WP essentials: Sharing is caring
Blogging is as much a form of social media as Facebook or Twitter. You can create a blog purely for coursework, or with just a handful of users, but it becomes more interesting and more worthwhile when a larger community is built around your website.
In my Blog Anatomy, I introduce the sorts of content and tags that all blog posts are composed of. Aside from these, the other really very important parts of every blog post are the hyperlinks and social sharing buttons.
By connecting your blog to other sites via hyperlinks and social media, you increase the visibility of your site which, in turn, helps you find interested readers. As with other forms of social media, interacting with site visitors helps to grow a loyal community. The most basic way to interact is by encouraging and responding to comments, and by leaving constructive comments on other sites.
Share. Your course blogs have a ready-made community formed of your peers and teachers: these are the people who will be reading and interacting with what you post first. If you want to reach a wider audience, you will need to build an external readership. This is achieved through linking your blog to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and any other social sites you use via the publicize panel. It can also be done by encouraging subscribers to your blog and by linking a mailing list on Mailchimp or YMLP. WordPress will automatically share new posts with external sites that are linked. The publicise panel can be accessed via the sharing widget on each new post page, simply enter your personal URL for every social media channel you wish to link up.
Link. The World Wide Web is called so for a reason. When we browse the internet, our reading behaviour is determined by the positioning and quality of the links embedded in the articles and images we view online: links that create a virtual web. Links are good for the following reasons.
- External links to and from your website help to increase search engine visibility and site traffic
- Linking to related content on other websites provides value for readers because, when interested, they can click through and learn more about the topic you are writing about
- Links to other posts within your site help to direct readers to other relevant articles; they help to increase time spent on your website and its number of page views
- Linking to other blogs is a way of saying ‘hello’. It helps to encourage and reinforce a community around your website
- Linking is a way of acknowledging and referencing your sources, which is important for research purposes, providing help at times when you’re stuck at your desk thinking ‘where the hell did I read that?’
- Linking as an acknowledgment of sources creates a research path which helps to maintain the intregrity of what you and others post online, and limit the prevalence of factual errors
To link to other websites simply highlight the relevant text and click the insert/edit link button at the top of the text box.
Comment. Many of the biggest blogs around now began in 2006-07, when the medium was still new. At that time it was easier to build a readership within a niche because there simply weren’t as many blogs around competing for people’s attention. Now you have to work much harder to gain readers, but the principle remains the same. If you read and engage with other people’s blogs, in time a proportion of those bloggers will become readers of, and commenters on yours. When other bloggers read your blog, you create an active site that will have more search engine presence, and therefore more traffic from other readers who don’t blog.