Blogging and Community Building

handsNew blogs are being created every day by bloggers who assume “build it and they will come” and likewise assume “post it and they will come“.  I’m sorry to say that isn’t the case. There are no shortcuts when it comes to creating a blog centered community by means of creating a flow of organic (unpaid) traffic to your site and encouraging commenting that results in regular readers/commenters/subscribers.

Never lose site of the fact that it is content that attracts readers to your site and keeps them coming back – high quality, original content.  It’s the blogger’s ability to promote their content that creates traffic flow, and it’s their ability to initiate and sustain discussion that leads to building a blog centered community.

Those who do not have good writing skills or who are not blogging in their mother tongue but in English will find the tips and links in this article ESL and Blogging to be helpful. Those who wish to improve their spelling, grammar and other writing skills will find some tips and tools in this blog such as:

Writers Resources for Bloggers
5 free Grammar Checkers for Bloggers and Writers
Tips for Organized Blogging
Top 5 Informative Writing Tips for Bloggers

To attract an initial traffic inflow of organic traffic that will hopefully convert into regular readers and subscribers, new bloggers, who have good writing skills need to focus on:

  • Learning and understanding SEO (search engine optimization) and applying optimization to blog post titles, sub-titles, keywords, as well as to keywords in the text which naturally occur in any written language.
  • Mastering use of the blogging platform that matches their goals. WordPress.COM support documentation; WordPress.ORG documentation.
  • Choosing a niche and staying with it.
  • Cultivating relationships with other bloggers and particularly with bloggers who have blogs in the same niche.

There are 10 standard tips to get traffic that you hear over and over again in the blogosphere. Interesting content is an attractor and in blogging content is king but promotion is queen.

1.    You need to have expertise in a niche and you need to know how to write very well. That includes learning how to write link bait posts that other bloggers will backlink to.

2.    You need to get a Google webmasters account and verify your blog ownership with the major search engines. Then you need to structure a reader friendly and search engine friendly blog and posts by learning how to apply basic SEO (search engine optimization) techniques.

3.    You need to build an archive of high quality original content and keep adding to it. By effective use of keywords, keyword phrases, Categories and Tags your content will begin to draw organic traffic from search engines after it has been indexed and made available to potential readers, who are using search engine to locate specific content of interest to them.

4.    Consider publishing pillar posts AKA flagship content that will showcase you expertise in your niche so you can build authority in that niche. Then you must keep building on that foundation by updating frequently with new posts containing informative and engaging content in order to hold reader interest.

5.    You need to learn how to promote your content effectively through social media like Twitter, and social networks like Facebook, etc., and on RSS feed sites, thereby encouraging other bloggers to visit your bog, read your posts, comment, and backlink to your posts in posts of their own.

6.    Next to securing traffic from search engines it is relationships that you create with other bloggers that is where your blog traffic will come from. You need to locate similar blogs to your own by using search utilities in all social media sites, social networking sites, directories and sites that are devoted to that purpose and provide free tools you can use. Then you must read posts on those related blogs in the same niche and comment, comment, comment. Once you have made contact and connected you need to form supportive  relationships with other bloggers in order to create a blog centered community around your own blog, while also helping them to build blog centered communities around their blogs.

7.    You will need to join online forums and online user groups within your niche in order to expand your contacts and create relationships with an expanding number of fellow bloggers. You need to have enough information, self-confidence, and goodwill to be able to make a valuable contribution to those communities, rather than developing a reputation for dropping signature links, and/or begging for others to visit your site, and/or begging others to include your blog on their blogrolls. In other words, you must be prepared to lurk and learn the territory prior to posting, and then give, give, give before you expect to receive.

8.    You will need to encourage your readers to comment on your posts by the way you structure them and you must respond to comments received ASAP after approving them. Then you will need to carry through by visiting the blogs of those who honored yours with a comment by doing the same for them. You will also need to pay close attention to what your blogging friends publish, so you can backlink to their content when it’s related to the content in your new posts.

9.    You need to consider participating in blog challenges in your niche, consider setting up micro-blogs aimed at directing interested readers to your main blog, without creating duplicate content.

10.   When invited to do so, you need to consider becoming a guest blogger on blogs with a higher PageRank then your own blog has.

38 thoughts on “Blogging and Community Building

  1. Great advice, as usual. I have started my own blog a few times and invariably feel much better, and spend more time with, the topics that I know and care about the most. It’s definitely a labor of love, don’t get involved if you can’t handle the commitment!

  2. How do people even find time to participate in Twitter and Facebook as it relates to their respective blogs? We do have a Twitter page for 1 of the blogs but frankly are afraid of opening up to followers because I know no one in our company has time to participate in tweeting with other folks.

    We’re happier with blog interactivity at this time. As for Facebook, oh yea, another tool that demands time for true interactivity with fans.

    1. I find it hard to find time to be here there are everywhere promoting my blogs so I’m sorry but I don’t have an answer for you. There are many articles that suggest you post about 10 times daily and space your posts out. They also advise you to be personable and to tweet valuable links. But as you point out all social networking amounts to is ineraction that’s not on your blog. I’m like you I want the interaction to occur here and there is so little time to blog and comment as there is.

      1. Don’t delude yourself please. Impersonal auto-posting identical blurbs across multiple social networks is not recommended. It’s not as effective as manually posting your own unique snippets and links to each social network.

  3. HI Titi,
    This is such an awesome resource full off timeless blogging info and tips. I think blogging with integrity and selflessness is very important for your blog to grow. You are so right…give give give..and then they do come come come :)
    And by tthe way. every time i come here..i get tempted to change my theme ;) But will stick to coraline for now.
    So much love,
    Z~

    1. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it very much. It’s a very busy time for me as the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend is this coming weekend. It’s the second biggest opportunity we have to make a significant amount of income in the year. I have been feeling stressed out and concerned about not publishing more frequently and commenting, commenting, commenting, but I simply don’t have time. I’m hoping my readers will be understanding and as this blog contains nearly 500 posts I hope they will be able to locate reading material of value to them while I’m busy.
      Love always,
      TiTi

  4. Great tips for all bloggers – whether you’re just starting your own blog or you need to improve traffic for your blog. I know I need to improve on a lot of things but sometimes, time does not permit due to my hectic schedule. The success of one’s blog depends as well on one’s dedication to regularly update. That is one thing I’m working on despite my limited time.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge. :) Hope you had a great weekend!

    1. It’s good to hear from you always. This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and we have been going crazy getting ready for our second biggest sales event of the year. That’s why I have been so scare this last while and why my commenting and posting frquency have slowed down. Thanks for your well wishes I hope you have a wonderful weekend too. :)

  5. Interesting post as usual, and Im always pleased that I found this post useful in any way. Now, I need some time to reflect on this crazy “job” with SEO and other things, but I really need them in my blog? smiles. becouse I don’t now how to work , place them in the application all of things above..luckly me that blogspot have them all..almoust, I guess. :-)

    Wishing you a splendid night!
    Same Dy, always

  6. Hi Timethief, thank you for being there on the WordPress forums too. This is all very interesting and I am going to have to go up to the top of the page and read it again and bookmark the links to read properly, as a lot of the terminology is unfamiliar to me; for example, I had no idea about indexing pictures the way you describe. I am always surprised when I look at the stats to see what terms people use to find my blog, but presumably when they get there, they don’t find what they are looking for exactly, as they are often tags from early posts, not written that well by me. Is it worth rewriting posts or should one leave them as they are and resolve to do better next time?

    1. Hi there,
      You can edit any post and add or delete tags if you wish. Would I do so? Yes, I would . You can also access all images in your media Library and add the information to the ALT tag and the Description as well. Would I do that? Yes.

      This entry explains why we don’t get overzealous when adding tags. Add only the minmium number of relevant tags.

      You are using too many categories or tags. You don’t want irrelevant content showing up in the tag surfer or search, and neither do we. That’s why we limit the number of tags that can be used on a public tag listing. Five to 10 tags (or categories, or a combination of the two) is a good number to add to each of your posts. The more tags you use, the less likely it is that your post will be selected for inclusion in the global tag listings. http://en.support.wordpress.com/global-tags/#missing-posts

      Best wishes with your blog. :)

  7. TimeThief, great practical advice as always. Much of what you say is just common sense. But then, as Mark Twain said, “Common sense isn’t so common.”

    Creating content-rich posts, being gernerous in one’s interactions with others (bloggers, commenters, etc.) and using social media – wisely – to promote one’s blog will help grow a solid readership organically. And those are the readers you want. Give me 100 loyal readers who are interested in what I have to say over 1,000 application-generated followers who give me nothing more than big number.

    Cheers!

    John

    1. Hello there,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I agree with you as I too believe that 100 loyal readers are more valuable than 100 bots that become “followers” overnight. In fact I remove them every day from my Twitter followers. I have visited your blog and I too am a TED Talks fan. Best wishes with your blog. :)

  8. Number 10 of the 10 Standard Tips you list above indicates we need to know how to determine page rank. I attempted to determine this for my blog and it entailed going to another site and plugging in my URL. (The result was 0 out of 10 possible points, a disappointment.) Is this correct — that I need to go to another site to determine this?

    Also, on one of the links you gave us above (I have already read enough of them that I can’t find the link to which I am now referring) I believe I read that photo files should be titled with one word. In other words, “applecake’, not “apple cake” to enhance SEO. Is this correct?

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

    Kathleen

    1. Yes that’s correct. You blog has not yet earned a PageRank. It’s common not to earn oe in the first 6 months. What’s needed is for other bloggers who have blogs with authority in your niche to backlink to your posts.

      There are many pagerank checkers available online. Google usually updates 4 times every year but has been empgasizing that we don’t focus on it. Although Google’s PageRank is but one factor Google uses to determine its search results, it is a popular topic. Learn what PageRank is and where you can find more information about it.
      http://www.searchengineguide.com/pagerank.html

      It’s not going to be easy to rank well in a Google Caffeine world, you need to think about how you can encourage other people to want to link back to you within a meaningful context. http://www.searchengineguide.com/dave-cosper/new-seo-practices-for-a-google-caffeine.php

      When it comes to SEO and images please scroll down to “Optimising your images” in this post
      http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2008/03/17/improving-your-google-page-rank/

      According to the W3C recommendations, the “alt” attribute specifies an alternate text for user agents that cannot display images, forms or applets. The “title” attribute is a bit different: it “offers advisory information about the element for which it is set.” As the Googlebot does not see the images directly, we generally concentrate on the information provided in the “alt” attribute.

      If your use images in your blog as most of us do then optimize the images. The Google crawler cannot read image scripts therefore using the ALT attribute (providing a description) will allow you to tell the crawler what the image is referring to. If you want your images to be indexed by the search spiders then give your images the full treatment (TITLE tag, ALT tag, Description).

      Without a TITLE tag, no ‘hover text’ will show up when the reader’s mouse passes over your image and hover text is a useful way of letting your readers know what’s in a picture.

      Without an ALT tag and DESCRIPTION, Google will likely fail to index your images according to the keywords you want, because those key words have not been provided. So if you do not provide an Alt tag and description, you are depriving your images of possible hits that could have come if it had been used and had included key words.

      Also note that it can take up to 6 months for the Google image search crawler to find your pictures, but it will miss your pictures altogether if you don’t use ALT tags and Title tags correctly.

      Google’s Search Engine Optimization
      Starter Guide http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/11/googles-seo-starter-guide.html
      See also > Google SEO resources for beginners
      http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/01/google-seo-resources-for-beginn
      Microsoft Bing Webmaster Guide PDF file
      http://tinyurl.com/2g2br2e

      I don’t know about compound words for sure but what you have said makes sense. I they aren’t compound then they are like this “apple-cake” and we want to avoid dashes wherever possible.

      1. Thank you, timethief.

        My blog is almost 12 months old, so I had hoped to see page ranking by now. I really appreciate the links you just provided in your reply to me. This will answer many questions.

        I moved to WordPress from blogspot in April. I left a redirect message on my blogspot page so as not to lose the readers that are still finding their way there. Do you think this is hurting my page rank (or lack of it, I should say) by having a redirect? The redirect had an unanticipated result — I can’t even access that blog to delete it.

        Regarding your reply to John Zimmer (below), how do you tell which Twitter followers are bot generated?

        I should make your blog my home page!

        Kathleen

        1. If that blog has content that is duplicated in your wordpress.COM blog then you definitely need to address that. I always recommend that all you leave on a blog you leave behind is a singe redirect post. This is because the result of having duplicate content can be having your new site penalized.

          Look at it this way. Search engines aim to provide readers with the most relevant search results. Here’s an example. The content in the first site has already been indexed. Creating another site means that the search spiders detect duplicate content and do not bother to index it. People who do this tend to be those who want to make money from advertising off the same content by posting it to multiple sites. Typically they may change a blog post title but not the contents and then create a string of free blogspot blogs with Adsense on them. They are “gaming search engine results” and creating a supreme annoyance and waste of time for those using search engines. Nothing peeves me off more than researching a topic and finding there are links to two or more blogs that I click into and discover they have the same @!#$% content. What a waste of my time!

          If you do have duplicate content then you have to proceed to do what Google recommends and requires. Google and duplicate content > http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66359

          1. Spotting bot generated followers is like spotting spam in pingbacks and trackbacks. Over time you can figure it out as there is no interaction with bots. No human being can have thousands of people they are actually following and thousands of actual followers. What is done is that some Tweters buy services which amount to robotic programs that go out and make themselves followers of other Tweeters to increase their broadcast range and generate more traffic to their sites. Yes, people can buy Twitter followers to increase their apparent “authority” and “popularity” as well as getting others to retweet their stuff and send them traffic. In fact Twitter is also going into the selling followers business.

  9. I’m a little guilty of the build it and they will come approach. Thank you for the concrete steps and links, this is exactly what I needed, have been dimly aware of some of this stuff but never understood it clearly, always felt a bit floundering and clueless. After harvest must settle down and focus on this. Thanks again, timethief.

    1. @Cynthia,
      I have been receiving emails that indicated to me that I needed to post a step by step article. I’m so glad you found it to be helpful. Have a wonderful rest of what’s left of the weekend. :)

  10. Choosing a niche and staying with it.

    Sage words – but doing it – ‘If only’

    I can’t find or decide or settle on a niche on our main blog – wish I could.

    Maybe you could lend your incisive brain to the exercise, Timethief?

    1. There are some blogs that just don’t “fit” into a single niche. And ‘no’ I’m not hoing to try and cram your lovely round blog into a square hole for you … lol :D IMO

  11. Hi, being relatively new to blogging, 3 months, it is a steep learning process, full of self doubt and necessitating entering into a dark misty world with its own language (SEO)! Thanks for your help in lifting the mist.
    Though there are so many questions and probably many answers, at the moment I am just trying to build a blog with integrity.

  12. What a wealth of resources you have just given us! Sometimes I feel that I am in over my head with trying to understand how to attain a good SEO. I don’t even understand the vocabulary and terminology much of the time. Your blog is such a good place to start, pointing me in the right direction. Thank you so much.

    Kathleen

  13. A visit to onecool always helps remind me how cool a site can look… : )

    And that very cool blue header really accentuates the cool– good choice! I’m, like, diggin’ it the most!!

    1. Hi Mark,
      I made two headers and rejected the first one. I’m glad to hear you think this blue gradient one works. Today I decided to switch to the full post display on the front page layout rather than multiple excerpts. Over all I think this theme is more professional looking. However, I am inviting feedback so if you have any more please do not hold back.

  14. timethief – this is an excellent refresher course on building a successful blog as well as a reminder of what I have yet to do. Thank you so much.

    I’m still a little confused about SEO although I’ve read a number of articles about it. From what I gather you are using SEO for the keywords in a particular post, not necessarily for your blog in general. For example, if your niche is blogging or personal development you can’t use that keyword in every blog post title. So I’m getting that the aim is to rank high for a particular post. Sorry if that sounds confused, but I am a little confused.

    I agree there are no magic shortcuts, but some people do seem to get lucky.

    1. SEO is not only about the use of keywords, but simply writing well and applying basic SEO techniques is all any blogger needs to do. :) SEO is inherent in the very structure of the themes we use. It’s applied in the headings and formating font sizes H1, H2, H3, etc. and in the ALT tags and description tags we use on images. Part of optimization includes including using appropriate anchor text and backlinking to the posts in the most authoritative blogs in your niche, and using appropriate and relevant keywords in your post titles, subtitles and in the natural flow of the text. I could ho on and on. :)

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