Whether you are an experienced blogger looking to hone your skills or the proud owner of a great new website eager to drive
new business, we’ve got a tool for you. We’ve put together a great how-to-guide to walk you through every critical element
of effective blogging. By following this easy step-by-step guide, every time you start writing, you’ll create effective, attractive, SEO-friendly, blog articles.
If you’re interested in improving or learning how to blog more effectively you’ve most likely learned a little bit about internet
marketing or inbound marketing as we call it. If you’re looking to grow your business or learn about new sales tools to improve your team’s results we believe this can be a vital resource you’ll want to draw from on a weekly basis. Once you
learn the science of blogging you’ll be able to master the art given your services, targeted prospects, and keyword set.
Step 1: Build Your Keyword Set
If you didn’t identify your list of target keywords before or during your website rebuild, you should have. Your meta-data
and descriptions for each web page should have been in place and they too should be built from the list of keywords developed from your initial research.
To perform your keyword research from scratch, start with a simple brainstorming session. Jot down all of your core
services, the ways you think you would find your services, and the ways you think others would find them. Once you get to a
list of 20-25 words or word sets (keywords can in fact be a group of 2-3 words) then it’s time to put some research into your list…
Google AdWords is a tremendous tool, simply go to Adwords and log in with your Google account. If you don’t have a Google login just hit the start campaign button and fill everything out. Once logged in and on the AdWords dashboard hit the Tools and Analysis button, and then the Keyword Tool from the drop down. Simply load your keywords into the box and hit the search button. The results will show you the level of competition, number of global searches, and number of local searches.
Once you’ve compiled all of the data for each you can compare and contrast. It’s best to compete for keywords that have a
little less traffic and therefore a little less competition as you’re starting out. Start small and slowly add additional words from your list to the targeting and expand to more nationally searched words.
The result from all of this work is that you should have formed a master keyword focus list. This list should be referenced every time you do anything; from writing a new blog post to writing a page of content for your website. This list is the starting point of all content and you should review often to evaluate whether the keywords are still appropriate and if others should be added.
The resulting list of keywords you will focus on going forward will have come from research and analytics, not a stab in the
dark. While you think you know what your company offers, the internet sees things differently sometimes. Do the research,
run the analytics, and build a list of words you actually can compete for relevance with. Remember, moving from a ranking
of 148th up to 72nd in 3 months might seem impressive but it just doesn’t pay. If you can’t get yourself to the front page of Google and other search engines you’re just wasting your money because you won’t get the traffic you’re hoping for.
Takeaway: Focus on keywords with good traffic, reasonable levels of competition, and good relevance.
Step 2: Turn Your Topics Into Titles
With a good keyword set in hand it’s time to come up with a topic to write about. This is where nearly all of our clients
struggle and need a little prompting into action. This really shouldn’t be that hard if you’re planning to write about what your business does. You’re the foremost expert on your goods and services and how they can benefit your clients, so just talk about it!
Start by selecting the keyword you’d like to focus on. Let’s say yours was ‘auto repair Lynwood’. Since you’re obviously a
mechanic, I’m sure you know a lot about cars so this should be pretty easy, right? Now create a topic you’d like to write about, one that involves auto repair. Let’s make it compelling though; try to understand what you’re clientele would like to read about, or something they’re concerned with.
Auto repair isn’t the most exciting topic, so let’s spice it up a bit to try to build some sense of urgency and value. Maybe something about preparing for the coming season or avoiding long term pain with a short term offer.
• Preparing for Winter Driving Helps Avoid Costly Auto Repair Later
• Auto Repair Checklist: 4 Things You Can’t Forget Before Winter Hits
• Avoid Costly Auto Repairs With This Handy DIY Checklist
That wasn’t so hard, and we have a few choices to work with. By putting together a few quick examples you’re able to build a
topic that is to-the-point, presents value, and offers advice or resources the reader may be interested in. give your title some
thought before you build your blog article and you’ll see better content with better direction.
Step 3: Write a Rough Draft
Now it’s time to start getting your thoughts on paper. Don’t worry too much about grammar, spelling, keywords or anything
else, just worry about writing.
- Write at least 300 words, shoot for more than 600 to be interesting and worthy of reading
- Break up your work into short paragraphs
- Include bullet points or numbered steps to break up content
As the scenario we’re exploring would suggest, it’s time to start coming up with a checklist. I often start with an outline or some bullet points to put some structure to my writing. I’ll brainstorm the steps before looking up some other resources
to find a few I may have missed. I’ll start writing a little about each step and using different websites and files I have on hand for supporting information.
Takeaway: You can never write too much. Get in the habit of brainstorming when inspired and jotting down notes you can come back to later.
Step 4: Work In Your Keywords
Now that you have a rough draft of your article to work with it’s time to get your optimization started. The most important facet of blog optimization is to naturally work in your keywords throughout the article. This is certainly easier done with national keyword phrases such as auto repair than it is with regional sets like auto repair Lynwood.
Try putting together a sentence or two for the regional keyword challenge presented. You may find yourself rewriting
an entire paragraph or even adding a few surrounding sentences to make things flow better. Many times the regional keyword needs to lead to make sense in copy, something like: “Lynwood auto repair specialist Joe’s Auto should be your first stop for winter preparation.”
- Put 2-3 keyword phrases in each blog post
- Make sure all keywords have bolded font
- If you have more than 3 keywords in an article, italicize the extras
Once you’ve worked in your keywords naturally, bolded them for search engine discovery and checked to make sure flow has
been maintained, your blog should be set for this step. Remember not to overdo it please. You’ll find the penalty for ‘keyword dumping’ to be much steeper than if you’d completely omitted the words in the first place.
Step 5: Build Anchor Links to Internal Pages
With your article taking shape it’s now time to give it some authority. By building strategic backlinks or anchor linksyou’ll give additional credence to your existing web pages. The
result will be a steady increase of links to your website and an additional conversion for visitors from your blog to your site. With conversion paths in place you’ll be well on your way to converting visitors into prospects and prospects into leads.
Don’t know what to link to? Here are a few ideas:
- Product/Services Pages
- Landing Pages (offer page, contact us page, etc.)
- Older, relevant blog posts
Step 6: Include An Image With An Alt Tag
Every blog post should have some sort of related image to make it more attractive and likely to be clicked/opened/read.
Utilizing an image that can entice a reader to click on your post while helping to explain the subject can help with your blog’s visibility and overall success.
Once you have your rough draft pasted into your blogging software you’ll want to find a place near the top to insert the image. If you have custom imagery of your own, great! If you don’t, you can either purchase stock imagery to use in your
articles from sites like iStockPhoto or you can utilize free Public Domain photos from a number of reputable sites. Whatever you do, DO NOT USE PHOTOS YOU FOUND IN A GOOGLE IMAGES SEARCH! You could end up unknowingly using a copy written image and leave yourself open for a costly lawsuit.
Once you have the image loaded, simply right click on it. Depending on the software you use, you should be able to edit the image for size and text title. The text title of the image is called the Alt Tag. This is yet another opportunity to inject your focus keyword while describing the image. In our running example, an image of a man working on a car would have an Alt Tag of: Auto Repair Lynwood.
- The image should sit at the top of the article
- Text should be formatted around the image to appear more professional
- An Alt Tag should be included with a single keyword phrase
- The image should be sized to roughly 200-350 pixels wide
Step 7: Include A Call To Action
You’re working hard to write an article that interests people and gets them to read and share it, now make sure you’re giving them a conversion path as well. The idea is that your blog is an effective method of driving traffic to your website and your website exists to attract and convert new customers. If you don’t have strong Calls to Action (CTAs) then you really need to consider developing some immediately.
If you do have CTAs in place on your website, putting them into your blog will be a snap. Just make sure to put the image into your article body and insert a hyperlink to the landing page associated with the offer promoted in the image. For example, for Revenue River’s services we have an offer related to Digital Marketing Strategy. If you’re looking to start a new online marketing campaign we’d like to offer a free eBook to help you understand the various elements involved in modern marketing. The image above promotes the offer and the link takes you to the page to claim the offer.
Takeaway: If your links are long or cumbersome I recommend using a link shortening tool such as bitly (http://bitly.com) to shorten your links. It will take less space & disguise the destination link
Step 8: Write Meta Data & Description
Another critical step in blog optimization for search engine purposes is to load the Meta Data and Meta Description before
publishing. Meta Data is the address you see at the top of each web page you’re visiting and an excellent place for relevant keywords.
Your Meta Data should follow these guidelines:
- Never include more than 3 keyword phrases, and separate them with a line. For instance: auto repair | auto service | Joe’s auto repair Lynwood
- Include your business name and/or regional location
- Load this along with the Meta Description within your blog
There is often a button or navigation within the new article posting section for meta information. If you’re having trouble finding where to enter it, see your software admin for assistance.
The Meta Description is key because it is also what will show up under the page title on all Google searches. It should clearly state what the article is about.
Your Meta Description should follow these guidelines:
- Consist of a complete sentence or two about the article
- Be no more than 160 characters
- Contain one keyword, preferable the one from your article
Step 9: Don’t Forget To Include Tags
Every post should be tagged for relevance and future search. At the bottom of your post there should be a section for tags,
regardless of the software you’re using to post from. You should add keywords and related topics separated by commas in this section. Don’t overdo it though, we recommend you attribute between 2-4 tags per article.
If someone reads a powerful article and wants to know more on the subject they’ll often surf the tags associated with the one they like in order to shorten their search period for related pieces on your blog. Make things easy for them by tagging accurately for each and every article you publish.
Takeaway: Tags are more about searching for your article by humans than search engines so don’t worry about keywords as much as in other steps.
Step 10: Post & Promote
With a finished blog post in front of you it’s time to get the thing live to the outside world! There are some basic principles that apply to the blogosphere that can be helpful in maximizing the number of people who read your article.
In general, you’re best to post articles early in the morning. This is the most likely time other bloggers will be looking for sources and articles of interest. If they find and like your blog they may link to it or share it with their network.
If you would like to select some of your very best articles and submit them to third party listing sites there are literally hundreds to choose from if your article qualifies. Places like Reddit, Digg, and StumbleUpon have avenues for you to promote your content without spamming.
Social media channels are also a fantastic way to distribute your content, assuming you have been working hard to build the community necessary to ‘sneeze’ your article forward. None are better than Twitter for this job. You should be tweeting your past articles several times per day, including short, bold titles and shortened links back to your article. Anyone seeing your tweet and clicking the link will land on your article and ultimately your website
This should supply you and your team with all of the information and instruction needed to produce structurally correct blog
articles. With a little practice and repetition you’ll find yourself becoming more and more comfortable writing. As you become more accustomed to the science of blogging you’ll find yourself understanding the art behind producing a well-written, optimized article. Blogging effectively for both SEO and for attractive content will definitely test your ability to blend science and art, it’s a constant work in progress.
I advise you to keep at it and not lose momentum, the rewards come with time and production. Once you have built a library,
you can track results closely to see what works and what doesn’t. Another good idea is to subscribe to other blogs like Revenue River’s Blog.