Blog Post by Sarah Malcolm, Chief Digital Strategist at The News Funnel
Content marketers throw around the term "best-practices" assuming everyone knows what they are. Those best practices depend on the type of content marketing and change as digital marketing evolves. When it comes to blogging, the internet is your oyster. Some people publish silly, short blogs while others compose formal, well-researched blogs that scroll for miles. Blog subject matter varies widely, as does the writer's personality. Nonetheless, certain characteristics are commonly accepted as best practices that encourage a higher search engine ranking placement to drive more traffic to the blog.
1. Subheaders and numbered lists
Most blog readers do not read every single word. Subheaders break the text into manageable sections and help readers find the information they seek. Both long and short form blogs benefit from segmenting texts with subheads. Numbered or bulleted lists have the same effect. Lists break massive chunks of text into digestible segments for your readers while highlighting key content.
Another advantage to using subheaders is search engine spiders index the heads for keywords. Using appropriate keywords in subheaders can boost search engine placement of the individual blogs. Subheads help with mobile optimization and help blogs display better on small screens.
Posts with images gain 94% more total views than those without. Why? The human brain processes visuals faster than textual information, and people are more likely to remember images over text. Images help readers digest the general blog content, and they add SEO value. By applying the blog's optimal keywords to the image alt-tag, search engine spiders understand what the page is all about and in turn, help rank the page. Plus, smart, high-quality images establish brand credibility and quality. People value smart visual design.
The best bloggers engage the readers on the page. The call-to-action either captures a visitor's contact information or offers additional content to their audience. Information capture ranges from a "subscribe for blog updates" to "register for our group." Additional valuable content could be a downloadable white paper, an e-book, or a PDF related to the contents they are reading. Other calls to action request visitors leave comments and engage in discussion. Whatever the call to action is, the purpose is to keep the visitor engaging with the content or the brand in some form. This engagement drives the visitor further into the buyer's process.
4. Inlinks and outbound links
Links are another way of building authority and helping search engine spiders understand the page. Outbound links show that you have researched your data or you've built relationships on the world wide web. Not only is a good practice to link to the original blog or data, it's how to build good will while avoiding plagiarism and libel. Inlinks, or links to other pages on your blog, help spiders understand what other content is related to that particular blog entry. Inlinks further promote readers to engage with older content.
Dead blogs generate no traffic. Posting on a regular basis tells search engines that your blog is not dead. A search engine is more likely to direct query tours a blog shows regular activity. Frequency matters when keeping and growing an active subscriber base. Regardless of your schedule--daily, weekly, or monthly-- make it clear when readers can expect new content and stick to the schedule.
6. Share buttons
Give readers the opportunity to share the incredible content with their networks. Adding share buttons makes free distribution easy! Offer platforms that make sense for your audience and make it easy for them to click and promote.
7. Keywords, not clickbait.
Clickbait refers to content generated for the purpose of ranking well on search engines, but not for quality reading. Search engines are getting smarter about weeding clickbait content. Keywords are important, but it’s becoming less necessary to use the exact phrase multiple times in the content. A natural writing style works best in retaining readership and driving website traffic, not clickbait. Do keep in mind the keywords your audience is likely to search for and organically craft content that attracts them.
Of course, there's more to blogging best practices, mostly related to good search engine optimization. Blog experts will expound on quality over quantity, optimal publishing times, and content variety as other additional blogging best practices. Doing what will help rank the blog post on the first page is just as vital as avoiding common blogging mistakes.