If you are a blogger who is confused about brands and branding you aren’t alone. And if you think “branding” relates only to those who use their blogs to market products or services then think again. In terms of your blog, your brand is how your target audience perceives you and your blog content.
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There’s so much published on branding that it can make your head spin so let’s simplify. If you haven’t accomplished the basics and don’t have a clear vision of where you want your blog to be, then you won’t be able to plan how to get there.
On one hand, your brand is your promise to your target audience. On the other, it’s their level of trust in your ability to deliver what you promise, that,actually creates your brand and positions it in search engine results (SERPs).
In fact, everything on your blog contributes to branding. Your branding strategy incorporates both text and graphic elements to assist your target audience to identify your brand as the particular one that’s right for them. So don’t get carried away with thinking all you need is a logo, gravatar, custom banner, or customized theme and graphics. Your logo and any graphics like business cards, etc. represent your brand. They help communicate your message to your target audience visually, but they aren’t your brand.
Either by intention or by default, branding starts during the design and strategy stage of creating a new blog. That’s when the blogger selects a URL, site title and tagline that reflect the intended message for the intended target audience. Branding is reflected in the keywords and blog description of the site and published on the introductory About page and/or Profile page that’s easily located by search engines.
Your brand includes the style in which the information is presented throughout your content. However, in the URL, site title, tagline and blog description it clarifies what new readers can expect to be presented with when they come to your site. Thereafter, branding shifts as you publish content and a reader community engages with it. Ultimately, the blogger and the reader community become co-creators of an ever evolving brand.
To develop a branding strategy you need to
- identify your target audience
- determine what they need and want
- define what your your message is
- determine how you will meet their needs.
In Branding 101: How to Promote Your Blog Like the Big Guys Do, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits advises:
Before you do anything — name your blog (or other product/service), write a single post, work on the design, anything — you need to figure out your core message. This is the message you want to send out to your readers/customers in everything you do. This message needs to be communicated in your title, design, content, promotions, and actions.
In What is a Brand? Part 1 – 5 Factors that Define a Brand Susan Gunelius says:
Rather than asking, “What is a brand?” a better question might be, “Who is a brand?” Every brand has a persona. Think of your brand as a person. What is that person like? What can you expect when you interact with that person? From appearance to personality and everything in between, your brand persona is one that consumers will evaluate and judge before they do business with you.
10 Branding Tips
Whether your blog is brand new or not you will find links to valuable advice on the topics below in 9 Guides for Beginning Your New Blog.
1. URL, Site Title and Tagline – Your blog’s URL, Site Title do not have to be the same but it’s better SEO (search engine optimization) if they are consistent. Your blog’s URL, Site Title and Tagline ought to contain memorable keywords that define your new blog’s brand and make the URL easy to recall.
2. About page, Author bylines, and Blog Description – Make sure your About page contains a brief, authentic bio that’s optimized to communicate your brand. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your text. Make sure you clarify what sets you and your blog apart from bloggers with similar blogs in the same niche.
Use a theme that is designed to display an author byline on each article that’s linked to all other posts published on the same site. Google Authorship gives you the ability to tell Google that you are the author of the content. Connecting your Google+ Profile to your WordPress.com blog creates an official connection between your content and your Google+ account.
Know that if you don’t provide a search description for your blog, search engines will establish one for you based on your blog’s content. Clarify what your purpose is and communicate it in blog description that your target audience can relate to and rely on.
3. Visual Branding – Visual branding is important as images convey concepts and meaning quickly and become unique identifiers your audience will recall. Simplicity and consistency are key when for visual branding that’s memorable. When using a WordPress.com theme good SEO is a given, however, going beyond the theme what the blogger has done within that structure impacts branding either positively or negatively.
4. Content and Commenting – Write for your readers. Reader involvement through surveys, polls and/or, brainstorming help you identify their needs. Publish unique, high quality content frequently and respond to your commenters promptly. Your responses in discussions will also determine how much reliance your audience will place in your and your message.
5. Search Engine Optimization – Successful blogs draw between 30 – 60 % of their incoming targeted readers from search engine referrals. Don’t listen to myth makers who say SEO plugins are required. Listen to what Staff have to say in All About SEO on WordPress.com and in SEO and Your Blog. In 6 Ways to Make Google Your Blog’s Best Friend learn how Google discovers, crawls, indexes your site’s pages, and how Google displays them in search results, and discover the basic elements that make your blog attractive to search engines.
6. Social Networking – Use social media opportunities to build relationships directly with your target audience. Some claim social networking is more effective than vibrant discussion on your blog post is but I disagree. Don’t neglect commenting on similar sites, as it is one of the best ways to build your brand’s presence online. Rise above the increasing pressure to conform by being logged in continually. Develop an effective social networking strategy and timeline and stick to it. And, never place a higher value on a a “tweet” a “like” or a “share” than you do on a blog post comment.
7. Tagging – Don’t get sucked into spamdexing (tag spamming) thinking it will help position your blog in search engine results because doing that guarantees it will not be well positioned. The rule of thumb is to assign the least, not the most, combined number of only relevant categories and tags that accurately describe the post content. Know Categories and/or Tags which are treated the same way be search engines are not required for SEO purposes. Search engines pay more attention to your keywords in your content than they do to keywords in Tags/Categories you assign to posts.
8. Writing for the Web – Blogging is not the same as writing for the print media or literary writing. 10 Guidelines for Writing Engaging Posts will help you improve your writing for the web. Scheduling enough time for creating original content, promoting it, answering comments, reading and leaving comments on other blogs is not an easy feat but time management is essential to becoming a successful blogger.
9. Testimonials – Branding is all about building a compelling reputation so don’t hesitate to secure and publish testimonials. A few words from those singing your praises can go a long way to assure your audience that you are who you purport to be and you deliver on your promises.
10. Reputation Monitoring – Monitor your online reputation so you are clear on how your brand is being perceived in social media sites and across the internet. deal with all copyright violations and instances of plagiarism promptly.
When full copies of your content appear anywhere other than on the site it was originally published on
- your brand has been diluted;
- your traffic has been siphoned away from your site;
- backlinks from the duplicate lack value as they are usually from sites that either have no pagerank or a low pagerank and sadly your article is now associated with those sites or even with banned sites;
- too many backlinks from low quality sites can compromise your blog’s positioning in the SERPs;
- the duplicate content can outrank the original content in the SERPs (search engine page results). – Scraping Off the Blog Scrapers
Over the long term successful blog branding requires passion, purpose, productivity, people skills, planning, persistence, as well as becoming a willing student, because the learning never ends.
Blogging 201: Branding, Growth, and Traffic (14 day blogging challenge starts April 15th!)
Branding, Growth, and Traffic assumes a few things about your blog: you know what you want your blog to be, you’ve got a handle on publishing basics, and you’re ready to take your site to the masses. … We’ll help you focus your brand and explore different ways to boost your internet infamy.