Bill Gates. Alicia Keys. J.K. Rowling. What do all these insanely influential and successful individuals have in common? They all have a blog. Combined, they have over 71 million followers on Twitter alone. That’s a lot of people who are more than willing to tune in and hear what they have to say. Not convinced? Here are some more reasons blogging is important, specifically for your company.
- Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies that published zero to four monthly posts. (Source: HubSpot)
- On average, companies with blogs produce 67% more leads per month than those without (Source: DemandMetric)
- Content marketing produces 3x the amount of leads as traditional marketing (Source: Marketeer)
Business blogs are useful for several different reasons. Some of their main uses include driving traffic to your website, increasing your SEO, solidifying your position as a thought leader, and developing your customer relationships, among other things. How do you make sure you have a high performing blog that is providing these benefits for your company? Read on!
Blogging: The Process
Keyword research includes finding what are people searching for, so when they find your content they are already interested. The two aspects to keep in mind when you are performing your keyword research are search volume and rank difficulty. Search volume represents how many searches a keyword gets, typically per month. You want there to be enough people interested in what you have to say. Depending on how niche your market is, the number of searches that qualifies as “enough” will vary. In general, try to find topics receiving at least 400 searches per month. Considering how hard it is to rank for certain keywords is also something to consider. Ideally you want to find keywords that have solid search volume and are relatively easy to rank for. Afterall, you don’t want all of your hard work to go to waste because you didn’t realize you were writing content for an audience that doesn’t exist or for a keyword that is already dominated by established websites.
In reference to finding keywords that meet these two requirements, SEO Keyword Tools are extremely valuable. Here are some of the best:
These first two aspects should be a part of your overall blogging strategy. When you key in on Keyword Research and Topic Clusters, creating blog content becomes much easier. Topic Clusters involve coming up with several high-level topics that you are an expert on and will attract your ideal customer. Once that is taken care of, narrow it down to more concentrated blog post ideas. This should produce numerous ideas for new posts. They will be relevant to your strategy and centered around strong keywords.
For example, if your high-level topic was website design, sub-topics could be: UX vs UI, Responsive website design and website best practices. Through these topic clusters, Google will be understand what your blog is all about and in turn will start ranking you higher in searches. This strategy is in response to recent changes Google made to it’s algorithm and works extremely effectively.
Pick one of the ideas that you have outlined in your Topic Cluster. Now it’s time to create a working title. The focus keyword for your topic should be in the title as well. Don’t be concerned about the quality of your title at this stage. We will focus more on that later.
The topic will be something you know about, at least generally. Your next step is coming up with a hypothesis or main idea statement that your blog will be centered around. Doing this will help your blog to be more focused. After finalizing your topic, you can supplement it with the next step...
It’s time to gather statistics and facts about your topic. Wait! Be mindful of confirmation bias while you are researching. It’s important to look for facts that are as impartial as possible. This means if you find facts that are contrary to your hypothesis, you should consider revising it.
Another aspect to consider while you are conducting research is the sources you are using. You need to make sure they are both reputable and reliable.
Outlines might just be the best thing since sliced bread. For writers, at least. They give you a chance to clarify your thoughts and develop your ideas before you dive into the writing process. Not to mention the fact that they help to identify weaknesses in your hypothesis. If you attempt to organize your ideas without an outline, it probably won’t go well. You will definitely save time in the long run if you take the time and effort to create a solid outline. Plus you’ll already have a good percentage of your content written. Score!
Write Your First Draft
It’s time to get all your thoughts and ideas on the paper (more likely a screen). Let’s get those bad boys formed into sentences and start organizing the structure that will become your piece. Make sure to use as much of the content from your outline as possible. The main points you want to get across are already present. It’s time for you to expand on those ideas and turn them into a series of sentences and paragraphs that make sense. Don’t stress too much at this stage about your writing and trying to make it perfect. Focus on getting it most of the way there.
This is the step where you’re going to want to get other people involved. Ask 1-2 people that you trust to proofread it and start making edits. It’s imperative to get fresh eyes on your writing. You can take some time to do something else for a little while and let another person take the reigns for a bit.
Get back into research mode for now. Go find some quotes from people that are authorities on your main topic. Or at least from some recognizable figures that your reader will respect. Real examples are great content to find as well. When your ideas are applicable to real-world situations, your reader is more likely to relate to and believe what you are saying.
Internal links to other blogs that you’ve written or additional helpful content are going to be critical in this stage as well. Google and other search engines use internal links to find out how much content on your site is related and the value of that content. Following links is one way search engines crawl your site. Which brings us to external links. These can be external sources or other authorities on the same subject that you’re writing about. Whether they are providing context for something you said or are presenting another, equally interesting, perspective, you should add at least one external link per post.
Although it isn’t your only goal, getting your word count up to a certain threshold can only help you. You should have taken a break at this point in the process. When you get back with somewhat fresh eyes you should be ready to get your blog somewhere around 1,200 words. Obviously, this will depend on the context of the post. For some blog posts, it’s appropriate to cap them at 500 words. However, the average word count of top-ranked content in Google is between 1,140-1285 words (Source: SearchMetrics).
Before you add just “any old image” to your blog post, consider this. You may not be able to use it because of copyright. This will be the first thing you want to consider when you’re sourcing images for your post. It is equally as important to consider the usage rights as it is to consider if an image is relevant to what you are discussing within the blog. That being said, relevancy is another aspect you should take into consideration. If you write a blog about frogs, for example, and your featured image is a bag of Cheetos, it will confuse your reader.
It can be difficult to find an image that is relevant and also has no copyright. It will depend on what you are writing about. Get as close as you can. Whatever you do, you should certainly include some sort of visual component in your blog post. Remember, articles with images get 94% more views (source).
Did you know, 80% of people don’t read past the title of your post? That’s a brutal statistic. So, now you know you are only working with 20% of people most of the time. This puts even greater emphasis on the quality of your title. Up to this point, let’s assume you have been running with some sort of working title and you aren’t in love with it. Take some time to consider a title that will grab the attention of the average consumer.
Editing down your headline or title to eight words can result in a 21% CTR increase (Source: CMI). With this in mind, don’t make your title too long. You also may be wondering, why have we waited until now to finalize the title if it is so important? As you will realize, the content of your blog post has been pretty fluid up to this part of the process. It could have changed drastically from the early planning stages. That is why we recommend writing up to this point with a working title. Don’t forget to include your focus keyword as well.
Format Your Content
Your post is completely written. Congratulations! However, you aren’t done quite yet so don’t get too crazy with the celebrations. You still have to get your post live on your blog. The first step for that is to format your post in whatever content management system (CMS) you prefer. Below is a list of the more popular options if you don’t have one that you already use:
Optimize for SEO
Earlier in the process, we referenced keyword research and its importance in your blog strategy. This will include making sure the keyword density in your post is appropriate. Some things to focus on will include the meta description, subheadings, image alt-text, and your URL. We have also already mentioned earlier other aspects such as internal/external links, post length, and all of the keyword research. Take another look at all of these and make sure your post is optimized for SEO.
You are more than welcome to handle SEO yourself but there are also some tools out there that will help you optimize your post. Yoast is a wonderful option, with all sorts of different tools and plug-ins. Other popular options include SEMrush and Moz Pro.
Your blog post is completely formatted and optimized. It’s time for the people to read your post and shower you with praise because you are such an expert! So get it up on your blog. Set your post loose on the world and see how the people react. Posting frequency on your actual blog doesn’t have the same kind of importance as your social media. Once it’s ready, throw it up.
It’s time to kick it into overdrive, spread the word, and promote the hell out of your shiny new blog. You have worked hard and you shouldn’t let it go to waste. Share your blog on all of your platforms. These will include social media, email lists, campaigns you’re running, and anywhere else you can let people see it. If you have already finalized a content strategy, you will already have a plan in place to promote new blog posts.
Whatever you do, don’t skip this step. It’s critical to spread the word and get as many eyeballs on your blog as possible. Whether you are interested in selling your products, educating a specific audience, or just staving off boredom, you want people to read what you have written.
In the End
When it comes to blogging, you don’t want to waste time but you also don’t want to rush the process. It’s important to find a balance. The average blog post takes 3 hours 16 minutes to write (Source: OrbitMedia). If your post is a solid length and of reputable quality, you should aim to complete it in around three hours. You aren’t necessarily going to hit that mark every time you write a post but it’s something to shoot for. There will be days that you will need to crank out a few short posts. Other days can be dedicated to something longer and more meaningful.
Another important aspect to consider when you are writing blogs is their relevancy over time. You want to write “evergreen content”. In other words, you should aim for your posts to be relevant today, next week, and next year. This will allow you to share your content multiple times and grow your readership over time.