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January 3, 2011

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10 Things Technorati Can Teach You About Blogging

How To Create A Popular BlogTechnorati is a website that ranks the authority and influence of blogs. They have a popular section where they rank the most popular blogs by category. What is interesting is the insight you can gather from examining the most popular blogs. If you are looking to create an influential blog, one of the first steps you should is take is to look at the best practices and commonalities among the most popular blogs. Here are some shared characteristics from the top blogs on Technorati:

1. Own Domain Name: You will not see any blogs on the most popular list that are branded with other blogging platforms (For example: www.myname.wordpress.com.) If you do not currently own a URL, then you purchase one for your blog. This won’t cost you more than $15 a year. The reason this is important is that incoming visitors will judge your blog very quickly based on it’s appearances. Visitors are not going to read every article before making judgment; most visitors probably won’t even read one article. There are millions of blogs online and a limited amount of time in each person’s day.

2. A Well Designed Blog: Although you may think that you don’t have the resources to create a well designed blog, it is not very expensive or difficult to create a unique and attractive design for your website. This is important for the same reason as the above point; users will judge your blog based on it’s appearance. Most internets users recognize common WordPress or Blogger templates and it is very telling about a blog if these templates are used. A visitor may wonder why a writer is using a WordPress template. Are they not willing to invest in the design of this blog? If this writer is not willing to invest their time and resources into this blog, then why should I invest my time in reading the blog?

3. Hyper-Focused On One Space: All of the most popular blogs are hyper focused on one space (or at least began that way.) TechCrunch.com focuses on internet startups, Mashable.com on social media, Engadget.com and Gizmodo.com on gadgets. Even Huffington Post, which now covers a number of areas, began as a blog about politics. When you create a blog, focus your attention on one area. You can always expand your blog to a number of areas in the future after you have built your audience, but in the beginning aim to be a thought leader in one space.

4. The Founders Are Passionate About The Space: Michael Arrington (Founder of Techcrunch.com) was deeply entrenched in internet companies (having previously worked with startups) and Arianna Huffington was deeply involved in politics when she started Huffington post (she had run for office in California). The reason why this is important is that these writers wrote articles that they knew their market would find interesting because they themselves were a part of their target market and found the articles interesting. The lesson here is to write about what you know and are passionate about. You’ll not only love writing, but you will have a better understanding of the material. As an added benefit, being a part of a targeted community can help because you will be well connected with your audience. Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.com always receives the inside news on startups because everyone in Silicon Valley knows him.

5. Navigation And Linking: Popular blogs not only make the navigation very easy on the blog, but they also link their articles well to one another. For example, in the popular technology blog VentureBeat.com, at the end of each article are 2 recommendations for articles on the blog that you might also want to read. The articles also contain hyperlinks to other articles on the website. This is so important because it not only gets users to spend more time on the website, but it also allows the user to discover articles that they had not previously known about. Even if you create the best article in the world, it won’t have any value if users can’t find it.

6. Most Popular Application, Etc.: The majority of the most influential blogs have a section dedicated to their Most Popular posts, Favorite posts, or Most Recent posts. Again, this provides an outlet for users to find other posts that they may enjoy reading.

7. Integration With Social Media: Popular blogs integrate social media very well with their websites. They encourage sharing among readers. For example, on articles on popular blogs a user has the opportunity on the post to ‘like’ (Facebook), ‘Tweet’ (Twitter), Digg, etc. This is important because a great source of traffic can come from these social media outlets. If you are creating a blog, include this social media functionality. Companies (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) make it easy to do so.

8. Use Catchy Titles: Popular blogs understand how critical it is to create catchy titles. If you find a blog post with a title that you like, make a note of the title and iterate on it for one of your own articles.

9. Utilize Twitter And Facebook: The most popular blogs have Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts that they not only promote, but also relay their articles through. This is so important because it gives blogs an additional channel to connect with their users and promote articles to. If you are not yet a thought leader in a certain space it may be difficult to continually bring direct visitors to your website, but if a user follows you on Twitter or becomes a fan of your Facebook Page, you can get them to visit continuously through these channels. If you look at TechCrunch.com you will see on the right hand side how their Twitter and Facebook accounts are promoted well.

10. Memorable Images: Popular blogs include attractive images. In almost all of their articles they include a great looking picture; readers enjoy seeing this. For your blogs, don’t just include a random picture. Make sure that the image is catchy; you can even potentially include a humorous photo.

When you are browsing through popular blogs in the future, make sure to note certain aspects and features that you like. These can potentially be added to your own blog as well.

Are there any features on popular blogs that you particularly enjoy?

  • I like lists that i can practically use elsewhere. Guy Kawasaki is good for the practical advice.

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