By Nicole Nicolay
Whether you’re a rookie getting your start in the industry, or an expert hoping to boost your already prospering success, tweaking your blog is a process that should continue throughout its life on the Web. Let’s look at the internal factors affecting your blog success, as well as support tools.
Speak to your target audience
I hope that identifying your target audience already occurred for you during the conceptualization of your blog. Now that you’re up and running, is your blog geared to attract new niche readers? By that I mean are you including a variety of keywords for your niche? Perhaps ones that make sense when searching from Google? For example, “Pleasanton real estate,” “homes in Pleasanton,” “Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood,” “downtown Pleasanton,” etc.
I’m not talking “keyword stuffing” here, but a natural integration. These keywords can improve your search results on Google and target your niche audience. With each new blog article, write it first, then think about how one or two of your niche phrases could be added naturally. Can your title be improved as well? Also speak frequently and consistently. Check out these tools for analyzing the keyword usage on your blog.
TOOLS: Try using Google Webmaster tools, Webconfs.com or SEOQuake for FireFox.
Speak in an authentic voice
Speaking to your target audience involves a whole lot more than just speaking, and actually takes place in the selection process of your blog design and layout, branding, features and blog posts. This is really a holistic strategy which helps your blog exude its overall essence. But when it comes to speaking, try using your talking voice when writing blog posts. Don’t get too caught up in grammatical perfection.
Spelling and sentence flow are critical to people thinking that you have some educational background. However, you may occasionally make up your own word to identify a new strategy or an original idea. And you also may write some articles using fragments or run-on sentences, which is okay if it reads well. Just remember to be clear and concise while showing off your personality. If you have an opinion, state it, but be ready to defend it.
Finally, don’t speak in acronyms unless everyone knows what you are talking about. For example, We all took B.A.R.T. into the city last week. No we didn’t take Bart Simpson or your Uncle Bart, but we took Bay Area Rapid Transit.
TOOLS: Your close family and friends. They know you best so have them read your articles and give you some feedback.
Share content that your target audience cares about
Whether you are targeting the nation, a county, a city or a neighborhood, be sure to be relevant! Your niche wants information about their area and anything that affects their area. If you have a neighborhood blog, get out there and get to know the neighbors. Be the community expert and talk about events, businesses, safety, the market, etc. Interview businesses owners in the area, talk to parents and teachers, find out the nitty gritty at planning meetings, etc. Be a communication hub where neighbors can become readers and community members, and they can interact with you (the expert) and other readers with similar interests.
TOOLS: Need some help with finding and organizing your content? Visit mymarketware.com/2007/12/02/.
Provide content that is compelling, remarkable, or helpful
Rather than just sharing resources or your opinions on industry topics, try including what I call “the next step.” The next step is anything that supports your post. It can be things like statistics, helpful Web sites, video, podcast advice, freebies, additional tips and how-to’s, screen shots and creative images. Sometimes, you may have posts initiated by a “good find.” But most times, you’ll have a good article that could be great with a little more to back up your point.
TOOLS: Here are a few places where you can search for good backup to take your post to the next level: YouTube, DQ News, iStock Photos, Realtor.org, HGTV and Wikipedia.
Create a professional blog design that is pleasing to the eye
Please, please, please don’t take this one for granted, and get other opinions once you have selected a design. There are many great template designs that just need a little tweaking to be made into your custom dream blog. However, that usually takes some design and coding know-how, so hire someone to help if need be. Design can definitely be subjective, so here are just a few of my do’s: be selective (don’t settle until you’re happy), get creative, give your blog a cohesive theme throughout, incorporate branding or a color scheme within every possible aspect and consider user experience.
TOOLS: For custom design help, consider Chic & Sassy and DravenCreation. For blog templates, try iThemes, BlogFlux and Template Monster. For help with complimentary color schemes, try BigHugeLabs and Kuler. For user experience, you must try out the rockin’ tools provided by CrazyEgg.
Keep up or add to the conversations on your blog
Do more than just interact, be present in the conversation. When readers leave comments, respond timely with real input. If you can provide a resource or answer to their question, solve a problem or point someone in the right direction, you further your expert status! We all have busy lives and busy schedules, but your blog can facilitate your business. Get connected and carry a phone with Internet access so you never miss a fleeting moment.
TOOLS: Take commenting to the next level by installing Comment Relish, an auto-thank-you feature that thanks each first-time commenter on your blog.
Nicole Nicolay is co-founder of Effektive Solutions, a marketing and technology solutions company for real estate professionals. She has created products that integrate valuable real estate content with unparalleled technological innovation. Nicolay enjoys writing about real estate technology on her blog MyTechOpinion.com and offers marketing solutions at MyMarketWare.com.
Copyright 2008 Agent Publishing LLC