Blogging Best Practices for Better Content Strategy

Caitlin Knudsen

Content Marketing,
Small Business

A blog is a lucrative piece of content that can build rapport with your audience, generate new leads, and grow your business. But you have to know how to write a good blog for these results to be possible. And a good blog isn’t just a well-written one; successful blogs incorporate strategic planning, effective writing, high-quality visuals, SEO (search engine optimization), and they evolve over time. Keep reading for a breakdown of blogging best practices.  


BE INTENTIONAL

Whether you’re a seasoned blogger, or you’re ready to write your first blog, planning ahead can improve the quality of your work. Build your blog holistically and with a solid foundation. The best blogs have a foundation of evergreen content. Evergreen content is timeless, like a good pair of blue jeans. It never goes out of style and is an excellent source of relevant information for customers' past, present, and future. Incorporate evergreen blogs into your content calendar from day one. 

Evergreen content can reflect essential information about your business, including your values, vision, and mission statement. It’s a great way to introduce potential leads to who you are, not just what you do. And ideally, your blog content, evergreen or otherwise, will form a digital web that reflects every aspect of what you do so that it’s easy and meaningful for your audience to interact with your business.   

Layout your content calendar in advance, and when you define your topics, don’t forget to do keyword research.


Your First Step: Keyword Research

Every blog you write should center around one key term, idea, or phrase. That keyword should feature in all aspects of your blog—more on that below—and needs to reflect your audience’s intentions. If you’re not familiar with keyword research, there are many free services that help you do it. Before you put your finger to the keyboard, identify a keyword you want to use to connect with your audience. 

Take it a step further and type that keyword in the Google search bar. Scroll to the “People also ask” section to learn what questions people ask about the topic. Make it your goal to answer those questions in the body of the blog. It’s helpful to understand why people might be searching for your keyword, which can take your blog from good to stellar. 

Here are a few questions you can ask as you do your keyword research to hone in on the content for a successful blog:

  • Are people searching this keyword looking for information?
  • Are people searching this keyword looking to purchase a product?
  • Are people searching this keyword looking for your business specifically?   

Once you’ve set the stage to answer your audience’s inquiry, make sure they have a good experience on your blog. 

MAKE IT READABLE

A few years ago, multiple articles came out saying our collective attention span is declining. Science is more nuanced than what you read online, and the truth may be that we are all more selective about what we consume in the era of the content boom, not that our attention spans are actually declining. What this means for blogging is quality is key, as is engaging your readers in meaningful ways. 

A good blog follows the principles you learned back in middle school for writing an A+ essay. Include an introduction, body, and conclusion. And it pays to make sure your blogs are readable. In the digital sphere, this translates to scannable. 

Make it easier for your readers to find what they are looking for by including headings (H1), subheadings (H2 and H3), bulleted lists, numbered lists, and keep any one section underneath 300 words.  


Blog Length: Does It Matter? 

When it comes to the overall length, there is nuance. Average blog length clocks in at about 900-1200 words, but 3000+ word posts get a lot more engagement (likes, shares, etc.). However, a 3000+ word, long-form blog post is most effective when thoroughly researched and presented by a subject-matter expert. Consider what technical and practical knowledge you and your team bring to the party. Expert-driven content can become a valuable part of your overall strategy, but there are more important blogging best practices than word counts. 

It’s more important to write a well-constructed blog than it is to strive for a predetermined length. How long does it take you to build an SEO-rich, engaging blog? That’s the length to aim for. And once you’re draft is complete, send it off for edits. 

Depending on if you have a small, medium, or large business, you may have varying access levels to editors. Make sure you have a second person look through your blog for spelling errors, grammatical snafus, transition sentences (ya need ‘em), and consistent tone and voice. A second set of eyes on your work is blogging gold; you don’t read your piece the way somebody else does, and their unique perspective can enhance the quality of your work. 

Another important piece of the successful blog puzzle is good visuals. 


USE HIGH-QUALITY IMAGES OR VIDEO

Does anybody else have memories of their older relatives reading the newspaper with a magnifying glass? Most people in 2021 have an aversion to the Text Wall, and most of us get our news online now. People like visuals, they want visuals. Give the people what they want. Visual elements break up the text making it more scannable and also provide crucial visual support for the concepts you discuss in your blog. 

If you have a staff photographer or videographer to create assets for your blog, great, but many small or even medium-sized businesses cannot add these positions to their payroll. If you’re without internal digital media gurus, it’s essential to know what you can use. If you see a photo you like and want to use, that doesn’t mean you can freely use it. Online photography is subject to a complex set of laws protecting the photographers—and for good reason! 

To protect yourself and honor the artists out there, here are your options:

  • Source your digital media using in-house staff
  • Use stock photography websites
  • Embed videos and images with clear permission and attribution
  • Use creative commons for copyright-free images  

Once you have your images ready for your blog, it pays to compress them so that your website load speeds don’t suffer and ultimately annoy readers driving them away from your site. As far as the ideal image format to use, JPEG and PNG are typical. Use JPEGs for high-quality photography; PNGs are better for images with text overlay. How you describe your images on the backend can help with SEO, and SEO is a best blogging practice.  

INFUSE SEO INTO YOUR WRITING

SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO is one of those hot terms you hear during marketing webinars or seminars. It’s a big deal, and it’s definitely a blogging best practice. Digital marketing lives and dies by the Google search bar. Optimizing your blog means you’re making it easier to find through Google, enhancing the chance of generating leads and income.

Here’s how it works:

Once upon a time, there was a magical place called Google Land where Google ran the show. 

In Google Land, there was a business called Company A, run by good people doing good things. They had a good product that they knew would help people in Google Land, but the people in Google Land didn’t know they existed. The good people at Company A worked together to create a blog. They wrote, they optimized, and they used blogging best practices before launch. And then the blogs were live and they all held their breath, waiting. The Crawlers found their blog, logged it in the Google database, and something magical happened. The people went to the Google Search Bar, told the bartender they wanted a good product. He handed them a SERP (search engine results page), and on the front page was a link to Company A’s blog. The people found the good product that Company A made, used the good product, and enjoyed the good product. The people rejoiced. Everybody was happy.   

The goal is for your website to show up in Google search results. You can make that more likely by using SEO. 

It’s All About the Keywords

The keyword research you did before you started writing is the first step for SEO. Remember that your keyword reflects what your audience might search in the Google search bar. And your keyword answers your audience’s inquiry. Those answers can be the start of a relationship. 

You can further tweak your blog by how you define your keyword. Keywords can be short, like “self-care,” or they can be more defined. Think “self-care practices for new moms.” The latter is called a long-tail keyword, and while fewer people may be searching for it in Google, it increases your chances of conversion because of the specificity. If your company has a meditation app targeted towards new mothers and they come across your blog about self-care practices for new moms, your content—and your product—directly meets this audience’s needs. 

Which version you choose—short, long, or somewhere in between—comes down to your goals for the blog. Once you’ve decided on your keyword, make sure you infuse it into your blog. Your keyword should appear throughout the text, but it’s important not to do keyword stuffing. This blogging worst practice is when you jam your keyword into every possible part of your blog, which takes away from user experience, and Google isn’t a fan. You want Google to be a fan.   

A better blogging best practice is to use phrasing related to your keyword to enhance meaning and preserve quality writing. If your keyword is “chocolate cake,” you could also include words like “Dutch cocoa powder,” “cake recipes,” and “dark chocolate” in the body of your blog. Here are other parts of your blog where you should include your keyword:

  • URL
  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • Headings
  • Subheadings
  • Image alt text     

Let’s break these elements down further. 

  • URL : Your URL should be short and should include your keyword. www.newmomselfcare.com/postnatalmeditation is better than www.newmomselfcare.com/postnatalmeditationforthefourthtrimestermoodchanges. The URL doesn’t have to be witty or cute, actually, it shouldn't be. It needs to be effective. That’s blogging best practice. 
  • Title Tag: Your title tag is the title that shows up as part of the Google search results. Google typically only displays the first 50-60 characters, so, again, keep it brief. 
  • Meta description: The meta description is the short paragraph that shows up in the Google search results underneath the title tag. It’s the teaser. The synopsis. It’s what whets your audience’s appetite. Use your keyword here, but also get the best writing wizard on your team to whip up an engaging and compelling description. 
  • Headings: Your headings should include your keyword. The caveat is not all of them need to because you lose readability. You know the difference. Think of a blog you clicked on that came across repetitive and odd like a robot wrote it. It was probably an instance of keyword stuffing, which is not best blogging practice. 
  • Subheadings: The same principles apply with subheadings. Use keywords, but not with every single subheading. 
  • Image alt text: On the backend of your blog, you can write image alt text. This is a brief description that helps crawlers identify relevancy. It also is vital for accessibility. Include your keyword, but also be clear with your description. “Young mother meditating with headphones on” is a better option than “Mom meditating.”  

Once you have the keywords down, you can focus on hyperlinks to help the crawlers find your blog. 

HYPERLINK TO MAKE GOOGLE HAPPY

Linking in your blog is a blogging best practice. It helps the crawlers find your blog, builds relationships with other companies and creates a digital pathway for readers to explore your website further. It’s important to include both internal links and external links.

Internal links are to other pages on your website. It’s a blogging best practice to link to other blogs you and your team have written. Here’s what you can and should use for internal links:

  • Product pages
  • Landing pages
  • Evergreen blogs
  • Blogs with parallel or related content
  • Email sign up forms

Make sure you have multiple internal links throughout the blog. Use external links to make your blog more searchable. When using external links, always look for reputable sources and aim to use top search results. It’s a blogging best practice to support your blog content with verifiable and legitimate external resources, and it helps crawlers find your blog in a sea of blogs.     

Once you have your blogging best practices down and you’ve built up a backlog of high-quality SEO blogs, you can revisit historical blogs to make sure your ship continues to run smoothly. 

REVISIT AND UPDATE

At least once a year, if not twice, it’s a good idea to go back through your blog archive and make updates. Check to see if your internal and external links still work. If there is new information—like new research that came out between launch and today—update your content. Look for improvements you can make to keep your content polished and fresh. What you wrote last year is just as important as what you write this week, and that’s backed by data. Once your blog is out there doing its thing on the internet, and especially if it’s ranked, it will keep bringing in visitors to your website, indefinitely. Blogging really is the gift that keeps giving.

BLOGGING BEST PRACTICES INCREASE BUSINESS SUCCESSES

Some marketers view blogging as a dying art, like the newspapers we referenced earlier. But blogging is here to stay, and the data shows it can be an incredibly effective part of your overall content strategy. Around 70% of people would prefer to learn about a business through articles over advertising. Blogging is a way to sincerely connect with your audience, provide them valuable information, and start and continue relationships. Use these blogging best practices to ensure your blog is an effective part of your content strategy

 

Caitlin Lead Copywriter

Caitlin Knudsen is a writer, editor, and food photographer based in the Midwest. With a background in nursing and decades spent writing, she is a published eBook author and knows a thing or two about communicating complex concepts in easy-to-understand language. Caitlin spends her free time developing gluten-free recipes, reading psychology books, and wrangling two pugs and a Dutch rabbit.

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