Your small business’s website can use a blog to share press releases, announce new product updates, teach consumers how to use products and services, and pretty much anything else your company wants to get across to consumers, partners, or employees. We will look at two elements that you can tweak to create a small business blog that converts: the design and the commenting system.

The design

The three main factors that should drive your blog’s design are: the blog’s topic, its value proposition, and the target audience.

From a design standpoint, the blog header should clearly convey the subject matter, and enthusiasts should recognize that the blog is designed for them without even having to read one word. For example, a green initiative website require imagery, fonts, and other design elements that represent the environmental or environmentalism. Avoid simply tweaking standard themes that have a generic feel because these will rarely inspire your visitors to dig deeper into your blog.

If you offer a web app, a screenshot of the product with a prominent call to action button will help get more people to get the trial version, get an emailed copy of the data sheet, etc. If you are looking to add character, a sense of friendliness or some personality to your blog, illustrated characters may offer just that. If your blog includes many features or you need to show off your portfolio, a carousel with a slider effect will help you fit more information into the header section.

The devil is in the details and when it comes to your blog design, the little things matter. Pay particular attention to author attribution, the internal search feature, and blog excerpts. Blogs are personal mediums and attributing posts to the “Admin” denies your visitors that human connection. Do not ignore author names, bios, and thumbnails to help your readers connect. Other design details that your blog should have include clickable titles and prominent “read more” links.

The commenting system

Popular commenting systems include DisqusFacebook’s Commenting SystemIntenseDebate, and Livefyre. It can be difficult to choose a third-party commenting system because many of these solutions offer similar benefits, which include backend management support, spam control, social media integration, theme customization, and more.

Disqus is perhaps the most popular and widely used commenting system on blogs today. It is estimated that over 700,000 websites or about 75% of all websites that use a third-party commenting system employ Disqus. Disqus makes it possible to import existing comments from other platforms like WordPress and Blogger, and comes with a mobile app for owners who would like to moderate and manage comments and communities on the go.

Livefyre has gained traction due to its support for tagged comments, allowing a comment to use the @ symbol; this makes it possible to tag Facebook and Twitter users and have comments simultaneously posted on both networks. The system is great for bloggers looking to manage community numbers and see who is actually listening to conversations.

Facebook’s Commenting System and IntenseDebate have features that are found in Disqus and Livefyre, but lack many of the functions offered in the two popular alternatives.

If you want to upgrade your commenting system, Disqus is probably the most convenient choice. Disqus will not only enable you to import your existing comments, but it will likely integrate with your existing blog platform, thus offering a seamless experience.

What blog optimization tricks has your small business tried that have been successful? Share your experiences and tips with the TechRepublic community.