4 Tips to Better Manage Multi-Author Blogs

social media how toDo you have more than one person writing for your blog?

There are a number of unique challenges when it comes to writing content for multi-author blogs.

For example, you may be in a position where you need to give feedback to your contributors, or you may be wondering how to leverage the audiences of your individual writers to drive more overall traffic to your blog.

Here are 4 power tips you can implement on your blog to make sure your writers get the feedback they need and provide your blog maximum exposure at the same time.

#1: Use a Screenshot Utility to Provide Feedback to Writers

On a typical WordPress blog, you can see a revision history for any given article. That’s a list of versions of the article being written, based on incremental changes that are made from one version to the next.

revision history

Revision history for a WordPress blog article.

The trouble is, although these versions give you the time and date that changes were made, they don’t tell you the actual changes that were made.

For example, from the image above, it’s clear that the article being written was modified eight times between 19:20 and 19:27 but there’s no way to tell what changes were actually made to the copy.

Trying to figure out what changes were made between revisions is next to impossible. Instead, you can use a very powerful, yet simple to use, browser extension called Markup.io to take a screenshot of the article before and after you make the final edits.

You can use Markup.io’s built-in markup tools, such as lines, arrows, shapes and even text to graphically highlight all of the edits you made on the contributor’s article.

sample markedup edits

Highlight edits using Markup.io's markup tools.

In the example above, the editor has highlighted the specific edits that were made to the contributor’s post. The editor can then publish the marked-up screenshot to Markup.io’s cloud-based platform, and send the contributor a link to the marked-up screenshot.

The contributor can even respond, add comments and editing marks to the screenshot and send it back to the editor if necessary. This results in a very effective and efficient way to provide detailed feedback between writers and editors of multi-author blogs.

#2: Create a Tag List to Keep Meta Tags Consistent

When you allow individual contributors to tag their own blog posts with relevant meta tags this can save you time as an editor. After all, you won’t need to comb the post mining the copy for keywords to include as meta tags for the article—your writers will do this for you.

However, without some kind of naming convention, you run the risk of similar tags being created for the same topic, such as “blog” and “blogging” for example.

Inconsistent tagging of your articles can impact not only the search engine optimization of your blog, it can also have a negative impact on searches for content or linking to similar articles within your own site.

To combat this, create a tag master list that’s accessible to all of your contributors. It can be something as simple as a Google Doc with an alphabetical list of tags. Or if you’d like to include real-time feedback capabilities, you can look at a more robust application like Campfire from 37signals.

create a tag list

Create a tag list for consistency.

Whatever application you use, make sure that you and your editorial staff regularly maintain the tag list. Get rid of duplicate tags and come up with standards for things like singular vs. plural tags (“blog” or “blogs”) and how and when new tags are added to the list.

Spend some time developing a tag list and formalizing some basic policies around how it’s used. You’ll be better prepared for future growth of your blog when you’re maintaining contributions from a variety of different writers.

#3: Ask Writers to Post Your Blog’s RSS Feed to Their Social Networks

Each of your writers is likely to have well-established social networks of his or her own. In order to facilitate writers promoting not only their own posts, but also posts from other writers, encourage your contributors to publish your blog’s RSS feed to their various social networks.

Your blog’s RSS feed will contain a link to every article that gets published on the site. By posting article links from your RSS feed, your writers will automatically be promoting every article from your blog, not just their own.

There are a number of third-party applications like Twitterfeed and Sprout Social that you can use to automatically post links generated by your blog’s RSS feed into your Twitter stream. This article shows you how to post links from your blog’s RSS feed to your Facebook account.

use third party tools

Use third-party tools to tweet RSS feeds.

It’s a sign of the times—we’re all busy. Sometimes it can be a bit much to ask your writers to find and tweet links to posts from other contributors. By helping all of your writers share each other’s articles, it will not only help each writer promote his or her articles to a wider audience, it will drive more traffic to your blog as well!

#4: Have Writers Claim Their Posts for Higher Click-Throughs to Your Blog

There’s a lot of great content out there. In an attempt to improve relevancy in its search results, Google has adopted a standard whereby writers can claim authorship of their content.

The idea is that when you see search results containing proof of authorship (in the form of an author’s thumbnail picture next to the search result), you may place a higher relevancy on that content—particularly if you recognize that author or are connected with him or her on Google+.

We recently published step-by-step instructions on how to implement this new rel=”author” attribute on your blog. Once you’ve employed this tagging standard for all of your writers on your blog, their Google+ profile images will begin appearing next to search engine results for their articles.multi

The result is often a higher ranking in the search engine results for that particular article. Even if your writers’ articles are not in the #1 position in the search results, Google’s own statistics show that more people are likely to click through the search engine results that contain an author’s picture than those without.

higher search engine ranking

Get better search engine results when your writers claim authorship of their articles.

In the image above, the independent book review of Chris Brogan’s Google+ book ranked higher in the search engine results, and has a much higher profile than the article from Chris Brogan’s own website! This impressive search engine result is due, in large part, to the writer claiming authorship of his article using the rel=”author” tagging standard.

The benefit to your writers is clear—their content is assigned a higher relevancy in the eyes of Google and also in the eyes of the people searching for their articles. Your multi-author blog also benefits by generating more click-throughs to your website whenever your writers’ images appear in the search results.

What do you think? Do you know of any more tips or power tools to optimize multi-author blogs? Please feel free to list your best suggestions in the comments box below.

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About the Author, Don Power

Don Power is Managing Editor of Sprout Social Insights. He is also a professional speaker and social media consultant. Other posts by »




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  • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

    Don – Thanks for the reminder to clean up my tags.  Here’s a question:  is there an SEO difference between “blog” and “blogs”  … or QR code and QR codes?  In other words, does Google make a distinction?  

    If not, then I guess the solution is to choose for your audience.

  • Dara Schulenberg

    Jeff touched on the same issue I was contemplating….would there be a case for some variety in your tags for SEO benefit (i.e. long tail and competitive keyword traction)?  Additionally, using the ‘blog’ example, there may also be a case for a useability benefit to having more descriptive tags. 

    Have you perhaps tested multiple tagging methods which prompted your tip #3 Don?

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  • http://linkedin.com/in/donpower Don Power

    Hi Jeff;

    Thanks for your comment. It’s my understanding that there is a difference between singular and plural keywords, where SEO is concerned. On Sprout Insights, we tend to default to the plural version for our tag list. 

    I’d recommend consulting with someone who does SEO for a living though, to get the latest and greatest SEO information RE: tags. 

    Cheers and thanks!

    – Don

  • Megan

    Thank you for the tip. Is there a way you can have the “Contributor to” for a business Google+ page? 

  • http://www.giraffescanswim.com/ Giraffes Can Swim

    I’m in the process of setting up a group edited blog, so this is very helpful (and timely!) thanks!

  • Isaiah

    Don,
    Great article. I enjoyed your point about having writers claim their posts by attaching their image to each article. I heard Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz talk about this last week at Inbound 12 and he brought up the fact that being #1 in the search query is not the “end all be all”. But rather if you have a personal image beside the blog article in search results, you’ll most likely have a higher click-through rate than the #1 ranking link, even though you may be ranked #2 or #3, etc….

    Do you agree with his point? 

  • http://linkedin.com/in/donpower Don Power

    Hi Isaiah;

    I agree wholeheartedly with Fishkin. Google itself claims to have quantifiable data supporting higher click through rates in search results with author’s images in them. My own anecdotal evidence also supports this assertion. Thanks for your comment!

  • http://www.socialbakers.com/blog/806-engage-2012-introducing-the-topics/ Gary

    I have also struggled setting up a multi-author blog. But I will surely make some amendments to present settings because this is just brilliant.

    Thanks Don.

  • http://twitter.com/npturner Nate Turner

    Dara – some additional info from the SEO side. Generally your thoughts are correct on long tail, but I think you will benefit more from consolidating similar and plurals as Don has suggested, rather than intentionally diversifying. 

    If your intent is to have your tag pages ranking in Google, the more content you have under one tag the better. It will give better depth and more content to match long tail queries. Fewer tag variations will also mean less latency in your site crawls and a better experience for users going to a tag page and finding a lot of posts on that topic.

  • http://best-car-accident-attorneys.com/blog/ Robert Koenig

    These are really great tips. More and more, we are taking on new writers and sometimes it is difficult to keep track of everyone and everything. These tips seem like simple, effective steps to take to maximize the content  everyone is writing. I got directed here from kikolani.com and will definitely be back. 

  • http://www.naturvarmecity.dk/ Priyanka_gogia

    Thanks Don for the wonderful article

    I own a same kind of blog with multiple authors and i was finding it tough to manage 

    With your suggestions and tips, i think i will surely benefit now. Providing feedback to writers seems very interesting and advantageous. 

  • http://www.kronikmedia.co.uk/ K.Singh, London

    Great article. I have just been contemplating offering guest posting on my blog for quite some time. However, I have been patient and have been holding off as I am very cautious about maintaining the quality of content on which I have worked many years to develop. The ideas in this post has helped me identify exactly what I need to do in order to mainain consistency and quality of guest posts by other authors on my blog,

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Guest/100002606955053 Ben Guest

    The algorithms can see blog in blogs.  But you can be popular for both if both are targeted externally and on your website.  You may want to look into the “aboutness” of a page rather than tags or even structured data.  Tags are no longer viewed by the search engines.  This was discontinued in 2009: 
    http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html

  • http://humanwebsite.com.my/ Kent

    thank you very much for the advice.

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