Let’s face it, blogging has changed and there are now more rules than ever. Blogging done well can be beneficial to brands, enhance SEO, provide leads and natural links; so what are the rules you need to know to ensure your blogging content is hitting all the relevant marks?
Whether you are an individual or working for a brand, blogging is a terrific way to reach new audiences, spread messages and create engagement. This year, websites with a blog found they had achieved 434% more indexed pages because an important factor of SEO is having content for search engines to crawl and index. A blog can make the difference between your messaging getting lost in the ether, or actually touching the relevant audiences that might become your converting customers.
Blogging is constantly growing as a form of content, and it is as relevant now as it ever was, maybe even more so. Here are 10 rules you need to know for successful blogging towards 2018 and beyond.
Authenticity is key
As audiences become savvier, they become hyperaware of messages that do not seem authentic, or that might have an overt marketing skew. When someone is engaging with blog content, they are looking for entertainment, information or value, not to be sold to outright. When selecting what content to blog about, make sure you aim to provide value first, and marketing traction second, or your audience will shut off. According to Hubspot, 43% of people admit to simply skimming blog posts, so connecting with them authentically should be your first port of call.
Long form is gaining traction
There was a time when best blog practice was blog posts of 500 – 700 words as a standard. This is usually fine for lots of types of content, but “longer reads” or long form content has been gaining traction for several years now. According to Kissmetrics, “Long-form content gets you more online visibility (social shares, links), more proof of your authority and industry expertise, and more material for altruistic community building and engagement.” It might not suit every type of post but long form content should be included as part of your broader blogging and content strategy.
Consider a vlog or podcast
Not a fan of the written word? You’re not alone. Statistics say that up to 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers, as not everyone engages with blocks of text as a preferred medium. Many people prefer on-the-go content, including visuals like infographics, audio-only mediums such as podcasts or easily consumable videos. Generally speaking, a solid mix of these elements might gain you the best traction but knowing your audience and how they best engage should be what guides your strategy.
Be hyper-aware of SEO
If you are blogging, one of your top 3 concerns should be ranking for SEO. Without optimising your blog posts, your ability to reach your audience will be limited and your blog will never grow. SEO is a constantly shifting and evolving metric and it (literally) pays to be on top of what’s new. This means doing your own research, following top SEO blogs and bloggers and making sure SEO is top-of-mind when it comes to creating any content at all. It sounds harsh to say but if you aren’t thinking of SEO factors when blogging, you are wasting your precious time. Get some professional SEO training if you feel you need a refresher or a quick start.
How important is social influence?
Social influence is great but it’s not the be-all and end-all when it comes to blogging. As social platforms constantly change their rules, reach, algorithms and audiences, it is imperative to remember that any audience built up on a social platform does not really belong to you, in that access to an audience is always at the whim of the platform itself. Any social media platform can (and does) change the rules without notice and give you less access to your carefully built-up audience, so it’s important to make sure you build up your own contact lists, your own audience and your own platform/s as part of your wider strategy.
Reach out to mainstream media
If you have a blog post or piece of content that you’re extremely proud of, then do some outreach. This can be done in many ways; you might want to contact other blogs to link to or amplify your content – or you might want to write or create a bespoke piece of content on the topic for a mainstream publication, pitching yourself as the expert. Further down the line, you could even consider creating an eBook or video/podcast series on any piece of content you own that has gained particular traction. Seize on your blog’s strengths.
Consider a product off the back of your blog
There are dozens of ways to monetise a blog. You can sell ad space, create lead forms, direct marketing lists, or even products. As with the point above, consider things like downloadable eBooks, subscription-based video or podcast content or even affiliate marketing arrangements. You might even want to create some sort of product that your audience needs or demands; or if you are blogging for an existing brand, your blog might be a great way to connect with your audience to identify current gaps in your product range or further saleable opportunities.
Build reputable links
Link building will help raise your website’s domain authority, or DA and allow you to rank better in search engine results pages. This means that new audiences will have an increased chance of finding your brand and blog, without a paid-only marketing approach. When you create awesome content, other websites will link to it and new audiences will share it. Check out this blogger’s guide to link building via Matter Solutions for more detailed information.
Reinvest in your blog
Any successful blog should evolve; this means pouring not just time, but money back into it. Refresh your design, clean up bad links, purchase, build or create professional images and graphics, and use paid campaigns to boost your content via social. No blog is “set and forget” – make sure you constantly look at ways of improving the look, feel, layout and UX of your blog and be aware of SEO factors such as site speed, mobile optimisation, and keyword density. This should be looked at every quarter, and any money you make should be partially reinvested into your blog as part of your ongoing strategy.
Your audience always comes first
The number one rule of successful blogging will always remain the same – without an audience, there is no point to blogging. Blogs evolve as brands do, and blogs can shift and change but knowing your audience/s will always be crucial to your success. Blogs can be a great way to start a conversation, engage with an audience and to state your authority and expertise on a subject. Consider your audience first and try to “solve their problems” by providing the answers they are seeking. Putting your audience first will always be the cornerstone to successful blogging, so make audience data tracking something you incorporate often into your content strategy.
Yvette McKenzie is Content Marketing Specialist at online educator Upskilled https://www.upskilled.edu.au/ . She is passionate about social media and content marketing, new technologies and the ever-changing digital marketing landscape.