Have you ever thought about adding a blog section to your site? Or maybe you already have, but it’s falling short of your expectations. In our experience, blogs peter out because they’re disorganized, mismanaged, or unexciting. Contrary to popular belief, a blog is not a journal. People don’t want to read your stream of consciousness, or skim through recycled content. They have real problems, and they want real answers!
Don’t be intimidated—be prepared. A worthwhile blog takes time and work, and what you do with your content after it’s been published is just as important as what you do upfront. Even for the savviest writers, it’s easy to get lost in the process. Simply put, there is an art to the business blog, and mastering it will benefit your brand and bottom line.
There’s quite a lot to think about when writing your blog, but as you build the foundation for quality content, consider the following: research and planning, keywords and search engine optimization (SEO), style guides, citation, and promotion after publication.
It’s tempting to open up a blank document, start typing, and go live at the end of the day. We know the immediacy of the whole thing sounds appealing, but it’s vital to give yourself ample time to plan before writing and sharing with your entire network.
So, now you know your audience. But does your audience know you? If potential buyers can’t find you online, your hard work is for naught. Welcome to the wonderful world of SEO and keyword optimization!
When you search for a service, product, or information online, search engines like Google return a list of links. Realistically, people only click on the top three or four. As a blog writer, it’s your job to do everything in your power to get your content near the top. You can do this by using keywords and other SEO best practices.
Using a tool like Google Keyword Planner, nail down exactly what terms your prospective audience is actually searching for. Here at Cosmitto, we evaluate keywords in a number of different categories including competition (who else is using that keyword) and search volume (how many people are searching for that keyword). Then, we break down our list to determine which terms we most need to incorporate into the blog and how.
When Google analyzes, indexes, and ranks your content, it also looks for readability. Best practices include the use of headers, subheaders (with keywords), lists, and optimized metadata. Think of your blog as a nice suit that needs a bit of tailoring.
Lastly, Google measures relevance and authority. They do this by tallying the number of times you link to reliable sources, as well as how many times reliable sources link to you. The idea is to create a web between yourself and other quality blogs or articles. That makes it easier for Google to crawl. If you make it easy for the search engines, the search engines will rank you higher.
Chances are you’ll have more than one person who writes for your blog, but every post should read as if one voice were speaking. For this reason, it’s best to build out a set of brand guidelines or a style guide for writers to reference. Include everything from punctuation preferences (Oxford comma or no?) to preferred phrasing and word length. If your goal is to improve your online presence, you may opt for anywhere between 350 and 500 words. If you’re aiming to be a thought leader in your field, focus on 1,000+ words.
The guide should also cover tone and voice. Though blogs should strive to be both educational and entertaining, your tone may lean more in one direction than the other, depending on your brand. Do you want people to see you as an academic source or the perfect blog to read with morning coffee?
Give credit where credit is due! The moment you cross that line into plagiarism, your blog and business lose integrity. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution to such an extreme problem – cite your sources.
Any idea you pull from an outside source requires citation, as does any quotation or excerpt written or spoken by someone else. When in doubt, cite. However, you should try to keep your blog balanced between original and cited content. Too few outside sources and you risk sounding less than credible, and your blog becomes a thinly veiled sales pitch. Too many outside sources will make your audience wonder why they’re reading your blog at all and not going straight to the source.
Citing pages on your own website, known as internal linking, also has the benefit of increasing time visitors spend on your site. For a typical 500-word blog, up to four internal links is appropriate. This can demonstrate your brand’s depth and expertise. It also potentially encourages your audience to venture further into the site and closer to a contact form or product page.
No blog should live in a vacuum. Promoting your blog might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s often overlooked—especially if one person on your team is writing the blog and another is managing social media, digital ads, and newsletters. A good blog has the potential to increase traffic to your website and attract more leads.
Think about your audience again. If it’s returning customers, an ongoing newsletter might be the best place to promote. If you’re trying to reach new readers, you might want to post the blog on Facebook and then put a bit of money behind it to reach a wider audience. This is called boosting!
Don’t forget about your blogs once they go live. Keep track of how many visitors they attract. What does bounce rate tell you? Are readers leaving comments or sharing the post on their social profiles? Decide what criteria determine whether or not your blog is “successful,” then check back daily or weekly to analyze. For example, if your blog averages 100 views per month, success might be getting that number up to 150.
Gauge your blog’s ongoing success (page views, link clicks, etc.) of your blog’s topics. Which are performing best? Do you notice any common factors? These insights should help guide future content and determine keywords.
Blogs are a crucial element for any brand’s online presence. The ultimate goal is to talk directly to your audience, solve their problem and/or answer their question, and earn a loyal group of returning readers. It’s 100% possible for any business to build a solid blog, but a good blog takes more than the confidence to press “Publish.”
Have more questions? Chat with someone from Cosmitto. We have a team of writers ready to tackle your most complex topics.