Now that you’ve got a blueprint for getting a website and social media accounts, here is the “third heat”: strategy.
This is how to blog:
Write stuff. Publish it.
That’s it. Don’t overthink it. You’ll find your voice. Or you’ll grow til you can hire someone to find your voice. Here are some guidelines as you’re starting though:
- Title each post something inviting with a bit of description. “Surprising news you haven’t heard!” probably isn’t going to draw a lot of people to your post. “We just signed a deal with Sony!” is going to work much better.
- Keep your posts to around 500 words. 750 is okay. 1000 is stretching it. 10 is really not enough.
- Have links in and out. Put internal links (to other pages on your site) and outbound links (to other people’s sites) in every blog post.
- Don’t sweat it. Blogs are broadcasts not publications. Don’t think of it as a newsletter you have to meticulously craft. Just get it out. Too many would-be bloggers worry too much about their writing and never get anything done.
- Be human. A blog is not a product catalog. It’s good to talk about your business and link to other relevant parts of your site but don’t be dry and robotic and just recite the facts. Be a human being.
- And channeling Yoda: Blog or blog not. There is no “planning to.” I’ve had so many clients tell me about the great stuff they’re “planning” for their blog and I just roll my eyes. Don’t plan. Just write a post.
Content Strategy Commandments
- Do no harm — Don’t pull content offline without thinking of the impact to search engine ranking. Likewise, don’t add duplicate content that will confuse search engines.
- Optimize incrementally — It’s always better to make small tweaks both to content and design, rather than force huge updates through that will throw off search engines and users. Titles and content can be tweaked regularly to improve them.
- Publish regularly — search engines do like new content. The best way to ensure this is to set a schedule and stick to it. It doesn’t have to be daily but it shouldn’t be sporadic.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle — Curate your content to keep it fresh. If you have an old video that’s relevant to a new post, link it or embed it. Same with photos. Keep recycling those where you need them. Consider posts like “Flashback Friday” that talk about an old event and show off some old photos. Another way to curate is to go back through old posts and tighten up the content, media, or links.
How to write for SEO
The greatest innovation Google brought to search was to determine a website’s value not by what the page itself claimed to be but by what other sites thought of it. In other words, Google quickly destroyed the 1990s method of optimizing for search by cramming a website full of keywords, hoping that the abundance of search terms would convince a search engine that the site had good information. This is why the method of tagging the hell out of posts is irrelevant. Google isn’t looking for lists of tags or keyboards. It is actually making sense of the content on a site.
This is a great thing. The way to improve your SEO is to represent yourself truly and foster great relationships with partners and friends who will link to your site.
The basic rule in writing for SEO is to think like a reader who’s unfamiliar with your site when writing. That reader is the search engine.
Titles of posts
Give search engines the details they need to make sense of your post. It doesn’t have to be all-inclusive but it should make sense. You’re telling Google what’s on the page. Mention search terms that a user might use like “Ben Affleck” or “Warner Brothers.” Don’t just say, “New Batman Info.”
Make your titles read naturally with all this information: “Warner Brothers announces new Batman movie with Ben Affleck.”
Content of posts
The same rules apply to your post content. It should be understandable to readers without being too “insidery.” Avoid short-hand acronyms or initials that will mean something only to industry insiders but don’t mean much to a newbie or search engine.
Think of it this way, Google is a newbie to your business. Let Google know what you’re talking about.
You don’t have to sacrifice a conversational tone to make these terms more friendly but every once in a while, sneak in the definitions of the acronyms.
Links in posts
Your content should have links, external and internal. Google determines your PageRank by how many sites are linking into your site. Those are “inbound links.” You can encourage others to link to you by linking to them but that’s not necessarily going to work.
On the flip side, when you add “outbound links,” you show Google what your content relates to. So if you link to the events, the companies, the movies, or whatever it is that you’re writing about in your blog posts, you’re giving Google more context for your content. You’re also creating a richer experience for your users.
You also want to have plenty of internal links. If you mention something you’ve written before, link to that post. If you’re referring to your business’s services, link to the Services page.
Note: Adding links to your content is a great way to improve content continually. You don’t have to set aside a week of work and just link the crap out of everything. Instead, go back to older articles periodically and see what links and copy changes could improve them. This gives Google new reasons to look at those old pages and will help your search results.
In many ways, publishing schedules are arbitrary. Marketing experts can tell you what time and day posts traditionally perform better but honestly, it’s a crap shoot. It’s not even specific to industry. It’s specific to you and how your audience responds.
That said, I’m a huge fan of a publishing schedule. Set one; measure your results; change it; measure again; repeat until you’re fairly happy you’ve found the best time and day to publish posts; then stick with the schedule for a while to get your users acclimated and so you’re able to measure results over a longer time.
Once you’re publishing blog posts every week or two, you’re going to have to think about broadcasting them, sharing them on different networks. Don’t bother with sticking a Post-It on your monitor that says, “Remember to link blog on LinkedIn.” Just use Buffer.
Buffer is the secret sauce of content strategy and marketing. You connect Buffer to all your social media profiles then create scheduled times that content goes out. You’ll want to make sure the times are different across your profiles so that you’re not “spamming” people who follow you on multiple networks. For example, put a 2 hour delay between your Twitter and Facebook and a 2 hour delay between each Facebook page. So when you Buffer a blog post across all your accounts, it arrives at various times throughout the day.
This is an essential piece of content marketing: make sure you’re broadcasting your content throughout the day and through different channels.
At the time you write your post, you can schedule it for broadcast across all your accounts for the next 6 months. That way you keep up your content output and re-direct people’s attention to old posts.
There’s no reason only to do this only when you write a post, you can spend a little time each week and go back through old posts and set some buffers. There’s no need to send every post out to every network for all those times, just play around. (Buffer limits how many posts you can queue anyway.) Choose which accounts to post to (some updates should go everywhere, some only to LinkedIn).
The point is to “curate” your content and keep it relevant by re-broadcasting it periodically.
Buffer also makes it really easy to share other people’s content on your networks (and choose what content should be shared where).