In this article we look at ways you can turbocharge your blog so that it attracts more visitors – and the right kind – to your website.
But firstly: why blog? There are two main reasons. Firstly, it can be a lot of fun. It allows you to express yourself and share your wholesome / interesting / controversial (delete as appropriate) views with a potentially wide audience. The more cynical reason is that blogging, done well, has the potential to dramatically increase the number of people eyeballing your site: if you write well and are blogging about a subject in which there is a sizeable interest, you will end up with a jolly pleasant amount of traffic on your website. And we all know what lots of traffic to a website means: the ability to flog stuff. And that is why a lot of people blog, of course - it's generally the best way to go about creating an inbound marketing campaign. Anyway, regardless of whether you want to express yourself online or come up with a dastardly clever way to sell double glazing, here are our top tips for getting a successful blog off the ground…
1. Write about something you know and care about
At the heart of any successful blog is strong content – and that content is going to be much stronger if the person writing it is both knowledgeable and passionate about what they are writing about. Posts that are written from the heart – and not by a content farm – are far more likely to be the posts that interest people and crucially, get shared.
2. Let your personality shine through
A lot of readers identify with writers because there is much to like (or even dislike) about their personality, mouthiness or tone of voice – and blogging is no different. If a reader likes YOU as a writer – and not just the quality of the content you are producing – you are far more likely to attract a dedicated following. So let your personality shine through; this helps you form a rapport with your readers, who may be more inclined as a result to come back to your blog simply because they like you as an individual.
3. Blog regularly and keep your content fresh
According to inbound marketing experts Hubspot, businesses that blog regularly attract 55% more traffic than those that don’t. There are two reasons for this: one, you’re generating more content, which means you are more likely to appear in searches and two, Google considers how ‘fresh’ your site is when deciding where to place it in search results. So blog as often as you can. It is difficult, of course, to always find the time or resource within your company to produce quality blog posts regularly, but remember that not every post has to be an essay: you can also be a curator of content too – publishing posts on / links to other content, resources or offers that your readers might find useful and offering a short commentary on them. However, it is also important that you publish your own, in-depth (read long!) articles too.
Additionally, you should also consider updating your older posts fairly regularly too (assuming there is new information that would make them better posts, of course). Again, this provides a sign to Google that you are keeping your content fresh, which can lead to improved search results.
4. Accompany your blog with strong images
It’s important to use really good images in any blog posts you publish. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, it helps readers get a sense of what you are writing about (this is particularly important if you are exploring difficult concepts – visual aids can really help simplify matters). Secondly, the main picture accompanying your post will show up whenever visitors to your blog share one of your articles on social media, and if it is a dull picture, it’s far less likely to generate clicks to your site.
5. Optimise your posts
Obviously a key aim with blogging is to have your posts show up in search results (there’s no point in going to all that effort writing posts if nobody sees them crop up on Google) and as such you should follow best practice when it comes to optimisation. You should always:
- create blog titles which accurately describe what you are writing about
- use tags and categories that accurately reflect each post’s content
- include keywords in each post’s URL that reflect the content
- use keyword-rich headers to break up content
In essence, you should make it as easy as possible for Google to spot your posts. As such, I’d recommend reading Google’s SEO starter guide from cover to cover and implementing its recommendations to the letter on every post.
6. Share your blog on Google+
Google+ may be often derided as the social network that nobody really uses...but Google's algorithms definitely use it, both when it comes to indexing content and displaying it in search results to people in your Google+ circles. Whenever you post a blog, make sure it goes straight on Google+ afterwards.
7. Capture email addresses
Once you’ve attracted a visitor to your site, you should ideally capture their email address. This allows you to notify visitors via e-newsletter of new blog posts, meaning more traffic and (hopefully) shares. If you use an email marketing tool (like Getresponse, Aweber, Mailchimp or Mad Mimi) you can use your RSS feed to power your e-newsletters, meaning that every time you add a new blog post your subscribers will automatically receive an e-newsletter with a notification about the new content.
8. Encourage social sharing
Actively encourage your readers to share your posts. If they follow these encouragements, not only should you see a rise in traffic to your posts, but you are also sending ‘signals’ to search engines regarding the popularity and quality of your posts. Using a tool like Addthis – which allows you to add a truckload of clever social sharing icons to various parts of your website - can really help in this regard.
9. Encourage comments and user engagement
Encourage people (or even trolls!) to add their own views at the bottom of your posts. Not only does this create more keyword-rich content on your website (albeit mixed in with the odd spammy link for handbags), it may lead to an improved ranking in search (it is believed that Google takes levels of user engagement on pages into account when ranking them).
10. Publicise your posts
At a very simple level, this could mean sharing your blog posts on any social media profiles you own, or issuing an e-newsletter about them. But you could also consider contacting influential bloggers you have a relationship with, asking them to highlight your new content on their sites. All this boosts visibility of your posts, generates more backlinks and helps you attract more readers.
Any thoughts on blogging?
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