Why do we blog?

Okay, people, here comes a question to ponder.  Why do we blog?  Not “we”, as in Level343, but “we” as in bloggers.  While some may blog “just because” and don’t care whether people read it or not, this isn’t the case for the majority.  You have a voice and you want it to be heard; you want to inform, engage and entertain the masses.

For businesses, blogging has an even bigger purpose.  Besides informing and engaging, you want to bring traffic to the blog and, in turn, to your site.  So what are you doing to get that traffic?  Most importantly, how do you know it’s working?  Here are a few tips and tools to get the traffic, track the traffic and see how much good your blog is really doing:

1.  On Site Blog: Although we’ve seen some people suggest hosting your blog off site, this doesn’t make sense.  If you’ve read anything about optimization, you’ll already know that what search engines really care about is CONTENT.  However, most websites don’t update, refresh or add content on a regular basis.

Enter the on site blog, which means the blog is actually part of the website.  Search engines expect blogs to update regularly.  In fact, spiders crawl blogs much more frequently than they do web pages.  So, by having an on site blog (with good content), you have a search engine’s dream – constantly updated, new, informative web pages.

So please, show the search engines a little love and host your blog on site!

2.  Tracking traffic: WordPress.com, Blogger and many other off site blogs show traffic statistics, while an on site blog doesn’t if you don’t add them in.  Google Analytics will show you overall site statistics, but you have to go through lines of information to find out about blog traffic.

I have one word for you: JetPack. Jetpack Manage allows you to manage your self-hosted WordPress sites and your WordPress.com sites from a single dashboard on WordPress.com. (citation WP)

Are you hitting the right keywords?  Statpress shows you which search phrases people are using to find you.  Want to know how many unique visitors you had in a day?  How about how many overall page views?  If you want to know how you’re doing and if your posts are well received, Statpress is a good plug in to have.

3.  Word of mouth: Part of most bloggers’ dreams is to have their blogs all over the Internet.  While a visitor can copy and paste the url, most don’t bother.

Now, there are easy-access buttons so users don’t have to go through all that.  Since Twitter is growing so quick as a social medium,  the WP-TweetPlus is a good one to have. Small or large, the Tweet button not only allows visitors who use Twitter to quickly pass your post on, but it also shows you how many have.  In addition, it helps garner interest in what you have to say, which means more traffic.

4.  Word of mouth part 2: Although a lot of people use Twitter, many don’t, or prefer other bookmarking sites.  The AddtoAny plug in provides a multi-site sharing platform, allowing users to share your posts and/or blog through any available social media or social bookmarking site.  Even though Tweet and AddtoAny aren’t absolutely necessary, the keyword here is “convenience”.  The easier it is to share, the more visitors will.

5.  Sitemaps: The sitemap is the perfect way for search engines to easily access all the pages you want crawled. Google XML Sitemaps is a neat little program that does it all for you.  Not only does it build the map for your blog, it also updates it any time you have a new post.  Finally, it notifies the major search engines via ping with a “psst – new content here” information burst.

Now that you have the top five essentials – implement and get back to blogging!  Watch your traffic grow and don’t be afraid to use the little bookmarking and Tweetme buttons to spread your own word of mouth!

Do you have your own top five?  We’d be happy to hear about them!