Expert Conversations: A Q&A about maximizing ROI on your B-L-O-G
Welcome to “Expert Conversations,” a column featuring expert advice from the people on all sides of the marketing equation. In this series, we’ll interview experts from inside and outside the agency/client world to gain new perspectives on what marketers can do better, what they already do effectively and what it takes to connect to an audience, regardless of industry.
In August 2018, Woodruff’s content director, Andrew Grinch, was a featured speaker at the 20th Annual Ag Media Summit in Scottsdale, AZ. His talk focused on blogging, why it’s still important and some of the critical steps brands often skip in their blogging process.
Blogging has been around essentially since the beginning of the internet. Why is it still relevant?
That is true and I think it’s the nature of any digital marketer to always be looking for the next thing. At Woodruff, we’re guilty of that as well. But the fact of the matter is that blogging continues to be a very effective tactic to help build or enhance the culture of communication with a target audience. You need to have good products and/or services, of course, but blogging can establish you as a thought leader or go-to resource in your field and that can help separate you from your competition.
From a more quantifiable standpoint, blogging is still one of the most effective ways to increase traffic to your website and improve your site ranking in search.
Let’s talk about search. What role should SEO (search engine optimization) play in blogging?
A significant role, and that is probably one of the primary mistakes most brands make when it comes to blogging. SEO in the form of keywords should come into play before a topic is decided and definitely before the post is written. What keywords are getting a lot of search volume, what questions are searchers asking around those keywords? The answers to these questions can help pinpoint what you should blog about and what terms should be used in your blog copy.
There are a variety of ways to do keyword research. A few to consider include:
- Google: Start typing relevant keywords for your industry or topic in a Google search and see what suggestions populate. Scroll to the bottom of the first page of search results to see what other related searches are common.
- Google Ads (formerly AdWords): You can create a free account and navigate to the “keyword planner.” Type in your primary keyword and/or your website. Ideally, you want to look at relevant keywords that are longer tail (three or more words) and have medium competition.
- Keywords Everywhere: This free Chrome extension automatically populates the search field via the keyword planner and third-party aggregators.
In addition to those options, there are several paid keyword tools available. We use a few more robust tools for clients and would be happy to help a brand navigate those waters.
In addition to keywords, what else should be top of mind when it comes to SEO and blogs?
Google uses more than 200 factors in its rankings, so we’d probably need another interview to go into everything, but here are five basic elements that should be considered when posting your blog.
- Word count: Depending on your topic and keywords, you may need your blog to be a certain length to really differentiate it from the competition in search. Having the appropriate word count can help tell Google that your content would be good to deliver to someone searching that topic. There is a free tool available called SEO Quake that provides a variety of search-related information including recommendations on word count.
- Rich media (header image, videos, gifs, etc.): Include images, infographics, videos and/or animated graphics within your blog to help tell search engines that your blog would be a good item to serve up to a searcher. However, you must remember to add alt text to your media. That is the text that describes what is in the image or video. It can also help your blog be found via image search.
- Keyword within the URL: Let’s say the target keywords for your blog post are “fly fishing tips.” Your URL should be something like com/blog/fly-fishing-tips.
- Header tag optimization: It helps to think about your content like a research paper outline, because this is how Google’s crawler sees your blog or page. In a research paper, there is a hierarchy. The overall topic on your page is the “H1.” In our example, that would be “Fly Fishing Tips.” Beneath the H1 of “fly fishing tips,” there may be sub-topics of “tackle” or “rods & reels.” These are your “H2s.” Beneath “tackle,” you may want to talk about different kinds of “tackle” such “fishing line,” “hand-tied flies,” or “hardware.”
- Custom meta title and description: A meta title is what comes up as the title of the page when delivered in search results. The meta description is the text below the title that describes what the page/article is about. This will pull text from the page or article by default, but you can be purposeful with it. The meta titles and descriptions don’t help you rank in search, but having a compelling meta title and description can help you get more clicks, which ultimately does help you perform well in search. com is a great resource for SEO-related terminology, such as meta descriptions, and overall best practices.
Stepping away from SEO, what else do brands struggle with when it comes to blogging?
Two things: lack of promotion and lack of measurement. Unless you have an established website and blog that get a very high volume of traffic, you need to promote your blog. It may sound obvious, but you should be promoting your blog content on your social channels. Besides just putting the link to your blog into a Facebook post or tweet, consider adding an image from the post or pull a quote from your post to help lure the audience to click to read more.
One other recommendation when it comes to social promotion is to spend some money to boost your posts to your followers and perhaps to audiences outside your following. Organic traffic on social channels isn’t what it used to be, even for those who follow or like your page. Put some money behind your posts. You don’t need to spend much to make an impact.
And when it comes to measurement, make sure your website is connected to Google Marketing Platform (formerly Google Analytics). From there you can track all sorts of KPIs (key performance indicators) on your website and blog traffic. This can help you better understand what blog content is — or isn’t — working so you can adjust your strategy.
Any final thoughts?
As we pointed out, blogging is not new, but there are always new and emerging best practices to apply to make sure your blog is relevant and getting clicks. If your blog needs a refresh or a partner to help move it forward, we are happy to help.