Fame Foundry - A Charlotte Website Design and Marketing Firm

Monday, 1st July, 2013 | By Jeremy Girard | Category: Website Design and Development

Insider Secrets to Killer Website Content: 7 Steps to Building a Better Blog

better-blog-article

As important as good website design is, let’s face it, it’s not what brings visitors to your site. They come for the content, and if that content is sufficiently compelling, then they’ll take the action you desire, whether that’s making a purchase, completing a registration form or even just picking up the phone to contact you for more information. In short, the success of your website begins and ends with quality content.

That’s why in this series of articles – Insider Secrets to Killer Website Content – we’re taking a look at types of content that are common to many websites and exploring ways that they can be redesigned and improved. So far, we’ve covered customer testimonials and “About Us” pages. In this third installment of the series, we tackle the ever-popular but often poorly executed business blog.

The promise of blog content has always been the ability to easily add fresh content to your website on a regular basis. In practice, however, that’s not quite as easy as it sounds.

While the tools available to us today allow blogsto be updated very easily, authoring content that is relevant and unique is a much greater challenge – one that proves to be the downfall of many a blog.

The challenges of maintaining and sustaining a blog

Every new blog is launched with the loftiest of goals and expectations. Plans are laid to write articles chock-full of insight on the latest industry trends, and anticipation is high for the proliferation of inbound links to come along with the resulting boost in search engine rankings.

The road to realizing those dreams starts with quality content, but being able to produce that content on a regular basis is where the rubber meets the road – which often proves to be a much greater obstacle than many realize when they initially decide to launch a blog.

At the outset of blogging, enthusiasm is high and ideas flow like honey. But all too often, after a few months or even weeks, the content begins to falter. The frequency between updates grows, and the quality wanes as articles begin to read more like standard press releases or company news updates.

For any blog to succeed, it must have regularly published content that is timely and relevant. If you can also make that content unique, then you have achieved the trifecta of excellent blog content.

So how do you ensure that the enthusiasm and quality that you have at launch can be sustained past the first handful of posts? Here are seven steps to turn your blog into a powerful traffic-boosting, sales-generating machine:

1. Answer questions you are being asked.

Every writer’s biggest challenge is coming up with a topic – and blogging is no different.

Staring at a blank screen and trying to get started on a new article is a daunting task indeed. But one way you can generate some topic ideas is to think about questions that often come up in your day-to-day conversations with your customers.

Whenever I begin brainstorming ideas for a new article, I start by reflecting on these conversations. Typically, I can identify a few topics that I’ve recently been asked about, and I can also recall the answers I gave and the discussion that ensued. More often than not, these provide the perfect foundation for a new article.

By coming up with a list of common client questions, you’ll provide yourself with excellent potential blog topics. Better yet, you’ll also create content that people are actually interested in and actively looking for – because you can bet that if these questions are being asked of you, then there are others out there who are looking for those same answers too.

2. Write about what others are not writing about.

Answering common questions is a great start, but you can really take your blog to the next level if the articles you publish – and the answers you provide – are unique.

Think about your own experiences in searching for answers online. If you search for a topic and find very few relevant articles addressing that topic, then that article – and its source – become gold to you. If it’s a really great article that does indeed answer your questions, you will tell others about it via social media or by posting links on message boards and forums where you are an active participant. A unique article succeeds because it addresses a topic that no one else effectively has.

The value of an article with little competition increases exponentially. So anytime you’re brainstorming new blog content topics, be sure to do a search for articles that may be similar in nature. If you do find similar content, make sure yours offers a different perspective or creative spin. If you do not find similar articles, this is your golden opportunity to publish something truly unique.

3. Keep to a schedule and plan ahead.

A schedule is critical when it comes to sustaining your blog over the long term. The frequency with which you update your blog with new content – whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly – will be different depending the nature of your industry and your audience. However, sticking to that schedule is what’s important, because it is all too easy to miss a deadline and brush it off as no big deal. But once you miss one deadline, it’s that much easier to miss another and another and another – until the gap between articles becomes substantial, and getting back on track becomes a grueling uphill battle.

One way to ensure that you keep to a schedule is to plan ahead, and planning ahead starts with ideas. If you dedicate time for you and your team to brainstorm article topics (whether individually or in a group session), you’ll inevitably find that one great idea leads to another and another.

When you have a handful of great article concepts to work on, it’s often tempting to publish these articles in quick succession. However, it’s important to avoid this temptation. Instead, make the most of your brainstorming momentum and plan out exactly when each of these articles will be published based on a regular, sustainable rhythm.

By having a handful of quality articles in queue, you can more easily keep to your schedule. And, of course, while you are waiting to publish those new articles, you can brainstorm new ideas and write those articles so that you always have fresh content at the ready.

Maintaining a schedule helps ensure that you do not publish new articles either too infrequently or too frequently but instead maintain a steady stream of quality content so that your readers know when to expect new articles and remain engaged with your blog.

4. Keep it short and sweet.

One concern I often hear voiced when I speak with clients about blogging is that they fear they will not be able to maintain a regular rhythm of publishing because of the time it takes to do so.

Yes, writing blog content takes time, but if you’re doing it right, it’s not as much as you might think. Blog articles do not need to be lengthy to be effective. In fact, short articles that are very sharply focused and easy to read are often the most effective and popular articles you can write.

By keeping articles short in length but high in quality, you can publish great content with much less of a demand on resources than you may have initially expected while still realizing the value that fresh blog content brings to your site.

5. Enlist help.

Another way to minimize the time impact of creating new blog content is to spread the workload around. If only one individual in your organization is tasked with authoring articles for your blog, then the entire burden of maintaining your publishing schedule falls on their shoulders, which means you also have a single point of failure if their other job responsibilities start encroaching on their available time for blogging. If you have a team of authors, however, then the impact on any one individual is minimized.

In addition to the benefits of sharing the responsibilities, having multiple voices represented on your blog also brings much needed variety to its content. Different authors bring different ideas, expertise and perspectives to the table, helping to create a more well‐rounded blog. Plus, if your organization offers a variety of services, then having experts who can cover a wide array of subjects will give your blog relevance to a broader audience.

When enlisting authors for your blog, look for those with distinct voices that will bring something new to the site as well as those who are enthusiastic about writing and eager to contribute.

You should also seek out those aforementioned subject matter experts in your organization. Many people are hesitant to recruit these experts to write – often because they are so valuable to an organization that pulling them away from their “real work” is seen as counterproductive. This could not be further from the truth. The reality is that these subject matter experts have a perspective that others do not. Remember, you want unique, relevant content that will resonate with your audience. What better way to achieve that goal than by turning to those who know it best? As an added bonus, when your readers see that you have true experts at work behind the scenes, your business and your brand as a whole will benefit from a boost in reputation.

6. Embrace current events.

Timeliness can be important in blog articles. When a topic is current, it is often relevant and being actively sought out by interested readers. Therefore, creating blog content that addresses those current events and latest development can be a great way to add articles to your site with information that others are talking about and looking for right now.

If you are consistently on the lookout for relevant current events that you can build content around, and you are also answering frequently asked client questions as covered earlier in this article, then you are well on your way to ensuring you never run out of possible ideas for new blog content.

7. Get ready to share.

If publishing timely, relevant and unique blog content is step one in building and maintaining a successful blog for your website, then promoting that blog content is a logical step two.

Great content will get found, but can do a lot to facilitate this process by promoting it. Yes, this means letting your connections on social media know about a new article once it is published, but just posting a link on your company’s Facebook page is not enough. You also need to also look for more targeted situations where you can share this content.

One example would be to include a link an email exchange you are having with a current client or prospect as a reference point when they ask a question that your post helps to answer. Furthermore, you and your team should become active participants on other websites and forums where the members of your tribe live day in and day out and where you can post links to your articles when appropriate to the conversation (don’t overdo it, of course, or you’ll become a community pariah). Also, by featuring related articles within each post in your blog, you can introduce readers to other content that they may not have been looking for at that moment, but which they will find valuable, too.

Whatever avenues of promotion you use – and you should use a number of different methods – the goal is to spread the word to readers who are looking for the content you are creating.

Watch your hard work pay off.

There’s no doubt about it – maintaining an effective blog is hard work. But with strategic planning and a solid team behind you, you can publish quality content on a regular basis – content that will serve as a powerful catalyst for bringing new visitors to your website and new customers through your doors.

Jeremy Girard
Jeremy Girard has been designing for the web since 1999. He is currently employed at the Providence, Rhode Island-based firm Envision Technology Advisors and also teaches website design and front-end development at the University of Rhode Island. In addition, Jeremy contributes regularly to a number of websites and magazines focused on business and the Web, including his personal site at Pumpkin-King.com.