Stepping stones towards having a successful blog for business

I think every company should have a blog, don’t you agree?

Steppin' Stone

A successful blog should answer all the following needs in one fell swoop -

  • SEO – mid and long-tail search terms especially
  • Engagement – use your blog to support other initiatives, especially Social Media campaigns
  • Conversion – use your blog to drive traffic directly to point-of-sale & sign-up pages

It’s quick and simple to set up a blog with a basic template, but more legwork needs to be put in to make a blog as effective as possible – as this blog demonstrates, it was pulled together in a matter of days and is “ok”, but there’s a lot more to be done.

Get the right people writing, on a regular basis

Blogging can be time-consuming and you would be wasting your time to set a blog up without making sure you can carry on publishing regular updates.  Get the people who know their subject matter to work to a plan, knowing how many articles they need to contribute on a regular basis.  Appoint one person as the “editor” to chase the other writers and to check that everything is going fine.  If you’re struggling for time, then why not employ a freelancer?  (Hint, hint…)

Adele wasn't best pleased when she was asked to write 100 pieces of online slot machine copy

Work to an editorial plan

Before you publish anything, consider the structure of your content categories.  I usually create a content matrix in a spreadsheet to work from.

The first thing to do is to separate out your priority keywords into two lists. I’ve used the travel sector as an example here -

List 1 – Product/Service keywords: What exactly are people searching for?  Individual destinations, Flights, Accommodation types etc.  This list will probably largely reflect your top level navigation.

List 2 – Need/Emotion searches: What are the personal considerations behind their searches?  Budgets of travellers (cheap holidays, luxury hotels etc.), lifestyle preferences (family holiday, activity-based, ski etc).  A lot of this will be obvious from what you think your customers want and it should tap into what you consider your brand USPs to be.

Use these lists to make up a content matrix to guide you to cover the breadth of content you need across all your keywords.  For example, if “Holidays in America” is on List 1, plan out articles based on the List 2 items; such as “best luxury hotels in New York”, “tips for families on holiday in Florida” etc. etc.

Cover all the keywords in both lists to make up the plan.

Make your content useful & unique

Lists, top tens, personally researched guides are all effective.  Include links out to supporting content where it is needed.

Illustrate wherever possible with images and videos, especially if they belong to you.

Include profiles of authors with little descriptions of each writer’s interests. Let each writer develop their own authorial voice to build up interest from your readers and repeat visits.

Consider readability ahead of SEO

If you work to a content matrix based on your keywords, then you should be naturally covering off a large percentage of your SEO needs.  As long as you stay ‘on brand’, there’s no need to worry about going a bit ‘off piste’ in terms of keywords now and then.

This means, you can go a bit mad with headlines if you want, it’s more important that someone might happen upon a catchy headline, than you pack another keyword into the H1 tag.  In any case, there’s a way around this.  If you’re using WordPress, do install the SEO plugin which allows you to automatically create an alternative (optimised) page title for each post, without having to delve into the back end.

One of the best headlines of all time

This means you can have the headline (using an example from pre-internet times):
“SUPER CALEY GO BALLISTIC, CELTIC ARE ATROCIOUS” and the page title can read:
“Football Scores: Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Celtic Date“.

Did you know that the Daily Mail is the world’s most read newspaper online now?  That is partly due to them using this exact technique, as brilliantly explained by Malcolm Coles, helped by Pippa Middleton’s bum

Review and refine

Which stories are the best read on your blog?  Are there any seasonal trends to consider?  You might be surprised what cultural crossovers are drawing in your readers, so keep checking the traffic.  Look at Google’s search trends regularly to see what new searches are suddenly reaching peak volume, especially in terms of the TV & celebrity stories you could have an angle on.

Share

Don’t set up auto-share for social networks, but do regularly post out your most social stories across the relevant channels.

It’s worth spending a bit of extra time crafting a bespoke headline, or message for each story as you write it, so build that into the content production and proofing process.

A great thing to do is to invite guest bloggers to contribute, especially if they have a strong online profile and large network.

And last but not least, do as I say, not do as I do…good luck!

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