According to a recent study by Quick Sprout, the average digital consumer reads 5 to 10 blog posts each day, with blogs ranked the second most influential factor when making purchase decisions after user-generated content (UGC). The study also shows that 82% of digital consumers enjoy reading company blogs, with 61% saying they’ve made a purchase directly off a blog post.
With this in mind, every business should be putting in extra hours to create a high-quality blog. This post is a guide designed to help SMB owners build reputable and ROI-focused blogs that can stand the test of time. Let’s get started.
SET YOUR BLOGGING GOALS
In business, every campaign starts with goal setting, and blogging is not different. Begin by listing down your goals keeping in mind the SMART goals mantra. Put simply, your goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
We recommend WordPress. While there are several blogging platforms to choose from, some even free to use, WordPress stands out for a number of reasons;
• It already hosts 60 million business blogs
• It is free to use
• It’s incredibly easy to use
• It’s customizable
• It performs well for SEO
IN-HOUSE OR OUTSOURCE?
In an ideal world, we’d all want to write our posts and maintain our blogs ourselves. Unfortunately, we’re all humans; we get tired. Moreover, we only have 24 hours to get everything done. For this reason, you may have to choose between an in-house team and outsourcing some content.
We recommend a hybrid mix of in-house and outsourcing. You can create topics, have a outsource writer get you a draft and then you can finalize. This can often be done inexpensively and it saves you time. This is a service my team offers.
FIND THE RIGHT TOPICS
Given that 8 out of 10 people won’t read the full post blog if the headline is boring, you have your work cut out. If you choose to outsource, the firm will likely help you brainstorm title ideas. However, even if you’re on your own, don’t despair.
• Blog about trending topics
• Be the first to break important news
• “Adapt” ideas from your competitors
• Use Google to find relevant topics
• Repurpose old content, and
• Add updates to old posts
WRITE FOR PEOPLE FIRST
Blogs posts are written to be read by people, not search engines. So, habits such as keyword stuffing are best avoided. Instead;
• Pack your content with value
• Use visuals to drive up engagement
• Break down content into bite-sized chunks
• Use bullets to make content scannable
• Kick out any spelling and grammatical mistakes
• Provide CTAs so readers can take action
KEEP SEO IN MIND
The fact that SEO shouldn’t take center stage doesn’t mean you should ignore it completely. To this end;
• Naturally, use keywords throughout your content
• Link to authoritative content on the web
• Localize your content by mentioning your locations
• Optimize both the blog and individual posts for mobile devices
A common mistake business owners make is publishing posts on their blogs and waiting for traffic to flow in. This approach seriously limits the reach of your posts. To generate more traction, share your posts aggressively. This means on multiple social channels, multiple times typically over at least a two-week time period and then perhaps less frequently but again on a “evergreen” format. From your website to podcasts, and social media to relevant forums, mention your posts as much as possible and always leave a link to the post. You can create short videos about a post, share link posts, share images posts with a link in the description and talk about new posts in Stories.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
After a post is published, readers will start commenting, asking questions, and mentioning it everywhere. Don’t just sit there. Join in the conversation. Reply, ask questions, and provide further information. It helps build relationships. Engagement is important on social to promote blog readership.
DON'T FORGET TO MEASURE
No blogging campaign is perfect. Keep track of Key Performance Metrics (KPIs) to uncover and fix issues early for accelerated growth. Some of the metrics you want to measure include; the number of visitors, number of leads, number of inbound links, and social media engagement.
Remember that the blog is an extension of your overall marketing campaign. It has to complement and tie back to the rest of your marketing efforts. I recommend that blogging be the cornerstone of a lead generation plan that includes social media sharing and ads, and then drives back to the blog where there is a lead capture that moves to email/text nurture campaigns.
Mike Gingerich is president of Digital Hill Multimedia (www.DigitalHill.com), a Goshen, Indiana web design and marketing agency. He is also a co-founder of TabSite.com and Waftio.com, leading software tools for contests and lead capture, and author of the book Game Plan for Social Media Lead Generation. Find out more at www.MikeGingerich.com/book.