I remember a time before the Internet was widely used. Letters were handwritten, news came from newspapers, and family updates were made over the telephone. Nowadays, all of these communications (and more) are conducted over the Internet; handwritten letters have been replaced with email or instant messaging, news can be found from down the street or around the globe, and updates are done through personal blogs. The Internet has even changed the workplace online payroll has replaced traditional HR departments, paychecks are automatically deposited instead of printed on paper, and interoffice communication is done via Skype.
With the recent news that the USPS will be closing more than half of their mail processing centers and letting go 28,000 employees, the effect of the Internet is becoming glaringly obvious. These changes will be implemented as early as next April, in an effort to stave off bankruptcy in what was once thought to be a necessary service. Now, however, many view the USPS as little more than deliverers of junk mail.
Steve Shiver, founder of Doxo, a company that helps consumers manage their bills and other documents online, stated in a recent NPR interview: “I had an epiphany one day when I went to my mail box and it was shoved full of junk mail and there’s only two or three important things I needed in all of this three or four pounds of paper. I generally want my government services focused on things that are both efficient and valuable to me as a citizen. And what’s unfortunately happened incrementally over the years is a greater and greater proportion of physical mail is junk.“
So what does this have to do with blogging?
Whereas blogging was once considered a frivolous waste of time, with the decline in postal services, it is obvious that blogging has become the preferred method of sharing information. Whether you’re a “mommy blogger”, or if you write about subjects with more substance, the fact remains that it will now be more difficult than ever to share information in a timely fashion using more traditional methods. For this reason, it is important that you not only continue what you’re doing, but learn to do it well.
What are some things you can learn to improve your blog?
Learn all of the ins and outs of the Internet, and use them to your benefit. Learn about web design, so your page is aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. Learn about SEO and the way that Google’s algorithmic changes can affect your page’s standing in online searches. If your blog is aimed at a specific audience, learn about email marketing strategies. All of these can be learned, ironically enough, over the Internet. Below are five things that every self-respecting blogger should know:
1. SEO has unfairly earned itself a negative reputation, thanks largely in part to black hat SEO tactics, and Google’s algorithmic changes. When the Panda update was released earlier this year, many well-known websites were demoted as a result, so many are understandably trepidatious about using these measures. However, if you learn white hat tactics—providing relevant content, using keywords in the proper context (instead of keyword stuffing), and so forth—then these updates will actually work in your favor. Take the time to learn about this, and your website will flourish as a result.
2. Learn about Google’s updates. The Panda Update, which was released in February 2011, essentially made it so that, when Google crawls your website to index it in their databases, they can read your content at a 10th grade level; in other words, if you are using keywords in a non-relevant manner in order to improve your online visibility, they will know and your page will be penalized. Google’s Fresh update, which was released a little over a month ago, is aimed at ensuring that websites are providing fresh, up-to-date content, rather than recycling old content in order to boost your standings in search engines. These are only two updates that can have an impact on your page. Take the time to learn about these, and use them to your benefit.
3. Every blogger should know basic HTML! This will ensure that your page looks the way you want it to look and is easy to navigate, and is fairly easy to learn. Think of it as a universal language for the Internet. By knowing this, you can be assured that you will be able to post anywhere, on any computer, with the same results.
4. While many bloggers aren’t concerned about marketing their blog, if you are running a blog that needs marketing, then learn everything you can and implement some of these strategies. Email marketing is a way to appeal to specific demographics, while sites such as Facebook and Google offer various methods of advertising at reasonable prices. The more you know, the more your blog will benefit.
5. Just as blogging was once discounted as a fad, only to catch fire and gain popularity exponentially, so too has social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Use these sites to promote your blog. Retweet blog posts, put links to your recent posts on your Facebook page, and so forth. The Internet has literally placed the world at your fingertips, so now is the time to take advantage!