Blogging 101: Give Them Content!

Consistently blogging good content is a better investment than hiring an SEO expert.

One of the most common questions I get from people is how to increase traffic to their website. My response is always the same. Do you blog? How often do you blog? Typically they don’t have a blog or don’t blog very frequently, often citing that they don’t have anything to blog about. I disagree. I think every small business has something to talk about and should be blogging about it. So, here’s a quick overview to get you started if you’re one of those that doesn’t have a blog or struggles with how to blog or what to blog about.

Awhile back I tweeted that “consistently blogging good content is a better investment than hiring an SEO expert.” This tweet was a paraphrase from a video on the ReelSEO blog where Rick Calvert, CEO of BlogWorld said:

We all know that social [media] has turned search on its head. A much better investment than paying some SEO expert is to start a blog and start putting up good, relevant content on a consistent basis. That’s going to increase your search ranking better than anything else you can probably do.

Here’s the video, if you’d like to watch it.

So, that’s why you should be blogging on a consistent basis, but maybe you’re stuck and don’t understand how to go about blogging or where to come up with ideas to blog about. So, here’s a few blogging tips for you.

Know Your Audience and Connect with Them

Know who your audience is. Who are you trying to attract to your site. Hopefully you have a pretty good idea about who your customers are. What’s the demographic? What are their interests? Write about the things your audience is interested in – what they want to learn about. Writing for your target market does not mean hard-selling your products or services to them. It means connecting with them, sharing with them, becoming a resource for them. Help them out. Be a resource for them. Establish trust with them and establish yourself as an expert, or at least a very useful and knowledgeable resource in your field.

Keywords

Once you know who your audience is and what their interests are, listen to them. What keywords and phrases does your audience use? These keywords and phrases are blog topic ideas for you. Fill your posts with those keywords. Use Google Insights to identify other, related keywords people are searching for related to your content.

Types of Posts

Regarding the kinds of blog posts you do, consider incorporating several types of blog posts, *(thanks to Karen Rubin of Hubspot for this idea, see acknowledgements below).

  • Basic, everyday posts – how-to, rich in keywords, quick to whip out
  • Thoughtful posts – fewer and less often, take more time to write, establish yourself as a thought-leader
  • Big Blog Posts – Lots of work, lots of links
  • Fun posts – Perhaps a bit of frivolity but it shows your personality
  • Firey posts – potentially controversial, use sparingly, be ready to defend yourself

Post Structure

Use headings (i.e. Heading 2, Heading3, Heading 4, in WordPress – Some SEO expertes recommend using only one Heading 1 on a page and that should be the title of the blog post. A good WordPress theme should already incorporate this for you.) for sections of your blog post.

Keep your basic, everyday posts to 500 – 800 words.

Uses bullet lists but don’t go crazy with them

Each blog post should feature one main idea. If you’ve got several ideas you want to cover, write different blog posts for each idea.

Use categories and tags. Think of categories as the main content topics that your write about. For example, some of the topics I write most about are, WordPress and Online Video. These are two of my categories. A given blog post would probably only be assigned to a couple of categories at most. Use tags to identify the main keywords that are used in your post. Categories and tags can be useful ways for your readers to find your content. Include lists of categories and tags in your sidebar or footer to help your readers find similar articles.

Always add at least 1 photo or image. Make sure you have the rights to use it. Better yet, take your own photos and use them.

Add video as much as possible. I’m a big fan of online video. Video gets people’s attention. If you have a webcam, an iPhone or almost any camera, you have the ability to incorporate short video of yourself talking about the subject. And if you upload that video to YouTube, the second largest search engine behind Google, that makes your content that much easier to find. To learn more about online video, check out the online video category on this blog.

Blog Topic Ideas

A lot of people have a tough time coming up with ideas to write about on a blog. They think they don’t have anything to write about. But I’d be willing to be that there’s a ton of ideas out there for you to write about. Here’s a few ideas about where to come up with ideas to blog about.

  • Write about questions that you receive via email (check your outbox).
  • Write about questions you get on the phone and in person.
  • What questions are you constantly having to answer? Write about it and then point people to your article when they ask you, saving yourself some time down the road (that’s the genesis of many of the posts on this site).
  • Share a recent experience.
  • Comment on other blog articles from other sites.
  • Turn a press release into a blog article.
  • Look in industry forums for topic ideas. The questions people are asking in your industry forums are fantastic blog post topic ideas. And the words they use? Great keyword resource.
  • What are your competitors blogging about?
  • What are others in your industry blogging about?
  • What are the latest trends, thoughts, ideas in your industry?
  • What impacts do world, national or local news events have on your industry?
  • If you make and sell products, write about your process. How do you design, test, produce? Write about your designers or testers working on the new product. You don’t have to divulge your new secret feature, but talk about what goes into designing and testing, what you’re trying to accomplish, how this product will make users happier. Most consumers probably have no idea how much time and effort goes into product design. Help them appreciate that. They may even give you some helpful feedback and they’ll feel like they were part of the process.
  • Write tips and tutorials about your industry, product line, etc.
  • Write about recent events your organization has held or participated in.
  • Got additional ways you come up with ideas for content? Share them by commenting below.

Writing Headlines

Writing headlines is part art, part science. The headline is what will probably initially pull your readers in. Headlines get shared via Twitter and Facebook. Practice coming up with good headlines that will get people’s attention. Write the headline before the article. Surprise people. Use keywords. Check out author and blogger Tim Ferris’s recent article Blogging by Numbers: How to Create Headlines That Get Retweeted for some great advice on writing headlines.

Comments

A key element of blogging is to interact with your readers via comments. You want interaction with your audience. You want comments. Respond to comments. When someone comments on your blog, subscribe to that commenter and follow them on Facebook. Comment and participate on their blog. Every blogging tool out there has a field to enter your website address when you leave a blog comment. When you leave a comment, your name will show up, linked to the website you enter there. That’s a link back to your blog. That’s good. But, don’t abuse that. You don’t want to be a blog spammer. Keep your comments relevant, thoughtful, helpful and civil.

Ok. That’s probably more than enough for you to try to digest for now. Hopefully this gave you some ideas on how to start or improve your blogging. Got a comment or question about blogging? Join in the conversation by commenting below.

Acknowledgments

Many of the ideas from this post came from a presentation given by Karen Rubin of HubSpot at a WordPress WordCamp in Boston in 2010. Here’s the video of that presentation:

The slides from Karen’s presentation:

3 Comments

  1. This is right on and I know it by experience. When I first started blogging (back in 2006), I was uploading a post everyday (good quality content for my niche which is a Mommy Blogger from Maui) – my blog moved to first page in Google search (pretty quickly) when someone try to search my name. I didn’t even know what SEO is at that time :)

    Liza

  2. Thanks Liza. And you also show up first for the search – maui blog.

  3. Another idea for finding blog topic ideas. Have you given a presentation or workshop lately? Chances are your presentation material would be great for blogging about.