Blogging is a big arrow in the inbound marketing quiver. Good, useful, and consistent blogs establish authority, increase your visibility, and – most importantly – generate leads. If you’re a good storyteller and passionate about your product or service, building a quality blog won’t involve a great deal of heavy lifting.
If you’re not a good storyteller, relax. You’ll get better with practice. If you’re just getting started or you’re having trouble getting started, here are six simple things to keep in mind.
Why Do You Do What You Do?
Ever wonder why some companies have such enthusiastic and loyal customer/advocates? To explain, best-selling author and tremendously optimistic dude, Simon Sinek, presents a concept called the Golden Circle. In a nutshell, these companies are able to powerfully explain why they do what they do.
Certainly, you want to get the word out on what you do … “We fix lawnmowers.” Likewise, sharing how you do it is just as important … “By keeping up with and utilizing the most advanced landscaping technology and training.” But when you share your passion, your customers have the opportunity to find it as compelling as you do … “Because we love healthy, beautiful landscapes.”
That’s it. Front of mind: Why. When you get a chance, check out Simon’s TED Talk here.
Know the Mission, Know the Target
So, you’ve got an idea for a post, bully for you! Who do you want to read it? Why should they? The interwebs is littered with zillions of posts floating unnoticed in the ether largely because authors failed to plumb these questions. If you are having trouble answering at this point, take a look at your organization’s mission statement.
For instance, the mission statement for online fashion retailer ASOS:
“Our mission is to become the world’s number-one online shopping destination for fashion-loving 20-somethings.”
Based on this example, your target will almost always be “fashion-loving” millennials. To add further focus, take some time to develop a solid editorial mission statement. Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media Studios understands this better than anyone.
Read some of Andy’s thoughts on the matter here. And now that you’ve identified who your post is for, focus next on why they should consume your content and how you can make it delicious.
Voicing a Better Blog
In most cases, content on a company’s website is a bit more formal (e.g., stolid) than their blog entries. Typically, a more relaxed, conversational tone is just fine, especially if you offer a product or service that is, um, less than exciting. If you’re just starting, you may even consider building a separate personality. Who would you want as an evangelist for your company? How do they sound? Why are they telling this particular story? Are they answering customer questions or explaining a creative solution?
ASIDE: In cooking, some dishes are rustic. Rustic does not mean sloppy. The same is true for blogs. You can be conversational and informal not careless. Proof and edit – multiple times. Get an extra set or two of eyes on your work.
Stories began as scrawls in caves. You have Infographics, slideshares, podcasts, et al are all part of appealing to the spectrum of your target audience. For example, establishing your product as a solution may best be done with a video. Every message prefers a medium. Finding the right one for each is a necessary process. Experiment.
Blog Length Doesn’t Matter … Relevance Does
The days of keyword stuffing are over. Google doesn’t like it and your readers won’t, either. There is a lot to be said for being succinct and getting to the takeaways. There are however, plenty of people – more expert than I – advocating longer entries. Suggested word count can range all the way up to 3K+ words (damn!).
Why? Relevance. A few years ago, if I wrote a post about my art gallery, I would stuff it with the name of my gallery, the location of my gallery, the hours of my gallery, the stuff in my gallery, etc., etc.
Today, search engine algorithms seek relevance. They’re really good at finding it and getting a hell of a lot better with each iteration. As a result, if I were to write about my gallery now, I would also use my featured artists’ names, their medium (oil, mixed-media, clay, sculpture, etc.), influences, history, you get the idea. Length is often the most reliable way to build relevance.
I know what you’re thinking, “C’mon … three-freakin’-thousand-word posts?” Again, relax. My experience has been not to sacrifice consistency on the altar of length. This can be especially true if your market is hyper-local or niche. Shoot for regular postings, and for those that get good traction assess whether it’s attributable to length or topic (or both).
ASIDE: If you decide to go in for a deeper dive on a post, make sure your reader can scan it. Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points. Which brings us to:
H1 and H2 for Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be a very involved, ongoing operation, but if you’re just starting out, incorporate this good habit. When a search engine looks at your site, among other things, it looks at the how content is organized and described. I’m not going to devote much real estate to it here because there are stacks of books and scads of sites devoted to best practices. But please, do learn about it.
Leverage H1 and H2 tags. Your main heading (H1) should contain at least one important keyword found scattered through the post – more if possible. Build H2 tags the same way, using keywords from their attendant section. Just keep your heading tags under 150 characters because Google only allows headings to only occupy so much space.
CTA, Interaction and Easy Sharing
Nearly every post should have some kind of call to action (CTA). The prime reason for blogging your business is to market your business. Marketing’s prime directive is to generate leads and make the company money. Good CTAs bring customers.
Some great ideas for your CTA messaging can be found on Hubspot.
Interaction is an important part of building a superior customer service experience. Comments on or questions regarding posts should be acknowledged as quickly as possible. If a reader leaves positive feedback, thank them and ask if you may use their comments in future materials.
Make it easy for your readers to share your content. Include sharing buttons on every post. Blogging takes a fair amount of effort. Recoup some of that effort by letting other people spread the word with you.