Imagine that you’re businesses blog is an employee. A living, breathing, employee that plays an integral part of your businesses growth (as it should). Now, how is that employee performing? Would you give them a raise? Do they consistently generate business and help establish you as an authority and thought leader in your industry?
Some of you are probably shaking your heads as you realize that your business blog is not performing the way that you want it.
But no worries, we recently presented to a group of business owners and marketers just like yourself, on how they can use their blog to grow their businesses. We're condensing the presentation into this article, and we're covering the following topics:
1. Blog Strategy
2. Blogging Must-Haves
3. Ideal Blog Length And Frequency
4. Content Campaign Essentials
Let’s jump into Blog Strategy and briefly tell you what a sound strategy looks like.
I. Blog Strategy
We’ve identified 4 steps to creating a blog strategy:
Knowing your audience comes first , and it’s important you put the work in at this step. Conduct interviews with current customers, prospects that never became customers, and your sales team, to gain insights into what makes your audience tick. Next, create an editorial calendar where you can map out your content ideas on a monthly basis. Plan content topics around holidays, industry events, your customers pain points, or blogs that have already been successful (never a bad idea to recycle what’s been effective).
After that is keyword research time! Although Google has been moving away from keyword-driven blog articles, it's still important to know what keywords will drive the most high quality traffic to your site. Use tools like the Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest or Topsy to create your keyword list. Once you know what keywords you're going with, be sure to include them in your blog post in the URL, the post title, the meta description, your image "alt" tags, and your H1 tag (aka the subheader). Forget to do this and you probably won't rank as highly for those keywords as you were thinking.
The final step in a well rounded blog strategy is knowing how and where you will promote that great piece of content that you've created. Determine the channels that you want to distribute your content to. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great places to start. Then create a distribution plan that outlines when and how you share your content to those channels Hootsuite is a great tool for mass distribution). Work on building relationships with the influential bloggers and online personalities in your space. Leveraging their audience is a smart way to build exposure for your blog posts and message.
II. Blogging Must Haves
Every blog article must have these three basic things:
1. A sexy title
2. Eye catching images
3. A call-to-action
Your blog title is the gatekeeper to your content. Write a crappy title and most people will never read your content. These days people skim headlines, and only the most appealing/scintillating/controversial titles get clicked on. So don't neglect your blog title.
The second ingredient is an eye catching image (or two). Use images to illustrate your big points, break up blocks of text, and to add a visual appeal to your blog post. Images can be photos found online, info-graphics, photos you've taken, illustrations you've made….the point here is to have appealing visual content to go along with your great blog post.
Finally, conclude each and every blog post with a call-to-action (aka CTA). Never assume that your reader will know what you want them to do next. Left on their own, most readers will leave your blog and website, and go onto other distractions. So instead, tell them exactly what to do next with a CTA button. Some possible next steps are:
• "Subscribe To Our Blog"
• "Download Our Guide"
• "Learn More"
• "Talk With A Specialist"
Writing Titles That Get Noticed
As we said previously, your blog titles often times dictate whether your blog posts are read. Therefore you want to put extra energy into creating blog titles that engage and get people to click.
Here are our tips to writing better titles:
- Experiment - you won't know what works with your audience until you try different types of titles
- Look at studies - people have performed many tests to see what types of titles work best, pay attention to those studies and use the results to your advantage
- Use title generation tools - there are many free tools that you can use to help you brainstorm and develop blog titles, use them!
Here are the 4 blog title and blog content generator tools that we like the most:
- Portent's Content Title Generator
- Tweak Your Biz Title Generator
- Link Bait Title Generator
III. Ideal Blog Length And Frequency
Our biggest piece of advice when it comes to ideal length and frequency, is DON'T WORRY ABOUT IDEAL LENGTH AND FREQUENCY. Instead, focus on the goal of your writing and on providing maximum value for your readers. If you focus on those two things first and foremost, length and frequency will take care of themselves.
But studies have been done to identify trends among high performing blog articles (relating to length), and overall the consensus is that longer blog posts are better. Aim for about 1500 words in your blog post.
When it comes to frequency, our advice is to post only when you can provide regular value to your readers. If you can create high quality blog posts each day, and can keep that up for a year, then go with that frequency. If you can manage high quality posts each week, and keep that up, then go with a week. Make sure you're only giving your audience valuable content, and that you remain consistent.
Blogging is an integral part of a well rounded content marketing campaign, but it is only one part. While blogging attracts eyeballs to your website, you want to make sure you have mechanisms in place to convert those eyeballs into leads, and nurture those leads closer to a point of sale.
Here's what a well rounded content marketing campaign looks like:
The final piece is measurement and improvement. Make sure you have a way to measure your website and blog performance, and that you know what you want to measure. If nothing else, you want to measure the following:
• Blog views (what is your top viewed blog post?)
• Conversions (what's the percentage of visitors converting into leads?)
• Shares, Re-tweets, Comments (how much social engagement is your content attracting?)
• Attracted links (how many other sources are linking to your content?)
And there you have it! Everything you need to turn your website into your highest performing employee.
You can download the presentation slide deck by clicking the button below.
And visit our video page to find select clips from this presentation. Click here to go to our Video page.