Are you getting the most out of your company blog? Many brands start a blog by writing posts based on gut feeling rather than following strategic guidelines, and with this approach feel unsatisfied by the results they receive. To help you cut through the clutter and grow your audience, follow these 12 rules.
1) Publish on a regular schedule
Adopting a regular blogging schedule is crucial to attracting and keeping readers. Treat your blog like you would any publication. Post at regular intervals, at the same time and days of the week. It’s best to start slow and build up as your blog grows. No one complains when you increase your frequency over time but sporadic postings lose readership.
2) Tell stories
If you haven’t heard, storytelling is the biggest thing in content marketing right now and with good reason. In a world overflowing with too much information, content that tells a story and coaxes a reader in is proving to be far more successful than perfunctory text filled with clichés and jargon. Take the extra time to create an interesting story that appeals to your readers.
3) Start and end with a question
Have you ever wondered how some writers manage to make you feel like they’re speaking directly to you? Chances are it’s because they’ve used questions throughout their blog post. Starting with a question is a great way to pull readers in. Ending with a question provokes your readers to leave a comment. It’s a simple technique anyone can do and super effective.
4) Use a conversational tone of voice
Perhaps the best way you can communicate to your readers is to just state things as simply as possible. Imagine you’re speaking with someone and write your blog post as if you were explaining something to them in person. Ditch the flowery phrases and complicated corporate speak. Plain and simple is the best way to connect with your readers.
5) Get your title right
No matter how much work you put into a post, if the title doesn’t appeal, no one will ever read your great content. Ideally, your title should be 55 characters or less and include your most important keywords at the front. Write and rewrite your titles until you find the one that works best. Check out this Headline Analyser for help in creating super-effective titles.
6) Use visuals
There’s no disputing the importance of visual images. Every post should have a minimum of one photograph, illustration, video, infographic or other kind of image to attract readers. Make sure you’ve given each image a name that benefits the topic of your post. Include an alternate description that includes some of the keywords from your post. Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter all reward content with images, so it’s time to get more visual.
7) Cite, attribute, reference
If you want to gain credibility and trust, cite references and give attribution to any content you reference in a blog post. Make sure to include a hyperlink so your readers can quickly verify your sources and find more information. It’s also important to give the appropriate credit for any images you’ve used that you didn’t create yourself.
8) Be persuasive
If you’re writing a blog for the purpose of marketing your products and services, it’s imperative to have a strong call to action – or several – in every post.
9) Link out, link in
Make an effort to link out to at least one reputable website in every post. It demonstrates journalistic responsibility and that your opinions are backed up with fact. In addition, you’ll want to link to at least one article on your own website. This sends a signal to Google that you’re producing an ongoing body of work.
10) Work on your Meta description
The Meta description for each post is what shows up in google search results and, at times, in social media previews. Take a couple of extra minutes to write this as a ‘teaser’ for your post, making sure to inject the appropriate keywords. Keep your Meta description to 115 characters or less.
11) Format for online readers
People reading from a laptop, tablet or mobile device are likely to be skimming your content and only reading if something catches their eye. Eye tracking studies show people skim an online page in an F-pattern, so it’s important to use subheadings, bullet points and images to coax the reader to keep their eyes moving down your page.
12) Reply to every comment
In addition to being common courtesy, replying to comments is a great way to increase engagement on each post. Ask questions, start debates and keep the conversation going by being an active participant. The more comments on your blog, the more attractive it looks to readers.