To have success with blogging you can’t just begin writing and then posting content in the hope it will be successful. To give yourself every chance of success you need to create a blogging strategy.
Just as you would for your overall marketing campaigns you need to plan out how you propose to use a blog to achieve your objectives whatever they may be.
I don’t believe there is one definitive way to create a strategy for your blogging. Every business is different, but I do think there are some core fundamentals that should form part of it that every business should apply.
Take a look at this video where I discuss this and also read the full post below.
How to create a blogging strategy
Before you start any blogging activity you need to first set down what it is you want to achieve through blogging.
Do you want to build your brand, drive more traffic to your website, increase your websites page rank, grow sales or maybe it’s a combination of all of these?
So, you need to be clear why you are blogging so that your efforts are focussed on achieving the objectives you have set.
2 What will your blog about?
What do you want to talk about and say to your audience that will actually be of interest to them and peak their curiosity? This is key because if your audience wants helpful advisory content, and you are serving up blog post after blog post of self-serving content your blog will get no reaction that is positive from your audience.
So what can you do? Well, research for topics is very important and I feel the following should happen. Talk with some of your key customers to find out the pressing problems they are faced with and the problems that their industry is faced with as a whole.
Look at your own industry research to see what are trends that are appearing and conduct content audits of your competitors content to see what are they posting and commenting about.
When you begin to review what your customers are telling you and what you see going on you should then set up an internal team to brainstorm potential topics and subjects from which you can create blog posts for that are related to your industry.
When you have drilled down and created a list of potential topics now you can conduct some Keyword research to find and ascertain what specific words are people actually searching for on the web. By conducting this research you can further refine your blog content to maximise the chances of your blog post getting see.
So how do you conduct this Keyword research? There are a few tools I would suggest you utilise which I will discuss below but for a definitive guide on this area check out this great post from Hubspot
A Answer the public
I love this tool and cannot believe it is actually free. What it allows you to do is post in a keyword etc and it will give you back a wide array of questions based on actual searches on the internet. It is a fantastic tool to use to take a topic and generate 100’s of potential blog topics quickly
B Google Keyword Planner
This is a free tool from Google and was formerly known as the Google Keyword tool. It does require you to have a Google Adwords account set up but you don’t have to spend any money to use it.
To get an excellent understanding of how to use this tool check out this excellent article by Brian Deane of Backlinko but for this post let me suggest how to use this with Answer the public. When you have generated some keyword topics both from your brainstorming and from using Answer the Public, you can put your keyword topic into the planner and do a couple of interesting things.
First, if you put in your keyword it will give you back more options around your keyword that could be potential blog post topics. A second very valuable thing it will do is give you back the estimated search volume of your chosen keyword. So, for example, your keyword may have very high search volume but could also be very competitive so trying to get your blog post ranking for that keyword could prove difficult.
Maybe your keyword is deemed to have a low search volume and many people tend to jump to the conclusion that these words are not worth using or looking at. However, sometimes these low searched keywords can have a tremendous benefit because of the very specific relevance to an industry. So, while they may not be searched for by the masses if they are searched for by your target audience that is what you want.
To get more insight around this point, read of this excellent post on this topic
3 Create an editorial calendar
So, you have set your objectives you want to achieve with your blog. You know the topics and key areas you want to write about. The next stage is to plan out how often you will blog.
This is a very important step because if you decide to blog 5 times a week you have to commit to that otherwise any audience you build will soon become disinterested if you start missing posting deadlines.
You have to be mindful of the fact that there is a time commitment between research and creating the post. Therefore, if you think you can only post once a week plan for that. I always advise better to have quality over quantity.
An excellent way to plan out your posts each week and each month is to create what is known as an editorial calendar. It can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet and has days and dates listed in the top and the topic for posting listed in the correct date field. But having a calendar like this helps you plan and be organised to ensure that you are blogging consistently. Here is a link to some easy to use editorial calendar templates you can use.
4 Write your blog
Now that you know what you want to write about and how often, it is time to start writing the blog. Now I will be doing a more in-depth post just on this part but here are some key things to note and implement.
A Choose your blog format
There are many different post formats that you can choose from. You have the list post. So for example 5 ways how a blog helps your business. This blog post format is very self-explanatory because you are listing options, solutions, facts etc which forms the basis for your post. Because of the ease of understanding what a reader will get from this post format, it is proven to be very popular.
Another popular format is the How to. Once again it is very clear what a post that has this in the title is about. For example, the title of this post is How to create a winning blogging strategy. So, anyone, like you reading this post, who want to find out how to do this will find this post interesting an one to read.
The list post and the how to post are very popular and I feel are the best post formats to start with when beginning your blogging journey. But as you get more experience you can consider incorporating some of these other types into your calendar:
Checklist or cheat sheet
Expert and/or customer interview
Guest blog post
Breaking news post
B How long should your post be?
This question has been argued and debated for a long time. There are those who advocate 300 to 500 posts and being the sweet spot. On the flip side, you have people who say 1500 upwards is the only way to go.
Personally, I don’t subscribe to the view that it has to be either or. Depending on what you are writing about at the time and the audience I feel will dictate the length of any given post.
However, what we do know is that Google from an SEO and page rank does prefer more detailed in-depth posts so depending on the topic going more detailed and in-depth than what is currently published is still something you should test. For an excellent overview on this whole debate, I do urge you to read this post from Abby Olson of Snap which will give you more food for thought.
C Create a great headline
As I mentioned in my post should you blog for business success, I detailed how each and every day upwards of 2 million blog posts are published each day. That is a huge amount of content and does not include all the social media posts, video and emails that bombard people each day.
The posts that get read are the ones that have a headline to catch the eye and grab a potential readers attention and when you consider that 80% of people never go beyond the headline you can start to see how important crafting one is.
An excellent tool, that is free, that I 100% recommend is the Co-Schedule headline analyser.
What this nifty tool does is it will analyse how impactful your proposed blog post headline is and give you a score based on various word components. I recommend you only use headlines where you are getting a score of 70 or more as this moves you into the green light rating they use.
D Format your blog
When people start to write their blog they can easily forget that the majority of people will probably be reading it via a mobile device rather than on a laptop or desktop.
Therefore, breaking up your post with the proper use of headlines, sub-headlines, bullet points and paragraphs will be important.
But, nobody wants to see a wall of text either. So as part of your formatting, you should always in my view be using images to break up your posts. Sites like Pixabay and Unsplash offer excellent free imagery that you can use if you don’t have your own.
To add further engagement consider adding video. You will see above in this post that I created a video I posted on my Linkedin profile about this topic and embedded the video here. Doing this allows me to engage those visitors who like to read text, as well as those who prefer video to engage with.
Other excellent items you can add are charts and other research facts you may have pertinent to your industry and target audience that by adding to your post makes it easier for the reader to understand what you have written.
E Optimise your blog post
So, you have written a very detailed post. You have it formatted nicely and you about to hit publish. Take the finger off the mouse and move your cursor away from the publish button.
To ensure you give you post the best chance of possibly getting found on the internet you have to optimise it. Now I will be the first to say that I am not an SEO expert but of all the SEO plugins I have used in WordPress the one I trust 100% is Yoast and I would say to you that this is a must-have plugin for blogging success.
Basically what Yoast does is review your post and it will tell you what is weak and needs to be corrected from an SEO point of view. At the start of this post, we talked about keywords and their importance. For optimisation they become critical.
Yoast will ask you to choose a focus keyword that you want your post to rank for. For this blog post, my keyword is blogging strategy. So, Yoast will alert me to any areas I need to review.
For example, having your keyword in the opening paragraph of your blog post is deemed essential so if you don’t have it there Yoast will point it out to you.
Another area people fall down is not naming their images with Alt tags or alternative text. By not doing this Googles web crawlers cannot determine what the image on the page is and hence this can affect a ranking. By placing an Alt tag on each image you identify for the crawlers what the image is which allows them better understand the full content of your page.
To get a full understanding of this critical area have a read of this great article from Yoast.
F Email capture and social sharing
I am still amazed by the number of blogs I see where for one, there is no ability to subscribe to the blog if I would like to be kept up to date about new posts. And two, blogs that have no social sharing ability to allow me to share the content to my audience.
From day one you should give people to ability to subscribe to your blog. Yes be mindful to follow GDPR protocols and transparency for a subscriber but building an email list of people who value your content, promote it for you could become your next customer opportunity.
With social sharing plugins like sumo you allow people to share and give your content visibility to their audiences who in turn could become part of your audience so take every opportunity to make it easier for your content to be seen and shared.
G Promote your blog
A big mistake many people and companies make when they start blogging is they think that once they publish the post that is the end of the process. However, this is when real work begins. You have to promote the fact that you have posted something new.
So how do you this? Well, firstly if you have email subscribers send them an email that you have a new post live and link to the post. Consider emailing your customers who you feel the post would have the most benefit for.
On social media create multiple tweets that can be scheduled to post out at different times all linking back to the post. Be very mindful though of the new Twitter rules so read this excellent post so you know how to approach this without violating what Twitter has laid out.
Turn the post into a simple video that you can post on Youtube. Turn your post into a Linkedin publisher post and also repurpose it into various Linkedin groups.
H Build internal links and review old posts
For blogging going forward, it is good practice to constantly review your Google analytics to see what posts are performing well. This may give you an indication as to a topic and style of post that is proving popular that could shape your future posts.
You should also review your content to see does it need to be updated with new information and statistics.
Something that a lot of people forget to do, although if you have the Yoast plugin that I mentioned earlier, you won’t, is link back to previous posts that are related to a new post and visa versa link from an old post to a post that is related.
This is important because it allows a reader easily flow through your blog for a positive experience and it also allows Google when it crawls your site to establish a structure of what your site is about which in turn as a benefit for your SEO.
I hope you will see after reading this post that having a blogging strategy is very important to ensure you can maximise the success of your posts.
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Phillip, The Curly Marketer