Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about creating valuable content and providing useful information to searchers. Marketing Relevance recently discussed why it’s important for a business to have a blog on its website. A blog not only drives traffic and leads, but also helps Google understand what products and services your company has to offer. It’s not enough to simply have a blog, however. A well-optimized blog should have a few key elements to ensure that it’s driving quality traffic to your website that is likely to convert to leads. Here are our top tips for making the most of a business blog.
Longer is better
It is best to shoot for at least 450 to 500 words. Writing blogs with 1,000 words or more is optimal, because the content will have depth and substance. Google understands the context of website content and will pick up on the topic of a post better if it is longer and contains a wider variety of phrases and keywords. This also provides an opportunity to work keyword phrases into the post where it feels natural, instead of trying to force them into shorter content where they don’t fit. Remember, keyword stuffing hurts search engine rankings and makes for a bad user experience.
Keep it casual
Most blogs these days use a fairly casual voice in their writing style. Avoid using obscure industry jargon, which can confuse readers and weaken the main message of the post. While it might feel unprofessional at first, using a more informal tone in articles helps readers relate to your company and brand. Think about writing in a conversational style and feel free to write in first person.
A versatile headline
A good headline is not only important for driving visitors to click on a post, it is also important for search engines. Blog headlines must be attention grabbing and meet the search engine criteria for search engine results pages (SERPs). The headline of a post will automatically populate as the title tag for that page unless it is manually changed. The title tag is what appears on SERPs to tell searchers what that page is about. Google cuts off page title tags at about 60 characters, so it is important that blog headlines stay within this limit. Otherwise, readers won’t see the end of the headli…
See how that could be a problem? If you aren’t sure how to craft quality headlines for your posts, try this headline analyzer to help you get the hang of it.
Don’t forget the meta data
The title tag is just one piece of the meta data that should be included in a blog post. If you’re using WordPress, install an SEO plugin like Yoast to guide you through post optimization. Each blog post should have a title tag, meta description, and alt tags on any photos. The title tag is usually the post headline, or something similar. The meta description can only be about 140 characters and should be a tweet-like blurb to grab the searchers’ attention and get them to click on the post. This is your chance to create a mini advertisement for that post, so be sure to write unique descriptions. Alt tags are descriptions on the photos included in your post. Google can’t see images, so these tags tell the search engine what the image shows.
Use quality pictures
Be picky about pictures. Use relevant, quality photography and graphics to accompany the story. Choosing a great thumbnail to represent the post will make it stand out on social media and in your archives. In fact, most people that read content decide whether or not to read it based on the photo or image that is posted with it. Post original work, if possible. If your company chooses to use images from an outside source, be sure to give the correct credit in the caption. And, be sure to follow copyright laws.
Take advantage of opportunities to link to other blog posts and to outside websites. If the post discusses the vendors your company uses, include a link to the vendors’ website. Provide links within the post where it feels natural and consider adding a “Related Posts” section to display other blogs you’ve written that expand on or are similar to the topic. This can be achieved through a Related Posts plug in.
It is important to continue providing relevant, timely information on a regular basis to keep visitors coming back and to position the company as a leader in your industry. Blogging is a commitment; you won’t find yourself on the top of the SERPs the day after you post your first piece. Be sure to have new, interesting content to share with readers that will help Google understand what your business does and how you can help searchers. Incorporating the company’s various products and services across multiple posts gives the website the opportunity to rank for as many relevant keywords as possible in Google search results. We recommend updating at least once a week.
Develop a detailed content strategy that includes post ideas for at least a month or two in advance, and have an idea of what you’ll be writing about for the next six months or so. Having a plan in place helps keep the topics varied and fresh. The content plan can always be rearranged to account for current events or last minute ideas. Consider repurposing blogs that are already written on evergreen topics, but be sure to mix it up enough that it adds something new. Google doesn’t like duplicate content and will rank a website with fewer high quality posts better than a blog with a bunch of short, generic posts.
Encourage readers to share
Make it as easy as possible for readers to share your content by including social sharing buttons on every post. A share from a reader outside the company is like a vote of confidence for your brand. Google pays attention to how many outside sources are linking to and sharing your posts and counts them as evidence that the content is reliable and unique. Don’t make it difficult for people to show their friends what they’re reading, or they won’t bother.
Call to action
Include a call to action on every single post. Use the topic of the blog to engage with readers and ask for their input on the subject in the comments. Encourage people to submit a contact form by including a link or provide an email address for more information. Ask visitors to share with their friends and leave reviews. If you’re blogging about a product you offer, include a “Buy Now” option in your post.
Create an email newsletter for readers to subscribe to using a service such as MailChimp or the Marketing Relevance proprietary system. Set the account up to automatically send an email to subscribers every time a new update is posted. A regular newsletter keeps your brand at the front of customers’ minds and gives them a convenient way to keep up with your content right from their own inbox.