Feed Your Website
When building a website, it’s tempting to simply copy and paste your brochure material and be done. But if your goal is to rank high on Google and other search engines, you’ll need to care for and feed your website like you nurture the rest of your business.
One way to help your ranking is to consistently provide well-written, useful content. This valuable content goes a long way to verify your company’s Expertise, confirm its Authority, and builds Trust with your users. This is usually abbreviated to EAT. Blogging is one way to accomplish EAT, and an estimated 89% of marketing professionals use blogs, the Content Marketing Institute reported in 2020.
Blogs give you a platform to share your knowledge, showcase your products, provide in-depth answers to your users’ questions, address current topics, and more. The possibilities are endless! Fresh, engaging, and entertaining content will keep people coming back to your website. When your readers share the post on social media, that engagement further builds your network of influence and your EAT factors.
Most blogs are considered content for users at the top of the marketing funnel. Your enticing prose will draw prospects into your site and wow them so they’ll move on to your service pages, your lead generation content, and ultimately convert and become a customer.
That all may sound great, you say, but I’m not a writer. How do you do it well? Creating a blog is much more than just jotting down a few thoughts. Here’s a primer on best practices for blog writing.
Have a Strategy for Your Blog
Before you write your first blog post, be sure you have a target audience or audiences in mind. Who are you writing for? This might correlate with your buyer personas. Create categories to keep your posts organized and searchable. Have a spreadsheet so you can plan and track the posts. This also helps you remember to update posts over time.
Research Your Topics
Not sure what topics to write about? Start with your website navigation. These are topics you can write about.
In 2020, internet searches doubled to more than 6 million searches daily. So you need to know what keywords your site ranks for in Google’s top 10. Know what keywords you have potential to rank higher for (where you rank 11-20 in the SERP). Talk to your customers. What do they want to know about? What search terms are being used to find your site (or your competitors’)?
Talk to your sales reps. What questions do they get asked? What are customers confused about? What do they have trouble explaining?
This just scratches the surface of the potential topics, phrases, and words you can use to write blogs and improve the content of your site.
Have a Purpose for Your Blogpost
Why are you writing this post? What problem are you solving for your readers? Which feature of your product or service are you writing about? Which stage of the marketing funnel is the post? What do you want readers to do after they read it?
Be sure you have at least one call to action. It could be as simple as reading another post, requesting more info, downloading a white paper, getting a free trial, etc.
A common and successful structure is abbreviated PAS: Problem, Agitation, Solution. Think about how your product or service will improve the lives of those who use it.
Research The Best Keywords
Once you have a blogpost topic in mind, do keyword research on that topic.
There are an overwhelming number of ways to do keyword research, and it can be very time consuming, but it’s worth it. Start with a simple Google search for the topic. What are the top results? How can you expand or be better than those? Think about how you can take a unique angle on the topic. What long-tail keywords can you aim for? Ask an SEO strategist for help.
Once you have a list of keywords and phrases, use those naturally when writing the post.
There are lots of websites that can help you do keyword research. Keywords Everywhere, keywordtool.io, Ubersuggest, Answer the Public, and search engines like Google and Bing.
Decide on a Word Count
One question we get asked a lot is, How long should blog posts be? That depends on your goals.
Studies show that longer blog posts get shared more often than shorter. And if SEO is your goal, then you need to craft an epic post that answers every question about the topic.
Think about your blog readers and their attention spans. Do they like quick hits or are they in the mood to settle back and read more? Do you want to go in-depth with a topic and create an evergreen article? Or are you just providing a quick comment about a current event? People read about 250 words per minute.
Will they sacrifice 8-10 minutes to read a 1,000-word post?
If you have been writing posts for a while, check your analytics to see which ones are performing better. That can give you a clue as to what your audience wants to read.
If you can’t think of how to expand the post, go back to keyword research for ideas. Consider hiring a content writer or editor. Don’t write just to add words. Be sure your words are adding value, present a unique spin on the topic, and make sure that the post is well-crafted.
We recommend that you make your posts at least 300 words -- short enough for a quick read, but not so short that people will regret taking the time to click on it. If your post is shorter than 300 words, it may work better as a social media post.
Writing the Post
Write to Your Reader
Remember back in high school when your teacher drilled into you the 5-paragraph essay, filled with 50-cent words, compound sentences, and 3-5 sentences per paragraph? Forget it. Long-winded documents, overblown language, and yawn-inducing sentence structure doesn’t work for the web.
Remember the press releases that read, “The company president is proud to be presenting this product.”? Guess what – no one cares that you are proud, honored, excited. Remember “Welcome to our website!” Guess what? The web is 30 years old. There’s no need to welcome users anymore. They are here for a reason. There’s one question for the reader that you need to answer:
“What’s in it for me?”
Write for your reader. Use reader-friendly words and write at a fifth-grade level. Successful web writing is all about being helpful and adding value to the reader’s knowledge.
STYLE: Don’t write a blog like a salesperson. Blogs are meant to educate, entertain, and inspire. They position you as an expert in the field. Write like you are helping a friend solve a problem. Empathize with the problem and illustrate how your company or product can be the solution.
It’s OK to add a few remarks about your services and links to more information. Just be sure that overall, you’re more helpful like a friendly librarian and less like a used-car salesman.
At the same time, don’t sound like a corporate robot. Write to please your reader, not your CEO. Simple language is always better.
Include One Image – At Least
You probably already know that images make for more engaging content – for social media, emails, webpages, and blog posts too. To keep your readers interested, aim for one visual for every scroll of a webpage. A visual could be:
• Pull quotes
Don’t forget to add alt text to your images for accessibility compliance. Don’t know what alt text is? Read this blog post about alt text.
STRUCTURE: Here’s the crushing truth: most readers won’t read your words. Most website visitors are skimmers. Long pages of text are like sleeping pills to your users, and a surefire way to lose readers. Long content can still be helpful. Appearance matters. Present it in a way that’s easy to read, and it is more likely to be read (or skimmed).
Don’t use more than a few sentences for each paragraph. Even one sentence is OK if it makes your point. Remember that most internet users will only skim your copy, reading the headline and subheads (called “headers” in the world of the internet).
Use Headers (the Correct Way)
Headers are an important way to structure your blog posts and web pages. Headers not only helps guide your readers through your post but also help search engines like Google understand what your page is about. Then, they’ll offer it to searchers on the results page when users search for a term related to your website/blog post. To that end, if you can naturally include a keyword in your header, do it.
Think of your posts in terms of an outline. Be sure to use the headers in numerical order. H1 should be your Page’s Title or Headline. Next, use H2 for the next most important items and nest H3 after that. For the best SEO, don’t skip headers to get the size/style you want. Headers are used to structure, not style your text. If you need different font options, talk to your developer.
On a product page, your headers might look like this:
H1 = Shoes
H2 = Sport Shoes
H2= Dress Shoes
Get the idea?
In this blog post for example, headers are constructed this way:
H1: Blog Post Best Practices
H2: Before You Write
H3=Have a Strategy in Place
H3= Have a Purpose
H3= Research & Use Keywords
H3= Decide on a Word Count
H2 Writing the Post
H3=Write to your Reader
H3=Include One Image
Now that your readers are mesmerized by your eloquent and inspirational writing and friendly structure, think of the blogpost as the guiding hand at the backs of your website visitors to lead them to the next phase of their customer journey. Include links to other pages further down the marketing funnel. This could be sales pages, contact pages, or another blog post. Linking internally to other pages and products on your site helps the reader’s user experience. The happier the reader is, the more likely he or she will return to the site and become a customer. Make it easy for them to find stuff.
Add Calls to Action
Along with internal links, be sure you tell your readers to do something during and after they read your blog post. The blog subscriber page is an obvious call to action. But beyond that, think about the logical next step in the buyer journey. Where should they go next? Use the blog to drive users to other pages that are your “money” pages that drive conversions. It could be a service page, another blog post, an upcoming event, or a video.
Use the Date (or Not)
Dates are a controversial topic among blog writers. Some advocate for it, and some don’t. If your blog reads more like a press release, an event, or is linked to a nationally trending topic, date it. If your topics are more evergreen, consider not using the date. Old articles can appear to be outdated and less relevant to users. Just be sure to review them every now and then and update with a fresh quote or picture.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to learn about a topic and see that a post was just published a month ago, you might be more likely to select that post among the list of pages in the search engine results page.
After You Write
Add SEO to Blog Posts
Blog posts should be treated as indexable content with their own metadata. This helps search engines understand what your post is about and deliver them in search results. Then, you could rank for these blog posts when people search for information about that topic. Check your Content Management System to see how to add SEO to blog posts.
Promote the Post on Social Media (Several Times)
If you build it, will they come? Check analytics and be sure you post on days and times when your audience is most likely to see it and make time to read it. Take time to craft social media posts with the tone appropriate to the channel (a LinkedIn post’s tone is different than Instagram).
Social media promotion is more than just providing a link. Get creative and promote it more than once. You could tweet a quote from the blog on Twitter. Use an image on Instagram. Pull out a section and make it a short video. Take a numbered list and make it an infographic to promote on Pinterest. Find a related question on Reddit or Quora and answer it with a link to your post.
If you hit the jackpot with a popular blog post, make it a featured part of your website. Update often and promote it.
Show the post to appropriate companies and ask them to add a backlink to the post from their website to help your SEO.
Update Blog Posts Regularly
Like all website content, your blog posts should be reviewed and updated regularly. Schedule some time to review blogs every few months. Tighten the language, review headers for keywords. Add new internal and external links. Can you take a section and make it an infographic? Create a short video? Once it’s updated, you may find a new angle to use to promote it on social media.
Be aware of trending topics or updated information that can add additional relevance to your blogs and new opportunities for promotion.
Keep It Easy for Readers
Most blogs are considered content for users at the top of the marketing funnel – here is where you draw them into your site and wow them so they’ll move on to your service pages, your money pages, and ultimately become a customer. Make your site and your blog a refreshing change from other tedious and confusing sites. Like all your web content, write for the reader, and make information easy to find on your site. Make your blog one that subscribers will look forward to seeing in their inbox.
A Blogger’s Work is Never Done
Blogs take a lot of work, but they’re worth the effort to build up your EAT. Remember these tips, and you’ll make your blog one that subscribers will look forward to seeing in their inbox.
Contact us for help with your blogging strategy.