3 blog basics for authors – The bare bones of a powerful blog

You want fans and potential readers to find your blog and have a great time when they get there.

As an author there are all sorts of common sense things you can do to make sure your blogging efforts keep search engines happy and attract the right amount of attention, from the right people.

Here are three of the best:

1.     Joining the dots – is your blog on your author site’s url?

Where does your blog live? Does it sit on the same url as your main website or is it on a separate url, on Typepad, Blogger or WordPress.com? If you want your blog to act as a powerful marketing tool, it should sit on your main site’s url.

Why? Because when it’s somewhere else, that somewhere else gets all the SEO and marketing benefit – the extra traffic, shares, likes and inbound links – and your website gets next to nothing.

What to do? If your blog is separate from your site, you can migrate its contents lock, stock and barrel to your author site’s url.

2.     Clever blog categories – Have you gone too far?

Categories store topics logically and tags take the pain out of searching. Search engines like organised blogs. So do people, which makes the wise use of categories a must.

Categories are different from tags. They’re top level stuff, very like the sections in a newspaper: sport, business, entertainment, financial stuff, letters and so on.

Logic says blog categories should reflect your key terms. If you’re an SEO-focused copywriter with lots of marketing experience your categories might be copywriting, marketing and SEO. If you’re a thriller writer they might be new crime novels and about crime writing.

  • Put your category list somewhere prominent so visitors can find it at a glance
  • Use a maximum of five categories to help you organise your posts and people find the specific subjects they’re interested in. A long list only leads to analysis paralysis, where someone faced with too much choice goes into a spin and gives up
  • Create categories based on things like your products, subject matter or areas of expertise
  • Every category should incorporate just one broad-brush subject
  • Use categories everyone will understand at a glance– it’s no good being overly clever or mysterious, your aim is 100% clarity
  • Don’t allocate posts to more than one category

As you can see, this post lives in my Blogging category.

3.     Tagging like a pro – Are you lost in tagging space?

Tags are like keywords. It’s their job to make it easier for readers to find the posts they’re interested in. They also give search engines valuable clues about how to classify and rank your post and useful insights into what your site as a whole is about. So tag posts with relevant keywords. For example I’ve used the tags blog, tag clouds & categories.

  • Don’t use the same key terms for tags and categories – it’ll only confuse people
  • Make tags a maximum of three words long
  • The nice people at WordPress say the aim of tagging is to use the least number of tags per post to accurately describe the content, so there’s no need to go mad. As Google’s Matt Cutts says, “The most common mistake new bloggers make is assigning an excessive combined number of categories and tags to any post.”
  • Make sure tags are directly relevant to the post so you don’t disappoint and irritate people
  • Use the same tags for similar subjects across numerous posts, steering clear of obscure synonyms so visitors can find what they want without faffing around
  • Don’t use unrelated tags that don’t appear in your post

Google pays more attention to keywords in your content than those in your tag, as confirmed by Matt Cutts, here:

Checking your tag cloud – Is your focus right?

A tag cloud gives an instant graphic picture of the tags you use most and least. As such it’s great for visitors, who can click on each tag to find the posts they’re assigned to. It’s also a useful tool for bloggers because it lets you see at a glance whether your focus is right. If your key terms are all about writing but your tag cloud indicates you’ve spent most of your time wittering on about tractors or your cat, you know you’ve gone too far off-piste!

How’s your author blog looking?

Does your blog already fulfill search engine and user navigation best practice? If not, what’s your biggest concern?


Image Source Salvatore Vuono

Mike is CEO of PML Media Limited, a virtual agency staffed by 14 independent marketing professionals, copywriters and technical geniuses. PML helps authors build and manage their Author Platforms, social media channels, build email lists and create ongoing strategies to help boost their brand, get noticed and sell more books.

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