What separates a good blog from a great blog? Two words: Blog strategy.
As bloggingbecomes a top marketing priority, it’s important to note a well-thought-out blog strategy is crucial to see results and drive positive ROI. It’s no secret that audiences are hungry for valuable content. You can provide it to them and in turn, create loyal customers.
Not only have blogs proved to grow business, but blogs can also improve brand awareness and boost conversions. Consistent, relevant blogging is physical proof that you are industry experts. It also lets Google know your website is thriving, thus benefiting your SEO performance.
When it comes to successful blogging, it all starts with a strategy. Here are the steps to creating a blog strategy and getting compelling results in return:
Determine Content Clusters
Perform Keyword Research
Create a Schedule
Execute Content Creation
Let’s explore them together.
Determining Content Clusters
Also known as the pillar-and-cluster technique, content clusters are an important part of SEO that focuses on topics, rather than keywords. Think of content clusters as collections of related topics linked together about an overall topic. The topic is the center of the solar system, and the subtopics are the planets surrounding it.
Focusing on content clusters rather than specific keywords has proven to result in better performance. The way we search has changed significantly over the years. People have moved away from searching fragmented words alone and instead pose more complex questions formed in natural language.
Clusters provide long-term value because they address searchers queries in the way they look for information. While specific keyword rank can fluctuate, the overall topics may stay relatively the same. Content clusters give you the wiggle room to cover a wide-range of keywords and focus on what really will move the needle.
Content clusters also create a hierarchical structure, helping improve SEO. This layout helps Google's algorithm better understand the relationship between your website pages.
Perform Keyword Research
Although content clusters help to organize your topics, there's still value in performing keyword research. In fact, it is the fuel for your blog strategy.
Keywords help you understand what your audience wants to know, allow you to monitor your competition, and are a constant source of content ideas. As search engines become smarter and provide less visibility than they once did, failing to include popular keywords will prevent your blog post from landing a spot on the coveted first page of results.
The sweet spot for keyword research is including keywords that garner traffic, but don't have as much competition in the digital space. This makes your company stand out as you're addressing a problem that doesn't already have too many answers.
Incorporating variations of your target keywords helps to hit the opportunistic keywords while also including some of the most popular terms. This balancing act will help you reach a wide net of qualified users looking for your product or service.
For additional help with keyword research, be sure to rely on popular SEO Tools like Moz and SEMrush.
Create a Schedule
Publishing consistently will help grow your blog, but even some of the best creators struggle with the challenge of creating new content. With a realistic blogging schedule, the pressure of writing top-notch articles will be easier to maintain.
The first step to creating a blogging schedule should be to brainstorm. It's rare that a team, let alone one person, can dive head first into writing a blog that is ready to be published hours later. Delegating tasks to different team members not only sets responsibilities upfront, but it creates space for multiple creative minds to collaborate on different ideas to develop a great piece of content. Blogging doesn't always have to be a one man band!
Once you finish brainstorming, it's time to start writing the rough draft.
Set time limits and stay organized. As a marketer, it's easy to stray away from a blog in the works with mindless acts like checking our phones and emails.
Is your strategy working? Looking at analytics that cover traffic, bounce rate, conversion rate, and time spent on page are just a few of the metrics to understand how your blog is performing.
This data will guide the direction you go for your blog. When it comes to a great blog, quality trumps quantity. Clean out old posts that haven’t performed well or take time to optimize them.
Review Optimization Opportunities
Before deleting blogs from your website, take time to look over poor-performing content and optimize it, if possible. Add in relevant and new information that may not have been discovered during the time of publication. Link back to newer blogs that did not exist when it was created to bring all content together seamlessly.
Once the content is optimized, re-share blogs with relevant content on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. During the first publish, they may not have gotten the traction they could receive after a few optimizations.
If you truly feel like the blog content is no longer relevant, or has been replaced by a newer, better performing blog, delete the content. Don't forget, however, to create redirect links to make sure your site doesn't have any 404 errors.
Gain Inspiration from Successful Blog Posts
At this point, you've reviewed which blogs have room to grow. In order to know which blogs can grow, you had to identify blogs that were more successful. Reference these blogs to drive creativity for future content. Did they receive clicks? Was the content organized differently? Think through what made them successful to then understand how you can repeat successful metrics moving forward.
Think about the best blogs you have read and what drew you to them,. A successful blog will leave a reader wanting to come back because they now trust your direction. If any blogs or sites come to mind for you, find out what about their content is appealing, and adjust it to work for your site.
Execute Content Creation
Once you have a strategy, it’s time to execute. Most marketers use content calendars to plan and execute social media posts. If you are a business owner trying to do the job yourself, it's not a bad idea to create your own content calendar to keep track of when and what content is being published.
Blogging Best Practices
When getting ready to publish a blog on your website, it is a best practice to create a meta description. Always include keywords in your meta description, URL, and header because these keywords will appear in the HTML code of a web page and relay to search engines what the topic of the page is about.
Meta descriptions can be any length, but a best practice is to keep them anywhere from 150-160 characters. A descriptive URL is important, but similarly, we recommend keeping it short, sweet, and under 100 characters. This makes it easy to copy, paste, and remember in the cases where someone may have forgotten to bookmark.
Google defines length by pixels rather than characters when it comes to headers, or title tags. The width of a title tag in Google can reach up to 512 pixels. If a title tag is over this amount, it becomes shortened and includes an ellipsis. While we believe headers ought to include keywords, title tags should be conversational.
It may feel like you could write forever on some topics and struggle pumping out 100 words about another. In order to rank well, a blog must include about 500 words. Depending on your industry, some blogs will require more detail and explanation than others. Long posts are considered 1,000 words and normally rank higher than shorter blogs. The ideal blog length in 2021 is 2,500 words, as this length sees great results in ranking.
Off-page SEO refers to what you are doing off your website to improve how you rank like link building, forums, and content marketing. Off-page SEO helps Google understand how people think and feel about your business. If you have the time, make sure to incorporate off-page strategies like guest blogging into your content calendar. This helps build your site's domain authority and positively impacts SEO performance.
Work with an Agency
As business owners you wear a lot of hats, and writing blogs for your website may not be at the top of your to-do list. At Modern Driven Media, we have a team of creative professionals who (literally) write for a living and would be happy to discuss a plan and create a strategy for your blog.
Contact us to learn more about integrating a blog strategy into your marketing efforts.
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