Today we want to emphasize the importance of a blog to ensure everyone understand the value a blog plays in original content development. We will provide a step-by-step guide on how to establish a blogWhat best practices to emulate How to increase visibility for your blog And how to measure the impact of your blog on your organization’s success.
…so let’s get started with the importance of a blog
There are numerous reasons why social media and inbound marketing took off but one reason was the decline of the economy which placed traditional outbound marketing out of budget for most struggling organizations. Then came along the rise of the concept of inbound marketing coined by Hubspot who made it a household name in the marketing industry.Inbound Marketing demonstrated you could leverage content to attract people to your organization and drive brand awarenessBlogging is one of the most effective ways to build inbound traffic
The reason why blogging is such an effective tool for driving traffic and ultimately awareness for an organization is because it is original content. inbound marketing has become far more powerful and effective than outbound marketing: We’ve increasingly seen that people are more likely to share actions or educational pieces over social media than they are to forward an email. Blogging provides you a platform to expose your organization to new audiences, research, opportunities …. It builds awareness for your organization, your cause and your work…. It helps respond to frequently asked questions or inquiries.And very importantly, it is a cost-effective tool to mobilize people.
This quote is by a researcher who decided to do a mini study on the impact Social Media had on getting her work into the public eye. She saw rates go from one or two downloads over months or even years to an average of 70 within 24 hours of blogging and tweeting.I love the quote because it demonstrates how powerful a tool blogging can be for an organization and for individuals. It expands the reach of any initiative whether that it is publishing an article or hosting an event.
Formany, blogging is a daunting task, but this next section will help guide you through a process to minimize the confusion and to increase your understanding about blogging.
It might be helpful to provide a few definitions and terms traditionally associated with blogging. Plus, it will impress your webmaster when you use the right lingo. (Review slide)
(Review slide)One thing to consider is ensuring your blog is mobile friendly as many users.Most of these platforms here have free plugins that offer mobile capability or are mobile by default.
You should have a clear goal for what you want to accomplish with your blog. That will determine who your audience is. For instance, if your blog is intended to advance multiple program goals it may need to reach multiple audiences. You need to define who those are.Is it moms? Policy makers? Practitioners? Community groups? Researchers? Media? Parents? Teachers? Clearly identifying your audience will help you hone in on the right tone and the right stories to coverIt will also help you identify who should blog and what topics each blogger should address
The Edelman Trust survey is an annual survey put out by a well-known PR agency. I thought I’d share this to make the point that readers want to hear from certain bloggers more than others. Here you can see that they really want to hear from experts – academicians, technical experts, even CEOs. They don’t typically want to hear from anonymous communications staff or interns.That said there a few tricks to getting bylines from those busy, high-profile people:You can get agreement from high profile folks on topics to cover, then draft a ghost blog or blogs on their behalf and get approval and edits from them before publication.You can use social networking tools like twitter to build relationships with potential guest bloggers.You can also make the effort to build more junior staff into trusted voices in the blogosphere. Doing so requires planning and repeated posts but is very possible.
At the foundation, we’ve developed a nine-step process that may be a useful model for your organization. It starts with a combination of preplanned topics and opportunistic scanning of current news as a jumping off point for drafting blogs.It includes at least one revision cycle, and accommodates multiple approvals. Our process, for instance, includes a legal review.After publications, it also includes a monitoring process for any response that may need to be addressed
I think it is useful to understand what the ground rules are for blogging and to share those with the individuals in your organization. Again, this is a model you can follow or tweak to further define the style and expectations for your organization.
Brainstorm an initial list of blog topics. As you read the news, some of these topics may suddenly come alive for you. Using an item in the news to frame your post/video will give it the timeliness that attracts readers.React to current events. When some event in your area of focus sparks you… makes you angry, strikes you as untrue, makes you think, ‘yeah, but there’s a lot more to say about that’… write down your thoughts as soon as you can so you can begin shaping into a post or video script.While we recommend leveraging current events, you need to balance responding to news with your key areas of focus. Here are a few suggestions that may be helpfulNever break from your key messages/points.Only respond to current news to the extent that it offers a timely springboard into conversations that you’re already planning to have.
Not only does this give you the opportunity to think about tying in annual events and seasonal cyclicality but also gives you visibility to how you are planning across the various channels. An editorial calendar should include dates, owners, topic and resources.At ReachLocal we shared this on Google Docs and edit in real time at a weekly editorial meeting.
Onceyou have your list of topics and have plotted them into an editorial calendar, it’s time to start writing. The basic guidelines for ensuring a blog post is as compelling as possible are pretty straightforward.One topic or idea per blog postWrite headline firstUse headingsAlways add a photoLink to existing post or webpageAdd a call to action or request for feedback/commentsAs you can see, these are short. Once you share these with others in the organization, the idea of blogging is a lot less intimidating. (Review slide)
Of course the real trick is putting words on paper. The question I most often get is “how do I get started.” I often use one of these two approaches to develop a post and I’ve trained our bloggers at the foundation to use this methodology. (explain the 2 processes)(could also mention the leave-behind if we decide to work the slides in the back into a document.”
There are also a few technical tips – about title length and directness, about blog length and about linking strategies – that I keep in mind as an editor and ask my bloggers to bear in mind as well.The takeaway here is that you always need to be thinking about brevity and clarity when you craft a post. Online readers and viewers will typically give you 1-3 minutes at best. You need to make sure if you’re writing that you give readers a good sense of what you’re writing about at a single glance.If you’re positing videos, make sure they’re short and, above all, make sure the audio is decent. (review slide)
Now that we’ve covered the key elements in establishing a blog, let’s discuss best practices that ensure your blog is “sticky” to your followers.
Just like a news site, you should think of your content as mix of news, how to’s, and features and opinionsEach of these pieces of content is written differently with potentially different intent: Inform, education, take action
(Review the slide)
So the best way to pick keywords once we’ve identified relative topics is to see how much search volume and competition there is. Using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool we can enter a target keyword and get an assessment for the attractiveness of the keyword.Two ways to look at thisThe higher the competiveness the harder it will be to rankThe higher the traffic the more likely you will get trafficOne strategy could be to pick medium competition keywords with highest traffic.Caution is to not spend more than 15 minutes on this. Once you pick a keyword phrase move forward.
Animated SlideSo let’s look at this another way. Our goal is to pick keywords with quite a bit of local trafficIn this image I’ve resorted the previous screen by local monthly searches to find other keyword matchesAs we look down the left we see the top ranking phrases and you see you could even combine a few into one phraseHow To Volunteer in Austin or How to Volunteer at Safeplace in Austin
We have emphasized the importance of headlines during the media relations and social media webinars, but it is worth repeating that this is the one element that decides whether or not a reader keeps reading or moves on. It’s job is to clearly communicate the benefit you’ll deliver to the reader in exchange for their valuable time.
There are many ways to source photos but you want to make sure you remember copyright lawsFlickr offers a way to pull what is called Creative Commons photos where often times you can use an image as long as you give attribution to the ownerYour own photos are always the bestiStock and 123RF are paid photo services. 123RF is a lot cheaper than iStock but is a European-based company so the images are a bit more international looking.
touched on calendaring on mixing content up. Another related thing to bear in mind is frequency – it’s critically important to gaining loyalty and repeat traffic among your audience and ensuring your message resonates.According to Edelman’s trust survey, an individual must see a statement 3-5 times before they believe it is true. You’ve probably seen this in practice when you say the same thing 20-30 times, then one day a colleague walks into a meeting and says, “I had this great idea…!” Then you hear your words coming out of their mouths.That means you need posters to post on a repeated basis. It also means you need different posters to hone in on the same key messages. Finally it means you need to have 1-2 new posts a week.Of course, we recognize that posting 1-2 per week may seem like a lot. Just remember that it can be a mix of original content, responding to current events or addressing questions that your community asks about your organization.
To build a community make sure you have someone responsible for monitoring and responding to commentsDepending on the content management system you use, you may be able to install a comment management system such ad Disqus or LiveFyre that allow commenters to easily login their identity via Twitter or Facebook, including their Avatar in the comment. These commenting systems also have spam management capabilities as well(review slide)
If you have followed the suggestions in the front sections, you have invested time and energy to getting the right content for the right audience and in the right format. But that doesn’t mean you will get the following that you seek. This next section provides a few suggestions to help you expand your reach and visibility for your blog to ensure greater ROI for your efforts.
If you don’t have a blog, we highly recommend it because it is what feeds all your platforms. When blogging it’s important to consider the power of search engines in driving awareness and engagement. Regardless of the fact that you are creating a blog or a profile for one of your platforms, here are 10 tips to help maximize your visibility.Define 1 Target KeywordEnsure Target Keyword is In Headline – Earlier the betterInclude Keyword 2-3 Times in 1st ParagraphInclude Keyword Once In Each Remaining Paragraphs Add a Hyperlink in Every Post to Existing Post Rename Image Files to Target Keyword Ideally 300+ Words per Post Use Alt-Text Keywords in Every HyperlinkInclude a Minimum of 1 Outbound Link With Keywords in Alt-Text Modify Meta Title and Meta Description
Rememberthat your Meta Title and Description are very helpful in driving SEOYour on page Title may be catchy to get folks to read while your SEO Meta Title is keyword optimized: Meta Title: Max length here for Google 60 charactersMeta Description: Max length 160 characters. This is what is shown in description of post on GoogleKeywords: Be consistent on keyword usage
There are many ways to drive visibility of your blog. (review slide)Blog Directories allow you to submit your website which serve as an inbound link
How to Launch a Blog Gangnam Style
Director of Marketing, ReachLocal Chairman, Social Media Club of DallasDirector of Marketing, ReachLocal @MikeDMerrillChairman, Social Media Club of Dallas@MikeDMerrill
@MikeDMerrillToday’s Agenda The Importance of a Blog How To Establish a Blog Blogging Best Practices Increasing Visibility Q&A and Discussion www.mikemerrill.com 2
@MikeDMerrillAbout Me Companies Experience Accounting Business Development Operations Marcom Management Outside Sales Product Marketing Social Media Product Management Content Marketing Organizations Education www.mikemerrill.com 3
@MikeDMerrillThe Rise of Inbound Marketing Outbound Inbound Marketing Marketing/ /Permission Interruption • Telemarketing • SEO / SEM • Direct mail • Blogging • Email blasts • Social Media • Print Ads • RSS • Radio Ads • Free tools/trials • Trade shows • PR From Interruption to Conversation www.mikemerrill.com
@MikeDMerrillOriginal Content Is Key To Building The Brand Blog posts can: Expose you to new audiences, research, opportunities Build awareness for your organization and cause/work Help respond to frequently asked questions or inquiries Be a cost-effective tool to mobilize people Help search engine optimization to get more traffic www.mikemerrill.com 6
@MikeDMerrillBlogging Extends Reach “Most of my papers, before I blogged and tweeted them, had one to two downloads, even if they had been in the repository for months (or years, in some cases). Upon blogging and tweeting, within 24 hours, there were, on average, 70 downloads of my papers.” Writing in the LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog, the Co-Director of University College London Centre for Digital Humanities writes about blogging on 26 articles that she’d previously published in refereed journals. www.mikemerrill.com 7
@MikeDMerrillBlog Definitions • SEO: Search Engine Optimization. Techniques used to improve search engine rankings • CMS: short for Content Management System. Software used to publish and manage websites. • Index Page: the front page of the blog • Header: The top part of the blog usually the blog title • Footer: the bottom part of the blog usually listing navigation and copyright statements • Categories: A collection of topic-specific posts • Tags: an index term assigned to a piece of information • Post or entry: An entry written and published to a blog • Blog Template: the blog design • Permalink: A link to a specific article • RSS (Really Simple Syndication): Allows readers to easily subscribe and be notified when a new blog is posted • Blog Client: software to manage and publish blog. Examples include Wordpress, Blogger, Posterous, Drupal, Joomla, etc www.mikemerrill.com 9
@MikeDMerrillBlog SoftwareIdeally the blog is part of your existing domainand Content Management SystemTypes of Software Posterous and Tumblr Focus on ease of use and simple features Wordpress and Blogger Numerous templates and plug-ins Can run as a simple to medium complex website Most popular Joomla and Drupal Full-featured website content management systems typically requiring programmer Joomla www.mikemerrill.com 10
@MikeDMerrillStep 1: MatchYour Audience ToYour Goals Choosing who you write for depends on having a clear mission for your blog If the blog is intended to advance multiple program goals, who does it need to reach? Is it moms? Policy makers? Practitioners? Community groups? Researchers? Media? Parents? Teachers? Clearly identifying your audience will help you hone in on the right tone and the right stories to cover It will also help you identify who should blog and what topics each blogger should address www.mikemerrill.com 11
Step 2: DefineYour Process 1. Define a key set of issues for each blogger 2. Brainstorm 5-6 posts they plan to write (or talk about in video) 3. Assign an editor to scan news sources, and send relevant stories to bloggers based on focus areas 4. Blogger should submit post to editor a minimum of 3 days before publication 5. Editor edits, sends to blogger for revision 6. Blogger revises, resubmits post to editor for approval 7. Editor approves, routes for additional approvals (ideally the editor should have no more than one additional point of contact for final blessing) 8. When final approvals received, editor publishes 9. Blogger & editor monitor responses; blogger responds if needed 13
@MikeDMerrillStep 3: Set Ground Rules Be conversational, but professional Build conversations, provide avenues for others to comment Cultivate a personal voice, but use it to express the position of your organization Balance passion and precision with facts Be prepared to answer questions or criticisms in the responses www.mikemerrill.com 14
@MikeDMerrillStep 4: Identify Blog TopicsWhat topics and keywords will attract youraudience? Review top 50 keywords used to find your website – Google Analytics Answer frequently asked questions React to current events and news ‒ Never break from your key messages/points ‒ Only respond to current news to the extent that it offers a timely springboard into conversations that you’re already planning to have• Brainstorm a list of topics that readers may want to know about the cause and your organization• Define the keywords you want your blog/website to rank for www.mikemerrill.com 15
@MikeDMerrillStep 6: Construct Powerful Posts One topic or idea per blog post Write headline first Always add a photo Use subheads Link to existing post or webpage Add a call to action or request for feedback/comments www.mikemerrill.com 17
How to Construct Powerful PostsApproach 1: Outline Approach 2: Off the cuff Explain the issue to a smart• Make a list with bullet points but non-expert friend or of what you want to cover. colleague in an email. Turn these thoughts into short statements that are as parallel as possible.• Organize that list into headings and subheadings.• Draft 1-2 sentences explaining each. 18
@MikeDMerrillBlog Post Guidelines Titles: 60 character max Keep titles simple, descriptive, use relevant key words Avoid puns: Think about accessibility – If your title appears on a search page, will it be easily understood? Length: 350 – 700 words Readers typically spend 1 – 2 minutes on a blog Focus on a single, finite subject Videos should be less than 180 seconds; audio must be high quality Links Include links to internal pages you want to highlight in addition to information (white papers, studies, etc) from external websites and references to other blogs or news articles Do not link in the first paragraph. www.mikemerrill.com 19
@MikeDMerrill Create and Plan a Mix of PostsNews OpinionFeature Photos www.mikemerrill.com 21
@MikeDMerrillMix UpYour Posts1. Basic, Everyday Posts: How to posts, lists Rich in keywords, shorter and length and useful to readers2. Thought Leader Posts: Pillar Content Help establish organization as a thought leader Take more time Far less frequent3. Big Blog projects Lots of links and discussion Take more work4. Controversial Posts Make a bold statement, least frequent5. Revealing and personality posts Poke fun at yourself Share personality of organization www.mikemerrill.com 22
@MikeDMerrillPick The Right KeywordsGoogle Adwords Keyword Tool www.mikemerrill.com 23
@MikeDMerrillKeyword Considerations 1. The higher the competiveness the harder it will be to rank 2. The higher the monthly searches the more likely you will get traffic One strategy could be to pick medium competition keywords with highest traffic. www.mikemerrill.com 24
@MikeDMerrillPick The Right KeywordsGoogle Adwords Keyword Tool – Sorted by Local Monthly Searches www.mikemerrill.com 25
@MikeDMerrillWrite Magnetic Headlines Scan blog posts from top publications AdAge Power150 http://adage.com/power150/ Top News Pubs Leverage Cosmo mag rules or provocative headlines to get readers to click through from social media or from front page of blog Test out controversial headlines Write headline first and use keywords Your headline is a promise to the readers. It’s job is to clearly communicate the benefit you’ll deliver to the reader in exchange for their valuable time. Copyblogger, Brian Clark www.mikemerrill.com 26
@MikeDMerrillBe VisualFor Free: Flickr Shoot your ownFor a Fee: iStockphoto 123RF.com www.mikemerrill.com 27
@MikeDMerrillPublish Frequently Fresh content is critical to generating a loyal audience. Each blogger should commit to blogging at a rate that will ensure you have 1-2 new pieces of content each week. Unless you have a predictable flow of high quality content, your blog will not attain a critical mass of readers or influence. www.mikemerrill.com 28
@MikeDMerrillRespond to Comments Make sure to monitor your blog posts for Resources: comments • www.Disqus.com Consider installing a comment • www.LiveFyre.com management system like Disqus, LiveFyre • www.Captcha.net or others that allow readers photos to appear in the comments Respond judiciously Follow their links and follow them on Twitter Yes, you will get spam comments. Use of commenting software helps reduce this. www.mikemerrill.com 29
10 Tips to Optimize a Blog for Search1. Define one keyword2. Ensure keyword is in headline3. Include keyword 2-3 times first paragraph4. Include keyword once In each remaining paragraphs5. Add a hyperlink in every post to existing post6. Rename image files to keyword7. Ideally 300+ words per post8. Use alt-text keywords in every hyperlink9. Include a minimum of one outbound link with keywords in alt-text10. Modify meta title and meta description 31
@MikeDMerrill8 Ways to Drive Visibility for a Blog1. Feature your blog on the front 5. Email blog posts page of your website – Add feature for people to subscribe directly to posts2. Cross post to social media outlets • Feedburner Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Linkedin – Feature blog posts in email Ask employees to share newsletters3. Add social sharing icons to blog 6. Submit to Social Bookmarking template Sites: (As time allows) Wordpress plugins – StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit4. Submit to Blog Directories – Pinterest if original images included Technorati.com, alltop.com, or 7. Guest blogging industry blog directories – Trade blog posts on similar blogs 8. Comment on other blogs – Follow via Google RSS Reader www.mikemerrill.com 33
Recommended Reading/Resources Blogging Tips for Beginners http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/02/14/b logging-for-beginners-2/ Writing Magnetic Headlines http://www.copyblogger.com/magnetic-headlines/ How to use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool http://goo.gl/cG7sB Understanding Creative Commons http://goo.gl/Cj0fa Why Social Bookmarking is Valuable http://goo.gl/UNmT8 Blog Directories http://bakn.me/Jy5jv9 34
Let’s Connect and Follow Each Other http://www.mikemerrill.com http://www.mikemerrill.com/linkedin http://www.mikemerrill.com/twitter email@example.com 9/20/2012 35