Sometimes an online journal, other times an informational website, a blog is the internet’s way of indulging opinionated writers and coaching curious readers. It’s a place within the online universe where individuals (or groups of them) may voice their thoughts and share them with millions.
The blog’s definition is somewhat elusive, and the ways to describe it are numerous.
The most popular blogging niches tackle personal finance and development, health and fitness, beauty and fashion, and everyone’s favourite – food. Blogs can be deeply personal and introspective, resembling an online diary. When written by professional journalists, they possess enough power to influence business and politics.
There must be something mutual to all of them, right? Some universal characteristic in an otherwise multifarious world?
Ten characteristics of a blog
We’ve done some counting and ended up with ten main characteristics of a blog:
1. A Blog Must Always Be Dynamic
A common question about a blog is how it relates to a website – are these two essentially the same, or are there any differences between them? While websites are mainly presentational, blogs are always intended to engage. A website is therefore static, as opposed to a blog which must be dynamic.
The information offered by websites is presented on static pages, in a form of an evergreen content that doesn’t require any updates. Blog posts, on the other hand, are like diary entries; they include a publishing date and meta tags. New entries and regular updates are key for running any kind of blog.
2. Posts Are Displayed in Reverse Order
Unlike with a personal diary written in a notebook, blog entries are displayed in reverse chronological order – the newest posts being on top. The latest ones push previously published ones down the list, until they completely disappear from the landing page. Older posts are usually archived on the following pages, but they can also be organized by the month or year when they were first published.
Recommended reading: What is a Blog Post? – The Perfect Structure
3. Most Blogs Have the Same Structure
First comes a header with the menu or navigation bar to declutter the page and make a great first impression. It’s followed up by main content area on which blog posts appear either by order of publishing or by relevance. Down below are contact pages, privacy policies and relevant links, neatly arranged in a footer. A sidebar highlights favorite entries and displays social profiles and call-to-actions.
Feel free to use this template on your site
4. The Blog’s Leading Star Is Its Content
Different blogs publish different types of posts, though a majority of them relies on the power of the written word. Depending on the author’s intention, an article is typically an opinion piece, an instructional guide, or a news post. Monotonous chunks of text are separated with images or videos.
A blog post can also be a picture with little or no text. It’s a common trend in fashion and travel blogs, though it’s also not rare for business-related niches to publish infographics instead of instructional articles. But regardless of the medium, a blog is always defined by the quality of its published content.
Recommended reading: 100+ Types of Digital Content You Can Make
5. Headlines Should Be Attention Grabbers
Naming a blog post is an art by itself. There’s a whole philosophy behind writing article headlines – a compelling one can truly silence the noise, instantly generating clicks, driving traffic, and enticing a reader to read on. Nowhere in the online universe are titles given the same kind of attention as here.
6. One Rule Applies to All Blogs: Relevancy
Though every engaging content must be relevant, this rule especially applies to blogs posts. They might differ in types, mediums, formats, and styles; in order to arouse interest or evoke debate, they have to be original and unique; but to be read at all, blog posts must always deliver upon their promise.
7. Blogs and Links Go Hand in Hand
As a promotional strategy, link building is not limited to blog posts, but it definitely is a characteristic that all decent blogs share. Blogs and links go hand in hand even when marketing isn’t the goal. Internal linking, for instance, ensures intuitive navigation between mutually relevant posts, thus providing an exceptional reading experience. It’s about the flow and facilitation of knowledge transfer.
8. A Blog Is Founded on Personal Touch
The word “blog” derives from an earlier version “weblog”, which initially referred to personal online journals. Before blogs became political in the early 2000s, they were merely means to make private thoughts and opinions public. The personal touch, however, remains their vital characteristic to date.
Even with today’s universal topics, the recommended interpretative approach is the one that implies uniqueness. If the subject matter requires utmost objectivity, the personal touch is accomplished through individualistic writing style. Every blog author has an “About Me” page and a distinct signature mark.
How to Start a Blog
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9. Posts Should Always Encourage Debate
The comment section is another mutual characteristic of respectable blogs. It’s typically located at the end of every post, as a place for readers to engage in a conversation and leave their honest feedback. The ability to provoke a response and encourage interaction is held in the highest regard by all readers.
10. All Blogs Are About Communication
With or without an open debate, communication is still the end purpose of each and every blog post. If the blog is promotional, its goal is to attract the audience and open a dialogue that will hopefully convince them to buy what the owner is selling. If not about sales, then it’s about spreading the word.
Whether it imparts knowledge, provides solutions, or simply entertains, blogging is a brilliant way of reaching out and communicating with the world. Without any question at all, such transformative power of free expression and exchange is the single most important characteristic of any terrific blog.
The blog’s definition may be elusive, but that’s fine. As any blogger can testify, the allure of this practice stems from its diversity. The previous characteristics are thus more what you would call guidelines than they are uniform rules, except for one common denominator. Communication remains the essence of blogging, while everything else serves to help us engage, entice and delight our readers.