Blog marketing is a bit of a fickle game. In any given industry that are relatively few businesses that are effective with their content marketing efforts, and even fewer that cover all of their basis. Simply being willing to go that extra mile (in conjunction with high quality content that is crafted for your audience) can be enough to get you over the hump.
The good news is that there are plenty of actionable steps that you can take to improve your blog marketing today. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, or have experience working for a big agency to be effective with them either. These steps can help you to grow your business starting today.
- Define Your Audience – Who will you be marketing to exactly? How old are they? Are they male or female? What does your blog provided? What hole does it fill within your industry?
- Outline 3 short term, and 3 long term goals. Make sure that you know where you are heading. What constitutes success? Your short term and long term goals should tell you a lot about how successful your efforts have been. Use metrics like traffic increases, social media following, bounce rate and email subscribers in both categories.
- Create a business plan. Every business needs a business plan. How will you be earning money. Is it from product sales? Advertising? Affiliate sales? A mixture of several options? Creating a business plan will allow you to create a clear path toward your goals and understand what your overall focus should be.
- Find a voice. Know what it is that you are providing. Is the blog written from the perspective of a single individual? Is it a company blog? Will you be discussing your employees? How will you be engaging your audience? Will you be using a professional, or laid-back tone when addressing your readers, and does your website match that tone? Will you be making your audience laugh? This deals with both blogs with single writers or larger corporate blogs with a large number of different writers.
- Understand how you will interact with your readers. What is your policy on commenting? Will you allow anyone to comment? What kind of comment system will you be using!
- Outline Key Performance Indicators. What kind of performance indicators will you be tracking? Overall blog traffic? Social shares? Comments? Page Views. These will be directly influenced by the goals that you set for your blog.
- Setup Analytics. Whether you are using Google Analytics or a smaller, or a more enclosed system like Piwik, you have to make sure that you are able to better track the performance of your website.
- Track Outreach. A great free option is Open Link Profiler. For more advanced users, I would recommend going with AHrefs.
- Find a great design. There are thousands of high quality WordPress themes out there. Find the one that conveys the message that you want your company to convey.
- Make sure the theme is responsive. You want your website to look good across a huge number of different platforms, including on mobile platforms. Make sure that your theme is responsive.
- Make sure you use a “Related Posts” plugin. You always want to make sure that you give your users the option of checking out other pages on your site. Make sure that you are giving them somewhere to go!
- Create custom 404 error pages. The default 404 error page is ugly. Having a custom page shows professionalism. Make sure that you create a custom one and preferably have that page point them in the direction of other content on your website.
- Have an author bio. People want to know that content is written by real poeple! Make sure that you include an author bio on any blog post, or page where applicable.
- Include a photo in your author bio. Make sure that you have a good looking, professional photo for each of the individuals that will be writing on your blog. This helps to drive home the point that your content is written by real people!
- Find content that works. Know what content has been popular previously within your industry. My favorite tool for this is BuzzSumo.
- Familiarize yourself with copywriting concepts. There are an unending number of copywriting sources out there to refer to. Understand how to write headlines that attract readers and promote sharing, without coming across as spammy.
- Keep things simple. Don’t write long, excruciating paragraphs. Keep things short, and simple. Give readers visible breaks in your writing and break things up with images and bullet points.
- Always call users to action. You want to make sure that you are always giving directions to your users throughout a post or at the end of a post.
- Incentivize those calls to action. Ask your readers to subscribe if they like what they have read. Offer bonus content in exchange for an email subscription. Go the extra mile to convince them to take action.
- Be controversial. People love a little controversy. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind about individuals within your industry or other bloggers, especially when you have a bone to pick with them.
- Be informative. Make sure that you are providing actual information that your industry needs or lacks, and not just the same old thing that every website in your industry already offers. Be different!
- Use Images. There is no excuse for publishing a post without images. They add to the post as a whole, make it more interesting to the reader and space things out so it is easy to read. When applicable use images that provide information (graphs, infographics, etc).
- Set up your permalinks. The simplest, most basic step that you can take is to ensure that you set your permalinks up appropriately. Keep it simple. Unless you are publishing thousands of pages quickly, you don’t need to include months, days, and years in your URLs.
- Target both long-term, and short-term keywords. Some keywords will be insanely hard to rank for, some will be much easier. Make sure that you have both short-term targets and long-term targets for not only your homepage, but your individual pages as well.
- Have keywords in mind when writing. Whether you are actively trying to rank for a keyword or not, you should at least have one in mind for every blog post that you write. At the very least, do a little keyword research for the subject of each blog post so you know what you can target.
- Use an SEO Plugin. I am a big fan of of the Yoast SEO plugin. It is by far the best that I have come across and is infinitely easy to use.
- Make sure your sitemaps is created. I can’t tell you how many times I have set up a website only to realize weeks later that I never built my sitemap. Do it as soon as you can and make sure that you have it set to auto-update.
- Add meta tags to pages. It might seem like an outdated task, but its such an easy thing to do – why not!
- Make sure images have alt-tags. Every image that you post should have an alt tag. These are displayed when the image fails to load.
- Schedule your social posts in advance. This allows you to do all of your scheduling from the beginning. I would recommend Buffer App, as it allows you to schedule posts for any of the large social networks, several weeks in advance if you pay for the premier version of the app.
- Include social sharing buttons on every post. There is no reason not to encourage your users to share your posts and there are many plugins that can make this functionality come stock, every time you hit the publish button.
- Set up an RSS feed. Although they are not as widely used as they once were, an RSS feed can help drive traffic and make your website more likely to be picked up by other syndication services.
- Be active in LinkedIn Groups and Facebook groups. Both LinkedIn Groups and Facebook groups can be high quality sources for traffic and networking opportunities. Don’t be afraid to take part in these discussions or promote your site (reasonably) on these mediums.
- Seek out guest posting opportunities. Always keep a few articles on the backburner to use for guest posting opportunities. The benefits of guest posting are endless. You not only drive traffic to your website, but build backlinks, grow your network and connections and certify yourself as an expert within your industry.
- Respond to comments. The comments section of your blog is a great place to interact with your readers. Make sure that you are responding to questions and queries as they become available.
- Use outreach software. Personally, I am a big fan of BuzzBundle. It allows you to track the conversations relating to your website or industry nearly anywhere on the net.