Successful blogs must be credible and one easy way for you to achieve that is to build your social authority.
Establishing credibility is both a short-term and long-term goal for your blog, and more valuable information that you provide for your audience, the higher the chances of success.
Toady’s competitive blogosphere makes it challenging to meet the needs of your target market if you do not pay attention to quality and maintaining some consistent standards as you start posting.
People who are turned off by your blog are less likely to return; with thousands of blogs on similar subjects, it is easy to lose traffic because of a lack of experience, poor writing, or simply not updating your blog enough.
Valuable blogs receive ongoing traffic as they start showing up on directories and indexes across the web. These include sites such as:
- Boing Boing
- Blog Listing
- Fuel My Blog
All of these directories receive thousands, even millions, of visitors each day. Each item that is listed on the site receives ratings or reviews from other users, and you can start establishing credibility simply by joining.
These sites also contain thousands of articles and topic matter related to your subject; they can serve as effective research tools when you are developing blog content, and can give you some valuable links to work with as you start developing fresh ideas.
When your overall site is indexed on these directories in the appropriate category, this also provides some credibility. People who are searching across these networks can see that your blog may be more worthy of attention, especially when you include a logo, title, or description for the catalog.
Elements for Credibility: What Your Blog MUST Have
There are some essential elements that your blog must have in order to credible. These are a combination of the site structure and design, as well as the style and type of content you start posting. Each one is discussed in detail below, and the blog must include:
- Author name
- Contact information
- A brief Bio or About Us section
- Links to resources
- Well-balanced visual elements
- If you have advertising make sure it’s not overwhelming to visitors
- No spam in comment boxes
- Compelling language and headlines
- Proper language, free from typos
- References to sources
- Carefully placed affiliate links (if any at all)
- Author responses on comments
- Appropriate language and conduct
You’ll start with providing the author name; this is essential for helping your readers make a ‘human’ connection to your blog, and they should be able to contact you directly with any questions.
Blog readers are looking for an ‘insider’ perspective on most issues, and it is very helpful for them to be able to distinguish company marketing materials from an actual first-person perspective. Knowing who the author is will help to bring the message of the blog closer to home.
This goes hand-in-hand with the contact information. You can include your e-mail address or just a ‘Contact Us’ page. The goal is to make sure users can trust that the information is coming from a real person, and they have the freedom to contact the author if necessary. This can help you create a connection with both customers and random visitors, providing credibility for your content.
Next it’s a good idea to provide a brief bio. This can also take the form of an ‘About Us’ section that briefly summarizes who you are, why the blog exists, and what you plan to include. This can be helpful for anyone who simply stumbles across the blog and needs a quick summary of what your blog is about. This information may also be included on the homepage, as it can help direct users to the appropriate resources–your main website, for example—instead.
The blogroll is a very effective marketing tool, as it helps readers see who else is linking to your blog, and where to find more information. The blogroll is your connection to other blogs in the blogosophere, and credible blogs listed here will in turn help you earn some credibility. A blogroll should be comprised of at least ten to fifteen different blogs or websites.
It’s a good idea to send out e-mails to everyone on the blogroll notifying them of the inclusion, and hopefully listing you on their blogroll as well. This will help boost traffic from other resources, while helping you link up to some valuable blogs for referencing as well.
The Resource Links section is another area that will demonstrate credibility; a solid resource list will inform your readers that you are using various resources for research and keeping up to date with news in your industry, and also provide them with other navigation options as they browse your site.
The resources links section can also be followed up with an e-mail to each website notifying them of the inclusion. They may choose to participate in a link exchange program as a result, furthering your chances of increased traffic.
Visual elements is often something successful bloggers spend a lot time on, as it’s important to remember that an attractive layout will help to boost your credibility naturally. The visual design and navigability of your site are important for your overall presentation, and making sure that there are no major errors in site design is an ongoing project.
The opportunity to include ads on your blog makes the site more valuable to advertisers, but it is important to remember balance during the selection and implementation of ads.
Overwhelming readers with ads, or simply bombarding random advertisements throughout your site can easily turn off a fair amount of first-time visitors. Even when you start joining affiliate programs and other networks, maintain a steady amount of ads that complement your site instead of distracting your readers from the content.
Monitoring spam comments is essential to keeping your blog in good standing, and will have a higher chance of reaching the top rankings of search engines when it is free of clutter and spam-related materials.
Spam blockers are often a part of most blog platforms, but even the filters can overlook some types of comment spam on occasion. Monitoring your blog regularly will ensure that you are keeping track of visitor comments, and you can select an option to moderate all comments before they are published if necessary.
This prevents spam bloggers ‘sploggers’ from overloading your site with unnecessary material without authorization, and can help you post the appropriate comments and feedback to keep your blog as interactive as possible.
Ensuring that your headlines are compelling, original, and creative will also help to reach out to your readers. Credible blogs make an extra effort to provide unique and engaging content, and your efforts will pay off when you are posting relevant information on a consistent basis.
In addition to the headlines, watch the quality of the content you are posting; use strong and effective language to deliver your message, and provide links and references to material as necessary. Editing your blog regularly is just as important as writing it and it should always be free of typos and grammatical errors.
As you develop each piece of content, make sure you are providing references to sources if you are making certain claims. Even if you are redirecting users away from your blog homepage, you can use settings where the link opens in a new window. This will help them stay on your blog page if they need to, and providing the right references will help you establish credibility and authority on the subject naturally.
Watching how and where you place affiliate link ads is another element of credibility for your blog. If readers feel that you are simply using the blog as a vehicle for affiliate links, they are much less likely to believe that your content is coming from experience and not just a marketing ploy instead. Affiliate links are only valuable to your readers if you have found the products valuable yourself; if readers detect that there are ulterior motives to the placement of these links, they may simply stop visiting.
Keeping up with your blog also involves responding to comments in a timely manner, and appropriately managing negativity. Starting a ‘flaming war’ (Written online arguments with your contributors), will not help your reputation, and many startup bloggers make the mistake of losing focus when responding to comments on their blog. At best, it can be helpful to simply moderate comments before publishing so you can control the interactions on the site.
It is difficult to earn your reputation back after communicating publicly on sensitive issues, so be weary of this during your responses.
In addition to appropriate commenting, it’s essential to use the right language and tone. Even though blogging is naturally conversational in style, it can be ‘read’ the wrong way without context.
Make sure you are using politically correct terms when necessary, and avoid writing posts that require reading between the lines. Offending large groups of people after writing seemingly simple posts can take its toll on readership; make sure to review and edit content as needed.
Blog Credibility and SEO
Search engines today are becoming even more refined and smarter at finding relevant and informative sites and blogs to index, and your blog will receive a higher credibility status when it encompasses most of the important elements. Search engines and directories are looking for:
- Relevant content
- Appropriate formatting and titles
- Steady visitor traffic
- Linking in from other sites
- Regular posting and updating
- Consistency in blog content
- Sites free of spam and excessive advertising
- Effective use of Ad Sense
How Visitors Determine Credibility
Making yourself a trustworthy and credible resource on the web takes time, but becoming an expert in your niche industry is an essential step towards regular readership. Even if your blog is an extension of your website, you can use it as a subsidiary resource platform that can help introduce readers to your company, and encourage them to continue reading. From the visitor’s perspective, there are essential signs of credibility that help distinguish one source form another.
Longevity of the blog
How long has it been active, how many posts are there?
Does the author have other sites and experience published around the web? If so, what are they? Expertise – can the author verify their expertise?
Is the site well-constructed and modern?
Is the author a strong writer, or do they seem to post poorly written content on a regular basis?
Has the blog or site reached a high amount of readers? Many people turn to ranking indexes such as Alexa to determine this. But don’t get too caught up in this we all have to start somewhere!
Are the posts regular and arranged in the appropriate categories, or are they simply submitted to the blog randomly? Remember make sure your writing conventions and blog tags are consistent.
Is the voice natural and friendly, or does it sound like it is coming from the marketing/PR person trying to sell something?
Gaining steady readership will take time, but establishing credibility is a long-term goal for any blogger regardless of experience. Knowing how to convey a message that matches with your reader’s interests is a necessary step; take the time to research, review, and edit your blog posts each time and make sure that the overall blog setup and design is in line with the competition.