How do we know what a good blog post is? It’s – of course – a post that converts. That brings you traffic. Leads. Revenue, you might dare?
Going viral should not be a #1 goal for each blog post. Rather, for every blog post to be successful, it should in one way or another delight your audience. And if you want your audience to find this beautiful piece of content you spent hours writing, it needs to be SEO-proofed.
I was discussing with a friend last week and he asked me if I had a “process” in place that I followed when writing a blog post. No, I didn’t have a checklist with items that I crossed off to make sure I didn’t forget anything. But shouldn’t I?
That got me thinking about the methodology I built over time for my writing purposes (and that I’m sure I did not invent, but whatever) and also to promote it accordingly.
Unconsciously I use that methodology to try and write good blog posts, curate an existing post, or even re-work an article of a guest blogger. So I tried to lay down a list of these steps for you, hoping you can relate and use it at some point. Let me know if you liked it or if you’d add anything to it!
0. Step #0, the foundation to write good blog posts: inspiration.
If you’re lacking inspiration, don’t worry: you’re not alone. I have a long list of “blog post ideas” that I keep in Evernote and enrich as much as I can. I also have a Google Spreadsheet of all the content I already have (500+) on our Scoop.it blog, what question they’re answering, and where the gaps are for me to know what content I should write next.
But just like everybody else, I usually get the inspiration out of a discussion with a peer or after reading an article that inspires me. When the latter occurs, I curate it. Curation is simple: I read articles everyday because it’s my job and I like to know what’s going on in my field. When I like an article, sometimes I’ll find myself thinking “hey, I have something I’d like to add to this piece“, or “Hmm, I’d love to develop this part of the article“. In practice, it looks like this: you quote a sentence or a paragraph of the article you’re curating, attribute the source and then put your insight. You can write as little as 200 words and as much a 2000 if you have a lot to say. If you want tips to write highly effective posts, have a look at this infographic.
1. Let creativity do its trick – but always keep in mind: audience, audience audience!
I usually write down a few notes to structure my vivid imagination. Then I let the flow going. Every now and then while writing, I try to ask myself the question: “how is this sentence or paragraph adding value to others?“. Another one that works well too: “what would I tell my friend if I was talking about the subject?”. It can seem easy, but the easy thing is to get lost in the writing and forget the original purpose of your post. And I mean purpose in singular: don’t try to say too much in one blog post, keep it consistent and around one message. All the other ideas you were thinking of developing in this blog post will make incredible topics for your next good pieces!
2. If there was a blogging G-d, he’d probably say “a good blog post was not made in a day”.
So listen to him and let some time go by (hours, days, sometimes more!) and then read it again. You’ll see you have some edits to add to make it more impactful, some data to enrich your explanation, etc. In fact, this step is repeated in step 12: once you write a good blog post, you need to water it from time to time to make it grow!
3. Add links to be more credible.
Forget about the backlink strategy. Putting links just to put links is useless and will be penalized by Google. Rather, do what you’d do in real life: to sustain an argument or a point you’re making, you sometimes quote a research or a good reference. Well do the same in your blog post. This step will become easier over time as you’ll have gathered a more information on your domain from reading online. Famous and/or relevant articles will automatically pop-up in your mind as you write. And these references don’t have to be external, I’m sure you’ve written very good blog posts in the past: use them! To help you structure your thoughts and find easily these articles you could quote, you can create a spreadsheet with the name of the article, its main point and its link.
4. Find the focus keywords – or how to optimize your blog post for SEO.
Here comes the fun. Now you have a content that should add value to your audience (if not, then you can start over!). How can you make it impacting so that people will end up on it when asking themselves the question you’re answering? The worst when you invest a lot of efforts to write good blog posts is to watch it not perform. So here is what I do to get an average of 600 views and 200 shares per post (my results for Q2 2015, I’ll write a blog post about it soon): I don’t like to waste time, do you? If you don’t either, then do like me and use the Yoast tool. It’s free! And it’s a pretty cool WordPress plugin that goes right under your blog post and allows you to set the keywords you think your audience would type in Google. Yoast identifies how your post performs in general and with those focus keywords: are they present on the most important places of the articles – heading, url, title, content, meta description -? Then all you have to do is make is happen: tweak the content, title, etc. to make your keywords appear sufficiently enough for Google to see your piece as relevant for those keywords. Of course, it needs to be relevant and not a bunch of keywords put in the content… Can you guess what my focus keywords for this post are? Put it in the comments!
5. Find the title
Now you’re trying to answer this question: “How can you make them want to click through and read it?” Once you’ve optimized the blog post for SEO, the title should become obvious as you’ve SEO-proofed it. If you’re having trouble you can read Kim’s article to get very useful tips to make your blog post clickable, if needed!
6. Add the appropriate CTA to add to the end of your blog post
Lead generation 101. Just a reminder here! When you capture someone’s attention until the end of an article, you want to use this advantage and offer them the possibility to get a high value added content such as an eBook or a white paper. Put a CTA at the end of your article that redirects them to one of your landing pages. If possible, a CTA that is in the same topic as the article (the CTA at the end of this article will be an eBook to help you improve SEO through the power of content curation, for instance). That way you’ll keep providing value to your audience all while getting their information to start nurturing them the right way: through your content! Here is an example:
7. Have it reviewed by at least one other person.
The title speaks for itself. If you have the opportunity to have your piece reviewed by one or more people, you’ll get incredible validation or feedback from your content.
8. Schedule the post and the social media messages. And repeat it over time!
On your blog first, and then on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google +. This is no secret: if you write good blog posts but don’t share them, your great work will most likely be un-noticed.
And if you already do that but can’t get retweets and shares, read this article with great insight on why no one is sharing your content, along with 3 strategies to fix it.
As for the repeating it over time, it’s – again – like in real life: you can’t talk about something once and expect it to go viral right away, + be viewed and shared regularly after that. All the blogging stars do it, they identify what we call an evergreen piece of content (a piece of content that you’re very proud of and that embraces the values/messages you prone). Then they share this piece of content every week or every two weeks over time.
I am lucky to have a tool that allows me to tag my evergreen pieces of content and share them easily on all my social media accounts: Now at this point you’ve done a reasonable amount of work to promote your blog post. But there are additional things you can do to make sure it performs well.
9. Bonus #1: schedule messages from your team and company advocates.
That’s a great way to get more distribution, more views and increase the chances to get your great blog post noticed. And you know how difficult it is to ask your co-workers to be consistent and share your content every week, or everyday! Some tools allow you to schedule those messages in advance and for multiple social media channels. Scoop.it Content Director is great at this: I can select a blog post (such as the evergreen you’ve seen above) and then schedule the messages for the channels I want: My favorite feature is the #4: each social media channel (scoop.it’s Facebook, Guillaume’s Twitter, etc.) has different goals set for each day, in the amount of messages to be scheduled and the hours of preference for that channel. Which is amazing, because when I schedule a message for 4 different channels and choose the ‘automatic scheduling based on goals’, the message will be sent out in the window I set for each account, so account #1 will post at 10am, account #2 at 2pm, and account #3 at 7pm.
10. Bonus #2: create meaningful relationships with influencers for additional distribution.
There is a very smart guy named Alex Turnbull who wrote an amazing article, truly inspiring, on how to leverage influencers to make your blog post noticed and shared. On how to really engage in meaningful relationships with the influencers in your domain (not close to your domain) and communicate with them on your content by adding a value to them and without being pushy. So if you want to learn how to promote by not promoting, go here.
10. Bonus #3: create a newsletter
Content oriented newsletters. Do a weekly (monthly if you really struggle to have enough content) wrap up of content pieces you wrote, curated, or even inspiring blog posts in your domain. Last year (already!) we shared how increasing our newsletter frequency drove the number of recipients we reached through the roof by a factor of 2.5x. So start now! You can use several tools and have a look at the newsletter feature we have in Scoop.it Content Director, allowing me to create my weekly newsletter in about 10 minutes.
11. Bonus #4: analyze the performance of the post after 1 month.
What matters when you want to analyze your content marketing ROI? Here is a cool scheme that sums it up: – Volume: number of content pieces on your destination sites and by channels on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Because content marketing has compounding returns that build over time, it’s critical to leverage your team and curation to sustain your content efforts. – Amplification and Traffic: how many times your content was shared and what traffic it generated. This measures the quality and the impact of your content on your audience and you can track it as a time-based chart or post by post. – Leads your content generated. Ultimately, you want your content to convert your visitors into subscribers, prospects or customers and this is what you can easily track with Scoop.it Content Director, again as a time-based chart or post by post.
12. Bonus #5: repurpose your content!
For more insight from content marketing experts regarding how you can repurpose your content, you can read this great article. If you want to meet with one of our strategists for a free assessment of your content marketing and a demo of Scoop.it Content Director – the #1 content marketing tool (I didn’t say it!) to help you increase your content marketing ROI without increasing resources -, click here.
And if you’d like to get great tips to improve your SEO rankings, you should read this eBook!