Blogging Best Practices by Jon Lewis
Beyond building an interactive community, corporate blogging offers search engine benefits, it elevates thought leadership, and it helps create a content library that can be used in sales efforts. Here are a few best practices we recommend to our clients:
Create a custom URL
You need a strong foundation and it starts with the right URL. Blogging platforms like WordPress will host your blog for free, but don’t do it! Instead of yoursite.wordpress.com make sure your blog is yoursite.com. It simply looks more professional.
When you write about something that you are passionate about, that passion gets infused with every word you write. It’s also infectious. We all want to be inspired, so write about the reason you love your brand, product, or service and your readers will catch that passion as well.
Have an opinion
Have you ever been enticed by food that looked amazing but once you took a bite it was bland? If you don’t spice your blog with a strong opinion, you risk bland writing and when that happens the reader won’t finish your blog, much less come back for a second helping.
Know your voice
Your brand has a voice, and that voice is unique. Some are playful, others are stodgy, and a few are even bombastic. The voice of your blog should match that of your brand. If it doesn’t, you are sending a mixed message to your audience.
Give it away
Nobody reacts well to a hard sell, so remember that when your write your blog. Instead of blasting your readers with sales pitch after sales pitch, give them content that will improve their lives. And if that same content happens to tie into your product or service, then you have a winning formula.
If you sell ergonomic office furniture and want to tout a new product line, write a blog post about how those products will improve health, efficiency, and overall quality of life. Are there statistics that back it up? Did the manufacturer produce a white paper? Once you establish that your readers are more important than their wallets, slip in the fact that you just happen to carry those products and link to them.
We live in a headline society where few of us have the time to read a full article much less an entire newspaper. Readers are looking for concise information that packs a punch, which means you have somewhere around 500-700 words to get your point across.
• Title: Keep your titles between 3-8 words. Be sure to incorporate words that not only pique interest, but also use key words that will help your page rank in search engines. Also, avoid all caps and exclamation points whenever possible.
• Opening: If your title was good enough that someone read the first line, it’s time to grab him and not let go. Be assertive. Challenge him to keep reading. Make him need your content because if you go bland, he’s going away and never coming back.
• Body: Keep your foot on the gas. If content isn’t essential, get rid of it. Each paragraph needs to leave readers wanting more. Consider using headers for each paragraph. Headers not only create visual interest but they break blocks of text into bit-sized pieces.
• Close: The beauty of a blog is that you are building a community and communities are interactive. Instead of ending your blog with a declarative statement, finish it with a request for feedback and opinion. Then go back and respond to each comment. You’ll be amazed by the number of people who will post on future blogs simply because you acknowledged them.
A massive block of text will often force a reader to click away before she reads the first word. Add interesting images, charts, and graphs to break the monotony. Or consider starting each blog with a branded image that varies in content but is always the same size.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO requires skill, patience, and dedication, but you can set yourself up for success with a few key steps:
• Use key words as early in your blog title as possible. Focus on a single search term but don’t sacrifice a good title if key words sound awkward.
• Keywords should also be reinforced through subheads whenever possible.
• Search engines give pages that are linked more authority, so link key words to other pages or earlier blog posts. But don’t go overboard. Too many links in one post could turn readers off and it could also have the opposite effect with search engines.
• Most blogging platforms allow you to apply tags and those tags organize your blog for both people and search engines. Make sure you only use tags that are pertinent to your blog post, because search engines will penalize pages with terms that might have a high search ranking but don’t have anything to do with the content.
• If other websites want to repost your content or link to your post, make sure they use targeted keywords in the link.
• If the blogging platform allows you to customize the URL for your post, make sure you use key word friendly terms. For example: yoursite.com/5-ergonomic-office-tips.
Consistency is everything
You don’t have to post every day to have a successful blog but you do have to post regularly and on time. Post three times each week or once a month, but whatever you choose, you need to be consistent. If readers enjoy your content, they’re going to come back for more. But if that content is missing their likelihood of returning diminishes.
Give readers the opportunity to share your content with their social graph through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and other social platform buttons.
Pay it forward
One of the best ways to gain attention from influential bloggers in your industry is to support their blogs. Read their posts. Make smart comments. Share their content through your social graph. It doesn’t guarantee a similar response, but you certainly increase your chances.
Do you have a relationship with an influential person in your industry? What about a retailer that carries your products? Or an athlete who wears your shoes? Find interesting people with something to say and ask them to write a guest post for your blog and promote it through their social graph.
You can also offer to write guest posts for blogs that cater to your target audience. Just remember that the same rules that apply to your blog apply to other blogs as well.