7 Features Every Blog Needs to Build an Audience

Aug 30, 2018


BEST PRACTICES SERIES

Every online business needs a blog. Online audiences want to see content—they need information, entertainment, data, and raw material that they can use for their own interests or to help them make a buying decision before they start to trust your brand. But not all blogs are created equal, and simply creating a blog page for your website and adding a few posts isn’t nearly enough to ensure your content marketing campaign’s success.

When you get things started, you need to include these seven features—at a minimum—to lay the groundwork for your online brand:

  1. Share icons. Social media is how one piece of content on one isolated site can explode in popularity and get seen by many. When a person shares a piece of your content on social media, all their followers become an extension of your audience, and if one of them shares it further, your audience begins to multiply. The only way to get people to share your content, however, is to make it easy for them. Include prominent, visible, functional share buttons for at least the “big three” platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), and include them on the side and at the footer of your blog for every post
  2. Comments. The best blogs are ones that inspire discussion. When one person comments, it shows the effect your post has on people, and encourages others to do the same. With a long content thread, you’ll start attracting outsiders to your post, and you’ll instantly make an impression on them. Plus, you’ll get the chance to respond and connect with your readers on a conversational level. The only way to do this is to enable comments on your blog. Most template sites include this by default, but make sure you don’t have comments disabled, and test the feature before you go live.
  3. Feed subscriptions. RSS feeds, simply put, are a way to aggregate, sort, and subscribe to content you like online. Millions of people are using RSS readers as a way to manage all the web content they hope to keep up with, so including RSS subscription options on your blog is a good way to get their attention. Every person who subscribes will start seeing more of your posts on a regular basis, meaning you’ll have an instant shortcut to reader retention (as long as your content is worth reading). More subscriptions also attract more attention to your blog, resulting in a long-term feedback loop.
  4. Great navigation or search. When you first start out, a search feature may not seem that important, but once you get rolling with 100 or more posts, a search function becomes more and more necessary. Each post you write is valuable, so you want to make sure your inbound traffic is able to find anything they’re looking for. A search bar gives them this functionality. For example, a user can type a keyword into your on-site search and instantly find several articles that cover the subject matter. If you’re somehow unable to include a search bar on your site, you can offer an intuitive system of categorization, sub-categorization, and navigation as a substitute.
  5. Outside authority. Before people start respecting your blog’s credibility, you’ll have to have some kind of outside influence. The easiest way to get this is a handful of off-site links from more established blogs. Offer some guest content of your own and point back to your site—this will send some referral traffic your way, but will also increase your domain authority, increasing your site’s rank in search engines. Failing that, you can get outside bloggers with a known reputation to offer guest posts on your blog. The name recognition and extra publicity should net you some extra traffic to start things up.
  6. Email signups. Email signups aren’t explicitly necessary to attract an initial audience, but if you want to make the most of the people who are coming to your blog, this is the best way to do it. Include a signup form prominently at the side or bottom of your individual blog pages, and if your visitors like your content, they’ll happily sign up. From there, you can send out content recap emails (or other forms of email marketing) to keep your followers abreast of new updates and keep your brand top of mind.
  7. Consistency. Consistency is the key to getting any blog up and running because it lets people know exactly what to expect. Your topics have to be more or less consistent in a given niche. Your brand voice has to be consistent. Your design and layout choices have to be consistent. Even your post timing has to have a degree of consistency. When people know what to expect, they’ll be far more likely to check back for new updates, and as they become more familiar with your brand, they’ll learn to trust you more. That means more traffic and more customers in the long run.

These features only lay the groundwork for your blog to be successful. If you want to attract the largest audience and earn the greatest reputation for your brand, you need to ensure that all the content you produce for it is top-notch.

Use original research, multiple different formats, stylistic writing, proper formatting, and unique insights to add power to each of your individual posts. With quality content and all the features listed above, you should have no problem building an audience from scratch through your blog.


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