Recently, I attended several sessions at SES Chicago. Here are some best practices in blogging that I took away from the sessions “Badass Blogging,” with Dan Cristo & Virginia Nussey, and “Game, Set, ROI,” with Matt Davidson & Jason Yormark.
One of the first main takeaways I picked up was that only a few bloggers really have it figured out. Only 35% of professional blogs get over 5000 hits monthly (yes, we qualify). If you’re looking to join that group, here are a few essential ways to get there.
Put out content regularly.
One of the stats mentioned was that 65% of personal/professional blogs had not been updated in the past year. Obviously, this doesn’t inspire anyone to keep coming back. Putting out original quality content is important.
An additional point was made to watch for patterns. Take notice of when your site had the most traffic in terms of hour of the day and day of the week. Take note of when comments and shares happen. When are engaged readers present? Cater your publishing and monitoring to those times. People get in the habit of checking if they notice you put out good content at a regular time. I post the 3Q Digital blog daily on LinkedIn, and I’ve had some non-3Q friends mention they enjoy the ‘morning article i post on LinkedIn.’
Make time for writing.
This is basic, but sometimes it’s the hardest part. Many blogs seem to trail off because, simply, their creators aren’t making time for them. So, if necessary, carve out time in your schedule to pay attention to your blog. One of the successful bloggers interviewed mentioned he sometimes sits down with coffee for three hours once a week and gets several good posts ready. Whatever it takes, you need to make sure there’s time dedicated to writing.
Use other forms of social media to find what gets a hit.
As we all know, not all forms of content pique others’ interest for one reason or another. As a blogger, I know sometimes I’ve written what I felt was a great post that got few shares and little commentary, whereas I’ve written some other brief last-minute ‘fluff’ posts that took off like crazy. The same thing goes with my Facebook statuses. One of the bloggers interviewed mentioned he would put out some thoughts on Twitter/Facebook and saw what got engagement, then catered his posts to that.
Don’t be a perfectionist.
This might be very hard for some, especially very detail-oriented SEMs. However, what was brought up is blogging is a very ‘as it happens’ form of communication. This isn’t to say spelling & grammar should be thrown out, but the example that was given was if one is uploading a video and someone sneezes in the background.
It’s easy to want to re-shoot/re-write something 18 different times, but two important factors to keep in mind are a) in blogging, as well as in all forms of social media, it’s more important to be timely than perfect and b) there’s something very raw and real about social forms of communication – it’s best to not disturb that.
Have a vision.
This goes more for personal blogs over professional ones, but make sure your blog is ‘about something’, and make sure all your material aligns with that. I know, as someone who once had a personal blog, it was easy to write about anything that came to mind (fashion, politics, food, etc.), but the way to build up loyal readership and engagement is to have a purpose and make sure your posts reflect that.
Follow an editorial calendar.
This goes along with putting out content regularly, especially if you have a professional blog with a goal of posting weekly or daily. This is a good way to keep on schedule and make sure you don’ t put out back-to-back posts on the same subject.
It’s always good to do keep in touch with other members of the blogging community who touch on the same subjects with different perspectives. We here at 3Q Digital have done a ton of exchange posts with other digital marketing blogs. Also, there are probably members of your organization who have certain knowledge worth sharing but are not necessarily skilled writers. Having people like this work with a more experienced writer to craft a post can be beneficial to all.
Make your blog a destination.
Your blog will most likely initially be found by a Google search or a social media share, but what you ideally want is for someone to bookmark it, subscribe to it, or directly enter it on a regular basis. This is done by regularly providing relevant, interesting, quality content. As you develop your blog, decide when you’ll post and what you’ll post about, it’s important to keep this end goal in mind.
Think of the terms people are searching on.
This is more from an SEO standpoint, but since your blog contains information that could be valuable to someone out there, it wouldn’t hurt to check the Google Keyword Planner for subject-relevant terms that get high search volume. Also, think in terms of word choices people use. For example, one looking for basic landing page help most likely would search on ‘landing page examples’ or ‘best landing pages’ as opposed to ‘best practices for landing page optimizations’. This isn’t saying to not use more technical, industry specific terms at times – just make sure the post is also easily findable to those who might be performing more basic searches.
Make share buttons easy.
Here’s a basic that can sometimes be forgotten. You’ve put so much effort into creating the content, you might as well make it easy to share. Make sure the Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn buttons are prominent on the page. Some opt for those that follow the reader down the page for longer posts.
Organize the post in chunks – much like this one!
It’s been proven that posts broken out into smaller lumps of information are more easily read than a long post. Sometimes it’s helpful to break a meatier post into ‘steps’ so people can glance through the headers and see what they need to read. Regardless, it’s important to cater to people’s attention spans and interests when presenting your valuable knowledge and material.