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How to run a successful blog

How to run a successful blog

By Sean Riley, CEO of Ad Dynamo

Blogs are big business. BlogPulse reports an estimated 150 million blogs existed on the internet in 2010 and this is a number that’s growing every day. How many of these can be classed as successful is obviously subjective. In my opinion, the recipe for success is pretty simple and I’ve tried to spell it out here through four key lessons:

Lesson 1: Stay committed

Most blogs don’t last more than a few weeks. They begin with gusto and regular postings, and inevitably fizzle out to a few arbitrary intermittent posts. If you launch a blog you need to understand that there are millions of other websites out there and it will take time to be noticed and to build up a respectable audience base. A blog needs regular posts with substance. Up late one night and have some ideas? Write them up and keep them for a rainy day – there’ll always be periods when you feel you have nothing of great importance to say, and having a few unpublished posts on hand is always handy to keep the content coming! Remember that every piece of content you generate stands you in good stead for your search listings – when it comes to content, search engines like volume so every posting is an investment towards establishing a prominent online presence for your blog.

Lesson 2: You’re not the press

If I want the news, I visit press websites – they give me factual, edited, accurate content. When I read a blog, I’m looking for un-sanitised content that represents your perspective or that of your business and opinions on the subject matter. Express your opinions, be controversial, surprise me and engage me in ways that the traditional press never will.

Lesson 3: Understand traffic and traffic sources

A few search engine optimisation skills will help establish your blog quicker – understanding what drives traffic to your website and how to leverage this is a key skill that any blogger should develop. There are four key factors that contribute to your blog’s visibility on search engines:

1.    Content

2.    Tech

3.    Competition

4.    Saturation

The first two are internal factors that you have control of – fortunately tech is less and less of an issue as most popular blogging platforms take care of this for you. The way you structure your content is a key consideration however – hyperlinked terms are more heavily weighted in ranking your website on search engines – so keywords that you would like to achieve a ranking for would ideally be hyperlinked to other posts within your blog.

The latter two are external factors that affect your visibility. Competition refers to how many other websites are competing for visibility for the same keywords – you may do everything right but if there are 10,000 competitors maintaining their blogs just as well, you’re going to have a tough time being found. Saturation refers to the number of mentions and links to your blog on third party websites. The more often your blog is referenced by way of a hyperlink, the more importance will be assigned to your blog by search engines.

Make use of web analytics tools to evaluate the countries, traffic sources, and keywords contributing to your blogs’ traffic. Adapt your content strategy based on keywords that have significant search volume but less competition. Very often it makes sense to target a search engine ranking for a slightly less popular keyword within your subject area – a #1 ranking for a less popular keyword will very often mean more to your blog than a #35 ranking for a very popular keyword. If you receive a fair amount of referrals from a particular site, establish a relationship with that site to ensure that you continue to enjoy the traffic referrals.

Lesson 4: Monetising your blog

Most bloggers aim to monetise their blogs with advertising. If your blog supports your business and your aim is to engage potential and existing customers, do not place ads on your blog. If your blog is aimed at generating an income for you in its own right, then advertising is a good means of generating revenue.

As an advertising network, we have learnt that blogs with less ads make more money, which is great news for the blogger.There is an opportunity to generate good revenue whilst maintaining the tone and aesthetics of your site through minimal ad placements.

Finally, we find that content-embedded text ads perform really well – in other words, ad units positioned midway through an article perform better than other ad placements. Remember that your choice of ad network should also depend on which countries you receive the most traffic from – most ad networks have particular markets that they’re strong in. It also pays to rotate ad units between different ad networks to constantly evaluate revenue yields – and using the channel eCPM is the best universal metric to gauge performance.


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