Blogging is an extremely effective aspect of content marketing — if you’re doing it correctly. It can attract readers and help convert them into clients by building trust and positioning your company as a leader in your industry. But to spend time — let’s face it, spare time you don’t have — simply sitting down to write a blog post about interior design or architecture isn’t enough. You run the risk of nobody finding it, reading it and engaging with your business, and that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Get readers to visit pages on your website beyond the blog post and eventually contact you about a project.
Following is a definitive guide to writing blog posts that, as part of your overall content marketing strategy, will attract readers and help them convert.
Let’s be clear, first, by defining a conversion from a blog post. This is someone acting on a strong call-to-action within the post or clicking a link to another blog post or web page. Someone contacting you directly is a conversion, too, so it’s not a bad idea to offer the reader an opportunity to do so by inserting a form at the end of your post.
Lastly, it’s important to understand that many — if not most — people reading your blog are not quite ready to hire you. They are in the discovery (or research) phase of the buying process. However, if you build trust by giving them great content, you will be at the top of their list when they are ready to purchase.
So, let’s get started working on a blog post to beat all blog posts!
Write a Blog Post Full of Great Content
First and foremost, you have to write content readers will want to read. It needs to answer questions. When a buyer is in the discovery phase, they have acknowledged they have a problem with their home and they are looking for a way to fix it. So, begin by thinking about your past experiences. When someone has come to you to redesign their master bath, what was the root problem they were trying to solve? Maybe the bathroom was not pretty and peaceful. Maybe it wasn’t large enough. Maybe they didn’t have one at all. With each of these scenarios, what questions are they asking: How can I get a beautiful, relaxing retreat out of this bathroom with a pink tub and shiny brass fixtures? The answer to that question is your blog post topic: Turn Your Dated Bath into a Relaxing Retreat. Boom!
Once you’ve chosen your topic, just write until your heart is content (or until you’ve answered the question and solved the problem). It’s good to shoot for 1000 or more words. Don’t worry about keywords at this point, you can go back and edit those in later. Just write.
Keywords Still Count
OK, you’ve written your great content. Now it’s time to think about keywords to help the post get into readers’ search results. In many cases, your writing will naturally include keywords. However, use the Google Keyword Planner to research these, and keep your focus on long-tail keywords in the content. Google has become quite sophisticated in understanding reader intent — so much so that you no longer need an exact keyword match to show up in results. “What’s the point?” you’re asking. The point is: It’s great to use relevant keywords in a natural way when answering readers’ questions. End of story.
What the Heck is a Title Tag?
Page titles, h1 tags and meta descriptions remain important for SEO purposes, but the important thing to remember is that you don’t want to stuff keywords in these places just for the sake of keywords. The language needs to be natural, and titles and meta descriptions have to tell the reader what your post is about.
So, what are title tags and h1 tags? For starters, they are technically not the same. However, I find so many people using WordPress themes that automatically convert the page title to an h1 tag, so I’m going to call this a title tag since it comes from the title of your post. This tag is what appears in blue text in Google search results. It’s important to use your keyword in the title unless there is absolutely no way of doing it while still having a natural-sounding, interesting title. Since this should never happen, I wouldn’t worry about it.
Maximize Your Meta Description
Meta descriptions. It’s really important to get these babies right. The meta description is what you see in green right under the title tag in search results. It’s the one, quick, 160-character chance you get to entice readers to click through to read your post. The title tag let’s them know your post is about the topic they are searching; the meta description gives them a reason to read on.
When you create a post, WordPress will automatically create a meta description using the first 160 characters (give or take) of the post. Where the introduction to your post should be very strong, I recommend creating a custom meta description whenever possible to give you the opportunity to either summarize the post or to create a little drama that leaves the reader dying to know what comes next. Be sure you have keywords in the meta description, but you don’t have to have a specific phrase. Remember how I told you that Google is getting so smart?
One thing you never want to do is write something misleading. If you “trick” a reader into clicking, three things will happen: 1) They will not trust you; 2) They will not click on any of your posts again; 3) The will leave your blog immediately without exploring any of your other content. And, as you probably know, that’s a bounce. And a high bounce rate is not a good thing for your site to have.
A last note about custom meta tags: If you and your audience frequently share your posts on social media (which you should always do!), most social sites pull that meta description, too.
Get Your Readers to Take Action!
Okay, so you’ve written great content. You’ve sprinkled it with appropriate and natural-sounding keywords. You’ve created an awesome title and enticing meta description, and readers are flocking to your blog. Now what?
You have to give them something more to do.
Use internal linking and anchor text to drive traffic to other blog posts or pages on your website. How do you do that? Let’s say in a post about custom kitchen design, you have a sentence (or two or six) about lighting. And you also have a past post about the three basic types of lighting. In the new post, you want to link to the previous post so readers can easily dig deeper into your content. Now, you don’t want to just link the phrase “lighting design” to the older post. To boost reader confidence, you want to use anchor text that gives a bit more explanation about what they will read on the other end of the link.
Here’s an example:
New blog post text: It’s important when redesigning your kitchen, to include the three basic types of lighting: ambient, task and accent.
Anchor text: three basic types of lighting: ambient, task and accent.
There are many schools of thought on how many links should be included in a blog post. Google Guru, Matt Cutts, doesn’t even share a specific number. Instead, he leaves it up to us to decide what an “appropriate number” of links is for one post. Is it one for every 50 words or one for every 1000 words? My hunch is that it’s somewhere in between. (I’m non-committal like Mr. Cutts on this one.) When an opportunity naturally arises within your content to link to other great content using a well-crafted anchor text phrase, go for it! Just don’t force it.
Capture Your Readers’ Contact Information
This is what we want most, right? Get readers to your site and capture their contact information so you can continue to market to them. News flash: They are not going to give you information unless you ask for it. There are many ways to do this, but a couple of common ones are asking them to fill out a form to speak with you about the project they have in mind or offering them a valuable piece of content in exchange for the information. Valuable gated content is a highly effective way to capture new leads — put it into your content marketing strategy right now. When creating a call-to-action to drive readers to that gated content, make it bold. A custom-designed CTA button lets readers know “this is something different.” Call in your graphic designer or, if you’re handy with the software, do it yourself, then link the button to a landing page with a form and an image of the content the visitor will receive. Read more about how to generate leads using gated content.
And remember … when you ask for their contact information and they give it to you, they want you to contact them. So do it right away!
If you’re not a marketing DIY-er or this seems like more than you have time to tackle, h3mediaworks can help you run an effective content marketing strategy to build your business. Check out our Quick Start Marketing Packages to see what’s right for your business, or simply fill out the form below to start the conversation.