Gone are the days of simply setting up a website for your business, and sitting back to wait for brilliant results. In order for your business offering to show up on search engine results, your website needs a blog that’s updated with regular blog posts. Blog posts are a vital tool, they can be used to reach new and existing customers and they’re also a great way to build a sense of community and identity for your brand.
If you’re ready to take this inevitable route, there are a few things to keep in mind when crafting your copy.
Make it relevant to your reader
The most important question to ask yourself is: Who is my intended audience? Before you ‘speak’ via your blog, you need to know who you’re talking to. Know your customer. This is where market research comes in handy.
It also helps to keep a persona (or personas) in mind: That’s the profile of your ideal, or typical, customer. This helps you offer content that is of value to them, by considering: What information do they need? What action would I like them to take?
If you are blogging for content-marketing purposes, make sure you stick to the goals of your content marketing strategy (or that of your client). The best blog posts are:
- Useful and solutions-based
- Clear in meaning
Pick a great headline
Most readers won’t even get beyond this (it’s said that 80% read the headline only), so your title is the most important part of your entire blog post. Make it to the point, rather than elusive, and no more than 55 characters long (if you want the whole title to fit on a search-results page without an ellipses).
Headline strategies that have been shown to work psychologically include:
- How Tos (“How to write the perfect blog post”)
- Numbers, especially uneven ones (“7 Ways to write the perfect blog post”)
- Questions (“Do you know how to write the perfect blog post?”)
After the headline, there are two ways to get the reader to read on: Bold the introductory sentence or two, and begin with the journalistic storytelling “hook”.
Make it easy to read
Research shows that people scan words in fractions of a second. To get the meaning of your copy to stand out quickly, offer digestible chunks of info, rather than one long stream of words to wade through. (They’ll likely “click closed” without bothering.) How?
- Cut the waffle and deliver on the promise of the headline.
- Divide your post into shorter paragraphs, and use subheadings, bullet points and lists.
- Bold relevant keywords and main points.
- Use block quotes
Typos trip readers up, and shoddy copy reflects poorly on your brand and reduces the reader’s trust in your authority. And if you get facts wrong and your post is shared, it’s very hard to retract what you’ve put out there… If you can, get another person to check whatever you post, or hire the services of an online copy editor.
See to the details
Length: While there is no set length for a blog post, the standard length is around 400 words. But the online rise of long-form stories, and the fact that blog posts of 1500 or more are more often shared (Quick Sprout), shows that longer can also work. Longer posts are usually between 800 and 1000 words. For anything longer, you need solid writing skills to go in-depth and form a sense of intimacy.
Keywords: To optimise your copy for search engines to find, make it SEO friendly with a few key words or phrases that link to your marketing strategy, industry and audience. Ideally, your keyword should feature in your post’s URL, and near the top and bottom of your post.
Meta information: This is your headline, meta description (which shows up in search-engine results) and key phrases.
Share buttons: Make your blog ‘tweetable’ and ‘shareable’ with plugins.
Visuals: They grab a reader’s attention and can also reduce the number of letter characters per line, which makes reading easier. You should have a visual for every 350 words – and make sure the rights are royalty free. There are plenty free image-sourcing websites, so look them up.
Follow a schedule
The more often you post, the more engagement you’ll get from your audience. Set up an editorial calendar for regular posting and to plan ahead. Ensure it coincides with your strategy, your sales cycle and key times within your industry, and know when your audience is reading and sharing. (Blog posts get more shares on the weekends.) On your spreadsheet, include:
- Type of content
- Links for sharing
- Which platforms you will use to share the post
- Visuals (link to images)
- Topic categories/tags and calls to action