Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Short Of It

I've got an article online here:

http://writersdigest.com/articles/konrath_amazonshorts.asp

The article is all about Amazon Shorts, and whether they are a viable market for writers. But that's not the topic of today's blog.

Today we're going to talk about the immortality, in the virtual sense.

Every blog post lasts forever, or at least until there's a server crash or you manually remove it.

I've used the analogy before that a blog post is like a lobster trap. An unmoored lobster pot will kill for decades, because lobsters keep crawling in, getting trapped, dying, and becoming bait to lure more lobsters to their doom. Google and the other search engines, other blogs, websites, message boards, and newsgroups, all link to your blog, treating each entry as a seperate page. A post can keep killing for years after it was written.

Unless, of course, there's no reason for anyone to visit it.

Last week, I mentioned that information and entertainment are what people are looking for. When there are billions of things to see and do on the World Wide Web, having a specific focus can help surfers find you.

Now I want you to think about the last blog entry you either read or wrote. Go on. Think about it. And try to think of the search terms that surfers would need to enter into Google in order to find that post. Then try to think of a one sentence summary that another blogger would use when linking to that post.

If you're writing blog entries that can't be summerized, or can't be Googled using obvious terms, then maybe your blogging time isn't as effective as it could be.

How are people finding your blog? Are they people who are looking for you, or looking for something else and finding you instead?

You can guess which will recruit more readers.

So what is the secret to a blog post that will be relevant a year from now?

1. Define the topic. The more specific, the better. If you blog about baseball, you're competing for search engine rankings with eight million other baseball blogs. If you blog about left-handed pinch hitters named Raul, you'll be ranked higher, and get more hits.

2. Stay focused. Think essay. The Amazon Shorts article above was basically an entry from this blog. I try to make each of my blogs a self-contained article.

3. Offer something. People who read blogs are looking for expertise, advise, and opinion.

4. Encourage user-generated content. Ask questions, allow feedback, and foster repsonses. Debate is what separates the good blogs from the great ones.

5. Be consistent. Post regularly, and stick to the point.

Did I miss anything?