By Sue Stoney, The Message Crafter
This screen capture is of a blog article I co-wrote with a senior graphics person. Posted on my website, it illustrates what I hope to enlighten you on here.
First, let’s look at some important characteristics of a good blog article:
- Grabs and keeps attention
- Gets found on the Internet
- Represents your brand professionally
- Is useful whether the reader decides to purchase or not
You know your value. What better way to get others to know you and your products and services than to write a blog showcasing what you know?
Audience and purpose are two crucial components of your story plan…
The importance of audience and purpose in writing a blog article
Who is your audience? Prospective clients? Current clients? A combination?
What is your reason for writing this article NOW? To establish your credentials? To get leads? To post on your site? Will you tease it and link to it from social media or other sites? Is it one of a series that you will link together? Will it start a dialog with clients or prospects?
Your answers will help determine the appropriate tone of voice.
Text flow, grammar, spelling and punctuation lend your authorial voice to the blog
No one likes being talked down to. People are also not fans of jargon, abbreviations and acronyms they might not know (or remember). Don’t make them feel too far out of your circle of influence – like they’re missing the secret password.
Your content can be both professional and welcoming…and must sound like you. I recommend recording it and listening for your voice.
Ask your clients what they like best about your products and services. Jot down what they say. Use their words in a search engine like Google or Bing to see who shows up in the results. Put their terminology in your content.
Recent changes to search engine dynamics have restored the importance of key words that get you found organically (not through paid ads) on the Internet.
And once people are on your site, give them ways to stay there, such as video and white paper downloads that connect to your blog content. What they do on your site will further confirm what they’re interested in.
Talk in your blog the way humans do
If key terms don’t show up in your blog, people won’t find you. But if you’re using the right words in a stilted manner that doesn’t sound like natural speech, visitors will leave your site quickly. (Search engines might even block you.)
This is “key word stuffing”. You’ve probably seen examples – the same term repeated more times than is natural in one sentence or paragraph or on a page. Word strings that sound like some computer program crammed them randomly into Standard English syntax.
Six ways to make your words count when writing for the web
- Include the article title in the URL.
- Tag your heading levels, so search engines will see them as important.
- Use key industry terms in the prominent places mentioned in 1 and 2 above. Write them into the paragraphs on your web pages.
- Group your blog posts into categories that relate to your industry.
- Make sure you have white papers, videos and other activity-driven content related to your blog.
- Tease the article on LinkedIn and other social media and in email messaging to your prospective and current client lists. Share your post or get a colleague to.
Use graphics sparingly and purposefully…
…which, if you’ve noticed, is the subject of Dan’s and my blog article.
Three ways to make efficient use of graphics in a blog article:
- Use pictures to advance the story – not to replace copy but to illustrate it. Don’t use visuals just to say you used them or because someone told you to. Content is king and pictures should support, not distract from it. Hint: Subheads count as graphics because they draw the eye and help the reader move through the text.
- Use the right format for how and where graphics are displayed.
- Interweave text and graphics. Be sure graphics are as close to the copy that talks to them as possible. Or reference the graphic in the text and, for photographs, put an action caption under them.
Make your blog article worth your reader’s time and it will be worth yours, too
- What’s in it for you: What do you want from readers? Even if your purpose is to establish your credentials, nothing says you can’t include what marketers label a call-to-action. It can be as simple as a sentence that says, “Do you or someone you know need [fill in the blank] services? Call or email me, so we can talk about how I might help you [fill in the blank].”
- What’s in it for the reader: Ensure the content of the article is something useful – irrespective of whether the reader becomes your customer or not. Three things keep readers reading:
- Make it short but not too short. (500 to 900 words is good. At the higher end of the word count, those subheads I mentioned will help readers navigate to what most interests them. Consider breaking up longer content into a series. Short sentences and paragraphs. Here’s a tip: A description of how to measure readability in Microsoft Word and Outlook is at: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/test-your-document-s-readability-HP010354286.aspx)
- Make it relevant. (Soft-sell if selling; provide useful information. People will remember you and come back or refer others.)
- Reply. (If you don’t answer people who comment on your content, you lose two opportunities: To gain clients and to learn from them.)
A “plug-and-play” model will help you focus on the content, not the format.
But if you don’t want (or don’t have time) to write your own blog articles, call me at 925.334.2632 so that we can talk about how I might be of service.