So here we are, it’s Valentine’s Day and once again I’m feeling a bit neglected. It’s been a while since you’ve written some pleasant words for me, given me nice images to wear or shared me with your circle of friends. Our relationship could prove to be very beneficial if you would just spend some time with me. I’m your blog and I think it’s a shame that it takes a holiday to get your attention, but while I have it here are some things that could greatly improve our bond.
Why You Need Me and Should Desire Me
According to HubSpot, “companies that blog generate 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound links, and have 434% more indexed pages than companies that don’t blog.” These certainly seem like good reasons to include a blog as part of the website marketing services that you participate in.
An active blog increases customer/client interaction and engagement, which helps create better relationships with them (and we both know you need to work on relationship building.)
You can educate our visitors with helpful, interesting posts that give them useful information about your industry, or help them with a problem or question. For instance, if your site sells floral arrangements (hint, hint), you could publish posts on caring for flowers to make them last longer, choosing colors, the meaning of giving each type of flower, how flowers are grown, holidays and their origins, etc. In other words, I’d become their go-to blog!
Where You Should Hold Me
Please hold me close and place me near, either in a folder right on your domain (http://www.yourwebsite.com/blog); or at least on a sub-domain of your site (http://www.blog.yourwebsite.com). Don’t push me off on some domain by myself, I get so lonely! If we aren’t connected then your branding can suffer and your site won’t benefit from all my fresh content.
What I Need To Look Amazing
A blog should look hot; I don’t want some cookie cutter theme template. You’ve got to accessorize me. I did a little shopping and here is my list. Yes, I need everything on the list, don’t be cheap…
- Display your professional logo in order to convey a sense that I’m indeed part of your site. Visitors won’t trust me if there’s a stock photo from a theme template; plllllease!
- Provide a prominent spot for visitors to subscribe to me. Be fair; allow subscriptions by email and RSS feed.
- Your social profile buttons would look great on me. I would like one of each: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, or any others that you want to surprise me with.
- Include a search function. Visitors can get irritated if they can’t search for a specific topic.
- Make sure each post has a cool photo or image to go with it. These will help to attract visitors to click through to the post. Keep in mind that the photo or image should help to convey the overall emotion of your post. “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.”
- Break up the blog content with headings and bullet points, and make sure most of it is above the fold. Headers help a visitor scan through the post and find the info they want most.
- Each post should have social share buttons. I don’t want to look trashy so you don’t need to include every button under the sun. Check our analytics to see which social sites are sending traffic and be sure to include those so those users can easily share.
- For Facebook please use Open Graph, that way the posts will set up automatically with a title we like, a thumbnail image, a URL and text.
- Also, because Twitter is so awesome, be sure to beef up the Tweet Button so the tweets can be customized too. You can even add #hashtags to increase the searchability of the post.
- I like company; a listing of recent posts and related posts could keep visitors hanging around longer.
- A blog post category listing would really helpful to visitors that want to read more about a certain topic.
- Whoever composes the posts; include their author bio with a photo. Just showing the posts by “Admin” is lame and people may not trust the information. Help visitors see there is a warm caring human being behind each post.
- Don’t forget a call-to-action (CTA). These help to convert the readers into leads and then creates business for your site. If you spend all this time on me, and our relationship, you need something in return right? You can place a lead form on the sidebar, but also each post can contain a CTA. For example, at the end of a post you can say, “What did you think about this post on the 7 most popular types of chocolate (hint, hint)? What is your favorite type of chocolate and why?”
Great Topics will Make Me Popular
Take a look at your social media channels, analytics, email and any other ways that your customers, or potential customers, contact you. Look for trends in questions that are asked or information that is needed and create posts around those topics.
Do a little keyword research too when planning our posts. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool will show you search volume for keywords so you know how many people are searching certain terms each month.
Review your analytics and take a look at the metrics for previous posts. As far as page views and traffic, are there topics that have either done very well or done poorly? Well there you go, that is a start to figuring out which topics my visitors might like.
Please, whatever you do, don’t always write about your products or services. Visitors don’t want to share that kind of content. If you need some ideas, you can review this post of 50 topics to get you started.
Content That Will Make Me Shine
So you’ve got everything in place and you’ve chosen a topic. Here is a great content checklist for making sure our posts are as valuable as they can be.
When you’ve written a post, proof read it, then have someone else proof read it. There is nothing worse than a post with typos.
Optimize Me to the Fullest
Each post should contain keywords that our visitors are searching for; that helps my posts show up in the search engine results. WordPress has a great plugin for optimizing posts; All in One SEO Pack makes it easy. Once you have the plugin installed, make sure that you enter the title (should include your targeted keyword and be no more than 57 characters or it will be cut off in the SERPs), a meta-description (should describe our post, include your targeted keyword and be no more than 160 characters as to not be cut off in the SERPs) and the keywords for our post.
Each post should have headings; many platforms automatically make your title the <h1> heading tag (there should only be one of these.) Then the sub-headings should be set up as <h2> tags, and sub-sub headings should be <h3> tags. All of these headings should include one of your keywords, if possible.
Photos or images should be optimized by completing the <alt> attributes to include keyword(s) and or branding. That way they can be found in image searches.
Do yourself a favor and include in-content links to a couple of your relevant landing pages (no more than that, don’t be greedy) or to previous blog posts. You can also be really sweet and provide links to additional off-site resources that you think would be helpful to our visitors.
Schedule Dates with Me (you aren’t allowed to stand me up)
I know this is hard for you, but you have to make a commitment to me. You need to post at least weekly, then you can work your way up to several times a week.
An Editorial Calendar is a great way to keep yourself organized so you don’t miss a date with me. This can be as simple as a listing of dates and topics like this worksheet, or very elaborate so that it includes keywords, CTAs, goals, etc.
But, don’t try to post so frequently that the posts are uninspiring, unhelpful and dull. If more time is needed to create really meaningful and helpful posts, then slow down and post less.
Interaction with Visitors
Allow commenting on each post and be sure to check the comments frequently and answer the questions and connect with the visitors. This way you can provide a little customer service, a little engagement and a whole lot of community and relationship building. (I especially like when visitors say nice things about me, be sure to approve those comments!)
Unfortunately, a lot of comments will be spam, so be sure to have permissions set up so that you can monitor the comments before they go live. You want comments on our posts that are actually part of the conversation.
Show Me Off and Promote Me
Use your social media channels to promote my content.
Another peak under the hood at your analytics is in order. Check referral sites to see which ones are sending traffic. For example, it could be that somehow I’m not getting enough exposure in organic search so traffic is lacking from that area. Might need to beef up the optimization and promotion so that I’m seen and heard.
Measure How Well I’m Doing
Yes, I hate to say this, but you should be as intimate with your analytics as you are with me. I suppose you need to justify if our relationship is truly working out. Keep on eye on subscribers, visitors, leads and social media shares (and traffic from social media). It’s also a good idea to keep track of links that are created to our posts. All this will help you determine the ROI of your blogging.
I know all this is a lot to ask, but I can give so much back for the effort. Here is my CTA: When are the flowers and chocolates going to arrive? Also, what other tips do you have for improving your business blogging?
Happy Valentine’s Day!