Blogging includes two parts: writing original blog content and then engaging in a two-way conversation with readers about it. Many of our technology marketing clients who have undertook a blogging initiative (or are weighing the decision) wonder about the day-to-day tactics of staying on top of it.
Assuming you already have a blog in place – you’ve done the initial keyword discovery and objective setting, policy creation, design and technical configuration – below are some tactical tips to help you be a successful blogger day-in, day-out:
- Know Your Policies: Before you set off to author new blog content, familiarize yourself with your corporate policies. Know what you can and can’t write about.
- Build and Follow an Editorial Calendar: Plotting out a rolling window of topics two to four weeks in advance will help you avoid “running dry” of ideas. In addition to your own original content, popular story ideas include:
i.) How To’s
v.) Case studies
vi.) Research results
vii.) What’s New, trends
viii.) Ask the audience/surveys
- Keep Drafts: Writing articles progressively can help you successfully stay on top of your schedule. Instead of sitting down to write everything at once, start a rough draft when inspiration strikes. Then go back and refine it later over the space of a few days.
- Write Interesting Titles: Intriguing titles go a long way. But be sure to convey some element of what the article is actually about. Avoid meaningless, whimsical titles like “Random Thoughts.” You may think it’s funny or appropriate, but it’s safe to assume no readers or search engines will.
- Use Target Keywords: As much as possible, use your top keywords in:
i.) The post title
ii.) Hyperlinks pointing to older posts or company web pages in the post body
iii.) Tags used to describe the post subject matter
iv.) Body copy. Ideal keyword density is 7-10% of total length. (i.e, if your blog is 300 words long, you should use target keywords 20-30 times, ideally.)
- Include Images: Including an image (or images) is recommended when appropriate. Use your keywords in the image ALT tags when possible. Be sure you have rights to use an image (i.e. just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s fair game.)
- Insert Links: Link to other blogs and/or to previous posts of your own (using keywords for links to posts of your own when possible.)
- Not Too Long or Short: Good average blog length is 300-500 words. Longer posts are okay, but don’t feel compelled to always write a novel.
- Be Authentic in Your Language: Blogging values a human element; don’t be afraid to write conversationally when and where appropriate. Avoid sounding like a press release.
- Write for Scannability: Blog readers scan articles from top down and left to right (“the F-pattern.”) As such, make sure you grab readers from the first sentence and then use meaningful subheads to allow readers to quickly scan.
- Spell Check: The occasional typo in a blog isn’t the end of the world. It can actually make you appear more human. A quick spell check is always advisable, though.
- Apply Categories and Tags: Following a purposeful categorization and tagging scheme will help direct readers to content and give your blog keyword-appropriate visibility.
- Submitting for Approval: If internal procedures mandate, run your blog post by appropriate parties for approval. Otherwise, having someone quickly review for typos and grammar is a good thing.
- Write Regularly, Post Often: It will take time for your blog to become known in the blogosphere. You should post 3-5 times a week at minimum. Erratic and infrequent posting loses readers.
- On Your Blog: Be sure to comment on others’ comments in your own blog. This will grow the conversation and add more value to your posts. Be sure to do so frequently to keep people engaged – don’t leave commenters hanging.
- On Other Blogs: Make your comments thoughtful, beginning often by referencing what stood out to you in the post or in another’s comments. Strive to include a valuable take-away for anyone else reading your comments
- Stay On Top of It: No hard rule regarding frequency, but remember conversations are easier to join than start. Commenting on a few of the same blogs weekly often can establish a relationship with the blogger and their audience.
- Link to Your Blog and Others: If you are linking to content of your own, be sure it relevantly addresses the topic at hand. Consider including links to other blogs. Linking to your own content in a comment is better received when the blogger recognizes you have commented earlier. Above all, you’re here to share valuable content, whether it’s yours or someone else’s.
- No Spamming: Avoid overloading your comments with your own links. The spirit of social media is about sharing valuable content, not about forcing a sale. Be judicious as to what self-generated content you share and when.
- Get to Know Your Readers. Treat your blog readers like friends. Speak courteously, professionally and personably. Respect the opinions of others – even when they don’t agree with you.
- Give Your Blog Legs: Announce new blog posts on other social networks (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter). Set up RSS feeds to your social networks so that sharing happens automatically. Be sure to monitor and participate in the unique comment threads that occur within closed social networks.
- Monitor Your Blogs’ Travels: There are myriad free and paid social monitoring tools that can help you monitor where your blogs get linked. A good free tool is BlogPulse’s Conversation Tracker (http://blogpulse.com/conversation)