Effective K12 Blogging Part 1 – Exposure
The biggest impact that a blog can have is seen when the student realizes that the content they are contributing is being read outside of the school walls. The truth is that most student blogs don’t have what it takes to make it outside these walls. Either the students aren’t creating works with a possible audience in mind, or the blog isn’t set up to have the visibility it deserves. Here, we will cover some of the steps you can take to create visibility, and in turn, excitement.
The first step that needs to take place is the in establishing a way for students to observe the impact that their blogs are having. The best way to do this is by adding Google Analytics to your blog. Google Analytics offers the ability to see where your visitors are coming from, and what they are looking at. When your student sees that what they have written is being read in (insert foreign country here), excitement will surely happen. Students will not only start to check their analytics results addictively, but they will instinctively be wanting to write more things that will attract more readers. -This can become an extremely powerful driving force.
Before this can happen though, students need to be blogging. Not just commenting. This means students are going to need to be creating content that is audience focused. It challenges the student to think about what a possible reader might stick around to see. Good content can be created around the culture they are already immersed in. Music, movies, books, performances, current events, news, etc…, all give rich, audience centered possibilities that can be adapted to most content areas. (Izzit.org has an incredible resource for current events articles and questions that could be used.)
Even with the best content though, readers need to be able to find it. To do this you need to publicize your work. There are several places that your students could go to get the word out on their articles.
Digg.com – Students can submit links to their articles where people can vote on the article. Even if it doesn’t get many votes, it will still get the word out that the content exists.
Del.icio.us – A social bookmarking site where links can be saved, tagged and found through searches.
Technorati – Similar to del.icio.us.
Blog Carnivals – A blog carnival is the blog equivalent to a magazine. They have themes and come out periodically. Search for the ones that apply to your article and submit them.
Each of these will allow for a link to your content to be found somewhere on the net. This means there is more of a chance that it will be found.
The next step in making your content findable happens in the popular search engines. The term for this is called Search Engine Optimization. There is way more information on this than can be posted here, but it can be narrowed down to a couple of things. The first is optimizing the article’s title and content to be found easily. It becomes a challenge to the students. Not only should they be writing material that people would want to read, but they will need to be considering what key words and phrases people would use to search for to find it. Including these words and phrases in the title and content are vital. The Second part is making sure the site is optimized for search engines. One of the bigger factors is the way that your blog creates the link to the full article. By default, most blogging platforms like WordPress will create a link(called a permalink) based on a combination of the title, when it was published, some id number, and the category. This default option creates a massively long URL. Most search engines like short and to the point URLs. So you would want to shorten this.
In WordPress there is an option for this under Options>Permalinks. If you use a custom permalink with “/%postname%/%post_id%/”(without quotes) it will optimize the link for best visibility in search engines.
With these three things in place the readership is likely to pick up, and with it, the excitement of the students. The goal should be to have the students doing the publicity. Encourage your students to research and find the best ways to publicize their ideas, and the effectiveness of the blog will skyrocket.
With these things in place students will begin to create audience centered work that gets driven by readership. More readership equals more comments, which in turn means more refinement of the work. Better work means more readers and so on. And it all keeps building and building.
Tips for making student blogs more visible? Leave us some comments.