There’s a lot of discussion about whether or not blogging is “dying.” Blogging is constantly evolving like most social channels. People may not be seeking out blogs to read as often as they once did, but when leveraged as a business and marketing tool, blogging is far from dead.
Why Blogging Matters
Blogging in its earliest form was for sharing updates about your life or thoughts on a particular topic in a short post that people could read and comment on. With social media channels, like Facebook, providing a quicker and easier outlet for this information, blogging has evolved into a more useful tool for sharing long-form content and boosting website SEO.
The first step to blogging, before you even begin to write, is to create a strategy. The strategy should include developing a topic, keywords, and determining your content style. Then you can create an outline for your writing.
When developing a topic it’s important to keep in mind what will resonate with your audience but still stay consistent with your brand. Consider if the topic is something that your ideal audience would search for on a search engine or feel compelled to click or engage with if seen on social media.
Next, determine your focus keyword. Keywords are the main words or phrases in your content that will most likely connect you with your ideal audience via search engines. With that in mind, you want to base your keyword on how someone would search for your topic online. It needs to be highly relevant to your content as you will want to naturally include the keyword throughout your blog post.
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For example, if I’m writing about how to market your brand through blogging, my keyword could easily be “blog marketing” because it’s highly searchable and relevant. Just be sure to switch up your keyword for each blog post you write or you may end up hurting your SEO.
Lastly, create a strategy for the type of blog content you will be writing. Is it evergreen, long-form, time-sensitive, a list, a how-to, controversial? These are just some of the different types of pieces to consider.
Now that you’re ready to begin writing, you want to be sure to write for your audience. Leave the corporate, technical writing at the door. The goal is to provide information in a conversational, easy-to-read and informative way. It’s not a chance to be sales-y or condescending. Assume your audience has a basic knowledge of what your presenting.
The quickest way to lose your audience is to write an overly promotional piece. We recommend subtly promoting your brand throughout the blog, adding a sidebar with a call-to-action, or making the sales pitch a call-to-action at the very end.
Firebelly Marketing includes a branded call-to action sidebar as well as a more specific call-to-action at the end of every blog that incorporates the blog content and work we do. We also make it easy for someone reading our blogs to contact us. Short, sweet and straight to the point.
Every blog site is going to be a little different. If you’re new to blogging, we find WordPress to be the most user-friendly site. It allows just the right amount of control and feedback to help you be successful. The following best practices are based on our experience working with WordPress but can be applied across the board.
Create captivating headlines. Your headline is the first thing readers will see so make them want to read more and feel compelled to share with others. Most importantly, match your headline to your content. Some of the best headlines include numbers, data, creativity, specificity, fundamentals, questions or urgency.
To get the most out of your headline, be sure to include the focus keyword you have chosen for your blog post. Ideally you want the keyword at the beginning for SEO purposes but don’t sacrifice your natural voice. If it doesn’t work at the beginning just be sure it’s in the title.
Lastly, decide what format you will be using for your headlines. Firebelly prefers to capitalize the first letter of every word in our headlines. Whatever you decide, just be consistent.
This is the permanent link associated with your specific blog post. The shorter the link, the better. The key here is to include the keyword and separate each word with a hyphen. For example, Firebelly’s blog permalinks look something like this: www.firebellymarketing.com/blog-marketing. Leave out any stop words, like “the”, “is”, “at”, in your permalink. If your keyword includes a stop word, you may want to consider a different keyword option.
You can copy and paste text or type directly on your blog. Copy length does matter for SEO purposes. The minimum word length recommended is 300 words. Roughly 900 words minimum if you’re posting cornerstone content.
For readability purposes, include subheadlines throughout your blog post to break up your text. These make it easier for readers to skim and create a more attractive blog post. Add heading tags to make your subheadlines stand out. If you can add the keyword to your first subheadline, this can be beneficial to your SEO.
Use basic HTML skills in text mode or the toolbox in visual mode to format your post to appear the way you would like it to look.
For best SEO practice, make sure you’ve repeated your keyword at least two to three times in your content. While there isn’t a maximum, you don’t want to go overboard or search engines might penalize your site for it. Also, be sure to check for any grammar or spelling errors before publishing.
An image not only makes your blog post more appealing, it helps boost SEO as well. There is often a featured image section on the backend of the blog. This is where you want to upload your image. Before uploading a file, know the image requirements for your particular website design and keep in mind that the larger the file, the longer it will take to load once published. For best results, optimize your image for dimension, format (.jpeg), resolution (72 dpi) and file size (<100KB) before uploading to your blog.For best SEO results, include an alt text that matches your focus keyword with every image. This text is used by search engines for users having difficulty seeing the images whether it’s a loading issue or visual impairment.
Include both inbound and outbound links for best SEO results. Don’t just link to any internal page or website. The link should send readers to relevant content. For internal links, Firebelly makes a point to include a link to one or two previous blog posts that readers might be interested in based on the topic of the current blog post they’re reading.
The easiest way to include outbound links is to link information to its source. If you include a statistic, link directly to the website so readers can read more if they wish. Relevancy helps search engines connect users with the correct information they’re searching for.
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Make sure you’re linking to a trusted site and sites that are similar to your niche. Linking to a spam site can decrease your website’s reputation with search engines and will then lower your ranking. While outbound links help increase ranking for the site you’re linking to, the hope is that other sites will link to you in return thus increasing your popularity and ranking.
Organize your blog posts for users. There aren’t direct SEO benefits from categorizing your posts, but readers will appreciate the organization.
Categories help group blog posts in a category that helps users find the topic they want quickly and easily. This is especially important when you’ve been blogging regularly for multiple years. Keep your blog categories general so that they can encompass several blog posts in one category.
For example, a blog about blog marketing could fit under a category labeled social media marketing. A blog about Instagram marketing could also fit in the same category. Stick to only a few categories rather than creating a new category every time you post. Only select one category per blog post.
7. Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are crucial for SEO as it encourages more people to click on your link. Search engines use click-through rates to determine website ranking. If your meta description describes what the user is searching for in a unique and exciting way, it’s more likely to be clicked on over competitors. The focus keyword needs to be in the meta description for your link to be included in the ideal search.
7. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that helps you gauge your SEO and make improvements as needed. The Yoast SEO plugin tells you if you’ve successfully included everything discussed above. If you haven’t, you’ll get helpful pointers in the improvement section. You want to strive for green across the board. Yellow means there are a fair amount of improvements you can make. Red means changes need to be made for best SEO.
The social tab included in the Yoast plugin allows you to optimize your post for social media. You’ll be able to see how your post will appear on social channels and tweak it to appear the way you want.
To measure your blog performance, including traffic, time spent on blog, demographics and more, make sure Google Analytics is install and functioning on your blog. Once you can see how well your posts are performing, you can create more specific goals and see what content is catching your audience’s interest the most. If your bounce rate is 50 percent or more, you will want to make some changes to your content approach.
You can also use blog posts as content for your social media channels. There are resources for tracking these channels for various metrics such as engagement, views, reach, impressions and more.
Beyond the major SEO benefits of blogging, blog posts act as great content for social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. By sharing blog post links on social media you’re also driving traffic to your website and able to provide more detail about a topic than you would on social media. If you’re looking to share stories and information while increasing your website ranking on search engines, we can’t recommend blogging enough. Use this as a marketing tool and opportunity to dive into topics that can authentically connect you with your brand’s audience.
Interested in learning more about blogging best practices for brands? Firebelly is here for you. Give us a call at (317) 557-4460, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, send us a tweet, or fill out our contact form.