Author: Paul Bradshaw

5 ways to make your content findable – tips for good blogging.

When you’re writing content for your blog, you want people to be able to find it. Most people are going to find your blog after searching for something on Google. This is how to improve the likelihood that they will find you:

1. Write a meaningful headline

Headlines are one of the most important parts of your blog – not just for readers but for sites like Google which use it to decide what your blog post is about.

When you write a blog post, the headline should be as meaningful and factual as possible. ‘An event this weekend’ for example, tells us very little. ‘Council meeting at Sparkhill Community Centre’ is much better. If someone is searching for ‘Sparkhill’ or ‘council meeting’ or ‘community centre’ they are much more likely to find it.

A good technique is to put yourself in the place of someone looking for the information you’re publishing. Will they use the same jargon as you, or a more common term? Try to include in your headline the terms that people will use for their search.

2. Write meaningful content

Google will not just look at your headline when categorising a blog post. It will pay particular attention to your first paragraph, any subheadings, bold and italic text, and links.

Try to include important names, places and terms in those places. It not only makes it easier for Google, but also for readers, who will often look to the first par, subheadings, bold and italic text and links for the key information they’re seeking.

3. Categorise and tag your content

Once you’ve finished your post, make sure you categorise and tag it. The boxes to do that are to the right of your post as you write it (instructions for how to do this can be found here).

Categories and tags help Google to more accurately classify your content – but they also make it easier to find for people browsing your site. If something is categorised ‘Herefordshire’, for example, when someone has finished reading it they can click on the ‘Herefordshire’ category link to see all the other posts in that category.

4. Add an image – and an alternative description

An increasing number of people are using image searches to find content. When writing a post think if you have an image that suits it. If so, add it in (instructions can be found here) and make sure that the ‘alternative description’ box is filled with something meaningful and factual – this is the text that Google uses to categorise it.

5. Add text summaries to audio, images or video

Search engines like Google cannot hear audio or see photos or video, so they look around it to try to figure out what the content is about. If you are publishing audio or video include an introductory paragraph that explains who is speaking, where it was filmed, and what it is about. Make sure you include key places, names and phrases that people might use to find this content.

As an aside, if your video is hosted on YouTube or your images on Flickr, make sure you have a description on that site as well – and a link to the blog. More people use YouTube to search than use Yahoo! so it’s another way that people can find your information.

8 things you can blog about in civic activity

Knowing how to update a blog technically is one thing – but it still needs content to bring it alive and keep it going. Here are a few ideas to first get you blogging regularly – and then blogging successfully.

First: who are your users?

Before you can do this you need a clear idea of who your users are. Are they other people in your organisation? Potential partners in other organisations? Existing users of a particular service? People who might be interested in using it in future? Read more

‘Making it findable’ – the creed of the hyperlocal blogger

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at Hyperlocal Govcamp West Midlands, a gathering of hyperlocal bloggers, local government officials, and people involved in open data.

The final session of the afternoon focused on what bloggers wanted from council officials. The subject itself says a lot about just how the power relationship between communications professionals and hyperlocal bloggers has changed.

As one attendee from a police authority commented: “We have to treat questions from members of the public in the same way as from the press.” The ability to publish is no longer unique. Forget about citizen journalists – we are all citizens now.

A distributed, engaged audience

Indeed, Dan Slee from Walsall Council – a former print journalist with the local paper – noted the difference between the numbers of readers Read more