Writing Blog Articles That Appeal To Google & Your Prospects
Content marketing is arguably the most critical facet of inbound marketing. Without content, you cannot achieve any online marketing goals. Content generation is essential to the online marketing process. When it comes to building a content marketing strategy, you could argue that the blog is the most important element. It’s through the blog that you can regularly create and publish content to attract high-quality, organic traffic through Google’s search engine while also engaging and nurturing your prospects.
While having a blog is an integral part of your content marketing strategy, there’s no guarantee of its success. In addition to publishing new content regularly, you will also need to optimize your content for SEO (search engine optimization) and create high-quality content that is relevant to your target audience. The high quality of your content is what will build your brand authority. The more brand authority you have, the bigger your audience will grow, and the more prospects you’ll attract. Job one is to learn how to write high-quality, properly optimized content that’s relevant to your audience.
Back To The Basics: What Is A Blog?
A blog is a website or webpage that is updated regularly with new content. The content on a blog is typically written in an informal style, making it accessible to online users. Blogs are usually set up in one of two ways. The first is a continuously updated page with the newest posts appearing at the top. The second is as a hub of sorts that contains title links, excerpts, and related tags to each post. The user can then click on one of the links, which will direct them to a new page containing the entire article.
The origins of the blog can be traced back to the early days of the Internet as we know it. The first version of the blog is usually attributed to Links.net, which was created in 1994. However, the term “blog” didn’t appear until 1997, when one of the earliest bloggers created the term “weblog” as a shorthand version of the phrase “logging the web.” In 1999, the term weblog was shortened to “blog” by programmer Peter Merholz.
In 1999, there were a total of 23 blogs on the web. By the mid-2000s, there were an estimated 50 million. Numerous blogging platforms emerged, such as LiveJournal and Blogger. At this time, blogs were most commonly used as public online journals. However, they were used for many other reasons as well, such as gossip blogs, blogs focusing on specific topics, blogs used to post guides, and more. Blogs were also used by the media on occasion, although the practice didn’t take off until later. The journalist Jonathan Dube was one of the first to write a blog for the media when he wrote a blog tracking Hurricane Bonnie for The Charlotte Observer.
Blogs have become a much more prominent part of the online landscape over the past decade. Businesses now use blogs as a way to publish content relevant to their industry, making it easier to attract new leads to their website through Google’s search engine. Blogging has become such an essential component of SEO marketing, brand building, and prospect nurturing that you’ll find very few businesses that don’t have a blog on their websites.
Learn About The Different Types Of Blog
While many early Internet users may remember blogs as being nothing more than online journals, they have become much more than that. A blog has essentially become a platform on which you can publish different types of content. Your blog isn’t limited to short articles. Most marketers have discovered that varying the types of content that you publish to your blog is a good way to keep readers interested and engaged. If all of your content is the same, you not only risk losing your regular readers’ interest, but you may fail to capture the interest of new readers as well. These are some of the main types of content commonly published on blogs:
How-To Blog Posts
How-to blog posts are essential to your content strategy. They allow you to tackle specific problems that your target audience is experiencing by providing step-by-step instructions for how to achieve a solution to that particular problem, for example, “How to Bake an Apple Pie” or “How to Write a Blog Post.” Considering how many people search for instructions on how to do something online, this is an excellent way to attract more leads. If your how-to blog post is useful, it will help to build your brand authority. Readers will recognize that your blog is helpful and that you know what you’re talking about, which helps to establish your expertise as well as your credibility. Both can go a long way towards capturing new leads.
List-Based Blog Posts
List-based blog posts are incredibly popular among all types of audiences. There are two main reasons for this. First, a list is easy to scan. A reader can scroll through the list and get the main gist of what it’s about within seconds. Secondly, a list provides readers with clear answers to questions or the missing information they are seeking. For example, “The 5 Healthiest Types of Dog Food,” or “10 Ways to Save Money Every Month.” People tend to be drawn in by numbers appearing in titles as well because it advertises what solution the blog post is offering.
Reviewing Multiple Products
Once audiences have done some research into their problems and the potential solutions that are available, they will begin searching for product reviews. Posting product reviews to your blog is an excellent way to attract those leads and to build trust in your brand. If you’re reviewing products related to your offerings, it will only be a matter of time before readers will begin looking into the products or services that you offer. Product reviews can also lead to other companies reaching out to you in an attempt to build a relationship that could be mutually beneficial.
Presentation Formatted Blog Posts
A blog post structure using a presentation format is not only an effective way to organize the information you’re trying to convey, but also a great way to engage your audience. For example, you can format a how-to blog post or a list-based blog post using a Slideshare, which would require readers to click from one step to another or one item on the list to the next. This interactive element helps make the content more engaging. It also makes it easier to add more visual elements without making the blog post appear way too long (requiring endless scrolling) since an image can accompany each slide.
Newsjacking Blog Posts
Newsjacking is a technique in which you write a blog post related to current news. By writing newsjacking posts, you keep your blog relevant to current events. They can help bring in new leads that were performing searches related to that particular news event to learn more about it. Google also takes freshness into account when ranking web pages.
For example, in 2013, Breaking Bad, one of the most popular shows on TV at the time, was in its final season. The Globe and Mail employed newsjacking to write a blog post entitled “What Breaking Bad Can Teach Us About Investing.” The Globe and Mail is a business and investing-based website that found a great way to create content that took advantage of something popular in the moment and make it relevant to their business.
Preparing To Write For Prospects And Google Bots
Once you’ve decided to set up a blog on your website, you will need to create content to publish. However, diving straight into the content is usually a recipe for failure. There are a few things that you will need to do first to ensure that your blog content is relevant and optimized for SEO. Here is a brief guide that will help you to create content that will attract the right audience and to make sure that the audience will find your blog.
Get To Know Your Prospects’ Persona
Before you can even decide on what to write about, first identify your target audience. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is to try and appeal to as large of an audience as possible. When you write for everyone, you’re in effect writing for no one. Avoid this misstep by identifying who your target audience is. You can do this by developing buyer personas, which are fictional representations of your ideal customers. Once you’ve created your buyer personas, you can start pinpointing what type of content will appeal to their specific needs, wants, problems, fears, and interests.
Decide On A Blog Post Topic
Deciding on a blog post topic shouldn’t be too challenging, especially once you have your buyer personas. Choose a buyer persona and target a particular need. For example, if you’re a real estate agent, one of your buyer personas might be a young first-time homebuyer. Consider topics that are relevant to both your business and this persona. For instance, topics that are relevant to first-time homebuyers can include buying homes or home mortgages. You can create a whole list of general topics in this way.
Conduct Research On Existing Search Results
Once you’ve got your topics, begin doing some research on them. Perform a Google search on your topics to find ideas about what kind of blog posts to write. You’ll see what types of blog posts rank best on Google’s SERP (search engine results page). Google also provides a list of related searches that can give you more ideas for specific blog posts. For example, if you search for “buying a home,” you’ll find a list of related searches at the bottom of the SERP that include “buying a home for the first time,” “buying a house with no money,” and “buying a house checklist.”
By doing your research, you’ll discover more blog post ideas for each topic that you generated. You’ll be able to determine what types of blog posts on the topic perform well on Google, which can help guide your blog content creation strategy.
Create A Captivating Title
Once you’ve done your research and chosen a blog post subject, you need to create an enticing title. Titles are important because they are what audiences depend on to determine whether your blog post is relevant to them. On top of being relevant, you’re also competing with hundreds if not thousands of existing blog posts that are similar in subject matter, which means that your title has to stand out. If the title is boring and generic, people won’t click on it even if the subject matter is relevant to them. Keep these tips in mind to create a captivating blog title:
- Be descriptive – The title needs to indicate the focus or takeaway of the blog post. It shouldn’t focus on more than one subject, or it will confuse your audience. You should also note the kind of solution you’re offering. Phrases like “how to” and “ways to” help indicate that your blog post is a guide.
- Keep it short – Audiences will find it difficult to determine or remember what your blog post is about if the title is too long. Keep it short and to the point.
- Use a keyword – Optimize your title for SEO using a relevant keyword. Proper keyword optimization will help ensure that the right audience is finding your blog post. If your blog post is effectively optimized, then the keyword should also help describe what the blog post is about in the first place, which means its use should come naturally.
- Use numbers – If your blog post includes a list or a step-by-step guide, then using numbers is an excellent way to indicate this to audiences. People are also attracted to titles with numbers because numbers stick out — and they suggest that the blog will be easy to scan and read.
- Be engaging – Creating an engaging title is usually the most challenging part of creating a title. In the end, that’s what will set your title apart from other titles. There are many ways that you can do this. For example, you can make your title a question to incite curiosity. You can also appeal to various emotions to provoke an immediate reaction. Alliteration is yet another way that you can draw attention and engage audiences right away.
Develop A Targeted Outline
Writing a blog post without a targeted outline is an excellent way to lose focus on the topic quickly. By the time you get to the end of your blog, you may be writing about something completely different than what the blog title indicated. To prevent this from happening, begin with an outline. Your outline should include the standard intro and concluding paragraphs. Split up the main body into sections that support your main topic. You can use headers, bullets, or numbered lists to provide examples that support each section.
By creating a targeted outline, you will ensure that the blog post is organized in a way that makes sense, and that will allow you to stay on topic. The blog post will also become more comfortable to read and scan. Even if you’re creating a blog post using a presentation format, outlining what each slide will contain will help make your post more effective.
Plan Your On-Page SEO
SEO is the practice of optimizing your content so that Google’s bots can identify what your content is about and rank it properly on their SERP. They use a variety of factors to determine the relevance and quality of your content. These factors will contribute to your page ranking. The higher you rank, the more exposure you’ll have, leading to more organic traffic to your blog.
On-page SEO refers to all optimization efforts done on your actual website (off-page SEO would include tactics such as earning social signals and building external links). While certain on-page SEO elements are essential to the success of your blog, such as technical SEO, you will also need to focus on creative SEO every time you publish a new blog post.
Remember that when you optimize your blog content for SEO that the keywords you use need to be relevant to your blog post and that they should match your user intent as well. The poor use of keywords can result in either poor rankings or the wrong audience reading your content. Doing keyword research will help ensure that you find strong, relevant, and competitive keywords to use for your blog posts. Here are some creative on-page SEO you will need to plan for before publishing new blog posts:
Meta tags include both titles and descriptions of the content. They appear in the webpage’s source code and are used to indicate to search engines like Google the details of your blog posts. Meta titles should be no more than 50 to 60 characters long, while meta descriptions should be no more than 150 to 160 characters long. While they don’t factor into your page rankings, they are used on SERPs to inform users about each search result. Without them, users will likely scroll right past your result.
For example, you might write a blog titled “A Home Buying Guide for First-Time Homebuyers.” A meta description for such a post could be: “If you’re a first-time homebuyer, learn how to navigate the homebuying process with our comprehensive guide for first-time homebuyers.”
Title and Headers Tags
The title tag is the page title shown in the browser window and search results snippet. It’s also referred to as the meta title (as previously mentioned). Although your H1 is the title of the blog post, it’s often different from the title tag in order to keep the title tag on the shorter side. The headers (such as H2 and H3 tags) are used throughout the actual blog post to separate the different sections of your blog. Optimize all of these headers as well using relevant keywords as they help both readers and Google to scan your content and understand its context.
When you add links to your blog post, whether they are internal links to other pages on your site or external links to sources that support your content, select your anchor text carefully. Anchor text is the text that users can click on to take them to the page you linked to. Search engines like Google will take into consideration the keywords that you use as anchor text when ranking your page for specific keywords. Use keywords that you want to rank for as your anchor text — but only if those keywords are relevant to the page to which you are linking.
Finally, a significant amount of organic traffic will originate from mobile devices. If your blog is not optimized for mobile use, then it won’t display correctly on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. This will not only cause you to lose potential prospects, but a lack of mobile optimization will affect your SEO rankings. From the beginning, make sure to build your entire website using a responsive design. Doing so will ensure that the layout is displayed correctly on mobile devices.
There are other ways to make your website more mobile-friendly as well; for example, making your text larger and font easier to read on smaller screens. Consider also using buttons and icons, which are easier to use on mobile devices than text-based links. Watch that your blog pages aren’t being slowed down by animated content or pictures that are too large or that are uncompressed.
How Competitive Analysis of Search Results Impacts Your Approach To Writing
The importance of performing competitive analysis in regards to your content strategy cannot be overstated. Blogging is commonly accepted as one of the most effective forms of content marketing — and inbound marketing in general. Assume that everyone within your industry (including both competitors and non-competitors) will have a blog that may be similar to yours.
In addition to analyzing Google’s SERP based on the topics you’ve come up with, it will help you to visit various competitive blogs. Look into the type of blog content they’re creating, what subjects they’re exploring, and what keywords they’re using. Analyze their blogs to determine which blog posts are getting the most traction in terms of SEO rankings and overall engagement. You’ll not only get ideas for blog posts for your own site but you’ll also identify what works and doesn’t work.
Set Standards For Your Content
Once you’ve done your research, you’re ready to create content that is relevant to your industry, which is helpful to your audience, and that will rank well on Google’s SERP. However, all of this is moot if your blog content isn’t engaging. First and foremost, your content must be well written to be engaging. Poorly written content is just bad content and a waste of everyone’s time. With that in mind, here are several essential factors that contribute to the overall quality of your blog and how successful it will be regarding engaging your readers.
Different businesses establish different standards when it comes to the length of their blog. A lot depends on who your audience is. Shorter blog posts are easier to read and are much easier to produce more often. However, long-form blogs (such as posts over 1,000 words) allow you to go into much more detail about a subject, which will have a bigger impact on your brand authority. Readers are more likely to share blog posts that are more informative as well. Not to mention that long-form articles rank much higher on Google’s SERP in general than shorter blog posts.
Readability is essential to a blog’s success, especially if you’re producing long-form content. A lot of different factors affect how readable your blog is; for example, grammar and spelling. Poor grammar and spelling can make a blog unreadable and reflects poorly on your brand. If you can’t bother to use a basic spell check, then what kind of quality control can potential customers expect from your business in general?
The ability to scan and understand your blog content is vital to its readability as well. Long walls of text make it difficult to do either. Break your content up into sections using headers, bullets, and numbers. And don’t be afraid to show off your brand’s personality. Blog content that’s too formal can come off as dry and dull. Of course, how much personality you show is dependent on your brand identity and on the type of audience you have. For example, using youth culture slang is probably not a good idea if the majority of your target audience consists of senior citizens.
Always add a relevant, high-quality image to your blog post. Visual content helps to engage people much more since humans are visual creatures. An image can help convey what your blog post is about. An image can also help support a section of your article in one way or another, whether it’s a picture, an infographic, or a chart. Images are also useful in helping to break up the monotony of a long blog post filled with nothing but text.
It’s not enough to engage your readers throughout your blog post. Keep them engaged once they’ve read the post by encouraging them to leave their thoughts or feelings in a comment section. You can then interact with them directly, especially if they post a question about the content. The ability to leave comments also allows readers to have discussions with each other.
Social Media Buttons
Adding social media buttons to your blog allows readers to share or like your blog post to their social media pages without having to copy and paste the link. Social media buttons make it easy for them to engage with your content with the click of a button so that they don’t have to leave your blog. Besides making it more convenient for readers to engage, social media buttons help increase exposure to your blog. When someone shares or likes it, their online social circles will be more likely to see it, potentially bringing in more traffic. Not only can you attract more prospects this way, but social signals such as shares and likes also help to boost your SEO rankings.
End With A Call-To-Action
There are two goals you’ll want to achieve at the end of every blog post: 1) leave a good last impression, and 2) encourage the reader to take action. Use the conclusion, to sum up the points you’ve made throughout the post and end it all on a positive note. Then make sure you have a call-to-action. Without a call-to-action, readers won’t know what to do next. If they don’t keep exploring your website on their own, they’re likely just to leave your site altogether. A CTA can help encourage them to download a free eBook, sign up to a newsletter, download a free trial, or to simply call or email you for a free estimate or consultation. Without a CTA, all of the effort you put into the creation of your blog goes to waste.
Great Preparation Ensures That Resources Invested Will Not Go To Waste
As an essential element of your content marketing strategy, your blog must be successful. Merely setting up a blog and publishing a few posts here and there will not suffice. On the other hand, if you’re investing substantial resources and time into your blog, make sure to take the necessary steps to put your blog in the best possible position to succeed. The more preparation and research that you do, the more likely your blog will help you to achieve your content marketing goals.