The University of St. Thomas

Blog Best Practices

Depending on its subject matter, a blog can utilize a wide variety of writing styles, but there are a few general rules to follow that will improve the impact of one’s message.

Getting Started

Choosing Titles
A great post demands a great title – they often determine the likelihood that your audience will decide to read your article. Titles are often quickly scanned by your users, and should reflect the contents of your post. They are weighed heavily by search engines and will appear as titles on search engines like Google. Consider the following when creating a title for your latest blog post:

  • Keep it short – headlines are meant to be brief but informative. Keep your subject to one line, if possible.
  • Keep it obvious, but try to be enticing – you want your reader to know what they are about to read but try not to give it all away in the title.
  • Consider your audience – what should your audience have learned as a result of having read your post? Can you set up that expectation in a title?
  • If you consider yourself an expert, act like one – there’s nothing wrong with a confidently-written headline when trying to attract the attention of your reader.
  • Try to spend about as much time considering your headline as you do writing your article – it demands as much care and thought as your actual post.

Writing Posts

  • Again, keep it short – take as much space as you need to make your point and captivate your audience, but don’t set out to write the great American novel. The attention spans people have while reading content on the web are incredibly short – try to make your point as early as possible. If you really have a lot to say and can’t think of any good way to shorten your post, consider spacing it out into multiple posts.
  • Use media whenever possible – photos and video can help to draw in your viewer and give them something physical to which they can relate. Use as much as you like, but keep the content relevant and poignant to your topic. If you use images, try to include subtitles – they are commonly more read than your actual post, so be careful what you say and how it’s said.
  • Don’t steal – as obvious as this may sound it’s incredibly important to state your OWN opinions and facts when writing a blog post. When citing other people’s work, make sure to give credit where credit is due. Be aware of copyrighted material and get permission or purchase rights before posting copyrighted materials on your website.
  • Use links, where appropriate – the hyperlink is perhaps the single most important feature of the internet. It allows your post to contain more than just text – referencing other websites can be a powerful way for you to add support to your topic and improves your site’s search ranking, but link wisely – each link you add to your page is an invitation for your reader to forget about your article and have their attention grabbed by someone else.
  • Write frequently – your audience, once engaged, appreciates regular updates and can grow to expect them over time. Try to set writing goals for yourself and stick to them. Blogs are rarely, if ever, overnight successes and require continual, sustained content. It may be difficult at times to keep up with the demand that blogs create. You may be tempted to get other authors to contribute their own posts to your blog, but be careful – the role of an editor is often as difficult as that of a contributor.
  • Don’t worry right away about the extras – there’s an old Japanese saying that goes “don’t worry about your beard when your head is about to be taken.” Your first and foremost priority as a blogger is to write captivating content. There will be plenty of time to add widgets and extra features to your website later once it has established a readership. Once you’re ready to add extras to your site please contact Web & Media Services to set up a consultation.

Getting Better

Once you have started to write engaging content in your blog, the next set of tips will allow you to continue to improve your site’s usability and overall effectiveness.

  • Categorize your posts – as your website’s content begins to grow, you may find it helpful to categorize your posts. This will allow them to be sorted according to category and you will make it easier for your readers to find posts on a given topic or theme.
  • Use tags – they are meant to contain key words about your post’s content and are incredibly useful. They improve your search engine ranking and allow your users to find relative content on your site.
  • Read and respond to your comments – blogs are meant to be a two-way conversation and are a great way for you as well as your readers to gain additional perspective and insight. By responding to comments you give your visitors the impression that you care about what they say, which can result in greater engagement and participation. Inevitably, you will receive negative feedback – this is natural. It’s important to stay respectful when responding to such criticism.