Blogging is a great way to promote yourself and your business, but gaining traction and a loyal following takes time. Here are few tips to make your blogging more effective, from readability to SEO.
1) Focus on key words, get to the point
If you’re in haulage, and you write about haulage, is haulage in your headline? And is the main topic in the first couple of words, or relegated to the end of the sentence?
2) Make sure it stands up on its own
Is it easy to tell from the headline what the article will contain? Your headline will get a millisecond of attention per person on social media, so keep it clear, and give people a reason to click.
3) Keep it under 80 characters:
Short and sweet often fares better in the fast moving social media world. Not just because people are time-pressed, but also because on social networking site Twitter, there’s a 140 character limit on posts (‘tweets’).
Better post structure
4) Say what you’re gonna say, say it, say what you’ve said
Online readers will generally decide in the first few words whether they’re interested in your content or not. Get to the point straight away, outline what you’ll cover, deliver on it, and then summarise at the end.
5) Simple sentences, short paragraphs
People reading content online tend to ‘scan and scroll’ rather than take the time to read a piece in depth. Keep your writing free of complex sentences. Keep paragraphs nice and short.
6) Sub-headings, bullets and lists
Splitting your writing up makes it easier to scan through quickly, highlights key points more effectively and helps you avoid including anything irrelevant or vague.
7) Link to outside sources
Be a useful resource to your readers. If you refer to a site, tool or piece of news, link to it. Google doesn’t penalise outbound links if they’re relevant.
8) Cross-link to other articles on your own blog
Start to build an intelligent network of resources that readers (and Google) will value. For example, if I mention Facebook video chat, I’ll link to the post I wrote last week – simple. You can always do this retrospectively, too.
9) Link on meaningful phrases
“Click here”, “here”, “more info”, “now” are meaningless phrases without context. Help Google understand the value of your links, by linking on key phrase e.g. “Learn more about the News of the World closure“, not “For more on the News of the World closure, click here“.
10) Review your content for keywords
Are the most common words and phrases associated with my business and the post topic covered in the post, particularly in the opening lines and headings? If you have an SEO keyword list already, refer to that, but if not, use your common sense.
11) Tag it
Most blogging platforms (including Blogger and WordPress) offer a post ‘tagging function’. This is where you can put the three to five most important keywords from your posts.
12) Give it an ‘excerpt’
Again, this is a fairly standard field that allows you to enter a short description of your post to appear on the front page of your blog or website, in search results, and in RSS feeds. Keep it keyword focused, and use those few words to really sell the content of the post.
13) Enable comments – and reply to them
Comments give your posts greater depth, a longer life and extra keywords. Reply to the comments you receive – it’s not just polite, it helps drive the conversation on. People are likely to spend more time on your site, and return to it, if there’s a conversation happening.
14) End on a question or call to action
So what do you think of the points I’ve made so far? Are you more likely to comment if you’re given a question to think about? This technique tends to work, and have you got to lose?
15) Share on social networks
Once published, put it on any social network where you have relevant followers. Tailor your title / intro text for each network. For example, on LinkedIn and Facebook, you have room to write a small intro above the thumbnail/excerpt pull through.
Bonus SEO tip
If you have WordPress, install the All In One SEO Plugin – this will translate your title, tags and except into the appropriate ‘metatags’ which, in basic terms, makes it clear to Google what your content is, and keeps what appears on search results clear.
So there you have it. 15 simple, actionable tips you can try today to make you blogging more effective. If you have any questions, or tips to add, let me know in the comments box below.