Tip 1: Think Value Proposition.
- What will your readers get from reading your blog?
- What will you get from writing your blog?
HubSpot, a leader in inbound marketing, provides blogs, webinars, e-books that all provide useful, actionable information that solve problems or help people do their jobs better today. I downloaded an e-book this morning from HubSpot listed in one of their blogs. The e-book provides a checklist for improving a company LinkedIn page and free templates to do that.
There are two things HubSpot accomplished through their blog:
- HubSpot induced positive affect about their brand with their free offer
- HubSpot positions themselves as the expert.
HubSpot doesn’t promote their expertise, they show their expertise.
Whether you market software or shoes, show you are the expert by providing useful information that makes your readers lives easier today.
Tip 2: Titles are critical.
Use ELEPHANT titles.
Bold Titles to grab the reader’s attention and makes a promise on what they'll read or gain. Tabloids headlines in the checkout line push action toward an impulse purchase. Some are intriguing:
“Alien baby found in New York”
Some are actionable:
“Lose 10 lbs. on 3-day Cake and Donut Diet”
You get the idea.
Create a title that offers quick value, promises intrigue or elicits empathy.
- "6 Steps to Better Public Speaking When you Hate Public Speaking"
- "The Essential Checklist for Great Press Coverage for Businesses of Any Size"
- "10 Foods in Your Grocery Store that Boost Your Immune System"
- “How to Increase Adoptions of Rescued Pets by 50%”
- “The 20 Countries with the Poorest Child Nutrition”
Sound useful, quick or interesting? Want a donation? Make your point.
What about this title?
"What the Latest Research on Search Engine Algorithms Reveal and How to Align Your Blog Post for Optimal Organic SEO Results"
It just doesn’t do it for me. Do you really want to know the latest algorithms, or only the
"6 Essential Actions to SEO Your Blog"
And, do include Keywords in your title.
Tip 3: Mind your reading level.
What should your reading grade-level be? Diet fads—lower reading grade-level is fine. Technology or business blogs—shoot for intermediate.
Yo give you a reference point “USA Today” is a 6th grade reading level; the “Wall Street Journal” is 10th grade. This blog is an 8th grade-level as measured by Word.
How do you do this? Reading level formulas include the average:
- Number of words per sentence with three syllables or more
- Sentence length and complexity of sentences
- Number of technical terms per sentence
You can check the reading level of your blog in Word. On the main menu, click "Spelling and Grammar" under Word Preferences. Run a spell and grammar check and after the grammar and spell check Word displays the reading level.
Shoot for an intermediate level. Busy readers scan. Shorter sentences are easier to read.
Tip 4: What keeps your reader up at night?
Figure out what your audience cares about and get your message across. I recently raised this practitioner message to a CIO-level reader to hit what they cared about:
"Accurately plan for future IT capacity needs, taking into account growth and usage patterns, and other factors, of current and committed projects.”
The product was a strategic buy, with a high price tag. How about the guy that is signing the check? That’s the CIO, and CIOs are strategic thinkers and operators. The CIO needs a separate message, a strategic message.
CIOs want flexibility, greater certainty and cost reduction. Their mission is to keep the company competitive. If this is your audience, talk to that person.
"Lower Your IT Spend: Gain Flexibility and Reduce Risk”.
What great value: reduction of risk and cost. Promise that.
Tip 5: Don’t use boring words
Avoid over-used words. They lose meaning. I am so tired of reading the words "simplified", "integrated" and “align” in high-tech publications. What do they convey? Very little. Why use “align” instead of “match”? Find pithy words, short words, metaphoric words, use analogies.
In English, trade Romance-based words for Germanic-based words (Saxon). What do you think of “begin” vs. “commence”?
Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and George Orwell were proponents of this linguistic purism—I’ll hang with that group.
Tip 6: Size matters
Buffer’s research shows 1600 Words is the optimal blog length – 3 minutes of reading. Research shows search engines weigh blogs of this size higher than shorter blogs. People also prefer them.
Shorter posts? Use a different social media channel. You might consider short posts for Facebook or Twitter, which are geared to daily updates, quick thoughts and insight.
Updates on "The rescue horses progress today" do well on Facebook where the updates have a life and continuing interest. The life of a tweet is 1 hour. Blogs stay.
Tip 7: Add outbound and inbound links.
Add authoritative out-bound links. Find sites that are related to your topic and link to them. HubSpot is an authority on inbound marketing. Their research is great (they spend lots of money on it, and I say learn from the best). Check out their blog post “How to make your blog posts SEO friendly [checklist]". Outbound links provide additional useful content, and boosts your authority. Open these outbound links in new windows so your blog is sticky and you don’t easily lose readers.
Link to other pages within your site. Point to content and offers, such as a product page or an eBook that expands upon your blog.
Claim your content and link it to your Google+ profile.
Tip 8: Know Your Keywords
Keywords are important in all areas of your blog: title, content. But, knowing the right keywords is the trick. Use Google's free keyword analyzer or other optimizers to understand what keywords to use.
Select a few competitors who have done a good job on their websites and who are very targeted. Provide those sites to the keyword analyzer. If you sell storage products, don't select HP just because they are great products, HP product range is so wide that you will be including all the unrelated products.
Don't get lost in the soup. Choose keywords with an intermediate volume of searches, and you don't want to depend on one or two searches a day. The analyzer tool will be very helpful in identifying the right level.
Today, individuals use “Long-tail” keywords when searching on search engines; people type entire questions with as many keywords as possible to hone in on a relevant site.
I have a MacBook, when looking for support for my Mac, I make sure to include "Mac", and I am as specific as possible about what support I need. For example "How do I change the spell-check language from English to French on a Mac in Word" rather than "Spell check French in Word".
Consider what your audience may search, also consider they may not know the exact technical term for what they need, but will know what they need to accomplish. Provide simplified language as well as your technical terms.
Use keywords sparingly in your Meta Tags. Meta Tags influenced rankings at one time, then came stuffing keywords in Meta tags, including competitor names. Of course it didn't take long for search engine scientists decide to discount the authority here. So, yes, include relevant keywords, don’t over do it.
Don't forget to include keywords in your URL — http://www.yoursite.com/keyword-in-url
Tip 9: Visual appeal is important
Images, videos, font colors, background colors all add visual interest. 52% of non-returning shoppers don’t return to a site due to aesthetics. A culinary institute might include a video of their master chefs in action, and images of their gorgeous creations?
This isn't only about visual appeal. People learn in different modalities: Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile. As you might guess the more senses or modalities that you can activate, the more memorable your blog will be.
Remember, reading is active learning, watching a video is passive; you can eat a sandwich while watching a video or listening to a podcast. Audio books while driving? Get it?
Be sure to use the right type of file format: PNG for graphics, GIF for images with fewer colors, JPEGs for higher quality, photos/pictures. Keep the resolution to no more than 60% for JPRGs, which will help the blog page to load quickly.
Give your images meaningful names. This becomes part of the information search engines collect and correlate. Separate the words with hyphens. Use "alt tags" for your images, and again make these meaningful, a have these describe the image’s alt tags are the text that will display if the image can’t load.
Use a better CMS than this one :)