Writing a blog can seem a daunting task, a blank page staring back you with no inkling of where to start. This week Content Marketing Strategist, Emily O’Brien gives you her top 10 tips for ensuring that you create blog content that makes both Google and your readers happy.
1 – Before you blog, always, always start with a plan
Make sure you know WHY you’re writing this blog. All content needs to have a clear purpose so that we don’t confuse the reader and leave them feeling like they’ve missed a point somewhere. A confused reader doesn’t buy – and you need to keep that in mind whenever creating any content.
How do we start? We define the audience:
· Who do we want reading this blog?
· What action do we want them to take after reading it? Is it to read more, subscribe to a newsletter, follow you on social media, contact you, or buy something? Bear this in mind the entire time to ensure that the action flows.
Remember, if the reader stays to the end of the blog they are engaged, and you don’t want to squander that! Make your call to action clear and concise – guide them into exactly what you want them to do.
2 – Do your SEO research before you start writing
Always ensure you are using the terminology your audience are searching for and that you’re using these keywords in your headers, links and text.
Use a free keyword planner such as the Google Keyword Planner to do this research. You don’t need to be running Google Ads to have an Adwords account, and the tools that come with this account are incredibly useful for content planning, so use them! Other options include SEM Rush or Moz which are paid for solutions but a little more user friendly, so find whatever works for you.
3 – Have a look at Google Trends to suss out audience behaviour around the topic
Google Trends is another incredibly helpful FREE tool that you can use to determine what your audience is talking about, making sure you are ahead of the game. You can tweak and change the data to show UK, Global or specific countries and the timescale date back to 2004. This is great when planning out content in advance and you want to know what topics are popular (or less so!)
4 – Use links within your blog
Posting links within your blog is an absolute must do. It helps the reader out by providing further reading and information should they need it, boosts your credibility by supplying the sources for your content, and also give your ranking a little nudge. Linking to high domain authority websites is a great idea as Google already has shown that they value and trust those websites, and the more links between websites equals higher authority. Link building is a known and trusted SEO practice, and if you’re providing links to other sites then they are also more likely to link back to yours.
You can check domain authority using a variety of free website tools, but I like to use the Moz free domain analysis tool.
5 – Have a great, snappy, short introduction
Make sure you are informing the reader about what to expect from this blog. Be clear, concise and keyword optimised. Google loves snippets of information from the beginning of a webpage to help with the Google Knowledge Card, so answering the main blog question at the very beginning in a clever, clear way is a great strategy for optimising that content and getting your site potentially shown on Google searches.
Having a little widget that shows the reader how long the blog is, and the estimated time it takes to read can inform them whether they can fit in reading it now, or maybe they want to save it for later. It’s about giving the reader as much information up front as possible to help them commit to reading your entire blog and get to that all important call to action.
6 – Use Guest bloggers and collaborators
Working with other subject matter experts and collaborators helps you boost your credibility by showing that you work with other experts on areas that you can’t cover but know your audience values. You become the one-stop-shop, despite not necessarily having the knowledge or time to create all that content. Guest blogging also goes both ways, helping again with the link building and SEO practice.
Another option is the collaborative blog, with multiple authors contributing on the same topic, sharing different tips, pieces of advice or opinions around the subject matter. It can be easy to update the blog, keeping it fresh and relevant by regularly updating and adding collaborators to it.
7 – Keep content fresh and relevant
Google HATES old, irrelevant content – it’s not helpful, it can be misleading, and if it appears on searches, it can undermine Google’s rep – a big no no! Your website needs to be generating as much fresh and useful content as possible, and a nice simple way of doing that can be reusing your old blogs.
Regularly do a sweep of your website content and make a note of old blogs that can be added to or updated. Once this new content is created, make sure you make a visible note on there about when it was last edited so that everyone knows it’s worth taking another look. It also helps you with your auditing in future if you have good dating admin on your content.
8 – Structure your blogs well
Don’t stick a whacking great paragraph of text on a website and hope for the best. It will intimidate (or bore) readers and isn’t helping with SEO at all. You need to use H1 headers, H2 subheaders, short paragraphs, lists and bullet points. Pull out quotes are also brilliant at drawing the eye to particularly useful or fun bits of content to encourage the audience to keep reading.
Make sentences short and active. Website content should be conversational and easy to digest. People have short attention spans in a busy online world, so trick them into reading longer content through short simple structure.
Give the blogs the page titles, meta description and URL with the keywords that you decided on at the beginning of the blog. Put a call to action in the meta description to draw people in with ‘learn more’ or ‘find out how’.
9 – Make use of imagery
Images are a great way of breaking up long blogs and keeping the reader interested. Ensure that the images are optimised for the website by using resizing tools. Large images slow down website which again is a big SEO issue. Include alt tags for all images to help screen readers by detailing exactly what the image shows.
10 – Share the post everywhere after posting it
Once you hit publish, your job isn’t done! Make sure you tell everyone about that blog as soon as it goes live, and then again after. It should form a key part of your marketing. Post it on social media, highlight it on your homepage, include it in your newsletter. In terms of content hierarchy, blog content is hero content, it has a longer lifespan than most marketing content, so keep pushing it.
As part of your content review, when updating older blogs, reuse it across your social media. Let people know you’ve updated it. If they found it useful the first read, then they should again! If they didn’t convert that first time but they come back, they may be more likely to convert the second time of reading.
Value your blogs, they are the engine of your website and pull a lot of weight in the buyer journey and search strategy.
This is a guest blog written by Content Strategist Emily O’Brien. She works with small businesses to increase their visibility online through creative content marketing.