3 veteran blogging tricks for new writers

In PR, you’re often tasked with a variety of projects that extend beyond media relations.

You must simultaneously be a journalist, social media expert, event planner and more.

Frequently, running a client’s company blog also makes the “to-do” list, but while most PR pros can map out a content strategy and choose their promotion tactics, many don’t fully understand the deeper logistics that go into blogging.

Successful bloggers master SEO techniques, can strategically respond to blog comments and ensure nothing oversteps the legal boundaries of copyright law.

Here are three ways to take these fundamental elements of blogging a step further for exceptional results.

1. Branch out from basic SEO.

You likely know the basics of SEO by now—incorporate keywords throughout your client’s website and messaging to boost your search engine ranking—but there are probably some blog-specific SEO tactics you’ve missed.

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The two most overlooked opportunities for keywords are pictures and webpage descriptions.

Make your client’s blog photos contribute to the site’s SEO by adding keywords to the title of the picture and in the alt description.

Search engines will pick up these keywords when someone is looking for a specific picture, boosting your chances of getting found.

The blog description is another hidden way to plant keywords. Meta descriptions are what pop up under the title in the search results. Relevant descriptions can increase the chances of your website being clicked, which signals to search engines that your content is worth displaying higher. Aim for descriptions that are 150 and 160 characters long—anything longer will be automatically trimmed.

2. Create a blog comment procedure.

You might have a comments section, but is it getting managed?

Do you respond to negative comments or only the positive ones? Do you engage trolls or turn off comments all together?

There are arguments to be made for a variety of comment strategies, but no matter what side you fall on, a blog comment procedure should be in place.

There are a few reasons for this: It sets expectations for your client—you now have a policy you can reference to explain why you didn’t respond to a post. It also allows you to set expectations for your community. If your policy includes removing any offensive comments, share that piece publicly. This helps you remain transparent, and prevents accusations of deleting unfavorable feedback.

Remember, whether positive or negative, comments are an important part of writer-reader interactionThey’re a clear indication that your writing struck a chord and they offer valuable insight into what content works and what doesn’t.

Before you decide to turn your comments off, remember: Google likes comments. By having an active comments section, you show search engines that your blog post is relevant and regularly updated.

3. Learn the legal limitations.

While you don’t need to pass the bar exam, you should have a basic understanding of the legal rights and restrictions for content on your blog.

Knowing which photos you’re allowed to include and whether or not you can quote someone else’s work—and how to protect your content—is all part of the blogging process.

Two things to familiarize yourself with are “fair use” and “Creative Commons.”

The Fair Use Clause is what allows you to quote experts, books and other sources in your blog. Snippets of copyrighted work can be used for commentary, criticism, reporting and teaching, as long as you give credit and backlink to the source. That said, if the original owner of the content requests to remove their content from the blog, it’s best to respect their wishes.

When it comes to images in your blog, Creative Commons is an alternative to buying stock photos. Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that enables the sharing of creative work through use of copyright licenses that clearly communicate the rights that authors have over their work.

Just make sure to only use the images that have a license “to modify and commercialize images.” Of course, the safest way to add images is to use your own pictures exclusively, so you may want to expand your skillset into photography and design.

“Blogger” may not be at the top of your resume, but with these three tips, you can make sure your client is getting the most bang for blog.

Natasa Djukanovic is the CMO of Domain.ME, the international tech company that operates the internet domain “.ME.” A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.