Feeling baffled when it comes to producing captivating blog topics? Don't fret.
Coming up with insightful information that reels in readers may seem like an onerous task, but once you have a system in place, you'll experience a surge of engaging, lead generating things to share on your blog.
It will be effortless. Like slicing through butter with a hot knife. As it should be.
Here are five seriously easy ways to come up with captivating blog topics.
1. Clearly define the purpose of your blog.
Establishing what your blog is about concretely from the get-go can help jog topic ideas easily.
Think about what you have to offer as a brand and the kinds of messages you want to spread.
Even more importantly, think about what your customers care about. Why do they follow your brand? What kinds of expectations do they have? Do some brainstorming.
Once you're clear on how to set the stage, define what kinds of information people can people expect to find on your blog, as it pertains to your brand.
Make a promise by putting a message in your blog sign-up that explains what people will receive when they sign up for your blog.
Establishing your categories will also help to keep your blog focused and on track. Don't go crazy. Six to ten is good.
For example, if you sell organic, Fair Trade skincare products and are passionate about Eco-friendliness, you could define your blog as being the place to find great tips pertaining to all-natural skin care, true beauty, and living a holistic, green lifestyle.
Your categories might include best natural skincare ingredients, responsible beauty, natural skincare regimes and tips, Eco-friendly living, inner beauty, holistic lifestyle, sourcing organic, and Fair Trade. Once established, each category should spur a slew of ideas.
2. Look at your competitor's blogs.
Although you don't want to copy your competitors, this is great way to incite ideas. Perhaps they've covered a topic you can cover better or put a unique spin on.
3. Use online tools to scope out industry questions and news.
Here are a couple great tools for finding questions being asked in your industry:
Here are tools to help you keep abreast of trending topics and news in your industry:
4. Utilize your customer's questions.
Blogging is about being of service. This means providing your target audience with useful information that somehow makes their lives better or easier.
Work with your staff to concoct a list of questions your customers ask frequently. You can also include valuable things you know you can teach your customers and potential customers. Things they maybe wouldn't think to ask. This should tide you over with blogging fodder for awhile.
If you're having difficulty coming up with a list, ask your audience via social media or newsletter survey. Creating specific poll options may make it more likely you'll get a response.
You can also ask people what they'd like to learn more about at the end of your blog posts. You include something like, "How can we help? Please comment below with questions you’d like answered or topics you’d like covered in future blog posts pertaining to......"
Professional partners may also be a good source. Ask them what they'd like to know more about when it comes to your services and products.
5. Keep track of ideas with Evernote.
Any time I find an interesting article pertaining to a topic I'd like to write about or I come up with an idea I'd like to use later I put it in Evernote. When I go to write a blog post, I have a bunch of ideas waiting for me. It's brilliant.
Making It Even More Effortless
Once you come up with one blog topic idea, it often creates a domino effect, spurring another. The trick is to not try to tackle everything in one blog post.
Thinking in terms of a series will ensure you have plenty of blog topics to work with.
For example, instead of doing one blog post on serving Italian cheeses, you could do a whole Italian cheese serving series with one blog post that gives a briefing on the different types of Italian cheeses, one that explains how to choose the right assortment of Italian cheeses for a dinner party, another that covers what to pair Italian cheeses with, and another with tips on how to arrange an aesthetically pleasing cheese platter.
Blogging shouldn't be a burden. Ever. It should come easy. Be fun even.
After using these trusty tips, the hope is that you'll finally be rid of your blog topic deficiency, that you'll cross over from a stressed and discouraged state and proudly proclaim "I heart blogging!"
Which of these tactics will you use to come up with new blog topics? Any tips on coming up with blog topics I didn't cover? I'd love to hear from you. Please comment below.
Like many business owners, you may feel lost when it comes to blogging. You probably know it will benefit your business and is worthy of your time, but aren't quite sure how to do it properly.
There is a specific format that successful bloggers use, and the good news is it's not that complicated.
In fact, when formatting a blog post properly, beyond having an enticing introduction that convinces people to read your post, you only need to focus on doing three things: being helpful, accommodating scanners, and attracting search engines.
If you can plug your information in using these three principles, you'll be reaping the benefits of blogging in no time.
Here's how to use these blog formatting principles in 13 easy steps:
Make it Scanner Friendly
1. Use lots of pretty yet pertinent pictures. People are able to grasp things quickly through images. And since they're scanning, you're going to get their attention quicker than if you had no images. But make sure to pick ones worthy of attention.
At the very least, you should include one good one, but using further images to show examples of what you're talking about is really helpful. It adds value and helps people short on time - which is most people on the Internet - absorb what you're talking about.
2. Use numbered lists. Numbered lists are a great go-to format because they signal to people that your content is going to be well organized and easy to read.
Using odd numbers in particular is advantageous. When people see blog posts with odd numbers in the title they feel more compelled to click than if it was an even number.
Here's a blog post by Baker Marketing Services that explains why: http://bakermarketingservices.com/2013/03/3-powerful-reasons-for-using-odd-numbered-lists-in-your-blog-post-titles/
3. Use headlines and subheadlines. The more you break up the copy in your blog post, the more you entice scanners.
Using compelling headlines and subheadlines not only helps those in a hurry, it helps guide people through your content and gives them a reason to keep reading.
4. Put key points in bold. Now you don't want to be excessive with this, but you do want to consider that people are not going to read everything in your blog post. Think about the most important information you want your readers to walk away with and put it in bold.
5. Use bullet points. Using bullet points is another great, user-friendly way to organize your information. Scanners dig bullet points.
6. Keep paragraphs short and concise. Long paragraphs will turn off visitors to your blog quickly. Having super short and to-the-point paragraphs will help ensure they don't click elsewhere.
7. Link to your other blog posts. Not only does this help encourage people to read your other blog posts, but it allows them to easily access other useful information.
You can include links to your other blog posts in the body of your blog post or put them at the end. You can say something like, "If you liked this blog post, you might also like..." or "If you'd like to learn more about this topic, read..."
8. Provide lots of useful information. In addition to packing your blog post with content that truly helps people, don't be afraid to include outbound links to further information.
You want to add the most value possible for your readers. This keeps them coming back and is likely to motivate them to share your blog with others.
9. Invite comments. At the end of your posts, ask readers how you can help them or what problems they have pertaining to your topic.
This opens the lines of communication and helps build relationships, which is a big benefit of blogging.
And not only does it help assert you as an expert, but it's likely to give you good ideas for future posts. It may even give you ideas on how you can better serve your customers.
Attract Search Engines
10. Use keywords in your title and keep it short. Generally, you want more important keywords in the beginning of your title. Your title should be 65 characters or less and should serve to answer questions people are asking about your topic online.
Just doing a Google search for your topic will help give you a good idea of how to title your post. As you start to type stuff in the search box, Google will start to give you suggestions.
You can also use a tool like ubersuggest or the Keyword Planner Tool in Google Adwords.
11. Place keywords strategically. Use keywords towards the beginning of your post. They are also most effective when used in headlines and in bold or italics.
12. Include social media share buttons. How often your content gets shared is an important factor for SEO. Make sure that people can tweet, "like," or +1 your post after reading it by providing prominently displayed social share buttons.
13. Further encourage sharing. Using Click to Tweet is a great way to make it easy for people to quote you and link to your blog posts on Twitter. People on Twitter are essentially promoting your blog for you. Good stuff.
Want to learn more about blogging successfully? Check out my other posts on blogging:
5 Tricks That Will Turn Your Blog Posts Into Marketing Mojo
9 SEO Copywriting Tips To Improve Your Google Rank
All You Have To Do Is Ask: Six Ways To Get People To Share Your Web Content
What's your biggest challenge when it comes to blogging? Love to hear from you. Please comment below.
Have you received an arcane email from an SEO company lately?
Was it packed full of suggestions that made you feel like they were speaking in tongues?
I get them fairly regularly. So do my clients.
In fact, a client of mine received a long-winded email talking about Panda and keyword density just the other day.
My client was utterly confused. She was under the impression that pandas were cuddly creatures native to China.
I explained to her that Google likes to use cute and intriguing creatures to classify changes to their algorithms (a set of rules search engines use to rank search results).
I was half tempted to email the company that contacted her to ask them if perhaps they missed the memo that keyword density is now obsolete.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are some really good SEO companies out there that know what they're doing and would never send you puzzling, spammy style emails with incorrect information. And depending on the size and type of your business, you may very well need to hire one. But you want to make sure you choose one better than the one previously mentioned by educating yourself.
If you're a small, local business with some time to dedicate to SEO, search rank success is likely something you can achieve yourself.
SEO isn't as mystifying as you may have imagined. It's an art. It takes perseverance and online marketing savvy, but it's doable.
And really, the secret to successful SEO lies in your content. If you focus on putting out high-grade stuff and promoting it effectively, you'll be ahead of the game.
If you want to have the kind of web content Google covets, you need to think more like an SEO copywriter. Here are nine SEO copywriting tips to improve your Google rank:
Identify your keywords. Use them. But don't overuse them.
Google is trying to get people to steer away from writing for search engines. They want you to write for people.
It's hard to do that when you're trying to make a certain keyword fit into every other sentence. Stop worrying about how many times your keyword shows up. Google penalizes for keyword stuffing.
On the other hand, not having the right keywords on your page isn't in your best interest either.
Google claims individual keywords matter less and that it's more about the collective meaning of your content, but as of right now, having the right keywords in your content still seems to matter.
You can figure out what keywords are relevant for your industry by using a tool such as ubersuggest or Google Keyword Planner - you have to have an Adwords account and must be logged in.
Use long tail keywords.
Since the advent of Google Hummingbird, the focus has been placed on long-tail keywords (more specific search terms with lower search volumes).
Google is trying to accommodate the many people who search in a conversational manner or by typing in questions. Blogging is a good way to target these long-tail keywords.
Put keywords in headlines, italics and bullet points.
Keywords have more weight when they are toward the top of your copy and are in headlines, italics, bold or bullet points.
This isn't something to obsess over, you want your content to read naturally, but if you can make your keywords work well in these formats, do so.
Write an irresistible title tag and meta description.
Title tags and meta descriptions are extremely important for SEO.
Theses terms sound intimidating to people, but your title tag is just the title that shows up for a particular website when someone does a search. The meta description is the short, two sentence description that shows up underneath it.
Not only should these include your keywords, they should also be written in a way that entices people to click on the site.
Your title tag should be 70 characters or less and your meta description should be 160 characters or less.
Your web designer can put these in for you, but if you have a WordPress site, you can get an SEO plugin that makes it easy to put in title tags and meta descriptions yourself.
Write more in-depth content.
Google favors in-depth content - 500 words or more.
Longer content doesn't mean you need to be boring. It means you have the opportunity to provide an abundance of helpful information, the kind people are likely to share.
Make sure to break up written content with headlines, short paragraphs, bullet points, photos and videos.
Concentrate on creating cohesive, well-written, well-organized, highly informative content.
Your content should be authentic, devoid of grammatical errors and read clearly. Once you write it, make sure to read it, re-read it, and then have someone else do the same. You may even want to recruit a proofreader.
Poorly written content could potentially evoke the wrath of Google Panda, the algorithm Google implemented to snuff out article spinning, duplicate content and low quality content.
Avoid possible ramifications at all costs by putting out respectable stuff.
Your content should be well focused, rather than all over the place. Get really clear on what you want to talk about before you start writing. Creating an outline helps.
Your content needs to be easy to grasp, since you're writing for humans and all. Not to mention that most of the visitors to your site will be scanners.
Google wants you to make creating a good user experience a top priority. Be a beacon for your clients. Enlighten them, show them the way.
Offer lots of helpful content that eases their worries and makes them feel empowered. Along with this improving your bottom line, Google will reward you kindly.
Add calls to action.
What good is coming up in the top search results if your site isn't bringing in customers?
If you want people to buy your product or contact you to discuss your service, you need to direct them to the appropriate action on every page. Examples are "Shop now," "Download our free report," "Click here to sign up now," or "Click here to get started for free."
Buddy up with Google Plus.
Your activity on Google + has the most bearing on your SEO results.
You want to make sure you have an account and are posting regularly. You also want to make sure that you have a prominently placed Google Plus share button on your site and are encouraging people to click on it.
And even more importantly, you want to make sure you're publishing your blog posts using Google Authorship. Here's how: http://blog.kissmetrics.com/google-authorship/.
If you show Google love, they'll reciprocate.
Once you've created content worth sharing, add share buttons.
Share buttons need to be pervasive on your site, especially on your blog.
Although Google + is the most important, how much the content on your website is getting shared by the other major social media platforms is something Google factors in highly when determining where to rank your site.
The more people sharing your content, the better your search rank. You can use ShareThis.com or AddThis.com to set up your share buttons. Using Click to Tweet within your content is a great way to get people to share your content via Twitter.
Share your content everywhere.
Here's the caveat to my previous tip: you can't just put up share buttons and hope for the best.
You need to be actively promoting everything you publish on all the major social media platforms. This will drive people to your site who are likely to "like," tweet, +1, and share your content - assuming you're putting out good stuff.
Want more information on how to write fabulous web content Google is likely to dig? Click here: How To Write Effective Website Content
Questions? Would love to hear from you. Please comment below.
Every blog post you write for your business should help you gain credibility, drive traffic to your website and support your SEO efforts. This may sound like a lot, but if your blog posts aren't doing this, you're wasting your time.
So how do you gain popularity and clout through your blog posts, rev up engagement and boost SEO? Well, it's actually just a matter of employing some simple tricks to make your blog work better for you. Here are five tricks that will turn your blog into a powerhouse that rakes in leads, giving you serious marketing mojo.
Offer Lots of Value
DO NOT put calls to action to buy in your blog posts. Your audience is not at that stage yet. The purpose of a blog isn't to sell, it's to serve. The sales will follow.
Many people freak out about giving away their industry secrets. You don't want to give away all your secrets, but you do want to show you know your stuff and can easily solve problems for people. This paves the way for a trusting relationship.
Most of the time, even if a prospective customer does learn all the ins and outs of how you provide a service or create a product they would still prefer for you to do it for them. And if other people in your industry are using your information, that tends to make you an industry leader, which is the goal, right?
Besides juicy, helpful content, you can provide ample value with links to further information. Definitely link to other posts on your site that might provide more insight on your topic.
Just because there's a comment box at the end of each of your posts doesn't mean that people will comment. If you want people to comment, you have to ask.
Invite comments at the end of each blog post by asking a thought provoking question related to your topic, or ask if anyone has stories to share relating to your topic. People love putting in their two cents.
Follow up your question with something like, "Would love to hear from you. Please comment below." This will make it abundantly clear that you want them to comment.
Just be a good host and respond to all comments you receive. People won't comment if they think you don't read them. Plus, responding to comments is a great way to form relationships.
Want to take it a step further? If you want people to see the comments for your blog post on Facebook, use the Facebook Comments Box. You can get the plug-in here: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/comments/
Optimize Your Posts
One of the main functions of a blog is to support SEO. Make sure you use keywords in your post.
The title of your post takes precedence. To come up with an SEO-friendly title, brainstorm questions people might have pertaining to your industry and how they might do a Google search to find answers.
You can chat with customers or look on sites like Quora or Yahoo Answers to help with this process. Just experimenting with various Google searches can help, too. Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool to get clear on how people might be searching for the topic, whether or not it has a decent search volume and how competitive the keyword is.
Keep in mind that your blog is an opportunity to come up for more long-tail keywords. This means using very specific keyword phrases that may draw in less traffic than broader keyword phrases (aka short-tail keywords), but result in more quality visitors.
Use the keyword phrase you're targeting towards the beginning of the title. The title of your blog should be 65 characters or less. If you can, use your keywords in the first few sentences of your post, then a couple more times throughout your post - stuffing keywords into your blog post is not in your best interest.
Make All Your Blog Posts Shareable
Making your blog posts shareable starts, of course, with creating valuable content that's worth sharing. But the key is adding social share buttons, so your posts can be shared on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, etc. with just a click.
Making your blog posts shareable doesn't just help with visibility, it helps with SEO. Google factors in social data when indexing a site. If your blog posts get a lot of shares, Google may favor your site over the competition.
You can use ShareThis.com or AddThis.com to add social share buttons to your posts. You also want to make sure you're sharing every post on all the major social media platforms to drive traffic.
Show Google Some Love
Google is pretty candid about the fact that being their buddy is in your best interest. It makes sense, right? According to Searchmetrics, activity on Google Plus is the most important factor in SEO ranking.
If you want to show loyalty to Google, make sure that a Google Plus button is among your social share buttons. Share your blog posts regularly on Google Plus.
And I can't emphasize this enough: set up Google Authorship. Here's a great article that will walk you through how to set it up: http://blog.kissmetrics.com/google-authorship/.
Do you think your blog could benefit from one of these tricks? What have been some of your struggles when it comes to blogging for your business? How do you think some of these tactics might help? Please comment below. Love to hear from ya!
The key to success with content marketing isn't esoteric or nouveau just because it's on the internet. Regardless of whether you're marketing online, in print or face-to-face, success remains rooted in basic marketing principles. One such principle is that if you want more buzz around your business you need to ask for it.
Have you created highly educational, inspirational content? Want people to "like" or share your photo on Facebook, or retweet your brilliant quip on Twitter? Once you create quality content, all you have to do is ask. Then you have to make the desired action clear and easy for people to implement. Yep, it's that simple. Below are the six best ways to ask for the distribution of your content. You'll see how just asking can catapult your online marketing efforts.
1. Get people to comment on your blog and share that comment with others: At the end of each blog post ask a thought provoking question, or ask if anyone has stories to share relating to your topic. Follow it up with something like, "Love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below."
People love giving their opinions and talking about themselves. I end every blog post this way.
Want those comments that keep rolling in to get shared on Facebook? Use the Facebook Comments Box. You can get the plug-in here: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/comments/
Another helpful hint: You can also increase your social following by saying something like, “If you enjoyed this post and want more, please follow us on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook.” This makes for more people that are available to share your stuff.
2. Use the Facebook Ask Question feature with poll options to ask a question that people are likely to engage with and share: This Facebook posting feature is often overlooked. If the question is compelling enough people will ask their friends, thus sharing your content for you. Invite people to add poll options in your post.
3. Ask people to "like" your Facebook posts directly and you'll be amazed by how many do: Post a gorgeous or intriguing photo - people love pics - and then say something like, "Click 'like' if you dig this!" I've gotten over 350 likes this way, meaning that all of the friends of the people that "liked" the pic got to see the post. You can also just ask them to share it with their buddies: "Click share to spread the love to your buddies!"
4. Ask to people to retweet at the end of a tweet: Tweet something that gets people pumped and then say something like, "if you agree, retweet!"
5. Get people to tweet compelling quotes from your blog posts: Write something that's quotable - especially for people in your industry - and then use Click to Tweet so your visitors can do just that.
6. Invite people to forward your newsletter to a friend: Saying something such as, "You're more than welcome to share the information in this newsletter with a friend, and if you think they might benefit from future offers, webinars and blog posts make sure they sign up for my email list at _______."
How will you ask people to share your web content? Have you already had successes with asking? Do share. Please comment below.
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By Sabrina Gaffney
From blogging to bios, freelance website copywriter Sabrina Gaffney, a.k.a the Cagey Copywriter, offers a powerful profusion of web copywriting tips that bring in the moola! Connect on LinkedIn.