Blogs are one of the most powerful weapons in your content marketing arsenal. A blog draws targeted traffic to your website, keeps your readers informed, and allows you to engage directly with your clients. Blogging also draws the attention of search engine “bots,” and gives your website a framework of evolving, keyword-rich content. Content creation was ranked as the single most effective tactic in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and according to research performed by the Search Engine Journal, a website that regularly adds blog articles has 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links than one that doesn’t. But like any tool, a blog is only as good as its craftsmanship, and knowing what goes into making a great blog post can be even more important than making one in the first place.
Before you add a blog to your business website, there are a lot of questions you should ask yourself: How often will you be blogging? (Once a week is usually optimal, 2-3 times a month should be the minimum.) Will your blog be easy to find? (It should be featured prominently on your home page and linked from other key pages on your site.) How will readers interact with your blog? (You should invite readers to comment or share your blog posts with others via social media. An RSS feed for your blog will also make it easier for readers to follow.) How will your blog posts be categorized? (Consistent use of labels and tags help make it easy for readers to find content, and encourage them to browse your blog.)
Once you’re ready to start your blog, it’s time to think about what goes into making a blog post stand out from the crowd. A poorly-written blog can be worse than no blog at all, as it can negatively impact your brand and curtail your ability to draw business prospects. So what makes a blog post great? There are a lot of factors, many of which we’ll address in the second part of this article, but there are three that really stand out: Audience, Message, and Voice.
Audience: Who do you expect to be reading your blog? Who are you trying to reach? Identifying your audience will help you to know how to tailor your writing to them, how to engage with them, what topics are going to be of interest, etc.
Message: What are you trying to say? The message is the meat of your blog post; it’s the entire point that you’re trying to get across. It doesn’t do any good to write beautifully if you don’t know what you’re trying to say. The message is more than just the topic of your post and the keywords that you’re going to use—though it’s that, too—it’s the actual content itself. Without the message, a blog post is just a bunch of words sitting on a computer screen.
Voice: How are you going to say it? Voice is maybe the most elusive of all the qualities that make up a good blog post, or good writing in general. It’s easy to look at content creation as a kind of mathematical equation. You update X often, you use Y keywords, and you get Z page views in return. But readers are savvy and demanding creatures, and just mechanically updating a website with dry data will never produce the kind of investment in your brand that you want visitors to your website to feel. In order to draw them in, you have to know how to write to them. You have to speak their language. You have to approach things from a perspective that they can understand. Voice is all of this. It’s natural, engaging language. It’s choice of vocabulary. It’s tone and perspective. It’s everything that transforms writing from a string of words to something that communicates thoughts, ideas, and feelings.
Who are you trying to reach? What are you trying to say? How are you going to say it? Maybe the three most important questions to answer in order to write a great blog post. But even they are only the beginning. Next time, we’ll talk about all the other things that go into making an effective and memorable blog post, in Part 2 of the Anatomy of a Great Blog Post series.
by Orrin S.