Nowadays every major brand, corporation, and retailer is sporting their own customized blog in order to spread awareness of their offerings and keep in touch with the general public. Many companies have transformed themselves into self publishers for the purpose of marketing specific products and services, increasing revenue, and reaching new audiences like never before.
Why? Because it works.
As of January 2021, there were 4.66 billion Internet users. That’s roughly 60 percent of the world’s total population and 80% of adults worldwide. Anyone with a digital device and network connection can access the Internet easily and at no cost. If you want people to be able to discover your business offerings and content, you need to go where your audience is and, in the vast majority of cases, that’s on the Internet.
The Keys to Success
Some, but not all, blogs are wildly successful and there can be many reasons for that. You will, however, find that most have one thing in common – they have all figured out the content their audience is looking for and made it available to them. They have made their content easy to find and understand. They have written content that is comprehensive, thorough, accurate, credible, engaging, and helpful.
Why does this work? Because your content has to be outstandingly good to stand out in a sea of competition. Over 300 million businesses are on the Internet, all competing to rank for very few slots on a single platform – Google’s search engine. As of February 2021, 92.05% of all Internet searches were conducted on Google and Google has set a high bar to appear on page 1 of search results. Content that does not satisfy the information wants and needs of Google audiences simply will not perform well in search results.
For years, Google has said “create great content” and they mean it. They really mean it. If you want to earn one of just 10 free spots on the first page of Google search results, your content is going to have to be the very best there is to be found on the Internet.
The second key to successful blog content is to just get started. It takes a while to create a critical mass of publications and to earn top-ranking positions on Google. The sooner you start, the faster you’ll get there. This post is going to give you some pointers on how to go kick start that process.
Here are the top 6 things you should be doing to start:
- Research Your Audience
- Write Quality Content
- Make Sure It’s Shareable
- Use Calls to Action
- Create an Email List
- Employ an Effective Social Media Strategy
More on each of these below. And please, feel free to use the comments section if you have questions or need extra help. We respond pretty quickly.
1. Know Your Audience
Earlier I said the key to successful blogging on the Internet is to figure out what information your audience is after and then to give it to them. Logically then, the first step is to identify your audience, get to know them, and identify their information wants and needs.
If you are a business owner, you undoubtedly already know your audience. But do you know all the questions they might have when beginning to shop for your goods and/or services? Do you know the list of potential problems they are facing? Do you know how urgent and important it is for you to help them find a solution? Do you know how they’ll measure success?
A great way to get started with a blog is to create a list of all the questions you and your staff typically field when tending to prospects and customers. Create a list, group them by subject area, and start jotting down a few quick ideas about how you might approach answering the questions. Don’t write any blog posts yet, just get your ideas down on paper.
If you are concerned that the content you want to write has already been written by all your competitors, that is only partially true. Remember that people in different markets have different concerns, needs, and constraints. There might be some overlap in the initial group of questions, but as you answer those and the prospect or customer starts to get interested, the questions are going to become more and more specific to their unique situation and your unique offerings. This is one way you can begin to differentiate yourself from the competition. Create unique answers to these questions by customizing them to the specific needs and concerns of your target audience. Consider location, features, regional preferences, your product offering and areas of expertise, and so on. The richer the content, the better.
Lastly, bear in mind that content can be presented in various forms – as blog posts, videos, photos and sketches, podcasts, and more. For now, just get your ideas down. You can decide upon the content format down the road.
2. Create Quality Content
The next step is to experiment a bit with your chosen content topics. Pick a topic and jot down what you want to convey to prospects and customers.
Remember earlier I said your content has to be outstandingly good because most of the world is competing to rank for very few slots on Google and Google only ranks exceptional content at the top of search results.
So what is exceptional content, “great” content (in Google’s words)? Google has published guidelines to help people understand some of the many factors Google takes into consideration when deciding who to ranks where in search results. Buried in these guidelines you will find a series of 23 questions Google suggests you ask yourself when creating content. The questions are intended to help you figure out whether you have any hope of ranking well in search results. I’m not suggesting you dig deep into trying to understand what these hundreds of guidelines are, but I do want you to carefully consider those 23 questions when writing. You don’t have to earn an “A+” but do your best. It really helps.
My second suggestion is best explained by way of an example.
Let’s say you want to write a blog post that answers the question, “how do I write quality content for my blog“. Type that into Google and look at the top 10 search results.
Skim every one of the top-ranking articles. Look at the headings and sub-headings used within each of the articles. These typically represent the high-level topics discussed within the article. Make a list. These are the topics you will want to cover in your writing as well in order for it to be deemed “comprehensive” in the eyes of Google’s ranking algorithm.
Next, make sure your content makes sense to a layperson. Ask someone you know who is not an expert in your field to review your draft post. Does it answer their questions thoroughly and accurately? Does it make sense? Was it easy for them to read? Was it logical and progressive? If yes, continue.
There is a lot more that goes into helping your content rank at the top of search results, but this is the first step – quality content. If you’re not comfortable writing, consider hiring a writer or a digital marketing agency to help you. They will still want to pick your brain for ideas and subject matter expertise, but they should be able to take the actual writing off your plate so you can focus on other things. It’s an option.
3. Make Sure Your Content Is Shareable
Blog content relies heavily upon social shares for exposure and traffic generation. When website visitors see a well-written and thoughtful blog post that satisfies their needs, their first reaction is often to bookmark or share it with their friends, colleagues, and family.
Those same people will get really frustrated if they don’t find share buttons on your website. Share buttons gently remind people of the option to bookmark and share your content, and they make it easy for visitors to do so.
For those reasons, we recommend you ensure your website incorporates social share buttons on all your blog posts. There are currently numerous free social sharing plugins available that are baked into or easily integrate with major blogging platforms such as WordPress, Shopify, Squarespace, and WooCommerce. Don’t forget to include one. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, as your web development team to do it for you. It’s a short job and shouldn’t cost a whole lot of money to implement.
4. Use Calls to Action
A call to action (CTA) is a suggestion designed to evoke a response from your audience.
Now that you have successfully captured the attention of your audience with high-quality content, the next suggestion has to do with getting them to take steps that will directly or indirectly benefit you and your business.
We just talked about incorporating social media buttons on your website. A call to action suggests readers take advantage of those social media buttons using text like “If you liked this post, please share it with your network”. Those of you who watch YouTube videos will be familiar with this tactic. Almost every YouTube video ends with a call to “subscribe to our channel” – another call to action, one that benefits the channel owner.
Another popular call to action for business owners is a “subscribe to our subscription list”. Subscription lists are valuable because they help you keep prospects and customers in your sales pipeline so you can present other opportunities to them down the road. Many blogs offer a custom landing page where visitors can complete a form that gives you permission to put them on your subscription list and send them future publications.
Some other popular calls to action include:
- Download our pamphlet, booklet, checklist, brochure, (and others).
- Add to cart.
- Reserve now.
- Learn more.
- Start here.
- Volunteer to help now.
- Join our mailing list.
Notice all CTAs start with a strong action verb and end with the target of the action. Again, look at competitor websites. Where and how are they using CTAs? Don’t copy them directly, but review what’s currently being done so you can prompt some ideas that might work well with your own website and blog.
A good CTA can help keep your audience engaged and give meaning to your content. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or complex. Even if it’s just a two-word phrase, you can benefit by encouraging readers to what you think best.
CTAs can also create a sense of urgency which can help increase website sales and conversions. As long as the CTA encourages prospects and customers to stay engaged on your site, then your call to action has done its job.
5. Create an Email List
Email marketing is another powerful tool for communicating with your audience. It is so powerful, in fact, that it is often one of the main vehicles businesses use to keep in touch with past and existing clients as well as future prospects. Currently, there are far more active email accounts out there than social accounts like Facebook and Twitter, which creates a potentially huge opportunity for your business.
Pair your email list with a concise and consistently delivered newsletter in order to stay in touch with clients on a regular basis and in a place your audience often frequents – their inbox. The key here is to not overdo it and to ensure you are only delivering content they care about. When you provide valuable content to your readers, they don’t forget you. You will be top of mind when a relevant need arises or when they are asked for a recommendation by a friend, family, or work associate. It keeps the connection open.
With email lists and newsletters, you have to bear in mind that most people’s inboxes are flooded with junk mail day in and day out. It is therefore critically important that you moderate the amount and frequency of communications you share with them. Keep your newsletters concise, to the point, accurate, and above all else, useful to your clients. If it’s not useful, don’t send it.
As to what to include, think of seasonal content, world events that might impact your industry or audience, any active promotions you might have in the pipeline at the moment, and recent publications you might share with your audience – whether you’ve written them or someone else has. So long as it’s helpful, it’s worth considering including.
Consider asking your sales and support staff for newsletter and blog post ideas. They are face-to-face with customers every day and are often most in tune with what is trending or of utmost concern to customers. They will also appreciate your asking.
As an aside, sales and support staff are also excellent people to ask to review your blog posts before they are published! They can have outstanding suggestions for improvement. They might even want to grow their resume by offering to write a post or two themselves. Also, encourage them to share company content on their own professional social media networks. Every bit helps.
6. Employ an Effective a Social Media Strategy
It’s no secret that social media is powerful. The amount of reach and through traffic a business can gain just by having a cohesive social media strategy is wildly beneficial. Developing a strategy means taking the time to brainstorm and thoroughly plan out the content you plan to share on social media with the goal of ensuring your marketing goals are met. This can include identifying specific social channels, dates and times for posting, the number and choice of relevant hashtags, media to include, calls to action, and so on.
If you are looking to extend your social media reach, try following thought leaders in your industry or the channels of other similar businesses and industries to get an idea of what might be done. The main point here is that, just because you write great content, doesn’t mean everyone or anyone will see it. Even if you’re using search engine optimization (SEO), it takes time to gain exposure on the Internet. The best way to get your content out there and to start to grow a following is by sharing it on social media and growing a network of friends and followers that will appreciate it, share it with their network, and begin to grow your exposure and audience.
Focus on the channels you see driving the best results for your industry and competitors by reviewing what others are currently doing and the results they’re getting. Typically you’ll find one or more of the most popular channels (YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) works for your industry but there are other, lesser known opportunities as well. Start small. You can expand as you gain comfort and experience. Or you can outsource this function to a reputable service provider. Many digital marketing and website development firms pair this service with their other offerings. Just be sure to ask around and sample results to ensure they’re delivering value for money.
Lastly, be patient. The Internet is all about your online reputation. Always be aware of the face and messaging you are presenting to the world. Be thoughtful, helpful and consistent. And get started!