A 6-Step Framework for Purposeful Blogging
While blogging with a clear strategy in mind can be very beneficial, falling into the trap of posting just to post will leave you with lackluster results and probably a bit of frustration.
Lucky for you, we are going to share a simple six-step process that will allow you to create blog posts that attract qualified traffic to your website and help you generate quality leads.
1. Defining Your Idea Customer
Meredith Hill once said, “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” This holds true in all marketing, especially when you are creating content.
- What level of knowledge does your customer already have?
- What pain points are most sensitive with your audience?
- What problems with your industry does your product or service solve?
These are just a few questions you should be asking yourself before creating a blog post. Taking a step back, if you haven’t narrowed in on an audience, you must first define who your ideal customer is and then start to ask questions like those above. Better understanding your audience will allow you to build greater credibility while bringing tremendous value to them via blog posts.
2. Identifying Popular Topics
One of the easiest ways to figure out what topics to cover on your blog is by seeing what has proven to be popular in your industry. Tools like Buzzsumo will allow you to enter keywords and see the most popular content focused around those terms.
One mistake commonly made when using this strategy is not looking at the popularity of the site publishing content. Let’s use Business Insider for example. A mediocre post presented to a large audience may get more engagement than it deserves, but going down the list is where real value starts to happen from an SEO perspective. According to a study completed by Columbia University and the French National Institute, “59% of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked.” To find topics that really engage users, look for content near the top of the lists that was posted on smaller sites. Repeat the research process for 5-10 keywords and record the page titles and a summary of the content topics, along with the URLS for step three.
3. Conducting Long Tail Research
Whenever you publish new content, you can share it on social media or with your email list, but that is not where the real SEO benefits come from. Each piece of content you create can draw targeted visitors from search, so long as you have a long tail keyword strategy in place.
One of the simplest ways to find long tail keywords opportunities is to look at what your competitors are doing. SEMrush (shown) and Ahrefs are both tools that allow you to pull in a competitor page and see what keywords their content is showing up for. Grab the list you made in step two and put the first url into your keyword research tool of choice. This example is based on the previous Buzzsumo search for "blogging," in which beautifuldawndesigns.net appeared atop the list behind a more well-known site.
Below is another example of some long tail keywords used in a blog post about a different topic: plastic surgery marketing. If you were to write a post on the same topic, pull in the most popular pieces of content for the term and see what long tails keywords they have in their content. Make a list of terms from the top blog posts and then work those into your content as you are able.
4. Deliver Unique Insights or Opinions
Once you have an idea, you know who you are writing to and you know what keywords can bring traffic to your post, you must use that information to deliver something of value. In some industries, the process or products everyone uses could be very similar. To differentiate in cases like that, personality in your content is key. Marketers do everything from writing content that goes against popular opinion to joking to creating their unique persona, so don’t be afraid to take a strong stance with your content.
In other fields, there may be many ways to complete a process, if that is the case with yours, demonstrate through your content how your method works, why it works, or even run a test to disprove a commonly believed theory. Whatever you do, try not to just have someone re-word an existing piece of content without adding any new value.
5. Post-Publishing Optimization of Long Tail Keywords
You researched and created something spectacular, but it isn’t gaining any traction – why is that? Chances are it is because your long tail keywords are not ranking, and you are missing the traffic you set out to capture.
Since you have a list of long tail terms you used in the content, set up a rank tracker and see how those terms are performing. If they are not in the top 3-5 spots, you need to do some follow-on optimization. The amount of time and money you spend on this should vary based on the value of the terms you are promoting, so don’t go crazy trying to get a keyword with 10 monthly searches from position three to position one unless it is for a product or service that justifies the investment.
Once you decide how much time or money you are willing to invest, there are two ways you can improve the content: on-page refinement and link building. Find the top-ranking sites for your long tail keywords and do a side-by-side comparison. As with finding content ideas, leaving out authority sites ranking for your terms will net more useful comparison data. Once you have a list of ranking sites, check the following:
- What is the average content length of pages outranking yours?
- What are the keyword density percentage averages of pages outranking yours?
- Do they use video or multiple images in their content?
- What is the overall authority of their site compared to yours?
- How many unique referring domains do they have pointing to the blog post on average?
In most cases you will find opportunities to tweak your content to be in line with what Google already likes. You will also find that competitors with more quality links to their entire site or to the specific blog post. In those cases, you need to setup an ongoing link building campaign. If you plan to blog often, building your overall site authority through link building will enable you to rank more quickly for long tail terms contained in your new posts.
6. Trim the Fat
Almost everyone has written a blog post that flopped. No matter what you do, it just won’t gain any traction. Sometimes these blog posts even rank and bring traffic to your site, but the bounce rate is horrible. When this happens to you, don’t be afraid to get rid of the post. You can write new content on the topic and redirect the old post to the new one if it has acquired links or you can simply delete it from your site. In doing so, you will consolidate the “power” of your site to pages people do like.
Purposeful blogging takes careful planning and hard work. Creating a successful post and more importantly, the framework for ongoing success is well worth the effort though. If you are blogging just to have new content on your site or you are working with a company who haphazardly throws up a new blog post every couple of weeks without a clear plan to promote it, now is the time to implement the steps above and make your words work for you in 2018.