Whether you’re new to blogging or just trying to streamline your process, there are a number of considerations you want to take into account. Improving your blogging process can help you increase traffic, establish yourself as a thought leader and get higher rankings in search results.
In the early days of the internet, blogging was as simple as publishing your thoughts onto the web. Between Google’s random ranking updates and the evolving, consumer-centric marketing world, that is no longer the case. Effective blogging and content marketing requires forethought, planning and strategizing. Let’s take a look at the six steps you can take to take your blogging efforts to the next level.
1. Define your objectives
Whether you’re a novice to marketing or a seasoned expert, you should know that every great execution is backed by a solid strategy. Every strategy is laid with specific goals in mind. Before you start blogging, you need to consider what it is you’re trying to achieve. Perhaps you want to get more traffic to your site. Or maybe you want to improve your search results for particular keywords. No matter what the reason, write it down. The best blogging strategies are built backwards from objectives.
2. Define your strategy
You have your objectives in mind, and now it’s time to start planning how you’ll meet them. If you’re blogging to rank better for certain keywords, you should make a list of those keywords and build out your topics with those in mind. Check out this Content Marketing Institute article for a good idea on how to conduct effective keyword research.
Once your keywords are established, you should begin to think about blog topics that align with those keywords. The best way to organize here is to create a content calendar. There are a number of ways to do this, but a simple spreadsheet can work wonders. Create columns for the following:
- Promotion Channels
Rows should consist of dates. From there, you can fill in your schedule accordingly. Some people like to organize content calendars by monthly themes or campaigns. Others choose to organize by product or service focus.
3. Optimize your calendar
The content calendar is a great way to get your ideas organized. Next, you’ll want to make sure your calendar is optimized. Let’s say your goal is to improve search rankings for particular keywords. You can use Google Trends to see the search trends and volume for your chosen keywords across regions and languages. This will help you get a sense for how many people are actually searching for the focus keywords you’ve selected. You can also utilize Google’s Keyword Planner, which can supply you with related keyword ideas and long-tail keywords to target.
Also optimize your blog titles. Ideally, these are no more than 60 characters long. A helpful trick is to insert an additional column in your spreadsheet, next to your title with the formula =LEN(a1) (if a1 is the cell containing your title). This formula calculates the total number of characters in your title. If you drag the formula into every cell down to the bottom of your calendar, it will auto-populate the tally every time you insert or change a title. Just like magic, you can tweak your blog titles to ensure they are the optimized, search-friendly length.
4. Start writing
Once you’ve planned a month or two of topics, keywords, and social channels on which to promote your content, you should start the writing process. Depending on your niche, this could involve some significant research. With most B2B blog writing, it makes sense to include facts, stats and figures that build the case for the story you’re telling. You’ll want to dedicate enough time to gather the insights and data you need to write a comprehensive, intelligent blog post.
Once you have the information you need, you can either dive right into drafting or outline the guts of your post. Everyone’s preferences are different when it comes to writing process, but always be sure to spell and grammar check your final product. It can also be helpful to run the copy through a plagiarism checker to ensure you’ve properly credited all sources and haven’t accidentally copied something word-for-word in your research.
5. Optimize for SEO
In order to get the most out of your blogging, you should always take on-page SEO best practices into account. WordPress plugins like Yoast can make this simple for you by providing an interface on the backend for you to address all SEO elements. If you’re not an SEO pro and you aren’t using Yoast, keep the following in mind:
- Titles should be less than 60 characters
- Include meta descriptions of about 140 characters
- If you upload images, include an ALT tag with your keyword
- Utilize tagging for page titles (H1) and headings/sub-headings (H2/H3)
- Use internal links where possible
6. Publish and promote
Congrats! You’ve completed the blogging journey and you’re ready to hit the publish button. I always like to run a last-minute spelling and grammar check to ensure that any changes I’ve logged in the editing process didn’t enter any typos or odd sentences into my finished piece. Do one final read-through to check that everything is structured in a way that makes sense, all sources are cited and your SEO is on point. Once you’re happy with the final result, go ahead and publish.
Your work doesn’t end there. Great blogs are useless if no one reads them. Be sure to promote your shiny new piece on the appropriate social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, others as appropriate). Include a question in your status updates to elicit feedback and comments on your post.
A lot more work goes into blogging than you would see on the surface. Do you have any other tips on how to improve your blogging processes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.