The prominence of blogging in 2017 is incontestable. We recently dissected some of the latest digital marketing stats to discover that 60% of marketers consider blogging their number-one priority, while 72% attribute relevant content as their most effective SEO technique.
However, with huge volumes of competition to battle and profitable niches already highly saturated, making your blog stand out requires strategic thinking.
Think of your blog as a value provider rather than another platform to spruik your brand
Many businesses still fall into the trap of thinking their blog is just an extension of their website. Sure, this might be where it lives, but creating content for blogs is a different world to creating content for website pages. It’s important to recognise the delineation between websites and blogs:
- Content is much more static;
- Communication is planted on advertising products or services;
- Core sales funnel for most businesses these days.
- Content is regularly updated and built upon;
- Focus is on providing real, tangible value to the reader;
- Goal is to engage with consumers and position your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
This is all well and good, but how exactly do you create a value-driven blog? Well, there are four key quadrants to consider when structuring your content, each one serving a specific function for your readers:
1. Entertain: Employ humour, creative language and storytelling techniques targeted towards your demographic.
2. Educate: Impart knowledge onto your readers with the likes of how-to posts, statistical data and newsworthy information related to your industry.
3. Inspire: Provide your readers ideas on how they can enhance their lives (this is particularly idyllic for creative niches).
4. Convince: Beef up your blog with authoritative content that demonstrates you lead the way in your industry.
Each time you go to write a new blog post, consider which quadrant your chosen topic falls into. This will help you compose your content accordingly and channel the appropriate streams.
Write for a digital audience
The introduction of technology has seen our attention spans dwindle over the years. These days, millennials typically engage with three screens at a time, while Gen-Zs are privy to five: a smartphone, a TV, a laptop, a desktop and a tablet. This inevitably means that we tend to graze on information – in fact, some studies have indicated that our attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to eight seconds since the year 2000. That’s less than a goldfish.
It’s created the need for digital marketers to respond accordingly. Online consumers are a skimmable bunch, which means you need to write blogs that are easy to scan and absorb. Images and infographics help retain attention and convey information, while sub-headings, bullet points and numbered lists break big blocks of text into reader-friendly, bite-sized chunks.
Spend time on your headlines
Your headline for each blog post plays a big part in determining whether a reader will click on your article or not. As such, the language you choose here should be well thought-through. One good strategy is to include numbers – specific and concrete facts help form pictures in the reader’s mind, intriguing him or her to want to find out more. Furthermore, the presence of figures implies research, which adds solid credibility to your brand.
Another key component many bloggers spend hours agonising over is the perfect length of their headline. Usability research has shown that online readers don’t just scan the body of the content, but the headline as well. While there is no general rule of thumb to employ when it comes to figuring out the ideal length of a headline (some of the highest-converting headlines have been 30 words), studies have shown that readers are inclined to take in the first three and last three words of a headline. Hence, the core takeaway here is to simply make every word count – especially the first and last three.
One final point to touch on when writing your headlines is to create a sense of immediacy. This won’t always be doable, but when it is, it nudges readers to pore over your latest post right away rather than save the tab for later. After all, your own experience probably tells you that if you don’t read an article then and there, there’s a very slim chance you’ll read it at all. Inflaming that sense of immediacy begins by focussing on desires and emotional appeal rather than a reader’s needs. Paradoxes, implied dangers or rewards, and even simple questions can be great trigger-worthy headlines.
Employ SEO tactics to ensure you’re getting noticed
While blogs are of course, designed to pique your consumers’ interests, they’ll fade away into SERP irrelevancy if they aren’t optimised for search engines. The latest SEO trends indicate that bloggers should employ the following tactics if they want to ensure their posts crop up on the first page of Google:
- Include keywords. This doesn’t mean cramming them in, but simply scattering them naturally. Keywords ensure your blog post features higher on Google’s search engine results pages for your chosen topic.
- Be exhaustive. It’s becoming more and more common for online consumers to choose longer-form blog posts over shorter ones. After all, the idea is to offer readers valuable information that can truly benefit their pursuit of knowledge.
- Regularly update your content. Tending to your blog every once in a blue moon is inherently bad practice. Blogs should remain fresh, particularly given the fact that information is perpetually evolving. When you update your content, search engine spiders can reindex your page, meaning your blog has a chance of ranking at a higher position.
Blogging isn’t just a flimsy marketing tool to add on to your current campaign; it is increasingly becoming a bedrock for your business success. Churning out frequent and thoroughly-considered blog posts is a key way to attract new customers, retain existing ones and ultimately, build a loyal fan base. When you can prove to your customers that they can actively place their trust in your brand, you have a much better chance of clinching leads and growing your business.