Top tips for successful and popular blog writing

Many companies add blogs to their websites with the sole intention of bolstering their SEO efforts. And why not? It’s a simple and effective way of generating fresh content that the search engines will love.

Unfortunately, there’s a downside too. Blogs also need to appeal to brand followers and potential customers, and many organisations struggle to keep them updated with the original and interesting content that attracts a healthy readership.

So, how can you avoid this pitfall? What do you need to bear in mind if you want to write regular blog posts that generate buzz and draw in visitors? Let’s take a look at the top five articles that were posted on this blog in 2009, and see what we can learn.

Timing is everything

Jan Moir: how the Twitter backlash started (October 2009)
The key to this post’s success was not only its hugely popular subject but also its timing. It also revealed an aspect of the story that had been missed by the mainstream media, as well as other bloggers. On the evening it was uploaded to the Coast Digital blog, the post received nearly 300 page views almost instantly.

Ensuring that newsworthy content is available when people are looking for it (i.e. when the topic is still fresh) is an absolute must and will ensure that you don’t miss out on potential search traffic.

Google homepage: we’re not bored, let’s fade away (December 2009)
A staggering 80 per cent of this post’s page views resulted from Google searches. Again, timing was key as it followed hot on the heels of Google’s homepage update.

The post also offered readers opinion on the update, rather than just a bland report, which led to a healthy number of reader comments. This kind of interaction is always good for extending the lifetime of a post.

Mix it up

Santa Nav: track Father Christmas online (December 2009)
A news story rather than a blog post, but topicality was still vital to the popularity of this Christmas-themed story. Knowing what your readers are interested in – and responding appropriately – is almost certainly the simplest way of guaranteeing a loyal and involved audience.

It doesn’t hurt to offer some light-hearted material amongst the more serious issues-based posts every now and then, either.

Don’t be afraid to express an opinion

Why Foundem.co.uk doesn’t rank in Google (August 2009)
Like the Google homepage post, this blog served up plenty of opinion – and this time it explained why a certain website deserved its poor SEO performance. Timing was once again crucial – Foundem was featured in the national press on the same day.

While many companies shy away from expressing genuine views in such a public way, a bit of controversy can result in an incredibly popular post. It’s unlikely to harm your reputation either: as long as you back up your opinion and avoid empty ranting.

Is racism acceptable on Facebook applications? (August 2009)
Picking a subject that you feel strongly about will nearly always result in a compelling piece of writing that others will want to read.

This post received a lot of supportive comments because it addressed an issue that many bloggers might have been afraid to tackle. You certainly won’t lose face by pointing out what your industry is doing wrong and suggesting a way that it can improve.

Bringing it together: practice makes perfect

There are no hard and fast rules for the success of a blog, so it’s often a case of getting started, building a following, and then analysing which posts are popular and which aren’t. Every time you succeed, ask yourself what attracted people to the post, and why they engaged with it.

Each company, industry and blogger will be looking to achieve something different, so don’t be afraid to try something new. You might be surprised by which topics interest your followers – they’re often not the ones that you’d expect.