How to get started with blogging
Keeping your blog updated is one of the easiest ways to get started with content marketing – and it can make a surprisingly big difference.
12 March 2018
Ah, the humble blog – they've been around since we were still calling the internet the Information Superhighway, if you can cast your mind back that far.
Over the past few decades they've gone from fairly niche online diaries to an entire industry in their own right – and today, when everyone's connected and everyone has a voice, it's almost stranger for someone not to have a blog.
Blogs are incredibly simple from a web development point of view – your website either has one already, or can have one added very quickly – but are incredibly powerful tools for businesses looking to expand the reach of their online presence.
Time to take a journey into the blogosphere for some content marketing basics. Join us!
Why should you update your company blog?
There's no singular reason to blog – it can support the rest of your site and your wider marketing efforts in a whole variety of ways.
Keep people updated
The most traditional form of blogging, and the easiest to maintain: use it as a bit of a journal for what you're up to at the moment. Company milestones, charity work, awards and accreditations, new team members, that sort of thing.
You can also use it to announce new services, investments or developments that don't quite fit anywhere else on your website as yet.
Diversify your site content
Your blog gives you an opportunity to go into more detail and expand on things found elsewhere. We'll use this very blog as an example of this – our blog-writing services come under our general content marketing page rather than having a standalone page for every aspect of every service we provide. It keeps the main site a bit more focused and direct.
We still wanted to share some tips on blogging with any visitors to our site, though – but without turning the content marketing page into a big wall of text. A blog is the perfect place to do it – we can basically ramble on as long as we like carefully consider every single detail of blogging, and then link through to this post on the content marketing page.
Comment on the industry
It doesn't just have to be your services that you discuss – if you have opinions or insight on developments in your own industry, then share them!
Provide a more human touch
As well as providing extra information away from your core service pages, a blog also lets you strike a different tone. There's more space for thoughts, speculation and opinion in a blog, and it can really help get the personality of your business across.
Reading your core website should be closer to reading a company brochure. Factual, to the point, and very clear. Reading a blog, on the other hand, should be more like a conversation, with all the potential to digress, explain and communicate a bit more freely that a more personal approach allows.
Improve your search visibility
By using your blog to dig deeper into your own services, and branch out across your entire industry, you're greatly improving the scope of your visibility on search engines – that is, the number of keywords that you can be found for.
Let's go back to our content marketing page example. That page may rank well for content marketing-related keywords, but it's likely to struggle to rank for blogging-related terms. Even though it talks about blogging, the page titles and headings are more focused on content marketing generally.
This blog, on the other hand, is much more focused on blogging, so has a better chance of helping our site rank for blogging-related searches.
Fuel your social media
Social media is another form of digital marketing that's relatively straightforward to set up and get started with – but if you've ever tried to find something interesting to post every day, you'll know how important it is to have some great content backing things up.
Blogs are perfect for sharing on social – and particularly on LinkedIn. You've likely got dozens of contacts who aren't likely to click on your website any time soon – but share a blog article that tickles their fancy, and you're well on your way to starting a productive conversation.
Start with keyword research
Right, let's dig into the ins and outs of blogging, then. If your serious about using your blog as an SEO tool, rather than a more general company news feed, the whole process should start with keyword research.
Using keyword research tools such as SEMrush, you can identify keywords to target for your site, related to your core products and services. These tools will tell you the search volumes for each term (how many people search for it), as well as information on how high the competition is for ranking for it.
Blogs can be particularly useful for covering long-tail keywords – longer, more specific keyword phrases with lower search volumes – helping you bring in small amounts of highly targeted traffic.
Developing a blog plan
Once you've identified the keywords you're going to target, the next step is to come up with a blog plan based around it. It's essentially a calendar that sets out which blogs you're going to do when, and which keywords they should target. Use this template to help:
Come up with a vague title – preferably one that includes your keyword. You can always change it at a later date if the content goes off in different directions as you start to write!
Note down any initial ideas, so you don't forget them when you come back to it later. If you're sending this on to someone else to write the actual blog, give them as much information as possible, including any links to suggested sources.
A list of all the keywords that need to be included in the blog. Include search volumes alongside each keyword, so you know which ones to prioritise
Plan when you're going to publish the blog – it could be a specific date, or you could keep it as vague as some point in a particular month. Due dates are particularly important if you're planning anything seasonal.
Remember to keep things flexible – titles and general post directions can change, and due dates can be rearranged to incorporate new ideas. A blog plan should help, not restrict.
How to write a company blog
Sit down and start typing, don't get up again until you're finished. Simple! But, also, think about all of these things:
Aim for at least 300 words
It's important not to get too hung up on your word count, but 300 words should really be the absolute minimum length for a blog.
This is mainly because 300 words is widely accepted as best practice for an SEO-friendly word count, as Google prioritises meaningful, original content. It's a good test of whether your subject holds up as something worth writing about – if you're struggling to get 300 words out of it, then it might be better to focus on something you can talk about at greater length.
Around 500 words is a really good target to aim for, but don't be afraid to go on for longer if you've got more to say. The number of words is less important than providing something useful for your readers.
Include your keywords naturally
Getting keywords into the copy is essential – but be careful about how you do it.
For example, you might find, from your research, that "name-of-our-product Yorkshire" is a top keyword, but it can be pretty difficult to include that exact phrase naturally within a sentence. Crowbarring it in will look unnatural.
Fortunately, search engines are smarter than you might think – they're very good at recognising context and synonyms. While it's good to get a keyword in as-is, going for something similar but more natural is the better option if it's not possible.
Break it up into sections
A big, unbroken wall of text is hard to read – particularly online, where people tend to quickly scan through, looking for the most relevant parts.
Use subheadings to break up your post and signpost readers to the most important parts. This will also help you organise your points and reach your word count too – think of 500 words as 100 words under five different subheadings and all of a sudden it's a lot more approachable.
Be sure to use keywords in your subheadings, too – search engines head straight for these when analysing your site, so they're a helpful way to make key terms nice and visible.
Take a look at our work on NGF Industrial Doors - our copywriting team wrote all of the content for the site, including two blog posts to help them get started at launch. We also support NGF with monthly blogs and case study writeups.
Link to other pages
People may land on your site for the first time from this blog article, whether they've come to you through a search or a social media link, so make sure there's plenty of opportunities for them to click off and explore the rest of your site. For example, if you talk about your team during the post, link off to your team page, like we just did there.
Link to your sources
With a copywriting team that comes from a journalism background, we're very aware of how important is it to take steps to avoid plagiarism.
It's understandable that you'll be reading other websites for research, and taking inspiration from their points – but be very careful about copying from other content publishers. Never copy and paste, or just re-write large chunks of text you've found elsewhere in slightly different words, and always link to your sources.
Of course, not every single thing needs to be sourced – if you're saying something that's common knowledge, then you don't need to back it up from somewhere else.
For example, we know off the top of our heads that WordPress is used to power more than 25% of all websites on the internet, or that around 70% of the earth's surface is covered in water, or that Kate Bush released Hounds of Love in 1985. These are pretty well-known facts and figures that you can verify from a number of sources, so you don't necessarily need to confirm a source for them.
However, if a website cites a unique statistic or piece of information that you're unlikely to find elsewhere, such as the fact that the 65 to 74 age group in the UK spend £1 per week on potatoes, you'll need to provide a link to the original source. The same goes with if you're directly quoting someone else.
Once you've written your blog, make sure you have someone cast another set of eyes over it first. Even the best copywriter can miss a mistake after staring at the same document for a couple of hours, so getting it checked through is really important.
Why work with a content writing agency?
A good content agency can support your blog efforts in a variety of ways, coming in at any stage of the process where you think you might need support.
For example, you might be a great writer yourself, but have no idea about where to start with keyword research or planning out a blog calendar.
On the other hand, you might have an idea of what you want to rank for, but lack the time or confidence in your own writing skills to regularly turn out your own blogs.
Or, you might just want someone to handle the whole thing for you, bringing you completed blog articles for your approval on a regular basis.
If you'd like to discuss your own content marketing with us, then don't hesitate to give us a call! We're here to help.