I’ve recently been working with some organizations who are blogging for the first time. Regardless of the blog platform they choose to use, it seems there are some important features that are not native to the platform. In other words, the “out of box” version of the blog usually requires some tweaks to get it just the way you want. I recommend every blog add the following five items if you don’t have them already. They will be important add-ons to your blog.
1. Search: Although it may not seem obvious, you want a search bar within your blog because in time you want people to remember something you wrote and come back and find it quickly. I don’t know how many times I’ve been in meetings with clients and either pulled up a blog post that was pertinent to the discussion or referred someone to search and find a post that applied to them. You’re doing all the hard work of blogging so help yourself out and give future visitors a chance to see what you’ve said about given topics.
If your blog platform doesn’t have a search feature available, Google has a custom search engine you can grab for free (if you don’t mind the advertising).
2. Email Subscription: Email is still the way a lot of adults stay up on the things they want to know so you want to make it easy for people to subscribe to you blog via email. Don’t force them to use a feed reader (like Google Reader) and don’t force them to remember to come back to your blog regularly. With the subscription services (most of which are free) the subscribers are automatically sent new posts via email. That means you don’t have to manually send posts to people and they don’t have to remember to see if you’ve written anything new since the last time they were there. It’s a win/ for everyone. I recommend Feedburner but I know WordPress now has their own subscription tool available if your activate it.
3. Social Sharing: One of the reasons most people blog is to build some level of authority with their readers and when/if you get that authority you want to make it easy for people to share your great content so look to include Facebook, Twitter, and other social sharing features into your blog. One popular service here is AddThis but some sites require you get the codes from them. Pinterest, for instance, provides “Pin It” capabilities for you to add to your blog also.
4. Threaded Comments: In the old days of blogging (five years ago) comments in blogs were linear. If you had an active post with a lot of comments it was hard to respond to a single person. With threaded comments, however, you can now replay to a single comment. It helps the conversation on a blog flow more easily and also looks a lot better. Popular platforms like WordPress and Blogger now have threaded comments (though you may have to activate them if they’re not already active by default) and DISQUS can be plugged into many blog formats as well.
5. Links to Your Social Profiles: If you’re blogging you probably have a few social media profiles as well so let people connect with you there. I was on a site recently for a social media consultant and his blog didn’t have a single link to a Twitter account, Facebook page, or even a LinkedIN account. There’s no reason to neglect this. If you can add an icon (like the available Twitter icons) that’s ideal. Even if you can’t, at least put something there in text. Whatever the case, if you’re blogging and you’re good people will want to connect with you in a social networking platform so make that easy for them to do and link to your other profiles. Here’s a tutorial that can help you do it.
Photo credit: Woodleywonderworks