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Blogs – how to make the most of them

Mark Tomkins
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In a previous post we explored the reasons why having a blog is good for a business website (you can read it here). Now it’s time to explore how to maximise a blog’s potential – and find out which topics have been the most successful.

We’ll be looking at:

  • Where to put a blog
  • Best practice
  • Where to find inspiration
  • How to promote a blog
  • Using Google Analytics to find out what readers are most interested in
  1. Where is the best place to put a blog or news page on a website?

Put yourself in the mind of the website visitor. This means the blog should be somewhere easily accessible and obvious. Some businesses like the blog to have an ambiguous name, like ‘thought leadership’, but this approach doesn’t work well in all marketplaces. A more straightforward name, like news, blog etc, can be a better choice.

  1. Best practice when blogging:
  • Great content is key! Content must be readable, well-structured and of good quality. Don’t post for the sake of posting, instead always ask – is this of value to the readers?
  • Choose a good title. Think about what people would type into their search engine. The title needs to be relevant to the message in the content, though using a clever ‘hook’ title can also be eye-catching. Bear in mind that Google will cut off titles longer than 70 characters.
  • Use subheadings and break up large blocks of text. People tend to scan read, so relevant subheadings can help. Consider also highlighting areas of text by using different sizes, colours or effects. Be sparing with all of these or they will lose their impact.
  • Don’t waffle. An ideal length for a blog article would be between 500 and 1,000 words.
  • Keep it simple. Posts should be clean, uncluttered and easy to navigate.
  • Be aware of plagiarism and copyright. Google can see a page that uses content from elsewhere and will downgrade the page (and even site) if it sees duplication.
  • Proofread before posting. If in-house proofreaders aren’t available, free tools such as Grammarly will check spelling and grammar.
  • Be consistent. Choose a branding, layout, font ­­and – stick to it. It makes the posts more professional.
  • Use great photos, images, infographics or illustrations. Optimise image sizes and make sure there is no breach of copyright (we explain more here).
  • Have a content strategy and schedule. Writing and posting on social media can be time consuming, but coming up with a schedule will make it less of a burden.
  • Invite a guest blogger. Guest writers can offer information that is relevant and from another perspective. There are great benefits from linking and writing on other sites, too. Always ask people to share articles on social media platforms. But beware of businesses offering ‘guest blogging services’ with the promise of increased traffic. It’s spam and will harm a website’s reputation because the links to the site will be from suspect sites with a poor reputation.
  • Have a call to action (CTA) within the article. What should the reader want to do in response to reading the article? Contact the business, visit the website – or something else?
  • Embed links to other relevant articles on your site. This will help keep readers on the site for as long as possible.
  • Get permission for quotes. Sometimes, adding a quote adds credibility to content, but if the quote is from a personal review of the business, get permission from the writer first.
  • Keep an eye on latest trends and hot topics. At the moment, everyone is talking about GDPR – you can read our post about it here.
  1. Where to find inspiration

Finding ongoing sources of inspiration can be one of the most challenging aspects of blog posting, but there are some easy ways to spark ideas.

  • Visit other websites in the same industry to see what they are blogging about. Their social media platforms will help indicate their most successful posts and topics.
  • Talk to customers to discover what they would like to read about.
  • Keep an eye on the news – a great way to do this is by using ‘Google Alerts’.
  • Explore industry-related forums such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to find out what others are talking about.

At all times it helps to think like the reader – what sort of expertise would someone coming to the site be looking for?

If you still struggle – call us. We’ll give you some guidance and can even offer content writing services.

Some customers question the credibility of someone else writing about their industry that isn’t in it or doesn’t know much about it. It’s a fair point, but with a good content writer this shouldn’t be a problem.

‘Fresh eyes’ on your industry can be very effective.  A writer will research and present a topic in an easy to understand way, and won’t be tempted to use in-depth details that a reader might not want to know. Of course, it does depend on the industry and topic.

  1. Effective strategies for promoting blog or news posts
  • Newsletters – always put a few articles on any email newsletter to subscribers – not everyone will visit business social channels so this is a good way to ensure a wider reach.
  • Social media – share short versions on social channels with links to the fuller article on the website. Creating a social media schedule can help ensure the impact of each post is maximised.

What’s not so effective is sharing posts on industry forums. At Aubergine, lots of people ask us about this, but in most situations, forums are not appropriate as they are often full of moaners and complainers. Your content will get associated with them and you will lose control over how it is then shared.

  1. Analytics – the proof is in the pudding

Once the blog has been running for a while, it is worth exploring how successful it has been. There are several ways to do this. Obviously, the number of likes, shares and comments are one indicator. But there will always be many people who read posts without interacting – so a more in-depth examination can be very valuable. Google Analytics is a free web-based tracking and reporting service for website visitor data (we explain more here).

Overview

Blogs are perhaps not as straightforward as they might first appear – but with careful planning they can really help a business. They act as a 24/7 online ambassador for a brand, they give other sites reasons to link to the business website and they help promote skills and excellence. It’s no wonder they have become such an integral part of the modern online landscape.