There is much to be learned by studying the Web's most popular blogs. Learn about these popular blogs and how they sustain their popularity over time, engage readers and even make money.
What makes the most popular blogs on the World Wide Web so popular? After all, there are millions of blogs on the Web with more being created every day: standing out is difficult. Fortunately, there are many good examples of blogs to learn from. By learning these lessons, you can get your new corporate blog off the ground, get more attention for your hobbyist blog and perhaps even earn more AdSense revenue. Since the Web is constantly changing, this article focus on content, community, design and promotion rather than technical concerns. If you desire to become a "top 10" blog, you may need to invest some effort in Internet marketing tools and SEO marketing.
The Web's Top 10 Blogs
Technorati is one of the Web's most used tools to search blogs, discover new blogs and rank blogs. The list provided in this section introduces you to some of the most established blogs and shows you the variety of "niches" (i.e. interests or industries) covered by bloggers around the world. The list combines blogs on Technorati's top 100 blog list and some other examples of leading blogs.
- The Huffington Post: Originally known as a source of U.S. politics and commentary, the Huffington Post blog now covers many different areas of interest including sports and business.
- TechCrunch: This blog focuses on the Web, Internet and technology news.
- TMZ.com: TMZ is one of the best known gossip and celebrity blogs on the Web.
- Mashable!: This blog focuses on social media and the social Web
- Think Progress: Focused on U.S. politics
- Engadget: New consumer electronics, technology reviews and related subject matter is the focus of this blog
- Boing Boing: The wide ranging subject matter - everything from science fiction, to history to pop culture - of this blog is hard to summarize but it is among the Web's most popular blogs
- Seth Godin's Blog: Written by best selling author Seth Godin, this blog focuses on marketing, business and ideas
- MacRumors: Written by and for enthusiasts of Apple's products such as the iPhone and iPad.
- The Official Google Blog: Learn how Google operates directly from the source.
At a glance, the above blogs have little in common beyond their sheer popularity. However, further analysis shows we can learn specific lessons from looking at these tips. In the rest of this article, four specific qualities of the most popular blogs will be examined: content, design, community and promotion.
The importance of quality content to blogs can be summed up in a three word phrase: Content is king. Some blogs have dozens of blog posts a day from many different authors. Unless you set out to create a blog with other bloggers, you will likely be on your own. Many new bloggers easily come up with content in their first few months but then lose steam just as their blog startes to attract readers. Consider these tips to create a constant steam of quality blog content.
- Blogging Like Clockwork: Though some bloggers are inspired enough to easily create new content every day, many new bloggers find it helpful to set a schedule. For example, you can write weekly blog posts (e.g. post every Tuesday night) or twice a week. As you blog becomes more popular, readers will come to expect new content on a regular basis.
- Read For Inspiration: Writers of the the most popular blogs are constantly reading about the area of interest on other blogs, newspapers, magazines and other sources. For those that struggle to keep up with many different blogs, using a tool like Google Reader or a RSS reader to stay on top of your Internet reading.
- Respond To Other Blogs: By linking to and commenting on other blogs, your profile in your niche will generally rise. Discussing other blog posts also connects you to others interested in the same subject. Many popular bloggers are in regular conversation with others in their niche.
Engaging design is another common trait found on the Internet's most popular blogs. There are many aspects to blog design and debate about what constitutes the best blog layout. In general, here are some of the most important design elements that support popular blogs:
- An Engaging Banner: The graphic along the top of the blog makes the blog easy to identify and memorable to the reader. It could be a photo of the author or images that symbolize the community.
- Navigation: Blogging platforms like WordPress have a number of ways of organizing content to make it clear to the reader. Organizing posts by date is one simple way of providing navigation. More creative bloggers provide a "most popular posts" widget, tags and categories.
- Layout and graphic design considerations: What colours work for your audience? Which fonts work? It can often take some experimentation to find the right mix of fonts. Unless your blog is focused on graphic design, it makes sense to choose a common font like Arial and simply start writing.
A small engaged audience of readers, "a small army" as author/blogger Chris Guillebeau calls them, makes blogging into a lively and interesting activity. Popular blogs use a combination of techniques including comments, posing questions to readers, and posting polls to bring their readers in. A blogger that completely ignores his or her audience tends not to last very long unless they are particularly determined.
- Comments: If a reader poses a question or corrects something in a post, successful bloggers will often respond directly in the comments or write a whole new post addressing the concerns or issues raised by the commenter.
- Anti-Spam Measures: Some people pose a high volume of comments simply to attract attention to their own websites while contributing little of substance to the blog itself. While there are some automated tools available that can block such spam, it ultimately takes a dedicated blogger to keep the community civil.
There are many different ways to promote a blog depending on one's goals. For example, you may simply wish to raise your professional profile. On the other hand, your goal may involve commercial gain. Indeed, blog marketing can be used to promote an existing business. Promoting a blog ethically, especially when you have a commercial blog, is possible as one as one observes the "unwritten rules of blogging promotion."
- Avoid Unethical Marketing Services: Some Internet marketing services can help you promote your blog but be careful that you do not end up with a service that promotes your blog with spam, irrelevant ads or other dubious means.
- Seek Out Others That Share Your Interest: If you write a blog on the iPad or accounting, find other blogs that address that same theme and comment on their blog. Always seek to add something of value to the conversation.
- Guest Posts: Writing a guest post on an established and popular blog is one of the most popular ways of promoting your blog. However, to write a guest post properly requires some research and careful thought. Before asking to submit a guest post to a blog, look for any previous guest posts and observe their style and length. Then look for a subject that the blogger is interested in but has not explored in much depth. After doing this research, you can email the blogger with your guest post idea.
Copyblogger, http://www.copyblogger.com/ (This blog provides blog writing ideas, inspiration and blog marketing advice)
Technorati Top 100 Blogs, http://technorati.com/blogs/top100
ProBlogger, http://www.problogger.net/ (Full of tips on blogging, blog writing and blog ideas)