Cheat Sheet: Blogs

Last Updated: 17/06/2014

cheat-sheet-blogs

A blog is a great way to ensure your website is getting fresh content, and gives your readers a reason to keep coming back to your site. Employing the ideas in this check-list will ensure that your blog posts are infinitely more searchable, findable and sharable.

SEO Data

In order for your blog to be visible in the search engines for relevant search queries you must ensure the various SEO elements are optimised. If you are using a blog platform such as WordPress you can download plugins (such as Yoast’s SEO Plugin) that help you insert meta data, tags etc. For other on-page SEO elements please see my SEO Cheatsheet.

  • Title: Ensure the article is given an optimised meta title (as opposed to the editorial title) with keywords
  • Description: Make this click-worthy. Remember, this is what people will likely see in the search engines and when the article is shared on social media!
  • Keywords: Do your keyword research and use within your content. Long-tail for the win.
  • Keyword Tags: Utilise appropriate tags (5-10 is perfect)
  • Optimised URL: Ensure URL is optimised with keywords – Modify if necessary
  • Category: Select and appropriate category (or create new) as this can form part of the URL

Encouraging Social Shares

Having share buttons is not enough, many people will simply overlook them. Ask readers to click the “Like” buttons etc within the body of your article. Near the start and at the end is ideal. Try including a call-to-action next to the share buttons to encourage extra shares.Encourage additional social media 'shares' by simply asking#ProTip: If you are looking for more followers and engagement on your social media profiles, you may think about replacing blog comment functionality with a call-to-action to comment on your Facebook page for instance.  [Tweet This]

“Last Updated:”

Certain fast-moving industry articles would benefit from a “last updated” section in addition to the “Published:” section as often articles will need to be revised or updated and your readers will be looking for the most relevant and up-to-date content available.

Links to Relevant External Content

  • Share the love! Link out to awesome resources that support your content. Readers will find your content much more valuable if you collate appropriate tools, articles, data, quotes etc.
  • Build relationships and earn natural reciprocal links from authors who you link out to

Multi-Media Content

People absorb and share information/content in different ways so it is worthwhile repurposing content where appropriate and possible. The visual content revolution is here so spice up your tedious text-based articles with…

  • Images/Slideshows/Galleries/Memes
  • Stats/Data visualisation/Infographics/Charts
  • Videos (from YouTube, VideoJug, DailyMotion etc)
  • Embedded Games/Songs/Soundbites
  • Polls
  • Quotes (which influencers or thought leaders share your ideas?)
  • Downloads (e.g. PDF)
  • Etc. Let your imagination run wild!
  • People will more likely link/share content formats that appeal to them so cover your bases with multiple formats

Video Sitemap

If you use videos within your blogs make sure you include them in a XML video sitemap to potentially obtain a rich snippet. See my Video SEO Cheatsheet for more information.

Links From Relevant Internal Pages/Services

  • Does your blog support a product or service you sell? Link to your relevant posts from the product/service pages.
  • Don’t hide your awesome articles, flaunt the content you are proud of. Use eye-catching headlines or images to link to them
  • Always try to have at least one other relevant blog post to link to at the end of each of your articles to increase click-through and reduce bounce rate

Engaging Article Image, Title & Opening Paragraph

  • When shared or previewed, the title, opening paragraph and supporting image thumbnail are what people will see when posted on Facebook for instance. Make sure each element is intriguing enough to earn a click through to your article.

“On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest”Jeff Bullas

#ProTip: Use Portent’s Title Generator tool to inspire intriguing title ideas [Tweet This]

#ProTip: Make your blog title highly Tweetable so that your article gets shared around and generates more interest [Tweet This]

  • The first paragraph is also critical and time should be spent crafting it (like Eugene Schwartz) to hook the reader.
  • Consider opening with an intriguing question and aim to resolve it as you go
  • Or consider opening with a hard-hitting statistic, or staggering fact or clever quote

Summary of Takeaways

  • Help people get the gist of your article in a limited time-frame and end your article on a high.
  • Use bullet points or a different colour/font so they stand out
  • These singled-out nuggets/quotes are excellent “share bait” so encourage people to Tweet them on your behalf – use clicktotweet.com‘s service.

Inquisitive Sub-Headings

  • For those who tend to scan over endless articles and web content, make them stop in their tracks and actually read your masterpiece…or at least the parts that appeal to them.
  • Divide your content with compelling sub-headings to make your post more readable.
  • Format for skimmming

Formatting

  • In addition to readability, don’t underestimate the power of ‘pretty’ content. Remember a ‘share’ is a personal recommendation, and why would you recommend ugly/tired/crap/boring content?
  • Consider fonts, colours, borders, bullets, text size etc to make sure your post stands out from the crowd.
  • Break up long paragraphs – aim for 2-3 sentances per block

Design

  • Declutter. Avoid pop-ups and excessive ads
  • Include branding
  • Avoid a mis-mash of colours – try and stick to 2-3 brand colours
  • Avoid big blocks of text
  • Choose a readable font – keep it consistent with website and marketing literature fonts
  • Keep the navigation and layout consistent with the rest of the site
  • Keep main elements and functionality above the fold where possible
  • Don’t stick with dynamically-generated URLs. Optimise where possible
  • Make sure contact/about information is visible
  • Ensure mobile friendliness
  • Include a printer-friendly option where appropriate
  • Balance social sharing buttons effectively with design

Comments

  • Consider disabling comments in favour of sending readers to Facebook to discuss
  • Always encourage comments and feedback…and respond!
  • Consider using comment filters to limit spam

Blog Inspiration

Many top bloggers cite their top tip to building a popular blog is writing consistently and regularly but finding things to write about all the time can be tricky. Here are [some] ideas to get you going…

  • Start a discussion in a LinkedIn group, Google+ community, on Quora or an industry-specific forum and write up the outcomes. Let it inspire further blog topics
  • Breaking/trending news
  • Predictions
  • Customer pain points/problems
  • Client successes/case studies
  • What NOT to do…
  • Interviews
  • Content aimed at customer personas/sub-markets (hyper-targeted content)
  • “How-to”…
  • Write up an industry conference/company presentation
  • Poll/survey
  • “Top [#]…” lists
  • Coverage of relevant events
  • Joint/collaborative articles
  • Tutorials

#ProTip: Got a great blog post idea? Go straight to your “add new” button, write the title and a contents page and save as draft. Come back to this when you have time.

Author Bio

  • A clever author biography is a pitch to get readers to discover more from you.
  • Be real, fun and clever in your author bio and encourage readers to connect on social media.
  • When guest blogging, tailor the author bio to the individual blog so you connect with their audience.
  • Cookie-cutter bio links could get penalised by Google’s policies in the future.

PROMOTION

Arguably the most important stage – If no-one knows your content exists, why bother?

  • Link to your blog and top posts throughout your website
  • Utilise existing relationships on Facebook/Twitter/Google+/Pinterest/LinkedIn etc
  • Guest posting/contributing on other related blogs
  • Bookmarking within relevant categories on StumbleUpon, Reddit, Technorati (etc.)
  • Building an enthusiastic mailing list following with consistently great content
  • Connecting and building a respected presence on relevant forums – offer a few tips in a relevant thread and invite them to check out your awesome blog post
  • Submit to relevant social media communities and groups (#ProTip: Ask individuals to contribute and reference them – they may promote on your behalf)
  • Share to the “Public” group on Google+ (#ProTip: Consider emailing content directly to followers you KNOW will enjoy the content)
  • Email footer links
  • Share buttons – use in conjunction with calls-to-action. Don’t overwhelm the reader with too many options.
  • Show appreciation for shares and links to maximise potential for future shares/links
  • Get real-world contacts to syndicate/share your content
  • Good old-fashioned outreach to influential site/blog owners in your niche (Can you get a quote from them? They will be more inclined to promote it too!)
  • Paid advertising if appropriate/affordable
  • Ask for a link – Make it easy, give them the html code, give them the shortened URL
  • Use tools such as Tynt (www.tynt.com) which automatically adds your URL when readers copy+paste excerpts of your content
  • Comment on the related posts above yours in Google to get a contextual link and traffic
  • Set up Google Alerts for your post’s main keywords to recieve promotion opportunities

Final #ProTips

  • Write articles in packs of 3 and interlink – this gives the reader a doorway to more related content [Tweet This]
  • Go big. “Power articles” (1000-2000+ words) often do well but every single sentence should have a purpose [Tweet This]
  • Use a powerful story to underline your blog’s point – memorable and engaging to the end [Tweet This]