The why and how of an effective blog post – for beginners
It’s no secret that a great blog keeps your site fresh and can provide a nice search engine bump. Not only that, it can also act as a strong voice for your brand and a means by which you establish a thought leadership position in your industry. More and more companies are taking on the task of writing content and maintaining a blog. We see excited and reluctant writers jump into the blogging pool every day.
For those of you out there new to blogging game here are some tips for making sure your blog posts are effective and the time spent is good for you and your readers.
Be clear about why you’re blogging
First things first; if you’re starting a blog so you can talk about how awesome you are don’t waste your time because readers won’t waste their time reading your content. That is unless you’re a celebrity and strangers are just dying to know how cool your life is.
A business blog is an opportunity to share insights, knowledge, a peek behind the curtain and overall be a productive member of internet society.
Create a useful structure
Spend some time thinking through what your article mix might be and relate that to categories and tags. Both provide your readers with a way to navigate your content so they can easily find more of what they’re looking for. Categories also help search engines pull the right information for the searcher – thus your content gets found by the people you wrote it for. Imagine that!
Another way to think of categories and tags is if Categories are the table of contents Tags are your index.
- Categories are higher level like maybe “Recipes” for instance. Limit 1 category per post. Your category ideally is related to a keyword someone might search for to get there.
- Tags enable a more detailed look at the post. It’s cool to use multiple tags per post. Our “Recipe” post might have tags like “apple” “cake” and “baking”
- No tag stuffing. Keep this section easy to understand and interact with.
- For more on tags read this >>
Write content for your readers, not yourself
Blog posts talking about happenings at your office are all well and good – it helps freshness and presents a little personality. Both are important things. Neither of those things will help your readers or your Search, however. The majority of your blog mix should be useful, information pieces and then sprinkle in the “take your dog to work day” posts.
Beware the Zombie Sales Pitch (Never dies. Pops Up When You Least Expect it.)
You may hear conflicting reports on this front but we believe you should not sell yourself at the end of every blog post. A paragraph at the bottom of every article talking about how great your company is and asking for a conversation proves that you wrote that particular post as a means to reintroduce your never dying, zombie sales pitch.
Instead, make effective use of relative calls-to-action on your blog sidebar. Give your readers opportunity to engage more with you without beating them over the head with it. Be useful. Also…
Link to Other Relevant Content
Adding internal and *external links throughout your blog post is great for a number of reasons:
- Provide context for a subject, term or topic.
- Direct readers back to older relevant posts they may have missed.
- Give credit where credit is due.
- *When linking to an external source be sure your link opens in a new tab or window
Laying Out Your Post
So you have your topic and you’re ready to start punching some keys and share your prose with the world. Some simple things can make your post more enjoyable to read.
Like Categories and Tags, this practice has multiple benefits. Not only do Headers supply organization of your thoughts on the post, they aid search engines working to connect your content to the right searchers. Header 1, 2, 3 and so forth create a hierarchy of sorts for your words and provides breaks for the eyes.
Format Text Accordingly
In addition to Headers use block quotes, bold, italics and bullet points where appropriate. Paragraph after scrolling paragraph are likely to get the Back button some attention. Create a post that’s easy to scan for information as folks are more often than not, short on time and attention.
It’s a Visual World and You Are a Visual Girl. (Or boy.)
Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr – a picture is worth a thousand words…and clicks. Make it a goal to add at least 1 image to every post. Of course, it’s extra points if you’re creating original graphics or taking original photos for your post but that can be tough to keep up with. There are many great paid and free (creative commons licensed) images out there waiting for you to adopt.
- Compfight – our image search tool of choice. You search for a term and Compfight collects images from Flickr based on Creative Commons and Commercial ready licenses. Pay attention to Some Rights Reserved info and attribute properly.
- Creative Commons – the Creative Commons Search brings together various places across the net where you might find Creative Commons licensed work. Select the means for your search, type in your term and you’re off and running.
Pay for Stock Photo Sites: Comparing these sites is splitting hairs. Slight differences in price and selection. The big difference between the paid and free is these are typically staged pictures looking to fill a need for something someone may search for. You can often also find vector graphics and videos for a fee.
Help, Share, Help, Repeat
Once your masterpiece is complete you’ll want to promote it. This is where your corporate and personal Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and other profiles can help. Share a link to your post on the appropriate social media platforms. Of course, there’s a balance to all that activity as well.
Use these tips to consistently create useful and engaging content that’s not self-serving, then let people know about it and your efforts will not go unrewarded.
Let us know what else you would add in the comments below.