Start Regular Blogging
Learn the secret ingredients of a really good blog
There are many good reasons to blog, as discussed in last week’s article “Blogging About Blogs“. Now we look at what makes a blog great. Like most other subjects on digital marketing, there is an abundance of resources to help you navigate these unchartered waters. One such resource is the Loudoun SBDC (Small Business Development Center), which I highly recommend all existing and aspiring business owners to check out. They sponsored a seminar where the presenter, Ray Sidney-Smith, with W3 Consulting, encouraged businesses to become more proficient at creating an effective Social, Mobile, and Local presence for their brand. Ray’s book, titled SoLoMoSuccess, reinforces what those of us who work in the industry advocate to our networks – the need to expand our digital footprint if we intend to thrive and survive within the framework of an ever-growing digital age of consumerism.
Local SEO and Blogging
This blog addresses the one of the best ways to enhance the Local SEO – blogging on your website. A great blog is more than an industry-specific article or musings about your opinions (though that can be viable content). Done properly, a blog signals to search engines like Google that you exist and have something of value to offer people searching for the topics you write about. Have you ever typed something in a search bar like “how to write a blog to increase website traffic ” and notice the results are mostly blogs and articles written by industry experts (like you). The ones that show up at the top of the organic search have value with the search engine and consistently follow good blogging principles.
Elements of a Great Business Blog
We are all works in progress, and if you are blogging or thinking about starting a blog, following these tips will help your continued development:
1. Content – Your blog should offer something of value to your audience. Employing elements such as humor, industry updates, storytelling, and skill enhancement offers a benefit to your readers. Many of my peers suggest using an editorial calendar to keep your topics organized and timely. I’ve tried that and it made me crazy. I discovered that one of the things of value I offer my audience is a resource to help them with what’s happening now. It works for me that each topic shows up as an answer to a question or response to a need I encounter some time that week. Regardless of how you go about creating content, remember that it should enhances your presence and adds to your audience’s experience.
2. Keywords – This can be tricky, but it is incredibly important. Keywords are the mechanism used by the search engine to determine the relevance of your content related to how people search for information. Positioning keywords in your headline, titles, paragraph headers, and throughout the article is great for linking your content to the way people search for your products and services. There is a bit of an art to this. Don’t just throw keyword/phrases into your text for rankings. It has to make sense and still be good writing.
3. Get Local – The reason Local is so critical to search engine optimization of your content is that people tend to search for and do business within their local community. For example, looking for a dentist, accountant, realtor, social media help, etc., most people type in something like “social media, sterling, va” because they have learned if they just type “social media help” or “social media manager”, the results are too broad. With all of the information and resources online, narrowing a search to a local area is an efficient way to take the results down to a manageable number. Even if you are or plan to offer service in other locations, creating local SEO is important for each location. Include local keyword/phrases in your article in an organic way, as you are writing about your topic, as demonstrated here.
4. Catchy Headlines – admittedly, this does not come easy to me. I don’t want to come off too salesy or grandiose. The truth is, people click on titles that grab their attention. This is not the time to be reserved and understated. You have a bold message…declare it! Some ideas to frame your headline:
* How to…
* Tips for…
* Never let this happen…
* Do you know?…
5. Sub-headings – The way to introduce a subject within a blog is to write a heading, using a keyword/phrase and optimizing it with the format tool as “Heading 1” as your sub-title under the article title, and “Heading 2” for each paragraph title. This is not just a style suggestion; using this format signals to Google that the subject line is important and tied to your keywords, it is easier for Google to connect your content with a search.
6. Images Optimized – People respond to images more than text. Make sure your blog has a good image representing what you are communicating. You also want to optimize the image with a description and alt text. The option to do this is part of the image uploading process on your blog platform, so just follow the instructions.
7. Optimize on the Platform – Select your categories, tags, and keywords, and add a description on the platform you are using. This is another way to identify your blog with the content you want google to pick up. The major blogging platforms have these features right on the surface so you just need to fill in the blanks.
8. Length and style – We used to say 300 – 600 words was a good length for a blog. I’m sorry to say that the number of words is increasing if you want your content shared. 700 is the minimum word count and 1,500 words max. To put it in perspective, this blog is 1,277 words. Make sure your spelling and grammar are good. This isn’t an English essay, but I’m shocked at how many blogs I see with really poor grammar throughout the article, not just the occasional typo. Reread and edit your writing before you publish. Blog writing can be a bit more casual than other forms of communication, but if you are blogging for business, remember to remain professional.
9. Links – Add links to internal and external resources for greater substance. This not only makes your blog more relevant, legitimate, and robust, it gives a shout-out to your linking partners. When I link to someone in my existing network to share their service as part of my article, I let them know so they can share it with their audience. People like being recognized and when another professional mentions our business in their blog and shares it to a larger audience, it is very reinforcing for our business relationship as well as beneficial to both businesses.
10. Social Share Enabled – Most blogging platforms, such as WordPress, have widgets that allow for easy sharing of your content. You want to make your article imminently sharable. Notice the bottom of this blog post has social share buttons to make it easy for my audience to post it on their social media sites.
Don’t forget about a Call to Action on your Blog
It is great that you are giving your audience valuable content and you want them to turn into clients and referral partners. The best way to do that from the blog is to invite them to take another step closer to conversion. This could be as simple as “contact us” or more substantial like “download our latest white paper“. Invite the connections to continue.
I hope these suggestions were helpful; please get in touch and please share with your network.