The first time I tried to write a fully optimized blog post about inbound marketing, I was lost. Question after panicky question popped into my head: What should I write about that my audience will actually want to read? How long should the title be? What kind of keywords should I use? How many keywords is too many? Where can I find an image to use that doesn’t violate copyright? What time of day should I publish my post?
Looking back, I can clearly see that my anxiety about blogging was the result of not knowing my subject matter well enough. But over the last year of working as an inbound marketing consultant and contributing regularly to my agency’s blog, I’ve developed a five-point strategy I’d like to share with you for creating great blog posts.
#1. Write What You Know.
Nothing turns people away from a piece of writing faster than an author pretending to be an authority on a topic he or she clearly knows nothing about. Writing about topics on which you’re an expert is crucial because it helps you build trust with your audience. Think about it. Why do people Google anything online? Because they’re looking for information, and that information is only valuable when it comes from a credible authority. You wouldn’t trust your mechanic to perform open-heart surgery, would you? If you ever catch yourself trying to bullshit your way through a blog post, don’t post it. Write what you know instead.
#2. Be Compelling.
This is the number one thing we preach at CloudTactix—it all comes down to compelling content. My colleague JP touched on this in his most recent blog post. What’s compelling content? Compelling content is writing that is interesting, relevant, timely, helpful, fresh, original, and naturally linkable. Poor quality content, on the other hand, is unhelpful, incoherent, overloaded with keywords, and unreadable. When crafting quality content, start by defining your target audience, then focus on creating content that your defined audience will want to read. Ask yourself: Who’s in my audience? What will readers find most interesting, useful, and relevant about the topic and industry I’m writing about?
#3. Devil’s in the Details.
Many people think that the most important part of a blog post is the post itself—the “meat.” But the title, keywords, internal links, and metadata are hugely important. Paying attention to the small details can make a huge difference in the credibility, readability, and search authority of your posts. Here are some good rules of thumb:
• Put a keyword at the beginning of each title
• Keep titles under 75 characters when possible
• Capitalize the first letter of each main word in your title
• Choose keywords that are relevant
• Don’t crowd your post with keywords—it still needs to be readable
• Use numbers in your title – ie, “7 Rules to Blog By”
• Link to a relevant page on your own website and to a related blog post
#4. Always Phone a Friend.
When you finish writing, check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation—and then check them again. Pass your blog post to a coworker and have him or her check for errors. While this may seem excessive, keep in mind that to some readers, spelling and grammar mistakes compromise your authority as a writer. Once you’ve edited out any errors, preview your post to make sure that the formatting is correct and the copy is broken up into sections that make your post easy to skim. A bonus tip on formatting: numbered and bullet-pointed lists make outstanding blog posts!
#5. When All Else Fails, Puppies and Kittens.
Seriously, you guys.