggers series is one of these – the first incarnation of these posts was over 12 months ago but they remain among the most popular posts on this site.
Time related posts tend to be more news related – or are often tied to an event in time. For example a couple of days ago I posted that Weblogs Inc. are testing Google’s RSS ads in their feeds. This post was relevant the day I wrote it and generated a little traffic, however in a week it will be ‘old news’.
So which is best? The obvious answer to this question is that it depends upon the topic or strategy of your blog. Both types of posts (and a combination of them) can be very powerful (and profitable) in different contexts and there are different pros and cons of each one.
Let’s tease this out a little more and make a few observations about each type of post:
Search Engine Guide has 7 Tips for Generating Effective Web Content which might help those wanting to improve their quality of content:
- Write customer focused content that appeals to your audience.
- If performing SEO – Focus on writing for the human reader first and search engines second.
- Find out what your target audience’s are really searching for.
- Tips for triggering idea generation
- Creating content that speaks to a specific audience
- Remember to include strong calls to action
- Search engine optimization the stress free approach
It is pretty basic stuff – but I’d echo the advice given in most points. I’m a particular believer in getting in the shoes of your blog’s readership. Start with your readership in mind instead of the search engine robots and you’ll not only end up ranking well but will help some people along the way.
Talk to your readers and find out what makes them tick – and as you do you’ll begin to see your subject matter from their perspective. What are their challenges, problems, questions – make these the basis of your posting and you’ll build a successful and popular blog.
The hottest post on ProBlogger at the moment is Adsense Developing Fully Customizable Ads Blocks? due to it being picked up by a number of reputable blogs, forums and websites around the web. It is an illustration of what a ‘scoop’ (of sorts) can do for your ability to find new readers for your blog.
I’m always fascinated to follow the referral stats and trackbacks to the sources of those who are linking up to my posts to see what their take on a story is. In this case I’ve been surprised to see a number of blogs simply reposting my story virtually word for word. Some have been good enough to put quote marks around it others have not with some introductory comments – others have not. All have at least included a link back to the source.
I personally don’t mind being quoted (its part of what blogging is about) or even occasionally having one of my short posts posted in full – but recently have wondered if the art of linking up in an appropriate manner has been lost.
Here is what I consider to be etiquette when linking to a post that someone else has written: