The „Content Marketing Report Europe 2016“ published from HubSpot and Smart Insights shows the most popular content marketing forms. The most important form is blogging (75%), followed by digital newsletters or online magazines (66%) and information-graphics (60%). The content is preferably marketed via SEO (51%) and social media platforms (Facebook 48%, Twitter 39%, and LinkedIn 34%). So it is high time to examine the blog communication again. But before that, I would like to give a little background information.
Why is blogging useful?
There are different reasons for blogging. My three most important reasons are:
- Good blog-content can directly be ranked in search engine results. This means, making your firm more well-known and to attract more user.
- Blogging is comparably easy. You just need a blog system like for example WordPress or Medium (used as blogging platform) and you can simply start – without any technical background. A blog article can be published after a few minutes – depending on the personal expectation.
- The content can be used beyond the blog itself. Blog articles can be used as information material for distribution, or to answer your client’s questions. So you are able to answer frequently arising questions and topics with an extensive but generalized answer.
Before blogging is after blogging
First off: Blogging should not be done in a few minutes. Developing a good quality blog article which is worth reading by the own target group, can easily take a few hours. Personally, I do not describe blogging with the word “writing”, because it takes a bit more than just to hit the buttons on your keyboard. Above all: persistence.
Anyone who begins blogging will quickly discover that building up range (a reader group) is not that easy. But why? Because: almost everybody starts blogging at the moment. Therefore, you have to be tough to prevail over others with especially good content. Developing this content takes time. I have learned at the “re:publika 2016” that this can easily take like 20% of your working time. And if I think about how many time I personally spend on online communication (blogging, social media etc.), I can only agree with that.
Those who get demotivated by that fact, or do not “stay on the ball” could risk their reputation. Because having a scuffed, not up-to-date blog is worse than not having a blog (the same applies to all other communication channels, especially Facebook).
You have to be aware that blogging is not only a simple kind of advertisement you can easily stop if you have lost the interest in it. You can only get profit from blogging if you are diligent and try to offer continuously good communication.
Blogging in Content Marketing
The number of blog posts to be planned during one month depends on your own resources. Important is, that even during stressful times, you should find the time for blog communication. Personally, I am – as a “one-man-communicator” in our firm – planning one blog article per month. During good times, I can manage to create three or four blog articles per month. Large communication teams of Online Shops can create up to a few blog articles per day. Important is to be able to constantly offer new and good content.
Subsequently, the selection of the topics is important. Try to choose different kind of topics. You can simply think about in which topics your clients might be interested. Or you can check on Google Trends or Google News what is currently „hot“. Furthermore, your clients and also your friends are a good source for new topics. As “non-experts” they are able to let know in what they are interested in in connection with your job.
Out of this list of possible topics you can easily generate a topic plan. I recommend sorting the topics to their seasonal relevance and priority. You should not plan every topic in your topic list – leave some of them for spontaneous posts and news. This allows you to react on changes and news in your branch. To react on news in your branch with own blog articles offers you the chance to get much more traffic (user) and thus more range for your posts.
Personally, I like to create such a topic plan for one year in advance.
„Content mise en place“
Just as a cook is preparing all the ingredients he needs – you should prepare everything that you need to create a good blog. You will need:
- Your own Blog
- Good topics
- A touch of ability
- An Analyst Tool like Google Analytics
For each blog article you should prepare the following „ingredients”:
- Al least an individual 300-words text; 600 and more words are recommended (to create the perfect SEO effect).
- At least one picture or other medium (Video, Podcast etc.).
- A touch of humor or a lot of integrity.
- A bit of time and money to spread your content as well as time for the dialogue with the readers of your blog.
As soon as you have prepared everything, you can throw everything together in the same pot and be happy about your perfect self-organization.
I would recommend you to blog in regular intervals and to review the statistics in order to check what is working good and where you can find some potential for improvement.
Furthermore, you should schedule sufficient time to promote your content in the internet. We call that “Seeding”.
To „seed your content“, you should at first hand use your usual communication channels. Send a link with your latest articles to those of your clients, who are really interested in the topic. This is – as far as I know – allowed without the approval of the client. In case you have your own newsletter for which the readers have signed up (under German Law Regulations signing up for a newsletter has to be made with the so called “Double-Opt-In-Proceeding”), then you can “seed” your article also via your newsletter.
Parallel, you tackle your firm’s presence or your blog presence in Social Media. Depending on the Social Media channel, you can write an individual message / status update and attach the link of your latest blog article.
Important note: There are actually some people that recommend PR portals as an option for “seeding your content”. I strongly recommend not using that kind of PR portals. Because most of the time you will received simply copied posts and press releases on not very relevant blogs and platforms. Other blogs and platforms can be irrelevant for your but can be more established than your blog – and these blogs and platforms can perform with your content much easier. Your content will then be ignored by Google as “duplicate content” (copy of the more established blog). Therefore: Keep your fingers away from that!
Furthermore, you can promote your latest content to gain more range. “Promoted Posts” on Facebook or platforms like Outbrain – that automatically publish your latest content in the internet – suite very well.
Additionally – and this is the supreme-discipline – I recommend to combine your content with the so called “Influencer Marketing”.
Influencer Marketing means to include influential persons like journalists, blogger, YouTuber and Instagramer into your communication. This is not very easy but really worth it if you manage to do that.
They can help you with „an enormous lever “to popularize your blog – but they do not sell their range and image for free – and not for everybody and everything. Especially in the beginning you chances to be mentioned by one of these influential persons is very low. Therefore, I recommend you the following steps:
- Follow well-known Influencers in Social Media to lean a bit more about them and in what they are interested in. You either know them from your branch and media or you can look them up on platforms like Buzzsumo. Comment on a few of their posts in a positive way or sometimes critical but constructively. With that they slowly get used to your name.
- As a next step, you have to think about what kind of topics might be interesting for the influencers. You should not only communicate in your own blog, but also try to blog as a guest author in the influencer’s blogs. Therefore, you have to contact the influencer (the best way to do that is the provided contact form or via one of the Social Media channels like Twitter) and introduce your topic with a short structure. In light of past experience, the success rate differs a lot. It is not really depending on the content, but much more on the current capacity of the influencer. But if you succeed in arousing his interest you can achieve a lot of traffic for your website and of course the influencer’s attention in you and your website.
- If you have the influencers attention and you keep in touch in a natural way (not “forced”) you can be relatively sure about having the chance to write an article as a guest author. Nevertheless, you should retry step 2 over and over again. You can also try it the other way round and offer an influencer the option to write an article as a guest author on your blog. This will bring you variety in your blog, new good content and the influencer will also achieve more attention.
Ultimately, you will need good texts for your whole communication – whether for your blog, in Social Media or emails.
…is – besides the picture – the first and most important point in every blog article. In case it is interesting, short and appealing – the user will continue reading. In order to have the title accurately reproduced in google and Social Media, it should consist of 55-70 characters maximum. Title 1 should only exist exactly one time in the text. Your article should also include further subheadings and sections to have a clear presentation.
A picture paints a thousand words. Article and preview images must attract (potential) visitors within a few (milli) seconds. So prepare for each new blog post a unique image:
Licensed stock images work in social media, but they’re rarely unique and so almost don’t have any chance to be indexed in Google: They’re rather often already indexed with their original link in the search engine and won’t be indexed again, to avoid duplicate search results and content. So, either you re arrange stock photos and graphics to completely new oeuvres, or you take your own photos and graphics. E.g. all of our title images are designed by myself. The more unique your images are and the better they suit to your contents, the more you can reach with them.
It doesn’t really matter if you set up your images in portrait or landscape format, but as most of the social networks and search engines use landscape preview images, I recommend you to use this format for your article images. Else, portrait images are better for infographics and for media, which should be positioned on Pinterest. The best aspect ration is around 2:1. I made best experience with a resolution of 1400 x 735px, as this size is the perfect size for Facebook snippets, Twitter cards and to be recognized in Google as big image size (in image search). This size is also perfect for blend-off title images.
But, please care that the main motive of your image is located in the central square. That’s important to ensure that quadratic previews don’t show less attracting information. Also care about the file size: it’s good to offer high resolution images but they should be as small as possible from their size. Last hint for images: don’t insert them as backgrounds (via css) as they can’t be shown in previews and won’t be indexed in Google and most other search engines.
The body text…
…should have a good structure and a clear presentation. One section should not be longer than the size of s smartphone display. In the internet, the argumentation often starts with the most interesting information (the knowledge) and ends with the more detailed information. This is contrary to academic papers where the most important information stands in the end.
Short sentences with easy words or explanations for specific terms make the reading easier. Try to include internal and external links to offer the reader the easy option for further information – without opening Google again.
In ideal case, the text is a bit longer and extensive. However, the approx. 1700 words which I have written so far show an exception of length. Focus on correct grammar and have someone reading your article in case you are not 100% sure. But – small mistakes even happen to the best, just like me ;-)
Search engine optimization in blogging and texting is no sorcery. Practical tools like our SEO Plugin für WordPress can help you to optimize all relevant information and even a bit more (I simply have to include some self-promotion for our tool because we are just so proud of it): our tool can help you optimizing your text word by word for search engines. The included „WDF*IDF“optimizations make it happen!
Finally: Blogging as a content marketing instrument
I love blogging and can only recommend it to everybody who loves to share its opinion in the internet. On the other hand I dissuade everybody to start blogging who thinks that it is simple and an easy thing to do. Not without reason you can get a lot of money out of it – it is really hard work.
Good luck to all motivated future or already active bloggers!