According to a recent study, blogging is used by 81% of business marketers, and 77% of consumer marketers (Source: Content Marketing Institute). No question, Blogging is now a proven marketing tactic for most marketing scenarios. Why? Because effective blogging can drive significant and measurable website traffic, build search engine authority, improve social media engagement, reinforce a thought leadership image, and even generate sales leads.
So how can a marketer blog more effectively? Following are Top 10 Tips for Blogging Excellence with explanations of each, along with some additional resources.
Top 10 Tips for Blogging Excellence:
1. How to Plan a Blog
2. Key Content Considerations
3. Properly Integrate Blog and Website
4. Employ all possible SEO
5. Blog Titles are Critical
6. Lead Generation Techniques
7. Use relevant Social Media Networks
8. Properly Tag, Categorize, and Interlink Blogs
9. Install Analytics and Measure
10. More Blog Tips
How to Plan a Blog
The first consideration in blog planning is which content management system (CMS) to use. Today, nearly 60% of all blogs (and websites) use WordPress, as this platform is free and has thousands of themes, plugins, and widgets for every conceivable requirement. Of course, most themes are mobile or responsive.
Next, like all new marketing initiatives, think about your audience or multiple audiences. Consider primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences. For business blogs, this can be market segments and titles of decision makers. For consumers, consider demographics and psychographics.
During this planning stage, think about objectives or goals. An ecommerce website might be sales. A business blog can be thought leadership positioning, or sales lead generation. Other objectives can be user traffic, social media engagement metrics, and more.
Another worthwhile effort during planning is researching available resources, and identifying subject matter experts (SMEs) that can be spokespersons or contributors. Of course, this is starting to get into our next subject, content.
Key Content Considerations
Again, we are focused on blogging best practices, and blog effectiveness. No question, blog content is the key to success. Content planning can be as simple as identifying 5-10 topics, even assigning a percentage to each for emphasis. Keyword search volume analysis can add objectivity to the process. For more complex marketing scenarios, there can be both topics and sub-topics, or topics by key audiences. As mentioned, identifying SMEs, spokespersons, and contributors is helpful. Guest blogging can be an option for a mature or popular blog. Please understand the difference between original and curated content. Curation is publishing other authors content with accreditation, and often a back-link. After Google penalized duplicate content with the 2011 Panda update, curation has to be done in moderation, with your own editorial and smaller amounts of curated content.
Certainly, content is too big of a topic for this blog, but its worth mentioning that the ultimate goal of blog content is “Evergreen”. That is, a blog that draws high volumes of traffic each month and keeps building over time. Check out more info on Evergreen content.
How to Integrate Blog and Website
Most marketers implement a blog as part of a brand or company website (vs. an independent blog). There are many reasons for this. Foremost, the traffic and search authority of an effective blog is attributed to the primary domain or website, but only when it is properly structured. For example, http://yourwebsite.com/blog/ or http://blog.yourwebsite.com/.
Employ all possible SEO
Most content management systems and blog platforms have SEO features or plug-ins for search engine optimization. No question, SEO is critical for your blog. Why? SEO will ensure that users, prospects, and customers find your blog on a search engine results page (SERP).
Here are the top SEO items to include or consider for every blog post:
1. Title tag
2. URL (do not use a randomly generated URL like, http://yourwebsite.com/blog/post1234/. Instead, make sure your URL reflects your keyword-rich title)
3. Meta description
4. H1, H2, H3 (not only do these provide a user-friendly architecture for your blog, but can help in the crawling process)
5. Image (use a file name and ALT tag for images in your blog that contain relevant keywords)
For a more in-depth SEO insights check out our whitepaper: Top 10 SEO Tips.
Blog Titles are Critical
First impressions are important. The title of individual blogs not only has SEO implications, but can also impact click through rates, and shareability/virabilitly. Your title should be keyword-rich, while still being interesting and attention grabbing, and no more than 60 characters.
What about title hooks? Besides title SEO considerations, there are old-fashioned copy hooks that attract users. This blog title is an example, Top 10 Tips. Numbers are always good. They suggest a quick read or a simple checklist. “How to” is always a safe bet, as users search for tutorials. Sensational or controversial titles have the promise of viral response. Example: Does Your Website Suck?
Finally, believe it or not, there is tool to measure the effectiveness of your blog title, check it out.
Lead Generation Techniques
One of the most frequent objectives of blogging is lead generation. So how can lead generation be maximized? First, the blogs global template can have multiple calls-to-action or CTAs. Email news registration is a frequent option. Resources, downloads and events with titles linking to registration pages are all possibilities. Offers or CTAs for complimentary consultations, free tools, and surveys are options. Below is a sample business blog with many of these options (see red callouts).
Beside the blog global template, individual blogs can have similar resources, downloads, and related, with links to registration pages. Of course, these offers can be very specific to the blog subject, increasing the chances of registration.
Use Relevant Social Media Networks
While blog content is the engine of digital marketing excellence, social media is the distribution vehicle. Of course, effective social media requires great content. Thoughtful and relevant blogs are certainly great content. And depending on your business scenario, different social networks might be emphasized. LinkedIn is typically the leading social network for business content, while Facebook leads consumer content. Twitter and YouTube are excellent for either business or consumer. Social media sharing can be facilitated with a social share or follow tool bar, like AddThis (see example below). Likewise, when posting a blog, social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite can be used to re-share blog content.
Properly Tag, Categorize, Interlink Blogs
Most CMS platforms have features to Tag and Categorize individual blogs. Subject Categories improve the user experience (UX), by allowing the user to click on categories of interest, and view any or all blogs in the category. This increases the users time on the website or blog, increases page views, and lowers the bounce rate, all impacting search authority. Likewise, interlinking involves linking the individual blog to other relevant blogs or website pages. Similar to Categories, this increases user time, page views, and lowers bounce rates.
Install Analytics and Measure
Getting back to blog objectives, in order to achieve goals, measurement is required. Analytics allows measurement. Google Analytics is preferred for ease of use, integration with paid search, and depth of reporting.
Following are key analytics you should be tracking to measure the success and effectiveness of your blog:
- Total number of sessions: how many people are coming to your blog?
- Pages/Session: are users viewing multiple pages or just one?
- Average session duration: how long are people staying on your blog?
- Source/medium: where are visitors coming from? Organic? Social?
- Top pages: what are the most popular pages on your blog?
- Bounce rate: measures users that come to the blog and leave (less than 75% is good)
These metrics, analyzed period over period, can provide invaluable insights into the performance of your blog. Are visitors only viewing one page? Try to add relevant and helpful links to additional content or calls to action. Looking at the source/medium, is organic traffic increasing over time? Your top blog can be an indication of a topic that is popular and resonating with your audience. Create more content on the same subject! Test, measure impact, and repeat.
More Blog Tips
Blogging best practices is a complicated topic! There are so many considerations. A user-friendly and scalable CMS is a strong foundation. Beyond the tips already covered, following are a few more.
Word Count? How long or short should a blog be? A common response would be 500-1,000 words. Yet marketing guru Guy Kawasaki often blogs 100 words with huge success. Another school of thought demonstrates higher search rank, increased back-links and social shares as word count increases, surmising that search engines give higher authority to long blogs. We think it depends on the audience and the content. Also, there are positive SEO benefits for breaking longer blogs into series with the aforementioned interlinks.
How about frequency? How many blogs should you do in a week or a month? Again, it likely depends on the audience and the topics. Certainly, too infrequent blogging will simply not have any traffic or SEO impact. Intuitively, blog frequency has a direct correlation to blog traffic assuming quality, relevance, and interest. So can you blog too frequently? This depends on resources. Daily would be ideal. But a lot of work goes into each blog, thus becoming a time and resource issue. We often recommend a business blog frequency of no less than 4-6 blogs per month, and ideally 8-12 blogs per month.
Lastly, be sure to use tons of visual content when possible – images, videos, infographics, tables, and more.
Effective Blogging is Now a Top Marketing Strategy
Without a doubt, marketing is in the midst of a content revolution. And blogging is one of the key elements of content marketing. Blogging is proven to drive web traffic, build search authority, support social media engagement, and even generate sales leads.
But to realize all the benefits, blogging has to be implemented effectively. To that end, this blog identifies 10 Top Tips for Blogging Excellence, along with lots of explanation, and an example. Finally, some additional resources are provided below to help you realize all the great marketing and sales benefits of effective blogging.
Have a blogging question? Please contact Modern Marketing Partners for a complimentary blogging consultation.