Blogging is an important part of any company’s marketing plan. Having a regularly updated blog on your website:
- Improves search engine optimization (SEO) – Every page on your site is another opportunity to be indexed by search engines and to increase traffic.
- Enables potential clients to research you – Most people visit a business’s website before determining if they actually want to spend money there. Blogs can show off your expertise, your personality and your ability to make best use of new developments in your industry – all of which helps potential customers decide to become paying customers.
- Establishes you as a thought leader – Blog posts should help someone in your target market solve important problems. If you’re answering clients’ and prospects’ questions or providing details and insight that they hadn’t heard before, they will keep coming back.
- Drives lead conversion and engagement – Including a call to action in your blog prompts prospects to give feedback or fill out a contact form that your sales team can follow up on. These calls to action could offer downloadable content like white papers or case studies, free trials or another offer you’ve created.
As a PR firm full of content writers, we craft a lot of blogs for our clients. While every one of them is unique, there are certain aspects that are consistent. Here is what you need to know to write that perfect blog:
1. Have Something Fresh to Say
Blogs give you a platform to express new ideas and new takes on existing topics, so take full advantage of that. Don’t just rehash something that’s already been said. And when you write, think about telling a story. Not that it has to be something you’ll read to your kids at bedtime, per se, but make it interesting and compelling. Have a start, middle and end. Connect with your readers through your thoughts and words. Even if it’s about business tactics, make it human and relevant.
2. Think About Your Reader
“Good writing serves the reader, not the writer. It isn’t self-indulgent,” notes Ann Handley of Marketing Profs. That’s sound advice. When you’re writing – or, depending on how you write, when you’re editing your initial draft – swap places and think about your reader. Will your audience understand what you’re trying to say? Are you answering questions they will have? Have you used a lot of industry jargon that most people won’t understand? Does every idea easily flow into the next one? Are you using “real” words, or are they too stuffy or formal? Think about the needs and perspective of your audience, and create a good experience for them.
A good headline is key to a blog that attracts readers. Most often, that is the only factor a person uses to decide if she will click to read it or not.
3. Incorporate Keywords
Ideally, your company already has a plan for search engine optimization, but if not, here are steps to create your SEO strategy. Every blog should include at least 1-3 target keywords, with one keyword as the main focus. That keyword should be used in the headline, in the text, in the meta description, in alt tags for images and in the page’s URL. Determine what keywords you want to use before you start writing so you can craft your content around them. Or, if that method doesn’t work for you, write the blog, and then add in keywords as you edit. Don’t try to stuff every keyword possible into your blog, but select specific ones that can be included with your blog in a natural, conversational way.
4. Have a Catchy Headline
A good headline is key to a blog that attracts readers. Most often, that is the only factor a person uses to decide if she will click to read it or not. So, don’t just slap a title on it so you can be finished. Take the time to come up with something that is fascinating and helps the reader know what to expect. Here are some proven tactics that work well:
- Numbers: “6 Ways to Write the Perfect Blog” or “15 Tips for Writing Blogs ”
- Instructions: “How to Write the Perfect Blog” (I used this one myself!)
- Questions: “Want to Write the Perfect Blog?”
- The curiosity gap headline: “We Tried This Bizarre Blog Technique… and You’ll Never Guess What Happened!” (However, this kind of headline, perfected by Upworthy and Mashable, is not the “clickbait” it used to be.)
- Have a clear value: “How to Write the Perfect Blog in 20 Minutes”
- Negativity or distrust: “6 Lies About Blogging Your SEO Firm Will Try To Tell You”
- Speak directly to readers: “Why Blogging Matters to YOU”
- Controversy: “Why Blogging Is Dumb”
- Alliteration: “The Best Business Blogs”
- Create a sense of urgency: “Why Blogging Should Be Your First Marketing Tactic”
- Adjectives: “How to Write a Ridiculously Awesome Blog”
5. Have a Call to Action
So you’ve gotten people to your site, thanks to a great headline and keywords, and they’ve read your blog because it was well written and spoke to reader. Wonderful! Now what? Don’t let your readers just leave your site and go back to what they were doing before, urge them to take another step. Maybe you want them to read another blog on your site about a related matter, or maybe you have a downloadable white paper that is a perfect complement to the blog they read, and all they need to do is fill out a short form to get it. Maybe you want them to sign up for your email list or a free trial. Regardless of what it is, a call to action (CTA) requests that your readers do something before leaving your site. The offer should correspond to the blog in two ways:
- It should be topical, allowing the reader to explore further in this area where he already has interest.
- It should draw the reader down your sales funnel, without skipping any steps. Meaning, if you wrote, “How to Create Easy – but Stunning – Social Media Graphics,” the CTA shouldn’t be about the technical details of Photoshop layers and filters. But, the next step could be to read another blog about where to get free stock images or to download free templates.
Once your blog is written, promote it! Pitch it out to publications and see if you can get a PR placement before you post it. Promote it on social media – not just once or twice, but many times, pulling out different parts to entice clicks. Send out an email letting your clients and prospects know about the blog and why it’s important to them. Link back to it from other blogs and online articles. You’ve spent time creating a great resource, so make sure people see it!
What tips do you use to write an awesome blog? Fire them off in the comments below.
Ready to write your blog, but want to improve your writing skills? Check this out.