One of the greatest and most well known benefits of blogging (aka Content Marketing) is the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) effects that you gain by publishing blog posts and premium content on a regular basis.
However, if you are not utilizing certain best practices and guides for authoring effective content your efforts will not be optimized, and it will take longer and more effort to achieve your desired results.
Before we take a look at how to write an effective blog post, it’s important that you take a step back and make sure you know “WHO” you are writing for. It’s fairly common that companies start blogging without having defined who their target audience is, what their interests are, and what goal they are trying to achieve with blogging.
This is the most important step in developing an Inbound Marketing Strategy – knowing who you are trying to reach with your blog, what their interests are and what topics to blog about.
Without spending some time defining the target audience of your blog (hopefully you have done this when determining your product or service mix) you will miss the mark every time. It doesn’t matter how many blog posts you write each month or how good they are, if you are not writing about what your target audience is interested in your blog efforts will fail.
Utilizing SEO Blogging Software
Many of our clients use the HubSpot all in one marketing software for authoring their blogs because of the prompts that HubSpot provides, while writing a blog post that helps to insure SEO best practices are being followed. HubSpot is not the only blogging or CMS software to provide these prompts while authoring a blog post.
There are a number of WordPress SEO plug-ins that provide similar prompts and help you with creating an effective blog post from an SEO perspective. Even though some marketers will tell you not to worry about keywords or meta descriptions, we feel that it’s important to follow the cues provided by SEO software.
Writing the Content / Body
Now's the time to write the content of your blog post in the "article body" field! While there are no hard fast rules for blogging, there are some basic best practices and rules of thumb to follow. We like to think that 80% of your blog posts should meet these rules of thumb while the other 20% can be outside of these guidelines.
A great example of this 80 / 20 guideline is the length of a blog post. 80% of the time it’s best if your posts are between 400 – 600 words, but it’s acceptable when needed to have posts as short as 200 words or as long as 1,000 or more words. After all, it is a blog and by the very nature of a blog the format should be somewhat open and free flowing, based upon the content of the post. Don’t forget… Twitter is considered as “micro blogging” and each post is limited to 140 characters. So make sure to follow the guidelines the majority of the time, but don’t let them stifle your creativity.
Staring at a blank text field can be intimidating, so here are some helpful tips:
- Create an article that is between 400-800 words. Each post you write doesn't have to be a novel but shouldn’t be so short that it doesn’t provide any value to your readers.
- Create content of interest to your audience. When writing your article, your only concern should be the content in the article. Don’t get distracted by adding keywords, links, images, calls to action or anything else marketing-related. Write for people, not for search engines.
- Write posts people will want to link to. The more people that link to your blog entry, the more likely it is Google will rank it. Be interesting, useful, and educational in your blog posts.
- Don't be self-promotional. A blog entry that's nothing more than an ad for your company isn't interesting or useful to your audience. Write entries YOU would want to forward to coworkers, friends, or family members if you were a reader.
- Think like a teacher. A good approach to building useful content is to aim to teach your audience something. You know more about your industry than anyone; what can you teach your prospects?
Brian Hasenbauer is an Inbound Marketing Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy