When you've spent time writing content for your blog, it can be disheartening to see it fail to get noticed. If you're blogging to promote your website or services, you could feel like you're wasting time, effort or money that could be better spent on other marketing activities.
It can take time for a blog to build momentum and become successful, but that won't ever happen if you're making common mistakes or stuck in the old ways of doing things. Check how many of the following steps you're already doing and which you should implement to help your blog succeed in the 2020s.
1. Answer popular questions
Are you writing about topics people actually want to read? For most people, it's the title of your posts that will attract or repel them. Many of these will find you through search engines – but only if you're writing about the topics they're searching for.
See what kind of questions people are asking when you search for your business field. While your content should be unique to avoid plagiarism, don't be afraid to tackle a question that other blogs have already covered if you think you have something new to offer.
2. Target keywords
Keywords are still at the heart of SEO (search engine optimization) in 2020. Some keywords will come up naturally when you're writing about topics related to your industry, but you should also carry out keyword research to see all the most important terms you want to rank for.
Stuffing too many repetitive keywords into your posts will make them unreadable and get you punished by Google. Make sure you include your main keywords in titles, headings and images, but alternate with long-tail keywords targeting more specific search queries and related phrases.
3. Write in-depth content
How long should a blog post be? The longer, the better – as long as it's informative to justify the length. Long-form blog posts of 1,000 words or greater tend to perform better than shorter posts, as they give users more in-depth information on a topic. Long posts also generate more interactions and more social shares.
A larger word count also means there's more opportunity to rank for long-tail keywords. So, before you publish a series of short blog posts on related topics, consider whether you could combine these into one super post that could prove greater than the sum of its parts.
4. Include eye-catching images
Every piece of content you publish needs to include at least one image. Images help to set the tone, make complex ideas easier to understand and break up long blogs. Most importantly, the lead image will appear in feeds when you share your content, so it needs to be appealing to encourage clicks.
Images should be relevant to the topic as well as pretty. They don't have to be unique, but creating your own photos and graphics can lead to more shares. If you're using stock images, make sure you have the rights to do so.
5. Optimize your posts
SEO is about more than just keywords. Once you've written your post and added images, spending a little extra time tweaking it for search engines could give it the boost you need. This includes:
- adding keywords to headers, URLs and image file names, alt text and captions
- refining page titles and meta descriptions to encourage clicks in search results
- compressing large image files to improve page loading speeds (a major ranking factor)
- removing unnecessary page scripts
6. Build backlinks
When you've done everything you can to improve on-page SEO, you should turn your focus to off-page SEO in the form of backlinks. These are links to your blog post from other websites, which helps to grow your authority with Google and users.
Not all backlinks are equal, so it's important to network with reputable websites that already have high authority with Google. These carry more weight than links purchased on low-quality sites, which are more likely to harm your ranking.
7. Encourage interaction
Allowing comments on posts opens the door to spam and trolls, but it can also help you build a community and gives readers a reason to return to posts to keep up with the conversation. This user-generated content can also improve SEO.
Sharing your blog posts on your social media channels puts them in front of more people who'll share interesting content with their friends and help get your name out there. Sign up to the platforms that are most relevant to your target audience and include social sharing buttons on your website.
8. Build an email list
As well as sharing your blog posts on social media and hoping people notice them, you can make sure they reach your most engaged audience by sending content directly to their inbox.
You can encourage people to sign up to your mailing list using page elements like interstitials and sliders, offering something free such as an ebook or exclusive content in exchange for their contact details.
9. Post and update regularly
Google favors websites that produce fresh content on a regular basis – ideally once a week or even more frequently if possible. If you're worried about running out of topics, it's a good idea to plan out your blog schedule and write some posts in advance, so your posting routine won't slide if you get busy.
As well as posting new content, you should also routinely update and promote older blog posts if they have good information and still get traffic.
10. Hire a professional writer
If you're not confident about your own writing skills, or keeping up a regular schedule of long, high-quality posts sounds like too much work, consider hiring a professional copywriter to write your blogs for you. They should have knowledge of your industry and passion that shines through to make your blog worth reading.
You might also consider hiring a professional photographer or illustrator to provide custom imagery that's more likely to get shared and an SEO agency to make sure all your content is fully optimized for the best chance of success.