Any marketing guru will tell it to you straight: blogging is one of the “easiest” and effective ways to gain organic traffic for your website. But the kicker is in the how. Open up a new tab and take a look for yourself, cause everyone and their 6th cousin has an opinion on what the critical best practices are in terms of blogging. Sometimes, you find a gem, and sometimes, you see a bunch of the same lists and “how to” blogs that make you want to flip a table (metaphorically, of course).
So, what are the best practices of blogging you ask?
The answer depends on a few things:
- Who you are (as a company, a human, a professional, etc.)
- What you know (seriously.)
- What you need (other than more sales.)
- Who you want to talk to (everyone doesn’t count.)
- What you have to offer (other than only products.)
Long story short, what makes your blog engaging will be and should be different than what makes my blog engaging. There is no ultimate guide to what makes a blog successful—but there are good habits that will help you figure out what works best for you and your company’s blogging success.
The 7 Habits of Extremely Engaging Bloggers
Habit 1: Practice Thoughtful Organization
When it comes to an effective blog page, clarity must be your biggest focus. So your first order of business is organization and layout on a couple of levels.
Blog Page and Post Layout
After you finalize the look, feel and functionality of your company’s website, your blog is your next focus. Unfortunately, the blog page is not always considered among the highest priorities when it comes to websites in the design phase. However, your blog is the biggest resource for your target audience—and, more urgently—the first stop for every single search engine out there.
So that’s pretty important, if you ask me.
If you want to rank well, you must create content consistently. And, where’s the best place to house all of that engaging content?
That’s right: your blog.
Effective blog page and post layout depends on your industry, and the types of blogs you intend to write.
Are you looking to get your audience excited to learn about the hot topics of your industry? Show them the categories of your posts front and center.
Do you want your customers to get excited about your recent projects? Make your blog a project gallery that’s 60% awesome action shots and 40% description of the project goals, problems and solutions.
Want a blog page that shows posts in a masonry style?
Want to choose your own featured posts at the top?
The options are endless. You simply need a clear goal for how your posts will be presented to your users and a team that will help you make that dream a reality.
Now, when you get into the nitty gritty of actually creating your different blog posts, this is where categories shine brightest. Categories for a blog create the table of contents that allow your users to browse and get to the answers they need and want.
Blogging ProTip: The number of categories you choose for your blog is ultimately up to you. Period. However, your audience will most likely get less frustrated if you have around 5 to 7 categories max.
Blog URL Structure
Another key organizational habit to keep in mind for your blog strategy is creating a consistent URL structure for each blog you write. Your general blog URL will probably be http://yourwebsite.com/blog/ but the kicker, especially in terms of organic SEO reach will rely on the way you structure your blog post URLs.
Two good examples are:
The /blog/ and the /category/ sections of your URL allow users to know where the post is on your website. The bread and butter for blogging in the SEO universe, however, lies within the /post-title/ of the URL.
Need to rank higher for a keyword that relates to your top 10 service keywords? Write a blog about it.
Want to hit a long-tail keyword that people will be more likely to find you? Write a blog about it.
Trying to become a thought leader on a topic you’re incredibly passionate about? Write a blog (or two) about it.
Think of your URL structure as the road map to your writing. If you want to rank for a specific topic, try to edit your blog post URL to further showcase what you want to appear for. (e.g. https://www.webfeatcomplete.com/blog/blogging-best-practices/)
Habit 2: Strive to Address Not (Only) Promote
This good blogging habit is particularly hard if you’re not a writing nerd who can write for days on end (Hi!).
The pressure to create concise, intriguing, engaging, unique content for websites can be overwhelming for anyone. Even seasoned writers hit a wall (yes, even me). And one of the biggest consequences of letting that “wall” get the better of you is this:
Tons of promotional blogs.
Too many promotional blogs.
As a company, you have every right to promote yourself on your website, especially if that was why you wanted a website in the first place. It’s good to feature your services, and explain them, or dive head first into the benefits of using X product and here’s how you call us for details. The problem is not within the promotion of your products or services, but rather within the act of only blogging to promote yourself.
No matter how skilled you are at writing, a promotional blog will undoubtedly read as “pushy” or “pitchy” or “aggressively boring” or—most importantly—”robotic.” We must resist the habit of falling to the temptation of the easily created promotional blog.
As digital marketers, we cannot rely on the tips and tricks of years past in order to engage our audiences effectively and fully.
We must be human.
We must be transparent.
We must write with purpose.
Well, Hanna, if you’re so smart, what kind of blogs should I write?
- Case Studies
- Soapbox Features
- Project Exposés
- Company News
- Viral Chasers
- Guest Posts
- Tool/Resource Collections
The above post types only scratch the surface of what you can write for your company blog. The key is to keep your content focused on the users: what are the questions they need you to answer, what are the topics you find yourself explaining to them over the phone or email, what are the insights you can give that your competition can’t?
When you give your blogs the purpose of giving context to your company, shedding light on the biggest and most prevalent questions your audience has, you’ll find new site visitors who gain interest in your company because you provided something that no one else seems willing to give: clear answers to what they’re searching for, transparency in how those questions relate to your company, and support for their actual needs and not their metaphorical needs.
Need More Habits? Stay Tuned for Part 2!
Habits 3, 4, and 5 of extremely engaging bloggers are on their way to a device near you, this coming soon.