With the advent of easier web publishing, blogs have been booming and consumers are reading and subscribing at greater rates than ever. In fact, WordPress (WP) estimates that there are over 70 million new posts made each month on its platform alone with an excess of 409 million people viewing 20 billion pages monthly.
For some added perspective, the number of bloggers in the United States is expected to reach 31.7 million by 2020. And since bloggers based in America amount for around only 30% of all bloggers, you can do the math and become mind-blown at the number of people worldwide regularly writing material for blogs.
With the blogging industry growing at such an impressive pace, it’s absolutely imperative that you’re following certain best practices to get the most out of your WP blog. Your best shot at success is to recognize that blogging requires a great deal of patience, consistency and dedication to continuous improvement.
Keep the focus on readability
First and foremost in blogging, you have to ensure that your message is easy to read. People simply aren’t going to waste their time struggling to decipher cramped fonts or battle their way through an article overloaded with frustrating popup ads.
Your job is to make your audience’s reading experience as seamless and legible as possible. AmericanEagle.com suggests the use of larger font sizes in the range of 15-22 for website body text. A 120% – 150% line spacing can also go a long way towards reducing eye strain, while a text width of 45-90 characters is thought to be ideal for keeping readers focused.
Additionally, you should stick to the common easily readable Serif and San-Serif fonts. For those of you who aren’t typophiles, popular Serif fonts include Times New Roman, Garamond and Baskerville. These are thought to be better for long-form articles. Some common San-Serif fonts, considered a bit more modern with slightly better on screen legibility, include Arial, Helvetica and Avant Garde.
Once you’ve settled on fonts, remember Headings that pointedly label the various sections of your article are key. H2 headings should be used for main sections with lower level headings or bullets and numbered lists brought in as needed.
To aid you further, here are some additional resources on font combinations and WordPress formatting to guide you along your improved readability journey.
Carefully choose what images to include
Now we all know the saying about a picture being worth a thousand words. While images are not technically a requirement of on a blog, it’s couldn’t be truer that they have the ability to enhance blog posts well beyond the scope of written content.
Lucky for you, visually captivating images are widely and easily available via dedicated stock photo sites like Pixabay, Freepik, Unsplash, PicJumbo and Death to Stock. You can then use Photoshop or free online photo editing tools to add any personalized text, filters, etc.
When putting together longer articles, keep in mind visual aids that help convey the message can go a long way in increasing reader engagement. Just ensure to use images that are truly relevant and informative so readers get a full, cohesive experience.
You should also always include an alt-text when uploading images in WordPress posts because search engines pick up on this. Optimizing your image’s alternative text can lead to a higher SEO image rank which could in turn create an additional channel of web traffic to your blog.
As an add-on, if you just so happen to dabble in photography and want to display your work, here’s some excellent advice on putting together a kick-ass WordPress photo gallery.
Help search engines find you
You can have the most readable blog post with impressive images but if your blog is not optimized for search engines, traffic will only be a trickle. As of this year, there are some 1.94 billion active websites on the internet. So your job is not only to develop a rockin’ blog, but you also need to help the billions of internet users to find your site. That’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in.
Though SEO can be a challenging aspect of digital marketing to master, there are many tools and tips that can help you on your way.
First of all, you have to guarantee your privacy settings to make your blog visible to all search engines. It’s the first step towards having your content indexed by giants like Google and Bing.
Next, you want to focus on keyword research as this is essential for on page optimization. Thankfully, there are many tools and techniques for finding the best keywords relevant to your blog post. For example, Google Adwords and Semrush both offer great topical tools.
Once you’ve identified your best keywords, you’ll want to litter them throughout your post. Try to include them in all of the following places if possible:
- Headings and subheadings
- Introductory sentence
- Final paragraph
- Anchor text (text you hyperlink to other related pages on your site)
- Title tags and meta descriptions
Here’s a bit of caution though: If you randomly or forcibly repeat the same keywords multiple times, the readability of your content will decrease.Engaging in keyword stuffing, the act of filling your content with too many keywords, only hurts your site ranking in the long run.
Hubspot has a great article on optimizing your blog content for search engines. Be sure to give it a read for a more in depth SEO advice. The ultimate takeaway will be this: it’s your job to make it as easy as possible for people to find your content when they perform a search.
Think twice before clicking publish
As tempting as it may be, resist the urge to jump the gun, hover your cursor over the publish button and click enter as soon as you’ve completed a blog post. Reviewing with fresh eyes is a must in order to ensure an optimized experience for visitors and search engines alike.
Think about developing your own pre-publishing checklist or download this WP plugin to help with enhancing content before going live. Cover your bases by:
- spell checking
- reviewing headings for improved scannability
- checking links and video embeds
- reviewing to ensure you have the perfect focus keyword
- editing the meta description snippet
- confirming publish date, and the list goes on…
You should also take time to verify that you’ve correctly cited all your sources. Trust me, the extra effort is a worthwhile investment.
Share on Social Media
Once ready to publish, be sure to use plugins to alert your various social networks of new content. Set it up so that new blog posts are automatically shared to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. This way your audience never misses a beat.
The popular Jetpack plugin offers bloggers a variety of options spanning security, performance, site management and social sharing. If downloading and using this option, make certain you make the most of all applicable widgets.
You can also follow this great guide on how to have social sharing buttons built into your blog. Readers appreciate having to ability to easily circulate content to their friends and followers. Don’t make them work too hard.
In addition, most people suffer from FOMO and have strong feelings about belong to groups. You can tap into psychology and try to increase a reader’s probability of following the herd by displaying a running count of your social shares and/ or total social followers.
Here’s a pretty extensive list of WordPress social media plugins for you to consider, many of which include social counters as a feature.
A number of highly recommended plugins and tools are already scattered throughout above, but as you forge ahead striving to create your best possible WordPress blog, feel free to consider these additional options for improved readability, image selection, SEO, social media sharing, etc.
Uwe Dreissigacker is the founder of online invoicing software InvoiceBerry & also offers free invoice templates to businesses. Small businesses and sole traders can create, send and manage their invoices, quotes and credit notes with the tool. In his free time, Uwe travels the world and enjoys experiencing different cultures.