If you run a business and you have a website, you’re missing a trick if you’re not regularly adding new blog posts to it.
First off, blogs are a brilliant way of keeping your website fresh with a steady stream of new and relevant content. Not only does this give you a fantastic opportunity to engage, educate and entertain your audience, it’s also invaluable in terms of optimising your website for search engines. (Fun fact: did you know that even updating an existing blog gives you an SEO boost?)
If that’s not enough to convince you to get blogging, there’s also the fact that building up a bank of blogs on your website gives you a huge of pool of content you can dip into and repurpose for other things. Think snippets for social media, transforming a blog into an email newsletter and even sparking ideas for future articles on related themes.
Without a doubt, blogs are right up there as one of my favourite things to write for my clients. I love the freedom they give me to research and explore topics and really get into the groove with a brand’s tone of voice. But while it’s true that blogs are less restricted by rules than some other types of marketing copy, there are still some fundamental techniques you should be ticking off if you’re writing them for your own business.
With that in mind, here are my top five tips for writing better blogs:
1. Know Your Audience
Any copywriter will tell you that – no matter what you’re writing – if you try and write for everyone, you’ll invariably connect with no one.
The trick is to think of your audience as an individual, not a group. Consider who you’re writing the blog for – who is the ideal customer you’re hoping will read it? How does the topic of your blog help them? What are the questions they might want answered?
Of course, understanding your customer avatars is a crucial part of your overall marketing strategy, but when it comes to writing it’s always much easier to find the right words if you literally imagine you’re speaking to that person and keep their needs front of mind.
2. Nail Your Headline
The first thing I do when I start any new blog is to get clear on my headline. It gives me clarity on the purpose of the blog, which makes it much easier to keep the content focused and relevant.
I usually think of the headline as a question I’m trying to answer for the reader, so it might be ‘Why should I hire a copywriter to write my blogs?’ or ‘Which on-page SEO tactics will help my blog be seen?’.
Of course, your headline itself might not take the form of a question (though they do make pretty powerful headlines!), it might be your Top Five Tips, a How-To Guide, or a key fact that grabs attention. But however you structure your headline, keep in mind that you want both potential customers and search engines to see your blog as a relevant answer to a question.
And, while we’re talking search engines…
3. Be SEO Savvy
There are many, many experts out there who can deep-dive your SEO strategy and I am not one of them! But I do understand the simple techniques that will optimise your blog posts, giving them the best chance of being served up to answer the questions your customers are asking their trusty friend Google.
The biggest tip I can give you is to always write first and foremost for your customers, not search engines. You definitely do not want to stuff your blog full of keywords – that won’t make for a reader-friendly article and it will actually work against you with search engines too.
That said, the following on-page SEO tactics are worth paying attention to when writing your blog:
Ø Title tag: this will be displayed in search results as the clickable blue headline of your blog and should make it clear what your blog is about in 60 words or fewer (to avoid it being cut short).
Ø Meta description: like the title tag, the meta description is an HTML element that’s read by search engines and helps them rank your content. It’s usually displayed beneath the clickable title in search results, so it’s essentially the advert for your article. Use it wisely!
Ø URL: make sure your URL is easy for both search engines and people to read. Keep it as short as possible and make use of categories and subfolders to give it a clear structure.
As an example, my blog on defining your brand voice has the following URL structure:
Ø Keywords: focus on two or three long-tail keywords per blog. Long-tail keywords are three or four-word phrases that are very specific, for example ‘copywriting for e-commerce businesses’ or ‘copywriting tips for product descriptions’.
Strategically position those phrases in your title tag, meta description and URL and work them into the body of your blog if (and only if) they flow in naturally.
4. Call Them to Action
A blog is not the place for the super-hard sell. But that doesn’t mean you should shy away entirely from promoting your products and services.
You’ll naturally be writing about topics that relate to your business – expressing your opinion on a hot topic in your industry, for example, or educating people about the benefits of a particular ingredient or material. Throughout your article there will be opportunities to signpost the reader to your wider offer using internal links, perhaps to your product collection or other blogs on related themes.
Internal links are a user-friendly, SEO-savvy way of instantly taking your reader to something else that might interest them. This boosts your credibility, makes you memorable and encourages people to spend longer on your website, which in turn makes them more likely to convert from a clicker to a customer.
5. Just Do It
When I talk to clients about blog writing, the most common barrier I hear is that they know what they want to write about but struggle to get going.
My advice? Just dive in. Get clear on your headline, then start writing. Start in the middle if that feels less daunting (I usually do!). It’s often easier to write the introduction to a piece when you have the rest of the content firmed up.
Remember that you can go back over and edit your article as much as you like before you hit that ‘publish’ button. There really is no pressure to get it right first time. It’s actually very beneficial to just relax and let the words flow, then go back to it later with fresh eyes to refine the structure and little details.
That said, I know that when you’ve got a to-do list for your to-do list, or you simply don’t enjoy writing, the thought of creating regular blogs for your business can be overwhelming. If that sounds familiar, let’s chat about how I can help. I can write you a one-off piece to ease the bottleneck, or we can set up a monthly package to give your website a steady flow of brilliant blogs without the slog!
Kelly Rogers is a freelance copywriter who specialises in blogs, website copy and product descriptions for e-commerce businesses, fashion and lifestyle brands.