Updated: May 25
Just about everything we post online is searchable. That is why blogs, forums, and members' comments are such a valuable addition to any website. But not all posts are created equal. Some grow your community better than others. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your online posts.
Tip 01: Start with this Format
Begin with a "hook" or lead paragraph
Support your hook with points
Summarize your post with a conclusion
A good post has three parts: a "hook" or lead paragraph, a body, and a conclusion. A basic hook is comprised of one to three sentences and should pique your reader's interest. The body supports the hook with points. Three to five points is ideal. The conclusion then combines the lead and its supporting points in a brief summary. Like the hook, a basic summary should be one to three sentences long.
Keep your sentences short and clear. Use "I," "you," and "we" to connect with your readers. Limit contractions (ex: use "I am" instead of "I'm"). And use a spell checker.
Tip 02: Be Relevant
Use specific language (i.e. "game jargon")
Link keywords to other internal posts
Search engines love jargon. An example of game jargon for Hell Let Loose is "strongpoint." Another is "cap weight." Using keywords like these improves your post's search relevancy.
It is important to not overuse these words. The overuse of keywords is called "keyword stuffing," and posts that stuff keywords can be penalized by search engines. A simple rule of thumb is to use keywords only when it is natural to do so.
It is also important to define keywords when you suspect your reader(s) might not know what you mean. However, it is much easier to link keywords to other posts or pages on your site where they are defined in full. Several posts pointing back to a common page (ex: a glossary of terms) can elevate that page's search ranking.
Think of your blogs, forums, and comments as a small version of the Web. The more connections in your web, the harder it will work for you (this includes multimedia).
Tip 03: Promote Your Work
It is a proven fact that you can have the best, most well-written post on a given topic and still get nowhere online. The reason for this is because search engines estimate the value of a post using three criteria: relevancy, novelty, and (most importantly of all) engagement.
Novelty simply means not copying what others have already posted and then posting it as your own. Some overlap in content is unavoidable, but "plagiarism" (the copy-and-paste of text content verbatim from another author) is not just frowned upon online; it can get you and your community into real trouble. It is better just to be original.
Engagement, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. Engagement includes readership (which loosely correlates to the time visitors spend viewing your post), permitted quotes or approved excerpts (which are different from plagiarism), backlinks and, of course, the mainstays: likes, shares, and comments. But how do you get people to engage with your post if you do not already rank in search engines?
Promote, promote, promote.
If you take the time to write a quality post, you might as well go the distance and promote your work. Here are five ways to promote your post that are sure to get you noticed and, by extension, help your online community grow.
Include "tagged" multimedia elements
Publish to relevant aggregate sites
Develop a support network
Engage your readers
Keep your posts up-to-date
Tagged multimedia elements are any images, videos, audio samples, etc, that accompany the text of your post. Each element may be titled, described, and tagged with keywords in addition to those found in your post. These elements are independently searchable, linked back to your post by default, and can help get your work noticed.
An example of an aggregate site is Reddit. A relevant aggregate site for HLL is the Hell Let Loose "subreddit" on Reddit. You can find just about anything you can imagine on Reddit. But most of those who visit the HLL subreddit do so to learn about or keep up-to-date on what is happening with Hell Let Loose, specifically. Any post relating to Hell Let Loose is likely to gain some attention when posted there.
NOTE: when posting to an aggregate site, be sure to follow the rules regarding posts. These rules ensure that sites like Reddit remain valued and useful services.
A support network is a group of friends or fans that share your interests. This network is particularly important when posting videos to YouTube, for example. The first week of any YouTube video is crucial. High viewer activity during this time tells Google (YouTube's parent company) that your content may be of interest to others searching your topic. To a lesser degree, the same is true for posts. A solid support network can jump-start your publication.
To keep the readership activity high for your post, engage your readers in the comments section of your post. The best posts invite questions and, ultimately, further dialogue. The best publishers answer those questions and develop that dialogue.
Finally, keep your posts up-to-date. This is a huge advantage text posts have over videos. There is currently no way to edit YouTube (or Vimeo) videos once they are posted. But blog, forum, and most comments can be edited anytime. Google loves content updates about as much as it loves jargon. Frequent updates that add content to your post are best. Keeping the dialogue alive and vibrant in your posts' comments sections takes care of that. But keeping your posts up to date ensures the quality of your posts and lets your readers know you are serious and, perhaps, worth following.