It’s August and that means we’ve finally reached the tail end of the vacation season. As you slowly wake from a sweaty summer nightmare of questionable tan lines, pool towels that never seem to dry completely, and an endless parade of charred hot dogs, you may actually find yourself rejoicing at the return of autumn. The kids are (hopefully) back to school and your ergonomic office keyboard calls to you like the greeting of an ancient, time-honored blood nemesis.
Now that you’ve emerged rejuvenated and refreshed from the summer, like Wilford Brimley in Cocoon, it’s time to dedicate some attention to your blog.
Below, we’ve provided an alphabet of easy tips to help you make the most of your blog posts. Create better content while improving performance, fostering readership, and getting used to the feeling of closed-toed shoes again.
A : Accessibility
Specialized industries often use specialized vocabulary. “Top of the funnel,” for instance, when referring to inbound marketing. Or “hamster cardio” when talking about rodent fitness. While it may come as second nature to you, it won’t always be so for your readers. Don’t use a load of highly insular or technical language unless you’re sure your audience will understand and appreciate it.
Provide information for your readers that is concise and digestible. Make sure important points are easy to find and remember. Don’t forget those line breaks. A huge swath of rambling text is great for epic poetry, but not so much for blog posts.
Don’t leave your readers hanging at the end of a great blog post without a way to learn more. Whether your call-to-action directs visitors to subscribe or take advantage of another offer, be sure to include one at the end of your posts. Match your CTAs to your topic or one closely related to make the transition feel more natural.
Visuals play an important role in how we process information. Breaking up the textual content with photos and infographics will keep the experience fresh. Likewise, keeping a design aesthetic that is consistent, readable, and navigable throughout will not only improve your audience’s experience of your blog, but your entire site.
Get your readers (and potential clients) involved, and not just through your blog’s comment section. Great content is shareable and you may find that readers are linking and responding to your posts on Facebook or Twitter. If you see the conversation happening on social media, find a way to join in.
Whether you post content on a daily, bi-weekly, or semi-monthly schedule, keep it as consistent as you can. That way, your blog becomes an expected presence in your readers’ online lives, and a reliable source for new ideas and information. According to popular marketing platform HubSpot, there is an optimal frequency with which you should publish new blogs, depending on your company size.
Provoke thought and discussion, providing the seeds for ideas that they can implement in their own businesses at any level. Be an idea farmer. Be a beet farmer, too, if you want a good source of folates, iron, and potassium. Live your dreams. Eat local.
Social media is a larger and more important component of #marketing and #branding than ever before. Don’t go overboard on hashtags, but using the ones most applicable to your industry and blog topic can help more readers find you on the web.
Include anecdotes or examples from your own or your company’s experience to add richer context to your discussion points. Whether your tales are ones of success or misfires, they provide your readers with a deeper understanding of your brand and expertise. If you’re known in your field for excelling at a particular skill or method, share that knowledge.
J: Justin Bieber
How dare you.
HOW DARE YOU.
Wilford Brimley did not put away his summer Crocs and swim trunks for this.
Lists are de rigueur for online content, but there’s a reason they’re so popular. Breaking information down into memorable, interesting segments makes reading, qoting, and sharing the article easier for blog visitors.
Drive better content generation and interaction with cold, hard data. Use software or services that can show you which posts perform better and when, so you can easily adapt and cater to your readers’ interests, industry developments, and market trends.
Exercise caution. They can slow their heart rates and no one is even sure if they enjoy blogs. It’s possible, but results so far are inconclusive.
SEO and keyword placement is always a necessary, though sometimes graceless, part of blogging. Try to include them as naturally as possible throughout the copy. The benefit to this is two-fold: you’ll be able to increase your visibility through searches and further solidify your readers’ trust with content that doesn’t scream keyword-stuffing at them.
If a topic is timely and relevant, writing a blog for it is a smart choice. You capitalize on current interest while setting the stage for further blogs when a follow-up is in order. If you choose to write additional related pieces, you can then publish them as part of a series (like our installations on Website Redesign, which starts here).
Use trusted, respected sources when citing stats, research, or predictions. It increases the perceived authority of your posts, since readers are more likely to trust a quote or figure taken from The Wall Street Journal over, say, National Enquirer or a website titled Untold Secrets: Successful Inbound Marketing & Alien Abduction.
Knowing your ideal buyer persona’s business needs and goals can help guide you to topics that will resonate best. To secure your place as a thought leader and a dependable source of information, you must stay updated on industry news that will be particularly relevant to your blog readers.
The content you put out, even through your blog, should be part of a larger strategy that supports your overall business goals and vision. Your posts serve not just to draw and keep more readers, but to promote the expertise, skill, and knowledge your company can bring to future interactions.
If your ideal customers come from a particular industry or have specific concerns and interests related to your post, show them how you can help. Provide examples of how tips, hacks, new tech, and offers can add value to their current processes and upcoming projects.
Your brand, from marketing to communications, should all reflect your company voice, culture, and philosophy. When reading your blog, your readers and potential clients should have a clear, solid idea of who you are.
The concerns of your customers and potential clients are important. Acknowledge them and explain how they can be addressed or mitigated through suggestions in your blog, useful tools, and other solutions. Offer up further reading through related blog posts you’ve published.
Make the content worth your readers’ time. Have you provided the information promised by the title? Don’t tease your audience with the promise of helpful tips or insight, the fail to deliver.
XYZ: The Closing
Thematically appropriate, even if it doesn’t actually start with X, Y, or Z. Remember to close out your blog posts on a solid note. Leaving the reader hanging with an ambiguous conclusion only works for ghost hunting field reports.
Now that you’ve got a few easy tips to rely on, you can make small tweaks to existing blogs for reposting and write new posts that are better targeted, more interesting, and more valuable to your ideal buyer persona.