At Prep-Blog, most of our posts are more along the lines of an article exploring a particular topic, rather than the type of brief blurb that is more common on blogs of various topics. We feel that having plenty of original content makes the site more attractive to readers, and keeps readers coming back to the site. However, another common approach is to use a prepping blog as a journal of your own or your family’s ongoing prepping efforts. That would also be a useful and very personal able approach to survival blogging.
Once you have a prepping or survival blog, beware of commercial advertisers who offer “free articles” for you to post on your website, articles which are nothing but disguised advertising. The person claims to be a “freelance” writer, offering a free post for your blog, but the person works for a company and the article is just a long advertisement linking to the company website. At Prep-Blog, we generally keep our posts and articles separate from our advertising. We only allow ads from companies that we judge to be trustworthy, with excellent products that our readers would find useful. But our posts are aimed at informing and engaging our readers.
My approach to writing for Prep-Blog, is to choose a topic that would be of interest to our readers, and combine my own point of view with some research. So I suggest to you, if you are thinking about starting a blog, that you do some research for your articles, and include quotations and links to sources. This allows the reader to continue learning on the same topic by going to your sources for more information.
Another type of post that we use frequently is what I call a “perspective post”. This type of content is not so much information, as it is a thought-provoking point of view on some matter of opinion. Examples of perspective type posts:
How Exactly Will We Know When the S*** Has Hit The Fan?
Charity during a Crisis: be generous but not stupid
Forming Prepping Groups
Taking Prepping Mainstream
You can also offer posts reviewing products useful to preppers. We do some of that here at Prep-Blog. Another helpful type of post provides a review of content on other prepping website, summarizing links to a variety of sources on a particular topic.
For a successful blog, though, you need to offer new content frequently. We try not to go more than a day or two without a new post. Typically, we have one or two posts in a day. I’ve seen quite a few prepping and survival type blogs out there with no new content in weeks or months. It seems to be rather common that many blogs on this topic don’t last more than a few months, before the blogger stops posting, or allows long lapses between posts. You can’t build an audience that way. Try to post something nearly every day.
Adding photos and illustrations to each blog post enhances the content on your blog. We use very inexpensive stock photos from fotolia as well as images taken from the web via Google image search. Graphs and charts are also useful on certain topic, like economics. A few simple graphics can make an article more attractive and draw more readers.
Of course, you can also add your own photos to your articles. I have a small inexpensive digital camera that I use for that purpose. It works best in full sunlight, and set on a lower resolution. You don’t need very high resolution images in order to illustrate your blog.
Google is by far the most important search engine. Bing and Yahoo! are a very distant second and third; I’m not sure which is second and which is third, but it doesn’t much matter. You need to have a good search ranking in Google to succeed. How do you do that? I have a few simple tips, but there is no magic formula.
1. Write your posts on specific topics. Don’t ramble. Focus on the topic at hand.
2. Consider which keywords a person might enter to search for that specific topic.
3. Then use those words in the URL for the post. With some blogs, you can set the web address (URL) of each post. Do so, and make sure that the file name for the post contains key words. See any post on our site as an example.
4. Also use keywords in the title of the post. If you title your article, “Some of my thoughts today about different things”, or some other obscure phrase, no one will find that article in a search engine! Choose a specific topic and then choose a title that concisely expresses that topic.
5. Be sure that you have those keywords in the article AND within the first 2 or 3 paragraphs. The earlier a keyword or phrase occurs in an article, the more influence it has on ranking.
6. Do not use “tricks” like adding a long list of keywords at the end of an article, or repeating the same keywords over and over again. Do not make the file name too long, or the title too long. Those tricks used to work, in the early 1990′s, when AOL was the top search engine. Not only do they not work now, but they will harm your search ranking severely.
7. Do not use gimmicks to get a good search engine ranking. Instead, offer good content that people will want to find in search engines, and make sure that they can find it. Check Google periodically to see if your site and your articles are findable. If they are not, make some adjustments. It will take a week or two for an adjustment to be reflected in the search ranking of a post.
8. Have a blog roll on every page of your blog, and include a dozen or more of those prepping or survival blogs that are similar to yours, or that you like. Then contact other blogs to see if they will add your blog to their site.
A few Caveats. When I get a request to add someone’s blog to our blog roll, I check for a few things first. Does your blog have a blog roll with my site listed? No. Then you probably won’t be listed here. And I’d much rather see a true blog roll, that appears on every page of your site, than a separate hard-to-find “links page”. Does your blog have frequent posts, at least 2 or 3 a week? No. Then I’ll probably pass. It doesn’t help my site to be listed on your site, if you aren’t attracting readers.
And lastly, I only want to link to, and be linked from, sites on the same general topic. It harms a prepping blog’s search ranking to link to, or be linked from, sites with unrelated content. Beware of link exchange programs. These will harm your raking severely. You don’t want to be linked from a page with a long list of random unrelated sites. Instead, link to sites that have content your readers will like, and ask sites that are similar to yours, also with good related content, to link back to you.
We also keep an eye on Alexa for our site ranking. Put any website into their search engine, and they will rank the site against all websites worldwide and against all U.S. websites. As you gain in audience, your ranking number will go down, indicating that there are fewer sites ranked higher than you (i.e. having a larger audience).
Will there be a part 3 to this article series? I don’t know. Stay tuned to find out. Part one is here.