02 Mar Why You Shouldn’t Be Blogging (and what you should be doing instead!)
Why You Shouldn’t Be Blogging
(and what you should be doing instead!)
You run a small business.
You’ve heard somewhere that you should be blogging.
You aren’t sure why.
You aren’t sure what you should be blogging about and if you’re completely honest you aren’t sure what blogging is..
(or why it’s even called blogging!)
I’m going to be controversial here and say that No, you should not be blogging….
There, that shocked you didn’t it?
Before you heave a sigh of relief, put down your metaphorical pen and paper and reach for the biscuit tin and TV remote keep reading….
Don’t blog ……but do create content.
Hmmm….creating content…that sounds even harder than blogging doesn’t it?
It is, but I promise you it gets easier and easier and done correctly it will launch your website into the Google stratosphere!
A well-crafted, well researched, key phrase targeted piece of long form content will put you in total control of your rankings and totally eclipse anything your competitors are ranking for!
Sounds amazing, right?
Why should you take on this Herculean Task?
I get it.
You’re incredibly busy.
You have your business to run, clients to keep happy, social media channels to keep active, new business and new clients to attract.
Surely writing additional website content isn’t as important as all those other business critical activities?
Let me try and convince you.
It’s an essential business strategy
It’s much, much more than that, it’s an essential part of your business strategy.
Let’s look at some statistics taken from Hubspot (and they insist on using the word ‘blog’!)
- 60% of marketers say content creation is their top inbound marketing priority
- Marketers that use blogs get 67% more leads than those that do not
- Marketers who prioritise blogging are 13x more likely to achieve positive ROI
- Companies who blog receive 97% more backlinks to their website
According to data from a study conducted by Research Now, 84% of consumers make purchases after reading about a product or service on a blog. That’s nearly 9 out of 10 people!!
An effective content marketing strategy will drive traffic to your site. That is a cast iron guarantee.
If you write about a topic, linked to your business that people are searching for you are drawing your potential customers to your product/service.
This is called inbound marketing, get it right and you can slash your advertising budget and the time you spend on social media promoting your business as your customers will be coming to you.
It enables you to demonstrate authority in your industry
Content is King. It really is. Your competitors are (maybe?) blogging, writing a few random posts 500 to 700 words long and pushing these out once, twice, three times per week.
They are all doing it wrong.
The old days of ‘little and often’ are long gone. The average length of a post on page 1 of Google is more than 1800 words. (http://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking)
Writing posts of 2000 words plus gives you a tremendous opportunity to show off your knowledge and demonstrate your authority in your chosen niche – this will build trust in you as an expert.
Make sure you answer ‘user questions’ – the how, what, when and why of your industry.
A neat trick here is to use your old friend Google to find out what people are searching for.
Type in your chosen keyword/phrase: ‘Little Kittens’
(oh come on, why not!)
Go to the beginning of the sentence and type in ‘how’ – you will see that it auto-completes the question.
How. Cool. Is. That.
The Auto-Complete aggregates questions that have been asked in the past and shows the most frequent, so you now have a proven set of questions that people have actively been asking in the Google search Engine.
Repeat for What, When. Where and Why.
It give’s your targeted keywords a huge boost!
Google now understands searcher intent and contextual meaning, so it knows the difference between someone searching for Apple (the fruit) and Apple (the technology company) based on the context of the search terms being used by the end user.
If Google understands searcher intent it follows that it understands the context of your content.
Make sure you research related keywords (or LSI – Latent Semantic Indexing) and write naturally ensuring they all appear and flow nicely, Google knows what terms, phrases and keywords should be used together in an authoritative piece of content.
Use this great little tool to help you with LSI: http://lsigraph.com/
The longer the content and the more relevant phrases used naturally within the content, the higher it will rank for your targeted keywords.
OK, you’re convinced (you ARE convinced right?), but what can you write about?
You probably think this is the hardest part, you want it to be perfect, elegant prose, and you want to win Pulitzer prizes for your skills as a wordsmith.
Or do you?
You want to drive traffic, you want to get more clients/customers, you want more people to see your products, and you want more leads.
And here’s how you do it!
Choose a broad connected topic
Taking this more pragmatic approach get into your customers/clients head, think about what they care about – it doesn’t even have to be directly about your product/service!
This is your starting point, think of it as your foundation stone or the acorn from which to grow your mighty oak.
It should be broad enough to cover your main keyword/keyphrase and flexible enough to allow you to add in a number of related keywords/keyphrase (or utilise Latent Semantic Indexing) to reinforce topical and contextual authority.
For example, if you sell fitness clothing and equipment you could write about nutrition, stretches, a pre-marathon diet plan.
Think about your customer/client in a holistic way, yes they may want to buy fitness clothing and equipment but what else do they do in their life.
If you run an online fashion store write about the hottest date night venues (see Top Lists below) – if someone is dating, they are more likely to buy new clothes than I am!
Write a critique of the Oscars/Baftas fashion (see Newsworthy below).
Types of content
Once you have a broad topic you will need to choose what type of post to make so that it appeals to your target audience, the following types of content are always popular.
Remember your how, what, when and why’s from earlier:
Top 7 (8, 9, 12) lists – If your competitors have done this make sure you go higher than they did! You can create a list of just about anything! An advantage of this is people love sharing lists! Be flash and build an infographic out of your list!
Expert Guides/How To’s – Another great way to show off your expertise. People use search engines to find stuff out. Break your subject matter down into the smallest steps and the simplest terms. Use plenty of screenshots to demonstrate what you are covering.
Checklists – Keeping with fitness – ‘15 things you must do before your first marathon’…these are often great to use as a content upgrade which will increase your opt-ins (more on that later).
Newsworthy – What’s happening in your industry today? This Week? Next Month? Write about it, critique it, combine newsworthy with a Top list – ‘8 Oscar Night Fashion Fails’.
Controversy – Write about something that will divide opinion, it doesn’t have to be a seriously heavy subject – remember the explosion of ‘Is this dress black and blue or white and gold?’ – it divided opinion and got people talking about it.
Case Studies – People love hearing success stories and finding out what goes on ‘behind the scenes’. Imagine you are writing a self-appraisal for your boss – write about a success you’ve had in your business/industry.
Create a winning title
You’ve got the broad topic you want to write about, you’ve chosen a post type you now need an attention grabbing killer title, there’s a scary statistic from Copyblogger:
“On average 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of ten will read the rest of your content”
Create a punchy headline and beat these odds!
Fortunately, there is some science behind it:
- Be accurate. Don’t mislead the reader or your bounce rate will go through the roof and your rankings will go through the floor!
- Use Magnet Words. Magnet Words pack an emotional punch that encourages people to click. – I’ve created an immense list of magnet words (over 1000) which you can get just by clicking here
- Use a positive Title sentiment (both positive and negative work) – Amazing, Fatal, Powerful, Worst (http://coschedule.com/blog/emotional-headlines/)
- Use brackets. A report by our friends over at Hubspot found that brackets can increase CTR by up to 38% – insert pdf link
- Use parentheses. People like to know what they are getting so if they see a headline that is already giving them insight into what is contained they are more likely to click – “12 Powerful SEO Secrets The Experts Use” is solid but “12 Powerful SEO Secrets The Experts Use [Infographic]” offers a little bit more…. [Infographic] (Case Study) (New Data) (New Research) (Powerful) (Fast)
- Include a number. Simple huh? A study by Conductor shows that headlines with numbers are 36% more likely to generate clicks. Interestingly according to CMI: Odd numbers show 20% more CTR than even numbers ()
- Active vs. Passive voice. I always struggle with this! In simple terms: active voice is when the subject does the action. ie: ‘Nigel Hates Running’ vs. ‘Running is Hated by Nigel’.
If you’re still struggling there are plenty of headline generators available online (these should be a LAST resort):
Don’t forget your SEO rules here too:
Google technically limits your title tag length based on the number of pixels it contains, in 95%+ of cases limiting your title tag to 60 characters or less keeps you within Google’s title tag pixel limit.
What should your winning content include?
Looking at a blank sheet of paper (or screen!) and willing 2000 words to appear can be a demoralising experience, but you can make it easier for yourself and here’s how….
The actual words (this bit is pretty important!)
You’ve already got your broad topic, content type and title/headline.
Break your topic down into several subheadings or paragraphs – use the trick demonstrated earlier by typing your main keyphrase into Google and seeing what auto-completes:
Remember if you’ve used a ‘Top x’ heading you’ll need to ensure the number of subheadings matches the number in the headline.
As well as your main screen I always have a completely separate way of recording random thoughts that occur as I’m writing – this can be an actual notepad and pen, notepad, wordpad, sticky notes (both paper and electronic) or even a voice recorder.
You can guarantee that as you start writing a paragraph something related (or maybe unrelated) will pop into your head – write it down immediately, capture every thought you have (you’ve got 2000 words to find after all!)
Break it up (and get shared!)
Breaking your content down into manageable chunks helps readability and encourages sharing.
I’m going to be controversial here, not everyone who shares your content will read it all, they may not even read most it.
A lot of your readers will skim the article to determine its value before deciding whether to share it and the decision to share is generally driven by a tiny bit of ego and self-interest…
If you’re a Twitter user, I guarantee you’ve retweeted content based on the title alone.
- Will people like me if I share this?
- Will it make me look good if I share it?
- Will it offer value to my followers if I share it?
They will look at headings, they will look at images, they will glance over clever infographics, and they will digest statistics that are well presented.
They will skip long paragraphs, and they will skip sentences that appear wordy or complicated – you’re not writing a medical thesis! (Unless you’re writing a medical thesis of course!)
Let’s make it as easy as possible for your readers to skim, determine value and share
It’s good SEO practice to use H1, H2 and H3 tags (I never go below an H3) this helps Google understand what the content is about and breaks your content up into logical and relevant, easy to digest, sections.
Structure your heading silos like this:
With the vast availability of content on social media attention span is decreasing, apparently, our attention span is now officially shorter than a goldfish (http://www.statisticbrain.com/attention-span-statistics/)
According to Neil Patel if a paragraph is longer than three lines people tend to skip over it.
Using relevant images at each section/heading make it easy for readers to scan and get an idea of what your content is about.
Images are a great anchor point, scrollmap studies have shown people slow down when they get to an image.
Some helpful researchers have curated even more free image sites in these posts:
Don’t ever be tempted to help yourself to images from a Google search – It’s becoming common, and lucrative, practice for firms like Getty to actively seek and sue copyright infringers!
Write naturally, I tend to write just like I talk, it may not be to everyone’s taste, but I find it flows quite nicely.
Be an authority (and prove it with statistics!)
One of the many reasons I’m trying to convince you to write long form content is to demonstrate your authority in your niche.
Make sure you do some research and include some statistics and links to other authoritative pieces of content – particularly from those you consider to be your industry influencers.
(See ‘Mentions/References’ below for how to use this to your advantage even more!)
You can use Google to help you here, search for:
“your topic” + data
“your topic” + statistics
You get the idea….
Creating authoritative content is I documented all the things I ‘know to be true’ as I went along and then dug out the stats/references to back them up afterwards
You can do it the other way around and research your topic, get the stats and references and build out from there. Whatever works for you.
Add an Infographic
At this point I bet your first thought was:
“HELP! I’m not a graphic designer, I’m a <florist>, <dentist>, <gardener> etc.”
I get you on this; I really do, a great infographic looks simple when in reality it is anything but.
If you want to do it yourself, there are a number of free tools available, but I probably wouldn’t stray further from using Canva which has a powerful template builder and a vast online library of templates, images, icons, fonts and features to choose from.
Still don’t fancy it? Not a problem!
Did you know that there are hundreds of infographic directory sites crammed full of infographics that the designer is perfectly happy for you to share on your website and via social media:
You’ll often see guidance for re-purposing below the infographic, something like:
“The footer should include the URL to the infographic landing page in text so readers can find the original when other sites post the infographic without the link.”
Another great technique is to create a board on Pinterest of infographics that you think you may be able to repurpose.
A couple of ‘must-follow’ rules:
- Always attribute the original source and include a (dofollow) link to the original page.
- Always add value to the infographic by describing, narrating or commentating on the infographic content.
If you have found some authoritative sources to reference, see if you can find contact details and ask them for permission to reference their data or quote a paragraph, they will pretty much always say yes but what you have done here is warm them up for your next request.
You have written a piece of authoritative, long-form content which is visually appealing and have chosen to include a quote or reference from their own work…when you have published it contact them again, thank them for allowing you to include their reference/quote and ask them for their honest feedback.
They will be much more inclined to reply as you have already made contact and they now feel invested in the piece of content (you will see a basic marketing funnel structure appearing here).
If they read it and respond with feedback you are well on the way to starting an active relationship with one of your influencers, at this point be bold ask them directly if they have a blog roll, resource page or anywhere else on their website that they could add a link to your content.
Remember to also tag and mention them, with more thanks, when you promote the piece via your social media channels.
Do I have to do it all myself?
If you’re still with me you’ll be thinking ‘that sounds like a lot of hard work’, it is, BUT you can bet the majority, if not all, of your competitors, will NOT doing this.
That’s why you’re going to outrank them, get more backlinks than them, build relationships with more influencers than them and ultimately do more business than them.
Remember the very first subheading (that seemed like a lot of words ago!):
I’ve hyperlinked that go back and read it if you need reminding why you would even think about doing all this!
But, there are shortcuts you can take to make this a little easier, though you should still do the research and influencer outreach in-house.
Plenty of people actively look for guest blogging opportunities, make sure you are very specific about your requirements and aim to keep your standards high.
Create a page on your website called “Write For Us” – make sure you talk a lot about your industry and include the phrases ‘guest blog’, ‘guest post, ‘niche guest post’. These should act as a flag for bloggers who are actively searching for guest posting opportunities to get backlinks for their own blogs.
Find your industry bloggers and ask them directly if they would be interested in writing something for you. Don’t just aim for the big guns here, give a little back and see if you can find a student blogger who may welcome the chance of some industry exposure.
Use the hashtag #journorequest with a link to your ‘Write for us’ page.
There are many freelance outsourcing platforms available online.
Some of the more popular ones are:
As always when using an anonymous freelance portal quality will vary so ensure you do your due diligence and that you provide a very detailed specification.
Yep, that’s us!
We can do the whole spectrum from content creation, influencer research, social distribution and repurposing.
Leave your details below and we’ll get right back in touch to see how we can help:
But that’s not all….
Your amazing content doesn’t just end with the content, oh no, give these new site visitors driven to your website by your work of art something useful to do once they’ve read it!
Add internal links
Make sure you internally link to other relevant pages and add a CTA to a product or sales page. Not only will this drive traffic from your content page it will also transfer contextual authority and increase the URL ranking of the sales page too.
Include a basic ‘Contact Us’ embedded form
If your visitors have an impulsive thought to send you an enquiry don’t make them search around for your ‘Contact Us’ page – make it as easy as possible for them and keep it simple with something like this (just as I did earlier):
Add a ‘Join our list’ opt in
Use a content upgrade or lead magnet here – give them a great reason for giving you their email address.
You’ll see a great example of a content upgrade at the end of this post – please do take advantage of it!
There you have it, over 3600 words on why you definitely shouldn’t be blogging and why you most definitely should be creating content!
I hope you found this useful and there is enough inspiration here to get you moving and pushing out your 2000 word masterpieces on a regular basis!
Take a look again through this post and see how many of my own rules I have followed and how many I have broken – how do you think I could have improved?
Feedback is always very welcome so please do email me email@example.com
(Yep – that’s a content upgrade Opt In!)
Congratulations! You’ve made it!
But don’t kick back just yet…..this is just the beginning…the wild worlds of content distribution and content repurposing await those brave enough to face the challenge…..
To be continued….
I’m Nigel, Head of SEO at Surrey Digital, a Surrey based digital media agency.
With over 20 years consultancy experience working with blue chip companies I’m a natural problem solver – a perfect character trait for the ever changing landscape of SEO.
Feel free to ask me anything, always happy to help out – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Understanding the competition is a crucial business strategy that allows you to improve your competitive advantage.
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