As we discussed in our previous article, “Why You Should Have a Blog”, blogging is a proven strategy for building your business. It gives you a platform to share your expertise to a targeted audience.
If you are able to consistently provide usable, relevant and accurate information to your readers, in time, you will generate high-volume traffic to your website. But blogging isn’t just any writing activity.
Blogging requires thought, strategy and purpose. So we’ve decided to offer you this free course on the basics of blogging.
Let’s call it Blogging 101.
Where Should You Set Up Your Blog?
Some people have a blog site that is separate from their website because they think it will help drive more focus on its content. But in reality, having a separate blog site will negatively impact your inbound marketing efforts.
If you want to start a blog, there is no question that you should set it up in your website.
Here are 5 reasons why you should blog from your website:
1. Better Branding
A professionally made website is built and designed to represent your business in the best way possible. But a blog site often looks like an assembly-line WordPress template.
Integrating a blog page with the website keeps your branding strategy intact and consistent with your inbound marketing campaign.
2. Enhances Your Credibility
Always keep in mind your purpose for blogging. You want to build your credibility and reputation as an expert in the industry.
A separate blog site can lull you into a sense of complacency and take you off course. You might end up blogging more about topics that are not related to your business.
3. More Efficient Distribution Channel
Social media is a great way to distribute content. Having only 1 website makes it easier to share content with your followers in various social media channels. It will also be more convenient for your readers to link back to only 1 website.
4. More Effective SEO
If you think that having a link from your blog site to your website is a bonus, think again. A separate blog page may actually hinder link building to your website as it may attract a market that is different from your target audience.
By consolidating your link building efforts to only 1 website, you improve your chances of moving up the search engine rankings.
5. Sustained Success
Blogs that are published in a website will be archived. People who visit your website can periodically pull out content from the past which they find usable and relevant to their search.
At the same time, you can always re-publish or re-distribute previous content so you can attract new followers.
Forget the idea of creating a separate blog page. Set up your blog in your website. Not only will it generate more traffic but managing a single website will make your life less complicated.
Getting Started With Your Blog
Getting started with your blog is not as difficult as it seems. If you are blogging for your business, then you should write about topics that are related to your industry or on issues that are of interest to your target audience.
Here are some tips on how to find topics to write about:
1. Check Out the Competition
Visit the blog pages of your competitors in the industry and take note of the posts that garnered the highest likes, shares and engagement in Facebook and retweets in Twitter.
Get organized and create an Excel spreadsheet which lists the headlines, topics, number of shares and retweets.
2. Utilize Online Tools
If the blog has a comments section, take time to go through the level of engagement between readers and the writer.
You should note down points of contention, areas of the subject matter that resulted in highly charged engagement and issues that may not have been resolved.
3. Run a Simple Keyword Search
Another approach is to run a simple keyword search using Google Keyword Planner. All you need to do is set the parameters of your search then type in your keywords.
For example, if you have a fitness website and you don’t know whether you should write a blog about High Intensity Training or Cardio Training, type in those keywords and see which one garnered more searches.
You will come across several keyword topics. Choose the keyword topic which has a good number of searches but is the least competitive.
4. Engage Your Followers
The golden rule of blogging is to always write for your audience. So why not go straight to them and find out what they want to read about? You can conduct a survey as an opt-in in your website or in your Facebook company page.
5. Join Focus Groups
Popular social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Google Plus have many different focus groups that you can join. Start a discussion thread on a topic you have been thinking about and see how many community members will join in and engage.
As your number of followers and page visits grow, it will be easier for you to come up with a list of blog topics.
You can use online analytics to determine which blog posts had the highest levels of engagement, the most shares and views. You can also engage your audience more closely through frequent email marketing campaigns. Having a large follower base makes online polls or surveys on blog topics more accurate and reliable.
How to Write an Effective Blog Post
In our previous articles, “The Basics of SEO” and “How to Drive Traffic to Your Website”, we discussed in great detail the importance of keywords when writing online content. Keywords play an important role in getting your content found on the Internet.
But we will not touch on keywords in this article. You can always go back to our previous blogs to refresh your knowledge about the value of keywords and how to use them in creating content.
This article is about writing blogs that your audience will enjoy, appreciate and hopefully, share with their own followers.
From our experience working with clients, many like the idea of blogging but are intimidated by the process of writing. They have doubts on their ability to write engaging content. Some subscribe to the notion you have to be a literary of English major to write a blog.
Here’s the truth: Anyone can blog.
You just need to find the time; which as a business owner should be your bigger concern. Outsourcing your blog to an experienced writer is another option.
But if you’re the type who wants to roll up his sleeves and get deeply involved with the business, then you should dedicate time every day to blogging.
Here are Mountaintop’s 10 commandments for writing an effective blog post:
1. Write for your audience
We identified this as the “Golden Rule of Blogging” and it is a rule that many first-time bloggers forget.
Always keep in mind that people search the Internet for content that is relevant or usable to them. Write from the position of your audience and create content that would be of interest to them.
2. Don’t get technical
This commandment is related to the golden rule. Many first-time bloggers think that by using technical jargon they can impress the audience and enhance their reputation as an expert. If your content reads Greek to your audience, they will click out of your web page.
3. Keep it long
Blog posts that exceed 2,400 words generate the best results for search rankings.
Long form blogs give you the opportunity to provide readers more useful information and boost your credibility as a resource. They also keep readers in your web page longer therefore improving your bounce rate.
4. Keep it short
It is important to make reading an easy and pleasurable experience for your audience. You can do this by keeping your sentences and paragraphs short.
Harry Potter author JK Rowling keeps her sentences to 12 words. Some writers prefer no more than 20.
The general idea is to write informative sentences in the most concise way possible. As for paragraphs, try to keep them to no more than 3 sentences each.
5. Use bullet points
If you have information that you need to break down in your blog, use bullet points to make them more organized and easier to read. Bullet points also create white spaces in your blog which give it a cleaner look.
6. Focus on giving details
Don’t put out a blog just to have content on your website. Focus on giving details so you can highlight your knowledge and expertise. Show your readers that your website is the best resource for credible information.
7. Look to hook readers
With all the blogs circulating on the Internet, it may take more than great content to hook readers. An effective way to get attention is to come up with catchy titles. List- type articles and “How To’s” are very popular with readers.
8. Be conversational with your readers
Have you ever been in a seminar where the speaker seems to drag on with the topic? His presentation is all about figures, statistics and an endless litany of facts. You probably wish you were somewhere else.
Write your blog as if you were conversing with your reader. Sometimes give pause to your statements by asking questions to your readers. A conversation creates feedback which could lead to better audience engagement.
9. Give credit where it is due
When you include facts, figures and statistics in your blog, always link back to their resources. You could also cite your references as footnotes.
Regardless of the method you choose, you should give credit where it is due. It takes time, money and effort to produce high quality research. By referencing your sources, not only are you validating your numbers but you are also acknowledging the work done by others.
10. Cite your own experiences
As the saying goes, “In theory, theory and practice are one in the same; but in practice, they are not”.
When it comes to credibility, nothing beats experience. You can cite as many references as you want but ultimately readers want to know what you have done in the industry.
For example, you are writing a blog on “How to Make the Best Home-Made Stews” for your cooking website.
In the section “Creative Cooking”, you could write about the time you ran out of red wine for the Beef Bourguignon and used grape juice with chicken stock as the liquid substitute.
Conclusion: Timing is Everything
If you want to maximize the exposure of your blog, you have to take a strategic approach on its publication schedule.
According to a study made by Dan Zarrella on 1,400 bloggers, the best time to publish blogs is in the morning.
The study showed that close to 80% of Internet users read blogs in the morning and that viewership gradually declines over the course of the day. By nighttime, only 40% of Internet users spend time reading blogs.
As for best days in the week to publish your blogs, a study by Hubspot on over 170,000 blogs showed that Mondays and Thursdays generate the highest viewership.
So if you’ve been thinking about writing a blog, just go ahead and do it!
Our Blogging 101 course has covered the key fundamentals and basics of blogging. Like all learned skills, becoming a good blogger takes constant repetition. The more you work at it the better you will get.
Did you like what you just read? We would love to hear from you.
If we got you thinking about blogging, please feel free to give us a call or an email. We can set up a blog page on your website or help you get a flying start on your business blogging.