In the blogging world, not everyone gets to be an overnight sensation. But with a few easy tips, you can steadily grow your following and master the secrets to a winning post.
What should I write about?
Beyond providing a fun, creative outlet, blogging is meant to draw in new traffic to your website. So, you want to create content that attracts your ideal customer profile. Focus on your sector and expertise. What are your prospects likely to be punching into Google? Hairdressers can explain the difference between balayage and ombre or why the modern inverted bob is all the rage in 2021. Restaurant owners might dive deep into their favourite recipes and fancy ingredients. When all else fails, you can fall back on charm and excellent writing. People appreciate a personal touch, so tell them about your journey as a business owner, how you came to open your hair salon or restaurant, and what you love most about your work.
How do I decide on my keywords?
Again, you want to put yourself in your ideal customer’s head. What are they looking for? If you already have a Google Ads campaign, you can use Google’s keyword tool to figure out the best keywords for your business. These days, experts are recommending that you choose one main keyword for your entire blog. Then, for individual blog posts, you want to narrow down your topics to more niche and less common variations of your principal theme.
So, let’s say you run a landscaping company. Your main keywords will likely have something to do with “landscaping,” “hardscaping,” and perhaps “lawn care.” But when you branch out into your blog posts, you’re going to focus on specifics like, “when is the best time to plant my annuals?” “Will a built-in pond increase my property value?” and “How to I add green to my poolside patio?”
Many people mistake “long-tail” to mean “longform.” And while long-tail keyword phrases do tend to contain more words than the go-to search queries for your sector, they are defined by their high variation and low search volume, rather than their length.
Are titles super important?
Yes! Your titles are one of the first things your readers will see before they click on their article. You want to hook them in with a combination of catchiness, clarity, and the promise of valuable information. If you’re paralyzed by the weight of coming up with something brilliant, dial down the stakes and just make sure that your title genuinely reflects your subject matter. People will become irritated if they find you are manipulating them with misleading click bait.
A few phrases that can come in handy for your title: A Guide to, Our Top Ten Tips for, Everything You Need to Know About, How to, Why You Need, Mistakes to Avoid, and Stop Doing This.
By the way, your title is a great place to plug in your keywords, long-tail or otherwise. So is your URL and meta description.
What’s this about a meta description?
In an online search, a meta description is the text that appears directly below your title. Most blogging platforms have a specific place where you can enter your meta description. Otherwise, by default, it will be the first 160 characters of your article. As with your title, you want to intrigue your readers while offering an accurate impression of what they can expect from your content.
How long should my blog post be? Is it better if it’s a list?
With our COVID-ravaged attention spans, we all love a good list. They even invented a term to describe the infamous online list + article hybrid of a blog post. Listicle! Like its cousin word, Popsicle, listicles are supposed to go down easy. You’ve probably already read your share of listicles on social news websites like BuzzFeed and Bored Panda.
List articles are great. But if you happen to be more long-winded, there’s definitely a market for medium-sized to longform blog posts. As long as your writing is compelling, people will read it. Longer articles have the advantage of increasing your website’s “dwelling time,” which refers to how long visitors are staying on your web pages. Google will reward websites that keep their prospects browsing for longer, a key strategy for boosting SEO and landing on the top of search results.
What should I do about photos?
Excellent point. People are at least 65% more likely to share and engage with your article if it contains images. Nobody wants a copyright lawsuit, so take your own action shots or hit up free image banks like unsplash.com. (At Linkeo, we love Unsplash!) To keep loading time to a minimum, cap it at three photos, and compress your images to a manageable size. And don’t forget to include keywords in your image ALT text.
Do I need to include links?
Great idea. External or outbound links point your readers to relevant information on your topic. This helps search engines classify your article with other web pages that address similar subject matter. Make sure you use credible and pertinent sources. For every article, we recommend 2-3 internal links to your products and blog posts, and 2-3 external links.
I have writer’s block. Please help.
The trauma of the blank page happens to the best of us.
Rule number 1—do not panic. Remember that if you have actually taken the time and initiative to create a blog post, you are already kind of winning at life.
Rule number 2—although a bad blog post, is not better than no post at all, a respectable blog post will do just fine. As beloved writer Ann Lamott says, “perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” Do not be cramped or insane. When you try too hard, your prose becomes stiff and stilted. Take a deep breath and let go of the goal to win the Nobel prize of blogerature. (Also, you might enjoy Bird by Bird, by Ann Lamott, full of great instructions on writing and life.)
Rule Number 3—It’s impossible to make something out of nothing. So don’t. Few writers write purely from inspiration. Make your life easier by doing a little legwork before you begin. Brainstorm your topic and arm yourself with a bank of useful words and terms. Read over articles on your subject (but beware of plagiarism). Create an outline. There are no shortcuts to building a solid structure. It’s immensely helpful. We promise.
Okay, thanks. But I forgot my Call to Action.
Easily done and easily fixed. Although the joy of writing will never desert you, for most companies, the main purpose of creating a blog post is to plug your products and services. Or, at the very least, generate more engagement with your customers. You can add a call-to-action (CTA) anywhere in your blog post. Popular options include sidebars, sliders, social media connect and share buttons, or the classic “bottom-of-the-post, we’re-here-to-help, get-in-touch-now” CTAs.
Can you show me an example of the classic, “bottom-of-the-post, we’re-here-to-help, get-in-touch-now” CTAs?
We’d be delighted.
If you’re ready to get your content out there, Linkeo has everything you need to build a solid online presence. Founded in the year 2000, we’re the go-to web agency for small-to-medium-sized businesses. Whatever your sector, we’ll set you up with a sleek, new website and proven marketing strategy to put you at the top of Google. Get in touch for a free introductory appointment. Zero commitment!
Thank you for reading!
The Linkeo Team
Top photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash