By Morgan International Staff Writers
“Content, content, content!” It feels like it has been a buzzword for just a few years but having a clear and defined content strategy (with useful and engaging blog posts in the mix) has been one of the cornerstones of digital marketing success for much longer, and since Google’s algorithm got smarter, content writers have had to step up their game. This is great for readers who had been drowning in boring keyword-stuffed blog posts and it is also good news for marketers, businesses and thought-leaders who actually have something to say. It is the writers of those articles that will climb the rankings, grab engagement and build an audience that comes back for more, converts into a customer or is retained as a loyal follower of your brand. But how do you write the perfect article?
Step 1: Know your audience
Before you embark on any writing, remember who you are writing for. Many marketers and agencies will begin by creating Audience Personas to give a face and a name to each audience segment. What drives your audience? What is their age group and life-stage? What problems can you help them solve? Do they have children? What is their job function?
There is a bunch of useful tools and tips on how to create these online. Check out HubSpot for their free templates or conduct your own market research by surveying your existing customers.
Step 2: Define your brand voice
Your brand voice should reflect your audience as best it can while maintaining the right level of professionalism and demonstrating your expertise. Many brands use a similar approach to the audience persona method and give their brand its own personality. This helps everyone who writes content for your brand to present a consistent tone and style to your audience and customers. Creating a guide of do’s and don’ts along with a word and phrase palette gives you a handy reference guide to go back to when you feel your writing style floundering or going a little off piste.
Step 3: Define your objectives
Why are you even writing this in the first place? Some people love to blog and some find it a challenge but nobody should be churning out content for the sake of it. What is it you want the reader to think, feel or do when they read your article? Do you want them to recognise you as an expert in your field, do you want to convince them about a product or service that you offer or do you want to build a relationship by helping them solve a problem with your sage advice and wisdom? An article without an objective is a rudderless ship and can end up being a disappointment to your reader and a big waste of time for you. By setting a clear and measurable objective, you can also track the success of your post. Did readers dwell on the page long enough to read it to the end? Did they click on the links you wanted them to click on? Did they comment below or share it?
To help you identify whether your post was successful, check your Google Analytics or any other marketing automation tools that you use for tracking. Keeping track of the successes and failures will help you hone future blog posts.
Step 4: Choose a subject- but not just any old subject!
Now you have thought about what your audience wants and needs, have a think about what problems you can solve for them or what you can write to entertain them. There are plenty of tools to check on trending topics but don’t just jump on any old bandwagon because it is popular. Make sure it is a subject where you can add value to the conversation and remember what is unique about your brand and audience.
Step 5: Research and organise the content
Opinion pieces are great, but can you beef it up with studies, research or other resources to pass along to your audience? Research might take the form of interviewing your CEO or looking at other experts on your chosen topic. Make sure you properly cite or link to external sources and include juicy quotes when you find them.
Organise the content into a structure that flows well. Are you writing a step-by-step ‘How to’ guide or recapping a recent industry event in a newspaper journalism style? Get all the ideas down in note form and push them around until you have an interesting and easy to follow progression and structure.
Step 6: WRITE
If you enjoy writing, you have probably started here before you went through the first four steps and got carried away writing your witty prose without much thought as to why you are writing in the first place. If you hate it, you will probably stop here to make the entire office a cup of coffee, tidy your desk or decide it is time to re-organise your inbox.
For the writing-averse, trust that you have now got the bulk of the work done and just start typing. Try not to get caught up in making every sentence perfect, just get tapping on the keyboard and you can tidy, trim and embellish later.
Step 7: SEO optimisation
Keywords should not be forced into your text inelegantly, nor should they be repeated unnaturally again and again. However, getting a few of those keywords into your text before your final edit will help your rankings.
Most CMS systems will have options to help you ensure you have the right keywords in your titles and anchor text. One thing to watch out for is your meta description. While it does not directly impact Google’s rankings, using the default text could mean you miss an opportunity to get a click once your page is displayed. Consider including a meta description that uses no more than 300 characters (as this is all that Google will show) and that entices the reader to click.
Step 8: Edit & Format
Read aloud, include bullets, subheaders and images to break up long-form, check it fits the objectives and brand voice, tweak your intro.
Step 9: Rework the title
This can actually take a really long time but can make a huge difference to click through rates. Here is one of my favourite bloggers explaining how he works and reworks his titles:
“How to Write A Blog Post Title
Why My Blog Post Titles Take Hours to Write
My Method of Writing Effective Blog Post Titles
How I Write Effective Blog Post Titles
Why Writing Blog Post Titles Can Take Hours
Why My Effective Titles Take Hours
How I Write Effective Post Titles (and Why it Can Take Hours)
How I Write Effective Titles (and Why it Takes Hours)”
Ramsay Taplin, The Blog Tyrant
If you are still struggling for inspiration, go to your own favourite blogs and identify what made you want to read them, why you found them helpful, how they made you feel and if they made you respond by reading more, sharing or making a purchase.
Step 10: Include a CTA
Now, what was it you were writing this blog for again? Go back to your objective, make that what you have written still aligns and then include your CTA. Do you want the reader to check out a product link? Would you like them to sign up for your newsletter or download an ebook? If you are not sure what a Call to Action could look like, here goes ours - if you want to improve your digital marketing know-how, check out our course guide today!