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Ask any writer and they’ll tell you the same thing — the beginning is always the hardest part of any written piece. You may have the most detailed picture of what you want to say in your head but putting down those first words on paper (or on MS Word) could be like pulling teeth. The problem is only compounded with the short, encapsulated nature of blog posts. What do you really write about on your first post in your blog?
Fortunately, there are some good suggestions and ideas that you can glean from the blogs of other people. The most common start would be to just a small greeting or introduction. This probably one of the most popular ways of starting a blog. A simple “hi, this is my blog!” post is one of the most common you’ll see on the internet. It’s a no-nonsense way of kicking off a blog. But some bloggers may not want to start off their blogs in this manner. Fortunately, there are also “fancier” ways of starting a blog.
You can start a blog by introducing yourself. Since most blogs are personal in nature, giving a backgrounder on yourself will give your readers a fair idea of why you have a particular perspective about certain topics that you’ll eventually discuss in your blog. You don’t need an exhaustive biography, just touch on the important facts that will help readers get to know you more.
You can also decide to give the raison d’etre of your blog. Write about why you started it, and what motivated you to do so. Personally, I think this is the best way of starting a blog. It gives the readers the lay of the land, so to speak. They’ll already know beforehand what to expect from your blog, which could pull in more like-minded readers. For example, if you say that your blog will be about your perspective as non-US citizen on the Obama Administration’s policies, it will surely attract people who are looking to read about what your thoughts will be on future issues.
An ingenious way of starting a blog is picking out one of those memes that are all over the net. Try to find a meme that is related to the topic of your blog, this will be a great way of giving a bird’s eye view of your views and also what to expect in future blog posts.
I previously discussed the important first step in naming your blog post titles – addressing your readers.
When the posts are now in the archives, you will now have to consider how other readers will discover your posts. And this is through the help of search engines. This is where the second step comes in, which is to address search engine users. The titles you compose should be sensitive to the requirements of search engine bots so that you get the coveted first SERP.
So how do you compose your blog post title to take advantage of search engines?
* Put important keywords in the title. From the first step you have already added a few relevant keywords that will appeal to readers who are on the lookout for words that will appeal to them. Now you have to beef it up some more by adding a few more keywords. Don’t overdo it though, your title should still be interesting and not losing its target.
* Mix up the word order. Changing the word order in your title could actually help you gain a few extra places in SERPS. The trick to rearranging the title is by making sure the beneficial keywords are closer to the start of the title.
* Fix the TITLE. One other thing that you should consider fixing up is the TITLE or the title tag. Usually the blog post title will be similar or will match the title tag. But when you’re already on the second step, you can tweak your title tag some more so that it is more optimized to be noticed by search engine bots. One easy way to do this if you’re using WordPress is by installing and using the SEO Title Tag plugin.
* Leave slugs alone. Even though you are tweaking the title tag and the blog post title, you should not do anything with the actual page slug. Avoid doing things to it at all costs.
As bloggers I am pretty sure that timel, up to date posts are what you prioritize. The common dictum in the blogosphere is that keeping your blog current with the latest posts and information is what makes a blog effective. I have to admit that this is true. A well written blog that is updated regularly will surely be noticed… at some point. But there really is more to blogs than just posts. For example, do you know that your blog post titles are equally important? I bet this has made you suddenly ponder your gung-ho attitude towards giving titles to your posts (the usual philosophy is “the wittier the title, the better).
As bloggers you should know that blog post titles should always be search engine friendly. Although this will surely put a damper on your creative juices and how craftily you compose titles, this is the reality if you really want to make a successful blog. But there could be a way to address the SEO aspect of your blog without necessarily killing creativity. The solution is to look at your two different targets in two different stages.
The first step is to address your readers
Your readers, whether they have subscribed to your RSS feed or actually visit your blog on a regular basis, will want their interests to be piqued. They want to read your post and also be titillated enough to want to share it with others. So when you’re composing your title do the following:
• Make it interesting. There are many methods that can be used to achieve this goal. You can post a question, put out a scoop or make an obtuse title that will compel readers to read the post to find out what it’s all about.
• Don’t make it too long. Short and sweet. That’s the usual saying you hear and in the SEO and internet world, this is virtually dogma. Be succinct in giving information in your title. A title that’s too long will only confuse your readers.
• Keep keyword scanners in mind. Don’t confuse this with the SEO optimization part (that’s the second step, remember?). What you need here is to look for words that will interest a majority of your readers. Use the more popular keywords in your blog post title and your post will have a bigger chance of getting noticed.
The whole idea of this first step is to catch the attention of the readers that will view your blog the moment you publish it. The title is basically for your “captive audience”. When the initial freshness of the post has passed it will be passed on to the archives and since getting your posts noticed in an archives section is quite slim this is where the search engines should come into play.
I’ll discuss then next step of improving your blog post titles next time.