Whether you are new to blog writing for search engines, or a seasoned pro, you can always be better at blog seo and marketing techniques. A few questions I hear all the time are: “how do I develop content for my blog”, “how do I know what keywords to target”, and “how do I make my blog mobile friendly”?
When you saw the title of this post, you might have been thinking, “these are pretty diverse subjects, why is he lumping them all together in one article”? The reason is, blog writing should be targeted to long tail keywords, because effective blog writing answers questions, which are usually asked in more than a few words – i.e., “long-tail” keywords. Mobile optimization relates to this subject because people are increasingly asking those questions by voice search on their phones & mobile devices. YOU want to be the authority that answers these questions with your blog writing!
I will now discuss the three topics separately: what to blog about & how to come up with topics, long-tail keyword research, and optimizing for mobile.
Blog Writing – What to Write About
The biggest challenge in blog writing is finding authoritative topics that people want to know about, are talking about, and asking about. To be really clear on this point, because it is ultra-important: these are NOT the same as topics YOU want to tell them about.
There are three basic types of blog posts: articles with an image, a video, and a podcast.
- Articles – keep it authoritative: How-tos, resources, sharable funny stories/images. AVOID “news”, especially regurgitated or stolen news content.
- Videos – keep them short and focused (TWO min. max on ONE topic), produce professionally if possible, style it for your industry (dress, background etc.), and use a logo intro (looks better when shared) and contact info with a call-to-action, such as “learn more on our website”, at the end.
- Podcasts – talk about what you do and ANSWER questions your customers might ask. Interview format is a great way to do it. A one-hour podcast recording session can yield multiple blog posts – one for each topic discussed, and an e-book for same.
The first step is to brainstorm some blog writing topics for any of the above types of posts. A great way to do this is to get your customer-facing staff together for a lunch. Have them each write down the top ten questions they get asked by customers. The answers to those questions are your blog writing topics! Remember to make your blog posts sharable. Include social media and email sharing buttons!
The above process automatically gives you “authority marketing” content. Why does it work? Because you can OWN some long-tail keyword terms in a well-defined niche related to your business. These terms are usually inexpensive in PPC, and have low competition in organic search results because they are long tail, and are authoritative because this is info being searched for by YOUR prospective customers!
Long-Tail Keyword Research
A long-tail keyword is any search phrase that is three words or more, and usually three to five words. They have far less search volume than other keyword phrases, but are usually much more targeted to specific buyers and clients, and therefore produce much more qualified leads. There is much less competition for those phrases, and in PPC these keyword phrases are thus much less expensive. This makes them an excellent choice for your blog writing!
Remember those “answers” you and your team wrote down in your blog topics brainstorm session I outlined above? Those answers also contain the “seed” terms for your long-tail keyword search terms. Pick the key descriptive terms out of your blog article titles and dump them into a keyword research tool like keywordtool.io or Google AdWords Keyword Planner. The catch with the latter is that you must have an AdWords account to use it. I highly suggest you think about opening an AdWords account to take advantage of this tool. If you don’t want to really use AdWords, just set up a $1.00 daily budget, with one ad, and one keyword, with a max bid of 10 cents. There are plenty of resources online to help you set up AdWords, and use the Keyword Planner tool.
Beware that Google Analytics is not a very good source of keyword data for your site because they no longer give useful keyword data. Instead, you get the dreaded “not provided” keywords. These “not provided” keywords appear in your reports when logged in Google users perform a search because Google doesn’t want you and I to have any data on their logged in users actions.
Need another great way to discover new long-tail terms? Set up “social listening” streams on hootsuite.com! Get Hootsuite here. You can set up “listening” streams based on your known converting “head” terms, long tail terms, or even your brand. By monitoring discussions about your chosen terms on social media, you can discover keywords that Google doesn’t even know about yet, and doesn’t include in their keyword search volume numbers. Why is this? It is because approximately 15% of ALL searches on Google have never been searched before, and these are mostly long-tail keyword searches. This means the terms have limited or even NO competition, so are cheap in PPC, and easy to rank for organically! How’s that for a win-win-win for your blog writing efforts?
You can see a full explanation of how to set up social listening streams with Hootsuite here.
People LOVE their phones. Maybe a little TOO much. This means optimizing for mobile devices is critical in this day and age. People now often search using voice commands. The recent Google Hummingbird search engine algorithm was put in place, in part, to make Google handle natural language search and voice search better.
Mobile visits are usually somewhere between 30% and 60% of your website traffic, depending on industry, and this is increasing as I write this. It will probably have increased more by the time you finish reading read this. So get to it!! Some web marketing “gurus” are now even recommending that sites be designed FIRST for mobile, THEN adapted to desktop! This is a completely new way of thinking about website design! For many businesses, most “first contacts” are now on mobile, so a bad mobile experience can mean your top-of-the-funnel lead generation suffers greatly!
There are three types of mobile websites:
- Pinch/zoom of the standard website, which is controlled using the “meta viewport” tag. Your site should start out sized to the device, but be zoomable/pichable to enable easy navigation, image viewing, and filling out of forms.
- Responsive Designs. The BEST choice, esp. for small businesses. Let’s you maintain content on ONE site and not have to always edit a main site and a mobile site! There are many excellent templates for responsive site in WordPress.
- Separate mobile sites. For example, mobile.yoursite.com. These are okay for bigger businesses with sizable teams to maintain them, but often lack the features of a full site and can be frustrating to use for your site visitors.
There are easy ways for even the smallest website owner to test their site’s mobile display and user interface. Google Webmaster Tools just added a “Mobile Usability” feature that gives an excellent quick overview report. If you have a Google login you have access to Webmaster Tools. You just need to set up your site in WT and verify it. There are plenty of instructions for this online. Once you are set up in WT, the mobile feature is found under: Search Traffic -> Mobile Usability. It gives a great initial overview of your site’s mobile setup, and you can lick each error for more details and recommendations. Usertesting.com is another good resource. Just register and pay the $49 fee, and then you have access to their “user army”. Tell them what to test, and what you are looking for, and they respond with video and audio of your site or app being used. It is truly invaluable information you can’t get anywhere else unless you have a budget for a complete in-house user testing team!
- This is INBOUND Marketing! You want to discover what people are looking for, and provide it in your blog writing, not tell them what you want them to know. BE FOUND!
- ANSWER questions that people are asking, and remember that a significant percentage of all searches on Google are new, and thus will not appear in keyword search volume research – so use the “social listening” tools like Hootsuite.com.
- Effective keyword research drives blog content that can be found easily using the new ways people search – voice and natural language searches.
- Having at least basic mobile optimization of your site is CRITICAL, as 30-60% of visits are now mobile, and that is increasing daily.
Now go out there and show everyone how great you are by answering the pressing questions people want to know about, with your blog writing expertise. Be seen as a thought-leader in your industry. Give your site visitors a great mobile device experience with easy ways to contact you. Now you are really cooking!