Getting Over the Inertia and Creating Regular Posts
by Scott Kasun
One of the reasons we have (reluctantly) been creating more and more sites in WordPress is thanks to its core capability: blogging. Most people don’t realize (or remember) that WordPress started as a blogging platform before the world’s developers morphed it into the most popular site builder, and its blogging engine is still one of the best. But in this day and age, with a bazillion social media outlets, is blogging even relevant?
Short answer: an emphatic YES.
Why You Should Be Blogging
Creating regular posts takes real work, but when done correctly, that work can pay off in spades. The problem is that most people aren’t even sure why they need to blog, other than rounding out their blog page and making sure it doesn’t look abandoned.
Those people aren’t wrong; an abandoned blog does look foreboding to your site visitors. But it’s also a huge missed opportunity – specifically, in the eyes of our good friend Google. Put another way, blog posts are a big part of any SEO campaign that we do for our clients. Why so important? Oh, let me count the ways.
- Fresh content
Google loves it. All things being equal, if you have two sites with almost identical information, and one has more recent content, guess which one gets the nod? It can be difficult to add content to service pages, product pages, about pages, etc. But blogs can cover any topic and can go into depth on subjects that aren’t appropriate elsewhere on your site.
- Target long-tail and niche phrases
If you haven’t spent time looking at Search Console, you’re missing out on some prime intel. You’ll be surprised at some of the innovative phrases that people use to find your site, and some of them will even provide high-quality traffic. Let’s say you offer training courses for the CPA exam. There’s a ton of variations on that search term (CPA exam training, CPA exam courses, CPA exam training online, etc.) but a quick look in Search Console might reveal extremely descriptive searches like “how can I prepare for the CPA exam” and “help to pass the CPA exam on the first try.” It would be tough to target those phrases in a campaign, but heck, those both look like titles of blog articles to me.
- Get those extra words into your site
There’s much debate (especially recently) regarding the number of words that need to be on each page in order for the search engines to pay attention. While the actual number of words is argued, all agree that the more, the better. Blogs give you the opportunity to expound on your target subject, further emphasizing to Google that you truly are an authority in that area.
- Answer user questions
We spend a lot of time reviewing our clients’ sites – particularly top content pages. We regularly see FAQ pages and blog articles among the most visited pages. When it comes to information, we live in a very “do it yourself” world. People want to do their research and find info themselves; heaven forbid they should pick up a phone and call. And if they don’t find what they’re looking for on your site, they’ll find it elsewhere – possibly on your competitor’s site. Use your blog to answer those common questions and misconceptions.
- Support your social media presence
Blogs work hand in hand with powerful social media profiles. If you’ve already spent time and energy building a following, you already have an embedded audience for your article.
- The Holy Grail: Google Answer Boxes
You’ve seen them – the “People also ask” questions that pop up in the Google results. Those little guys lead to a TON of traffic. Write a great article with a question for a title, and there’s a chance Google could pick it up and feature it. We are working on this right now, with our Is Google My Business Worth It? post, and it’s jumped in and out as an answer box.
But What The Heck Am I Supposed To Write About?
Ah, the biggest stumbling block. After the low-hanging fruit articles that make up your first 2-3 posts, most people struggle with where to go next. Topics can be difficult to come by, and people always agonize over creating something that users will actually want to read.
Well, keep in mind that, quite often, you aren’t writing for people. You’re writing for search engines. It’s sad but true, and it falls into the “necessary evil” category. A healthy site needs fresh content, and for all the reasons detailed above, blogs fit the bill.
The reality is that most people have plenty of topics to write about; they just don’t see the forest for the trees. We get so caught up being experts in what we do that it can be hard to pull back and see your own business from the customer’s point of view. Make a fresh start – try taking a look at your website through a first-time visitor’s eyes. What questions would you have? What information would you need in order to feel comfortable making contact?
Go a step further, and review your customer feedback. What questions are being commonly fielded during phone calls? What questions are people emailing or asking via your contact form? Check out your competition’s sites; what information are they providing that you are not?
You can also approach it from an SEO standpoint. When we shifted our focus from simply web development to the more encompassing digital marketing, one of the first things we did was to write blog articles. Heck – we gave ourselves a plug right there!
TL;DR – Give Me Ideas!
On it. Need some inspiration? Here we go:
- People love lists – especially numbered lists.
“Top 10 Reasons You Should Hire a Pro To Do Your ________”. Know what they love even more? Reading about people making mistakes. Try something along the lines of “Top 8 Mistakes People Make When Buying A _______”. General lists are great, like a list of the Top Web Design Companies.
- Demystify a stereotype.
Is there something in your industry that gets a bad rap? Perfect fodder for a blog article with a compelling title. “The TRUTH About ________, From An Industry Expert” or “The Untold Story About _______ That Will Surprise You”.
- Real-world input.
As mentioned above, use the input from your clients and customers. “Our Experts Answer The Most Common Questions” – boom.
- Introduce a new service or product.
That’s a no-brainer, and a perfect blog article, especially from an SEO standpoint.
- Human interest stories.
Careful with this one. We’ve all seen blogs that are filled with nothing more than employee spotlights, company awards and milestones. That comes across as way too self-serving. Now, having said that, an interesting post about a charity endeavor, significant event or other happening can serve to “humanize” your company. Users want to know they are working with actual human beings, but don’t overdo it.
- Create a series.
Do you have a complicated process, or do something that requires more than a 30-second elevator speech? Break it down into a series of articles. Not only does this give you all the space you need to better explain what you do, but you now have your next 5 or 6 article topics!
- Pull back the curtain.
Users love “insider” information. Take this blog article as an example. Yes, we write blogs for our clients, but we also recognize that there are others out there who have the time, acumen and talent to do it themselves. We don’t have a problem coaching people up and helping out.
- Articles that help explain your particular stance.
Is there something you do that is slightly counter to others in your industry? A company policy that helps you stand out? Some other differentiator? A blog is the perfect place to expound on that, and you can even link to it when you are corresponding with prospects. Example: We don’t use premade themes when we build WordPress sites, which we explain in our article, WordPress: Should I Buy a Theme or Have One Custom Built?. We use this article all the time when people ask about that policy.
- Industry trends and issues.
This is your chance to flex your muscles and answer questions at the same time. Matt Wienke, founder of Infoverity, just posted a link to this article on LinkedIn (which actually served as the inspiration for this post; thanks, Matt): 6 Common Causes of Slow MDM Performance. I won’t pretend to know what it means, but it certainly helps to promote their position as a leader in their industry.
- Document a difficult event – or even a failure.
This can be tricky, but when done correctly, it can help your audience to connect with you and your firm. Write an article about something that happened – a difficult client, a project that didn’t go as planned – and be brutal about what/how things went wrong, and how your company became better for it.
OK, folks – there it is, plenty of ideas to pack your blog chock full of great material. Still sound daunting? Well (you all saw this coming), keep in mind that we can help, whether it’s simply to assist with editing and making your articles SEO powerhouses, or doing all the writing for you. Hit us up, we’re happy to help!
Scott Kasun started ForeFront Web in 2001 and specializes in strategy, design and UI/UX. He still likes to dabble in programming, and our actual developers have locked him out of more websites than we can count. You can follow him on Twitter @scottkasun.