The main problem with company blogs is that they often get neglected after the honeymoon period has worn off. This article is an introduction to the art of writing blog posts and using your blog to increase organic website traffic. It links to some of the best content on our blog to address specific points.
What to write about
While writing blog posts, always bear in mind the two following questions: ‘Is it interesting?’ and ‘Is it useful?’ A blog is for your readers, about their issues in their language. It is not about you and your products in your language. Don’t put a sales pitch in a blog.
- Industry news. Rather than simply rewriting a previously published article, dig out the main points and analyse them. What does it mean for the industry and the people within it? Can you analyse it in a way that will encourage debate, or in create a fresh angle that hasn’t been considered before?
- Company news. What does it mean for customers? Can you encourage them to feel happy or proud that they’ve chosen you? How can you use it to develop a personal front to your business? What photos and illustrations can you use to bring the piece to life?
- ‘How to’ articles. Provide practical help for your readers. This does depend on the industry you’re in – some may find it easier than others. Step by step guides are easiest to follow, but be aware that you may need to answer questions if people leave comments. Videos are also great for this.
- Lists and roundups. Online resources, including valuable written content, videos, podcasts, industry-specific freebies and so on are always popular. The hardest part is thinking of an original topic or a new twist on an old favourite.
- Interviews with experts. If they are very popular in your field, ask your visitors to contribute questions beforehand. Don’t be afraid to ask complex or controversial questions.
- Opinion pieces. These are a valuable way to encourage debate on your blog, but be careful you don’t alienate your readers and always stick to an industry-related topic.
For more suggestions about coming up with great ideas for your blog posts see: How to think up lead-generating blog topic ideas.
12 ways to improve your blog posts
Aim for punchy, informative and web-optimised posts. In other words, be scannable with informative subheads. These 12 tips will help you write more engaging and shareable posts:
- Prioritise information. Make your main point the first information readers see or they may never get to it.
- Highlight important information. Make key words and phrases noticeable by making the text bold. Make headings stand out.
- Remove extra words. People read less and scan more online so make sure your copy is pithy and concise.
- Speak plainly and remove jargon. Waffle, hype, jargon, long words and long sentences make it harder for people to read, remember and engage with what you say.
- Shorten paragraphs and add white space. Learn how writing and design work together. Make sure you have one paragraph per idea and a mix of text and images
- Make peace with SEO. You want to stock your website and blog with great words for the search engines. But you want to avoid SEO mistakes. Make readers a priority.
- Replace descriptions with images where you can. Stock photography is fine, but avoid using overly corporate images – you want to stand out from the crowd. Try searching photos under creative commons on Flickr or filtering out the copyrighted images on Google image search. Even better, take your own photos.
- Check grammar and spelling again. Get JetPack for your WordPress blog and switch on the proofreading tools. Take a look at Hemingway too.
- Get someone else to read it. What may make perfect sense to you might be a mystery to normal people. Peer editing makes for better posts.
- Make titles honest. The easiest way to lose a customer’s attention is to fail to deliver on a promise.
- Variety is the spice of life. Mix up the formats and length of your posts to keep it interesting. As a a general rule, most posts should be 600 words or more but rules are made to be broken. Seth Godin, for example, does very well with short, punchy posts.
- Research and links. Blogs are great because it’s easy and unobtrusive to embed a link to some source material you have used. In fact, links show you’ve really done your homework and indicates your article is worth a read.