Blogging is one of the most misunderstood elements of search engine optimization. Even today, many marketers still think it’s okay to rehash broad content simply to increase word and page counts. This is not the case. Unfortunately the word “content” and “blog post” has been marred through the ages, tarnished by those whose only priority is making money.
I’m going to assume you know your commas from semi-colons and hyphens from periods – if not, best start brushing up on your grammar and punctuation – and focus more on how to broach the process of blogging.
Always Write for People
Never forget the fundamental purpose of search engines: to rank websites based on their quality and relevancy. Google has said time and time again that only quality content will survive in the digital domain. While their algorithm isn’t perfect, it’s getting better and better each year. According to First Page Rankings it can already detect plagiarized content, even when the words and phrases don’t match; it can even rank pages that don’t contain the keywords for relevant search terms. Fundamentally, if any writing technique you’re using is geared more towards technology than people, stop using it!
Forget About Word Counts
HubSpot state that the optimal word count is between 2100 and 2500 words. However, you should only use this as a guideline. People don’t care about word counts, providing the information is accessible and beneficial. If the subject matter calls for it, write 5000 words; if it doesn’t, 250 words is also perfectly acceptable. Sometimes even 50 words is enough!
Hire Native Writers
I’m British, but most of my clients are American. That means I have to change my writing style to accommodate the differences. Of course, writing colour instead of color isn’t such a big deal (read this article and I’m sure you’ll find a hiccup or two), but if you outsource content to somebody, try to at least ensure they’re native. The last thing you want is content that has quite clearly been outsourced.
Think Like a Journalist
What makes a journalist? They break stories. At the very heart of it blogging is like having a digital column in a newspaper. And why do people read newspapers? I’ll give you a clue, it’s in the title: news. When producing blog posts look beyond the Internet, make some phone calls and try to conduct interviews. Insider information will go a long way. If you can break content and be credited as the source, you could not only generate masses of backlinks, but will enhance your reputation as a thought leader.
Don’t Write in the Third Person
It’s very difficult to add personality to third person writing. Without “you” or “I” how can you expect to break the barrier between writer and reader and build an emotional bond with them? Third person writing is ripe on the Internet, especially among non-native writers. While it can have a place in white papers and technical manuals, it has no place on a blog.
Lose the Corporate Facade
Okay, SEO blogging isn’t the most “legitimate” art form – sometimes it may feel like you’re a Michelin-starred chef working in McDonalds – but there is still plenty of space for creativity. Don’t be afraid to put your own stamp on your articles, even if it is highly personal. Opinions, thoughts, assessments and even random ramblings will resonate with people and prompt them to engage in discussion, which is the most powerful marketing method of all.
You’ll never be able to write for people if you set the bar low. Have high expectations and expect people to read your content and you’ll subconsciously go the extra mile when producing it. I might not be the most talented writer out there, but I know what I like to read. And whether or not that content was produced by the top brass at The New York Times or an affiliate in his bedroom, if it strikes a chord within me, that’s all that matters. And that should always be the end goal for us marketers.