Everybody wants to be in shape. Whether it’s your business or your body, achieving good health isn’t always easy. When it comes to answering your customers’ questions, solving their concerns and converting sales, your blog is a key component to a healthy regimen. A great blog post has many moving parts and it’s your decision whether you want to put forth a half-hearted attempt or strive to be the best you can be.
I’ve been conducting an informal study on how car dealerships have integrated blogging into their overall marketing strategy. I’ve asked a simple question of the attendees in the national training workshops I’ve been facilitating. “Do you have a blog?” Sadly, the answer as of today is 2 out of approximately 50 dealers. Considering that fresh, relevant content is how you reach customers today, this shows there’s room for improvement.
In essence, blogs serve two audiences. The first is live humans who are interested in your business and may eventually purchase what you sell. The second is search engines who must ascertain if your site is functioning and if your content is relevant. To be successful, you have to earn the respect of both audiences.
The goal is to produce content that prospects and customers will love, remember, and share, but at the same time earn the signals that enable that content to be easily found by a larger audience. But you can’t begin unless you know how it all works.
Anatomy of a Great Blog Post
The following are the anatomical components to a great blog post. It’s time to get healthy, serve customers, attract prospects and beat your competitor.
Headlines are tricky. They need to be clickable and get your point across quickly. They must appeal to your target customers and promise to provide value. If your headline isn’t compelling, you’ll lose 80% of your audience.
You only get one chance to capture your readers’ attention. One of the my favorite formulas is this:
Number + Adjective + Keyword + Rationale + Promise
Example: 6 Savvy Facebook Marketing Steps to Increase Traffic, Leads and Sales
- List posts: 10 Tips to…
- “Best” posts: The Best Ways to….
- “Make Life Easier” headlines: The Easiest Way to… (if possible, add personal stories)
- “What to Do When….”
- Make a promise, such as 10 Powerful Tips to help you…
- Don’t Be Stupid headlines: 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When…
- Comparison posts: Sedan vs SUV: Which One is Right for You
The key to writing a great first paragraph is expertise and empathy. You want to make it clear that you understand your readers’ concern and that you’re the expert is solving their problem.
A very simple way to look at first paragraph structure is as follows:
1. People come to us with ____________ problem.
2. We understand and empathize with this problem.
3. Here is the answer to your problem.
Every Paragraph After the First
Storytelling is the absolute best way to keep your readers (ie: customers) engaged. Whatever you’re writing about, make it relatable by sharing a story. Example: If you’re writing about your customers’ problem, tell a story about how you solved that problem in real time.
Just like all good stories, it’s important to supply the proper ending. Wrap things up with a call to action. It can be simply the next step in your customers’ process or a link to take advantage of a special offer.
Optimize with an Image
Make sure to include a relevant image with your post. Visual content is just as important as written, especially when your posts are shared on social media. I use Canva to create my blog post images and sometimes use Fotolia or BigStockPhoto for images. The cost is minimal and the benefits are ideal.
Please DO NOT use Google Images. I find it’s best to pay for images rather than run the risk of using someone’s copyrighted mage by mistake. The penalties can be very costly.
Optimize for Search
As we discussed earlier, you’re writing for search engines. You need to ensure your posts are speaking their language.
Keywords and phrases should be a focal point of your posts. Most of us are not experts in optimizing content. I use a handy WordPress plugin called WordPress SEO that makes it effortless to optimize your posts.
Share and Re-Purpose
“Social Signals” (clicks to your blog/website from social media) are key to increasing organic traffic and thereby building your authority online. Relevant, informative blog posts should be “syndicated” (published) regularly on social media.
Re-purpose your posts through email marketing. Compile a few related posts into a “Whitepaper” or Ebook and give them away for free in exchange for a prospect’s email. You’ve already supplied value to the relationship and that’s your best chance at developing a sale down the line.
If you don’t have a blog (or if you’ve half-heartedly started one), it’s time to stop procrastinating. These tips will help your business’ online presence get in the best shape of its life. What are you waiting for?