Blog Best Practices
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Without understanding how your blog fits into the bigger picture of your marketing efforts, or without knowledge of the more granular techniques that make a blog successful, you could risk wasting a lot of time on something that will not provide much ROI. Let’s explore the reasons why blogs have risen in popularity among professional organizations, and how you can make your blog as successful as possible.
WHY SHOULD YOUR ORGANIZATION PUBLISH BLOG POSTS?
There are two main reasons for posting blogs on a website:
- To position yourself as a thought leader in your industry and to offer useful information to readers, so you can nurture your relationship with them (otherwise known as content marketing).
- To improve the value of your website and rank higher on the search engine results pages (a tactic that contributes to search engine marketing, or SEM).
To do either of these things successfully, you need to have a basic understanding of content strategy and SEO. You need writing skills, supportive imagery, and even some good old-fashioned marketing knowledge (understanding your target audience, for example).
WRITING TECHNIQUES FOR BLOGS
- Put people first. Any blog that isn’t written with a human reader in mind—with the ultimate goal of offering useful information—likely won’t be of much use to people or search engines. It’s in Google’s best interest to favor the most relevant and reliable information, as it relates to a user’s query. So, think about what your audience might ask, and then answer that question clearly.
- Make it easy to understand. Most people want quick and direct answers. Many content management systems incorporate plug-ins (like Yoast) that will automatically assess the readability of your content and offer suggestions for improvement. These plug-ins are largely based on readability formulas like Flesch-Kincaid that look at how many syllables are in a word, how many words are in a sentence, and how many sentences are in a paragraph to determine how easily a reader will be able to understand the content.
- Make it easy to skim. Avoid big chunks of text. Incorporate subheads, lists, images, or other visual elements to help break up the information.
SEO TECHNIQUES FOR BLOGS
- Think about links. It may be tempting to include links to every website you think about as you write, but too many outbound links will only serve to distract the reader. You want them to finish reading your article—not get sucked into the rabbit hole. Inbound links (meaning links to other pages on your own website) can improve the internal linking structure of your site, which adds SEO value to your site overall. Also keep in mind that the links at the beginning of your blog hold more weight than any hidden below the fold, so try to include an inbound link toward the top of your post if you can. Links to product or service pages are good, but links to other longform content are better.
- Make anchor text obvious. The words you use for links should always indicate where the link is directing to. Words like “click here” don’t tell the reader (or Google) exactly where that link will lead them. So if you’re linking to a chicken soup recipe, use “chicken soup recipe” as your anchor text.
- Use primary keywords. Of course “keyword stuffing” is an outdated SEO technique (that could actually do more harm than good now), but you do want to still incorporate keywords into your content in a natural way. Without keywords, Google will not be able to identify what the content actually covers. Keep in mind that keywords in headings hold more weight than keywords in body copy.
- Use secondary keywords. In order to assess how thorough a story is, Google will look for supporting words that they expect to see in connection with the primary keywords. For example, if you wrote a blog about Gordon Ramsay but didn’t mention “chef,” “restaurant,” or “food,” you might not be covering the topic very well in the eyes of search engines—or humans.
- Do keyword research. There are tons of tools that can show you what keywords your competitors are using, how many people search for those words, how many results already exist for that word (to gauge competitiveness), and that offer suggestions for related search terms you can incorporate into your content to make it the best it can be.
- Update old content. But don’t change the URL. Google wants to show people the most current and accurate information, but pages do accumulate value over time. Changing the URL will reset the value of that page, making you lose out on the longevity factor. Updating old posts can sometimes be more beneficial to your SEO than creating a new post.
STRATEGY TECHNIQUES FOR BLOGS
- Choose topics wisely. As we mentioned earlier, you should always be thinking about the value your content is offering to the reader. Are you answering a question? Will they learn something? This is not to say you must only write about products or services. Your blog can be a great place to showcase your company culture to prospective employees (who are likely a segment of your audience). Just make sure you know whom you’re talking to and why they might care about the content.
- Get other sites to link to your blog. If you write something good enough for another site to cite it as a source, that tells Google that you have thorough and reputable information on the page—and you will be rewarded in the SERPs (search engine result pages). Some SEO professionals will pitch their blogs to related companies to gain these links or strike deals for guest blogs.
- Share your blogs. Use social media and email marketing to get your content out there! The more readers you have on the page, the more valuable it becomes.
- Measure the results. Just as with any marketing tactic, there’s no point in doing it if it’s not performing. Track how many views your blogs get, how long people stay on the page, if it’s being shared, where people click—the more you understand your readers’ behavior, the better you can adjust your approach moving forward. Plus, tracking these metrics will show the leaders of your organization just how valuable the work is.
NOT AS EASY AS IT SEEMS, BUT MORE IMPORTANT THAN IT SEEMS
Sure, generating high-quality content from scratch takes a lot of time and effort. But not doing so will put you at risk of failing to have a substantial digital presence. If you can’t take on a full-fledged content marketing campaign yourself, try outsourcing to a trusted digital marketing vendor.YGS is here to answer your content marketing questions and set you up with the services that will bring your efforts to the next level. Reach out if you’d like to connect!