Blogs demonstrate that you’re serious about your marketing and your online presence.
However, there’s lots to know and several key things to get right. And lots that you can get wrong.
In our opinion, as with everything in life, when it comes to blogs you’ll see a fair amount of the good, the bad and the ugly out there. Anything on a website turns us humans into skim readers – you have just a few seconds to make a good impression – so no doubt you’ll want to achieve the highest standards you can.
As you’re already reading this ultimate guide to blog writing, we could assume that we’re preaching to the choir here – or at least to a certain extent. In other words, you already know how important blogs can be. And you’d be right. This is a significant topic. In fact, we felt a single post wouldn’t really do it justice. Plus, we have a client about to embark on having their first blog and we wanted to help advise them. So, here at Shake it Up Creative we’re sharing our knowledge and experience over two blog posts:
Part 1 – An introduction to blogging, why should you do it, and some general advice to get you inspired and ready to go.
Part 2 – Where we go into more depth, with really useful advice on blog topics, as well as “how to” practical, actionable tips that you can apply straight away.
Why Write a Blog?
There are several reasons why blogging could be exceptionally good for your business.
1. A regular blog builds rapport and engagement with your audience and, if it’s written well, expresses your industry sector.
Pieces that show a strong understanding of your subject create an emotional response in the reader: they feel that they know you, like you and that they can depend on your blog to be the go-to source of information about an area of business. So, get these right, and your target market will soon be looking out for your follow-up words of wisdom in your next instalment.
2. Plus, so will Google. In fact, Google’s algorithm update, Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trust (EAT) offers higher ranking rewards to on-page content that proves all these three things.
3. Further, although this is an enormous topic, Google likes updated, refreshed content. When you publish a new piece, it recognises that you’ve updated your website; do this on a regular basis, and you could notice a slightly higher position in the search engine results pages, or SERPS.
4. Driving traffic through to your website with links to your blogs through social media can only be a good thing – if your site as a whole is user-friendly, easy to navigate and full of valuable, shareable content. Sharing your thoughts, ideas and insight on a specific theme could be a powerful lead generator.
5. The best blogs? Ultimately, they’re the ones that generate an out-of-the-blue prospect phone call or email; they’ve read your blog – and they want to know more.
Video blogs are highly effective, too (otherwise known as vlogs). Demand for video content is still increasing, enabling you to reach a wider audience and engage with them directly. If you produce high-quality, creative vlogs you can keep on delivering your message in a fresh way to your audience.
So, what’s the perfect blog?
Here’s some guidance on blogging perfection…
Create a blog content schedule. In a nutshell, we’d advise you to publish blogs on a regular basis; monthly is good, or more often if you can manage it. But do maintain consistency. If there are long gaps between blogs it doesn’t look great, to be honest. And, people notice these things. Plus, having a schedule makes you prepare.
Add value. There’s more on this in Part 2, but basically, every single piece of content that you publish should help, guide, inform, entertain or otherwise benefit your readership.
Writing blogs just for the sake of writing them is pointless. Your target market will simply switch off. Keep reading on this one, as there are more references to “usefulness” throughout this article.
Go long-form. OK, let’s bust a myth here: you may think that “people don’t want to read all that”. And you may be right. People skim-read digital content and they’re massively turned off by long sentences and lengthy paragraphs. And of course, by dull, flat content that doesn’t resonate with them.
But here’s the thing.
If you produce sparkling engaging blogs that grab people’s attention and keep them reading, do you know what will happen? Suddenly, your audience will have whizzed through 900-1,000 words without even noticing it.
How long is this blog, for example?
It’s not about you. There’s no easy way to say this, and apologies for being rather blunt but nobody cares about your new clients, or the webinar you watched. The fact that you’ve got a new team member is of no interest at all. Why? Because your blog shouldn’t be about YOU; focusing on the needs of your readership is what this exercise is all about.
Regarding empathy, let’s assume that you have a clear understanding of your target audience.
What are their interests, and what are their pain points? How can you, as a potential service supplier cater to these interests, and how do you solve their problems?
An obvious, but easily overlooked point:
The people reading your blog should be uppermost in your mind. For example, if you’ve developed a new service, explain explicitly what it can do for the people who may wish to buy it.
Create “How To” and “Top Tips” Titles. “How to” is the most commonly typed search term in Google. “What is…” is a popular one, too, so creating strong titles and headings, working target keyword phrases in too, will also help with SEO.
Here are some snappy blog titles to get you thinking:
• Advice from an expert about…
• How to cope with stress – 7 top tips you can start using TODAY
• 5 proven ways in which a business mentor can help you to earn more money
• Your Essential Guide to
• Your Complete Guide to
• The Last Guide to ….that you will ever need
Blogging can be a highly effective marketing tool. Google, the biggest search engine, wants to deliver a high quality search experience, and with 5-star blogs you could soon be playing your part in their quest.
The people reading your work are busy; they have attention spans of gnats. In fact, when it comes to websites, we all do. So, let’s give your audience and Google what they want in one fell swoop. Plus, you can utilise blogs across other areas of your marketing such as social media and email campaigns.
Keen to know more so that you can get started?
Look out for Part 2 of the Ultimate Guide to Blog Writing: loads of excellent topic ideas, several must-know nuts and bolts for creating your perfect blog – including some strange facts about odd numbers in blog titles.
Rachael Dines, Shake It Up Creative