Blogging is a crux for any content marketing strategy. But a poorly thought-out blog post can turn away potential leads. Scary right?
The good news is that it is possible to create excellent, lead generating content. You simply need to have a plan in place. Knowing that you need to blog is a good start. Having a comprehensive blog strategy before you begin writing will allow you to hit the ground running.
Here are the five steps you should take before writing a single word in the body of the blog post
Decide how many times you will write per week
The first thing you should determine before writing is posting frequency. In order to have any kind of relevance, your website must post regularly and often. Of course, every business is different, but here are some general posting guidelines based on size of business, growth desired and availability:
- Post 3 – 5 times per day. This will ensure maximum web traffic, and is usually accomplished by larger businesses, or “power bloggers.”
- Post once a day. This also drives a wealth of web traffic, and any business with an excellent content strategy can get to this level of posting cadence.
- Post 2-3 times a week. This frequency also boosts plenty of web traffic, and a business of any size can post at least 2 or 3 times a week.
You’ll need to assess you own content strategy and team capacity before deciding upon your blog’s posting frequency, but in order to drive more traffic, you’ll need to shoot for one of the general posting guidelines.
Before you start writing blog entries, brainstorm potential content ideas. Here are several avenues for productive brainstorming
Social Media. Social is the name of the game these days. And every day, awesome content is shared and shared again. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit and Instagram are all great sources of inspiration. Search relevant hashtags or pages to hone your search for inspiration.
Successful Bloggers. Popular bloggers are good examples as well. What successful content tactics did they use? Are there any pointers that you could incorporate into your own blog?
Although other blogs can be great for brainstorming purposes, it’s important to never copy another writer’s work. You’re simply looking for ideas that will spark your own creative ignition. Here is a link to the article that led me to the idea of writing a blog post about proper preparation for blogging. Notice, that nowhere in the post does it say anything about the preparation process regarding blogging.
So, what did I see in the article that led me to this idea? I saw the stat that said “only 44 percent of B2B marketers have a documented content strategy.” Immediately after reading the stat, I began thinking of different reasons why so many marketers don’t have a strategy. My wheels kept turning until I decided to I finally decided to write on essential blog prep.
Your Marketing Team. Call me old-fashioned, but sometimes the best source for ideas comes from face-to-face interaction. Don’t be afraid to sit your team down for a few minutes to discuss blog topics. Crowd sourcing ideas is a great way to get the creative juices flowing.
So after you get your blog topics together, now you need to organize that list in a manner that can be useful for when you start blogging. The main method of organization that you should use is a content calendar. A content calendar not only helps you stay organized, but it also helps you and your team plan ahead. Instead of aimlessly posting, you have a strategic attack plan. And having your posts planned frees you up to listen to your audience and iterate accordingly.
If you haven’t already, create a content calendar for the next 30 days. You’ll be glad you did.
Go the extra mile with other media sources
Sometimes the finishing touch on a blog can be a striking visual. Find the other media elements to include in your story. Locate your media elements before you begin writing. This will allow you to build the copy around the media elements.
Here is a good template to follow when trying to decide where to put media elements:
- You need to include at least one photo at the top of your blog post.
- Most videos that you embed from YouTube should appear at the bottom of your post. Unless the video encapsulates a certain point you’re trying to make.
- An embedded tweet should be treated like a direct quote.
Embedding a video from YouTube is very easy. Here is how to find the embed code on YouTube:
1. Go to the video on YouTube.
2. Click on the share button.
3. You should see an “Embed” tab. Click on the tab
4. A white box with code will appear. Simply copy the code and place it in the HTML part of your Content Management System (A subsequent blog post will show you how to do this).
1. Locate the tweet you want to use. A good way to keep tabs of a tweet you may want to use later is to simply retweet it. It will appear when you click on the tweets tab underneath your profile picture.
2. Click on the “More” option underneath the tweet.
3. A menu should appear. Click on “Embed Tweet” and copy the code. Just like the YouTube video, you will need to paste the code into the HTML part of your CMS.
Set up SEO
The final step before writing the post is setting up the Search Engine Optimization functions. Depending on the CMS you’re using, the setup itself might be different. But I’ve listed some general guidelines below:
- Headline. The first thing you want to do is come up with a headline or title. It should be clear to the reader what the article is about before they even click on the link.
- Focus Keyword. The next element is the focus keyword, which is essentially the subject of your post. Some CMS’s have a designated box, which allows you to type in the focus keyword. If you don’t have a box, you can still identify the focus keyword by including it in the title section of your post. (i.e. Email Marketing: Three Mistakes That Should Be Avoided. Email Marketing is the focus keyword.) The keyword should only be one or two words.
- Meta Description. The next part in the SEO process is the meta description. One word of note, the meta description is not a part of Google’s metrics, but it’s essential for enticing people to click on your link.
The meta description is the text that is located below the title on a Google search. Google will only show 150 characters of the meta description. So when you’re writing, you need to be brief and to the point. If you’re using a CMS, most likely you will have a box in which you can write your meta description. Some of these systems will cut you off at 150 characters and others will not. HTML users must be aware of the number of characters. If you go beyond 150 characters, the description will be cutoff and replaced with an ellipses.
You can decide not to include a meta description. In that case, Google will then use the first 150 characters of your blog post. This is why so many opening sentences in online articles can be bland. By adding a meta description, you can include a colorful lead that can really draw in your audience.
- Tags. The other part of SEO is the aspect of tags. Tags are important pieces of information that Google uses when people are searching for a blog post. There should be no more than six tags in a given story. Google will not look at stories that have a bunch of links in them. However, having one or two is fine. For example, if I’m writing about email marketing, my tags would probably be marketing, content marketing, email and email marketing. The tags should have been used in the blog post itself.