Make your blogging and content marketing strategy the best it can be with these best practices for blogging. From setting up a calendar to optimizing your content for keywords, these tips put you on the path toward being a pro blogger.
Title and title length
You want to have a compelling blog title but you also want to make sure it plays nicely with the search engines. Try and think like a journalist and summarize and sell what the content is about. Ask what’s the most important takeaway from the post and the primary keyword phrase you’re targeting and find a way to make them work together.
You can also think like a journalist by answering the who, what, when, where, and why of your blog post and use those answers to help craft your blog title. For example:
- Who: Couples
- What: Sunset cruises
- When: Anytime
- Where: Hawaii
- Why: It’s a romantic activity
- Blog title: 3 reasons to book a romantic sunset cruise on your couples’ Hawaii getaway
Practice makes perfect and often you’ll want to write a few variations of your headline and pick the best one.
Your title length should follow the similar size guidelines that each page title has on your site, about 65 characters. You don’t want the end of the title being cut off in the search engine results and you want people to make the decision to click on your site quickly.
The internet is built on keywords. We start finding websites based on keywords and phrases that we enter into search engines. Those search engines find websites that have those specific keywords and phrases and then presents them to the searcher.
Each blog should have unique and specific terms that you’re optimizing the post for. Aim for one to three keyword terms or phrases. If your content is well-written and provides relevant information, the search engines will still rank your site higher naturally even if you’re missing out on keyword opportunities! You don’t need to cheat the system by stuffing in keywords or worse, adding unnecessary keywords that aren’t related to your business.
An example of stuffing that neither the search engines or your human visitors will appreciate:
Blog title: Top 10 family-friendly things to do in Estes Park, CO
Dreaming of the Rocky Mountains and the exciting family-friendly things to do that are waiting there? Stop dreaming and start planning with our list of 10 family-friendly things to do in Estes Park, CO! With our list of family-friendly things to do in Estes Park, you’ll be able to better plan your Estes Park, CO family vacation by finding the right family-friendly things to do for your trip. Estes Park is a great family vacation destination and with so many family-friendly things to do in and out of town, it’s easy to plan your family’s summer vacation here with things to do that are family-friendly.
Yikes. Keywords shouldn’t be overly obvious or repeated so closely together. You know keywords are working right when you read content and don’t even realize you just read the keywords as they’ve been worked in organically.
Body copy length and structure
The search engines favor long-form content, meaning more than 500 – 700 words, but many searchers won’t be thrilled to see a giant wall of text on your site.
Break up your paragraphs into smaller sections, about three to four sentences, and use headers and images to keep your visitors’ eyes moving through the page. Bullet points are another excellent way to break up your content and not overwhelm the visitor with the amount of information on the site.
A picture’s worth a thousand words and could be worth a thousand clicks to your site. Make sure each of your blog posts has at least one photo, even if it’s just a header photo. The more visual your content, the more people engage with it and the more likely they are to share it on their social media channels for you.
Before even putting your fingers to your keyboard to write out a blog post, you need to decide on a blogging schedule.
Be realistic! It sounds great to think that you could publish two posts per week to really churn out fresh content, but is that realistic? Is that schedule feasible year-round? Start small and work your way up. Maybe you’re only publishing one post a month but that’s more than you were before!
Once you’ve set up your schedule, it’s time to plan out your content. Creating a content calendar, or editorial calendar, takes some upfront work but saves you time later as your blog topics are already written down. You can create a calendar in an Excel spreadsheet or a Google Sheet and add some basic details like:
- The publish date
- The blog title or topic
- Potential keywords you want to target
- Any images you want to use or ones you need to take
- And any CTA you want to work in at the end
With your CTA, it’s important to keep in mind that this should be a soft sell. Your blog is not meant to be fully self-promotional and only talk about any deals or special offers you have, but to provide relevant and useful information. If you are offering a discount on your tours or offerings, you can add that in as your closing to encourage online bookings. Otherwise, your closing should encourage visitors to check out other posts or pages of your site or perhaps you want to invite them to share their thoughts on your blog on your social media pages.
You just wrote a great blog post so don’t let it just sit on your website hoping people find it! Share it on your social media channels and share links to it in your email marketing campaigns.
Encourage people to subscribe to your blog so they’ll get email notifications when you publish a new post.
Now that you’ve written this great post and are ready to share it, make sure you’re tracking it to see how it performs on different channels. Google URL Builder is an excellent tool to track your links and syncs perfectly with Google Analytics.
You’ll still get great data in Google Analytics without using the URL builder, but it makes it a lot easier to quickly see how each blog post is performing and which channel it’s performing best on.
Fill out the right boxes and copy that link with all the Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters and use that to share across your networks. UTM parameters show which channels and campaigns are referring the most traffic back to your site and attributes those website visits to the right referrer. You’ve probably seen it before without realizing it. For example, you click on a link on Facebook and land on a page that has a URL like this:
By using the campaign name or campaign content fields, you can easily segment your website traffic by that campaign to see how well the post is doing across different channels, like social or email. At the very least, you’ll need to include a website URL and source to track.