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16 Simple Blog Changes That Will Improve Your Content Marketing Results

16 Simple Blog Changes That Will Improve Your Content Marketing Results

At some point in your online marketing career, you’ve heard the statement “content is king,” meaning great content will take your marketing efforts a long way. While this statement is true, it’s not the only factor you should focus your efforts on.

The platform for your content will also play a role in your ability to be successful. Your platform should make content aesthetically pleasing, easily consumable, and simple to share.

Blog Layout

In order to make your content easy to consume and simple to share, you must start with the blog layout.

Social Buttons

As I mentioned in my previous article, do not use every share button under the sun. You should be using your analytical data to help determine which sites are sending you visitors, and then you should be catering to those users. For example, if you see traffic from Facebook.com, you should include a Facebook button to allow those users to easily share your content.

One thing site owners tend to overlook is the ability to control the way your content is shared on sites like Facebook and Twitter. You have the ability to craft shares and tweets that will stand out in a user’s stream.

Facebook

You should be using open graph tags to sculpt your Facebook shares. Open graph allows you to provide a custom title, image, url, and even object type (ex. activity, group, book, etc.). This allows users sharing your content to easily entice their circle of social media users into clicking on your content.

Example code:

<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://www.website.com/img/logo.png”/>
<meta property=”og:title” content=”anchor text/title of links”/>
<meta property=”og:url” content=”http:// www.website.com/my-content-page”/>
<meta property:og:description” content=”The description here should be short and make users want to click through and read this article! .” />
<meta property=”og:type” content=”book”/>

There are even more open graph protocols; check them out at Facebook.com. Note: Facebook tends to change their Open Graph protocols pretty frequently making it hard to keep up with. If you would like to save yourself time, we recommend using the WP Facebook Open Graph  plugin.

Twitter

The same can be done with your tweets. Don’t just install a tweet button that shares the meta title and the long URL of your page. You should include a custom title, user attribution, and a hashtag (when applicable). A custom title will help your content stand out while author/site attribution will help your Twitter following grow.

data-url=”http://www.domain.com/content/” data-via=”twitter-user”

Including hash tags will allow users to share your content into related topic streams, increasing your chance of content exposure on Twitter.

data-hashtags=”hashtag”

By using the ““related” field in the tweet button, you can recommend users follow your account.

data-related=”account-name:description of the account”

Google Plus

One button I would recommend including is the Google +1 button. As I mentioned in my post on Google Plus, social circle recommendations will soon play a larger factor in search results. While being above the fold on the first page garners a majority of clicks, social circle recommendations will start to change that distribution.

Social share buttons should act as a tool for users, not a distraction. There are a couple of common configurations for social button displays. An easy way to add social buttons without interfering with your site theme is to use a plugin like social share bar. Another configuration is a horizontal bar of buttons (similar to ones you see above and below this post). Both of these methods provide the user with the ability to share the content without being obtrusive.

Overall, you should make sure the title of your article or content will attract users on any social network.  You should also be including eye-catching images that can be used as site thumbnails. This will help you ensure that when users share your content, they will attract clicks from their social circles.

Leveraging Your Columns

The right column of your blog should be used to help you increase page views and grow your social media assets.

Build Your Social Assets

One of the first things you should display is a simple way for your users to connect via social networking. You should make a clear and simple section that allows users to follow your Facebook fan page, Twitter account, Google Plus page, and RSS feed. Staying connected with your users will help you increase the chance of a return visit to your site and increase the chance of social sharing. You should also include an email sign-up option for users who want to stick to traditional email delivery.

Displaying a Facebook fan page widget will help you increase the chance that users subscribe to your site’s updates via Facebook. This widget allows the users to simply click the Like button without being taken off your site.

For Twitter, some sites are using the Twitter API to display mentions and recent tweets. I only recommend using this widget if you are active on Twitter. This is a great way to encourage site users to interact with your site content and help build your following.

Keep Users on Your Site

One of the biggest downsides of social media traffic is the very low time spent on the site. A social user only comes to read the piece of content they are looking for, and in most cases immediately backs out. We’ve found that displaying popular posts and related content tends to increase the number of page views and time on site.

One of my favorite parts of the Genesis Framework is the built-in popular posts widget. This widget gives a few options when it comes to displaying content, but it makes it very easy to display your best posts in the right column of your site. The best part of the widget is the ability to include a thumbnail in your post. A user is more likely to click on an article link if there is a thumbnail image — especially an eye-catching image.

Another simple way to increase the chances of a user staying on your site is to display your related posts. This should be displayed at the end of the article and should include a thumbnail image. Because users have already clicked through to read the original content, they are already interested in the topic, so why not make it simple for them to read more?

(image credit)

Make Commenting Easy

Blog comments are a hassle to manage, even with the use of plugins like Askimet. You still run into the issues of comment spamming and legitimate comments getting stuck in spam. In most cases it becomes a hassle for a user to comment, especially for comment sections that require registration.

(image credit)

An easy fix to this problem is the use of Facebook comments. It helps reduce the number of spam comments and useless comments, and it increases the overall quality of comments on the page, allowing for an increased value from those comments. It will also increase your exposure and traffic from Facebook.com. You can also make the FB comments SEO-friendly.

(image credit)

Content Layout

Articles

One of my biggest pet peeves is poorly laid-out articles. I can’t stand when I land on an article and the author has decided to write continuously without header breaks, images, or even proper line spacing.

Headings

When you build your content platform, you should always style your H-tags. This will not only provide you with SEO value but also with the ability to break up your content so users can easily digest it.

  • H2 Tag – this should be your largest font below the h1 (which should be used once in your title on your post page). It should be bold and should include a link break or some sort of formatting to help it break up the page.
  • H3 Tag – this should be your sub-section heading and should be the third largest font in bold. Consider making this a lighter color and not including a page break.

Spacing

Don’t crush your content together. It should be spaced out so users can easily skim your content. Try some of the following steps to help space out your content:

  • Include top and bottom spacing around your header tags.
  • Increase line spacing in your paragraphs.
  • Include spacing around images, videos, and quotes.

Images

I have mentioned this is in few of my previous posts, but I feel this is a very important aspect. Including images in your article can help drive home your article points, break up the monotony of written content, and improve the overall aesthetics of your content. Making simple changes — like making images that are all the same width or including images that fit the entire body section — can help add a new dynamic to your content.

Infographics

When setting up an infographic (IG), I like to follow a couple of simple procedures to make sure the content is easy to share and view.

Introducing Your IG

You should always include a short 1 to 2 sentence introduction paragraph that doesn’t give away the IG content but makes the user want to view it. In most cases, when a user shares the IG, he or she will use the introduction sentence, so you should make it count.

Written Infographic Content

We’ve been experimenting with rewriting infographics’ textual content below the IG, and it’s showing great results. Search engine spiders cannot determine exactly what is written inside of an infographic. We can make its job simpler by rewriting that content below the infographic to make it crawlable.

Use a Lightbox

I cannot stress this enough: use a lightbox to display your infographic. Do not just link to the image. When a site just links to the image, you tend to split the links you build via content promotion. In most cases, people will link directly to the image because that is the last page they see. With a lightbox setup, you keep the user on the page (where the share buttons are), and they will more likely link to the page. You easily leverage inbound links to the page compared to an image file.

Resources:

IG Embed Box

Content should be easily shareable and shouldn’t only be applied to social media buttons. A simple HTML embed box allows you to choose the anchor and alt text you would like to have other bloggers use. It allows a blogger or site owner to quickly copy and share your infographic with attribution. Below I have an example embed box:

<strong>Use the HTML below to embed this graphic</strong>
<textarea rows=”4″ cols=”78″><a href=”URL-OF-POST”><img alt=”INFOGRAPHIC-TITLE” src=”URL-OF-IMAGE” width=”400″ height=”2035″ /><br>Source:<a href=”URL-OF-POST”>ANCHOR TEXT</a></textarea>

URL-OF-POST: This should be replaced with url of the post.
INFOGRAPHIC-TITLE: This should be replaced with the title of the post.
URL-OF-IMAGE: This should be replaced with the url of the image.
ANCHOR TEXT: This should be replaced with the title of the post.
HEIGHT: You want to make the dimensions proportional using an image calculator.

I tend to leave the image in the embed box smaller to encourage users to click through to the original content source page. This also gives bloggers the option to make the infographic easily fit on their pages.

Conclusion

These are just a few changes you can make to your content platform to ensure your content is easy to read and simple to share. By making these small changes, you can increase the chances of social success.

Do you have any tips or tricks that have helped you improve your content promotion performance?  Please share them in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. Doug Francis says:

    Ryan,
    Your links should open a new window… almost lost this great post a couple of times!

    • Ryan Sammy says:

      Hey Doug,
      Thanks for the heads up! I thought I changed them out this morning but I must have missed some. :)

  2. Mary Page says:

    I like how you explained that an integrated approach to all the aspects of a blog post optimizes people finding the post. I agree the buttons for the other social media sites must be easy to find and use. :) When you find great content you naturally want to share; its sad when you easily cannot. Learned much.

    • Ryan Sammy says:

      Hey Mary,
      I am glad you liked the post! I totally agree, when you come across great content, you just have to share it. It makes me sad when sites don’t make it simple. :)

  3. Really strong, technical advise here. It’s so important to streamline the user experience so your readers want to continue reading, interacting with and sharing content. Great post!

  4. SEO Reseller says:

    I want to focus on those social buttons that you mentioned, Ryan. When we talk about the Internet, we’re also talking about the number of users that access it everyday. When you think about that, it should give you a clue on whether you should put those social buttons or not. There are some plugins that allow you to choose the site where you want to share your content. Have you checked out AddThis?

    – Ray

    • Ryan Sammy says:

      Hey Ray,
      Yes, I have used AddThis plugin in the past. I think it’s a good a social button plugin to start with while you determine which buttons to use. I know there are plugins that detect the user referral and shows a button specific to that network. So for example if the user is referred from StumbleUpon it will show that user a StumbleUpon voting button specifically. If they come from a small site, it will detect it and show them that button.

  5. Wow this is a great post! Oodles of information. What I’ve found to be true is the “Make Commenting Easy” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve stopped from commenting because there were too many hoops to jump. It’s not that I didn’t want to say anything. But the desire was not as strong as the irritation. ;)

    • Ryan Sammy says:

      Thanks Gabriella! :) I am glad you enjoyed the post. I feel your pain! I understand blog owners have to deal with a lot of comment spamming but they need to weight the convenience of spam prevention against the value of interaction with your audience. I think this is where something like Facebook comments would solve that issue. Would you still find it simple to comment if you had to log into Facebook first?

      • No doubt it’s always easier, when websites, give their readers options. It’s when you give them too many to choose from, or you make it complicated. One thing I’ve noticed is browser compatibility as an issue when it comes to adding widgets, share buttons, or plug-ins. At least in my case, when I use Chrome I don’t have the FB option, yet in FireFox or Safari it’s there. Not complaints though, we’re slowly getting there with Open Source.

  6. Thanks million for the great and useful tips. Finally I could find in this article the name of the social media bar!I liked too much it..I’m looking also for the WordPress plugin to personalize the twitt with your username inside. Any tips about it?:) Thanks!

    • Ryan Sammy says:

      Your welcome Patrizia! I also searched high and low for that plugin when it first started appearing on sites like Techcrunch. I am glad I was able to help someone else. :) Internally at BG we use our own custom plugins but I did come across this one http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/twitter-post-button/screenshots/ a while back that might meet your needs. I haven’t had a chance to test it but if you do please let me know if you like it. :)

  7. Adam Bate says:

    Great post, Ryan.
    I’ve been looking into Facebook comments lately and glad I stumbled upon this. I have a few popular posts that have been tricky to manage the comments and thought about integrating Facebook comments a while back but was worried about whether or not they’d be indexed properly.
    I wish more people would heed this advice – the web would be a lot cleaner.

    • Ryan Sammy says:

      Thanks Adam :) I was on the fence for a while but after reading a few peer’s posts about it, I am really liking it. Especially Percival’s post on how to make them SEO friendly. I also hope more site owners move in this direction!

  8. Bob says:

    You said. “In order to make your content easy to consume and simple to share, you must start with the blog layout.”

    Blueglass went away from a blog layout on the home page . Do you want to elaborate a bit on your comment?

    • Ryan Sammy says:

      Hey Bob,
      My comment is directed towards content marketing and less services marketing. Since BlueGlass’ main objective is marketing our services, not our content, we have moved away from a blog homepage (but not the CMS). :)

  9. Jonny Ross says: