How to Create a Successful Blog Strategy

By Ruth Hawk, Monday, June 12, 2017

For websites looking to build visibility, brand loyalty, and business, blogging is the way to go. In fact, companies that blog earn 97 percent more inbound links and 67 percent more leads than those that do not. Blogging has also been linked to increased website traffic, increased conversions, and improved brand perception. However, the fruits of blogging are not the result of simply throwing words up on your website. There are more than 150 million blogs already online, with 3 million new ones being added every month. It is far easier for a blog to disappear among the crowds than to get noticed.

So what makes a blog stand out? Great writing, personality, uniqueness, usefulness, and relevance all play a role. But the real difference between a successful and an unsuccessful blog is planning. In order to achieve the qualities that allow a blog to stand out, you need to devote the same kind of careful attention and execution to it as you do to your web development and web design. And that means creating a blog strategy. A blog strategy is a comprehensive look at your blog’s goals, topics, writing plan, and promotional efforts. Done correctly, it sets you up to create meaningful content on a regular schedule. Here are the steps to creating a successful blog strategy to help your blog perform better.

Set SMART goals for your blog strategy.

Every plan needs goals. They drive the details of the plan and help you to determine whether or not your plan, once implemented, has been successful. In order to create a successful blog strategy, you first need to decide what you want to accomplish with your blog. Doing so requires, first of all, understanding your business needs. For example, does your startup want to establish thought leadership in its industry? Does your nonprofit want to raise awareness about a particular issue? Does your e-commerce website need to build leads and make more sales? Each of these goals will influence what you write about and how you write about it on your blog. When establishing your blogging goals for your blog strategy, there are two responsibilities you have.

First, focus on both short-term and long-term goals. For example, your short-term goal might be to get more leads to your website. But over the course of the next two years? You might also want to build some credibility and thought leadership so you can occupy a more respected place within your industry. Second, set concrete goals. The acronym SMART should apply to all of your blog goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. For example, you may decide you want to increase leads through your blog. In that case, you should establish goals such as obtaining 10 percent more leads per month within the next 6 months. When your goals are 1) possible, 2) measurable, and 3) In keeping with your business as a whole, you enjoy a much greater chance of creating a successful blog strategy.

Understand your target audience before you build your blog strategy.

A blog strategy must also take its target audience into consideration. And yes, you must have a specific audience in mind. There may be more than 3.6 billion people using the Internet worldwide, but most of them will never be interested in your blog. Narrowing your audience down to a specific group of people will allow you to focus on creating content that appeals to the people who are most likely to support your business goals. In order to know what type of content appeals to your target audience, however, you need to do your research. Market research can help you to identify the demographics of your target audience, as well as get a handle on what their pain points, interests, and specific marketing needs are. Ideally, you will end up with a number of buyer personas that encapsulate who your target audience (or audiences) is.

These personas should be as specific as possible. For example, include gender, age, occupations, stressors, needs, knowledge, place in the sales funnel, and curiosity of your target audience(s). Using these personas, you can build blog content that alleviates their pain points and answers their questions. For example, if your buyer persona is a 55-year-old with little IT experience who needs help purchasing and using a computer, your IT company’s blog strategy may call for blog posts focused on simple DIY tips, insights into what makes one computer better than another, and other introductory material. If your buyer persona, on the other hand, is the CIO of a large company, your blog strategy may call for more technical, in-depth, and business-focused elements of the IT industry.

Conduct keyword research while building your blog strategy.

Based on the goals and buyer personas you set for your blog strategy, you will need to conduct keyword research. Used primarily in search engine optimization to boost visibility, keyword research involves identifying the search terms that (1. Your target audience is most likely to use and (2 that relate to your business. You can then build your blog content around these keywords. Not every keyword you find will perform equally well. For example, short search terms tend to be too broad to get you results, while hyper-specific keywords tend to reach too small an audience.

The best keywords tend to be long-tail search terms of three or four words that relate closely to your business, earn enough traffic to make them profitable, but that are specific enough to avoid too much competition. There are many ways to conduct successful keyword research. SEO experts can help you not only find the right search terms but also incorporate them into your content across your entire website. Their assistance can also provide you with a comprehensive search engine optimization campaign that includes (but is not limited to) your blog. If you already have a search engine optimization campaign in place, you can simply import the keywords you are currently using into your blog. The key is to create blog posts around specific search terms in order to boost your visibility in the search results and get your blog in front of your target audience.

SEE ALSO: Beginner Blogging Mistakes to Avoid

Create a content strategy for your blog strategy.

The heart of a successful blog strategy is the ability to develop meaningful content for blog readers. This is where a content strategy can be useful. It delineates 1) what you are writing about, 2) who is writing it, and 3) when it is being written. These three factors, when planned correctly, allow your blog strategy to regularly incorporate content that is relevant to your target audience.

Describe what content you are producing in your blog strategy.

An effective content strategy first needs to specify what content is being used on the blog. Your business goals, buyer personas, and keyword research will help you identify the topics that will be most engaging and useful to your target audience. Using this information, you can brainstorm and research blog topics for your blog strategy. For example, if you are an IT company that is looking to build brand loyalty within a demographic of middle-aged, inexperienced computer owners, you may create a list of blog topics that looks something like this:

  1. Computer troubleshooting for beginners
  2. The five steps to finding your dream computer
  3. Is a more expensive computer worth it?

You may need to throw out several dozen headlines and blog topics before you can identify the ones that are most in keeping with your business, target audience, and keyword research. Bringing in a group of people to help you brainstorm topics can help you to create a longer list and more easily identify the blog topics that will work for you. In addition, you may want to study your competitors’ blogs to get ideas for your own blog strategy. This does not mean borrowing blog posts or even writing on exactly the same topics. Instead, it means looking at what your competitors are discussing and then taking a different angle on that topic. For example, a post about DIY computer troubleshooting steps might lead you to write a post about 5 computer problems you can handle yourself.

Use your blog strategy to describe who is writing your blog content.

In order to create a successful blog strategy, you need to know who is writing your blog content. Writing takes time (typically between 2-6 hours for a single blog post). Unless you have a specific person (or people) designated to spend this time producing content, you risk encountering a situation where the great content you have planned in your blog strategy never comes to fruition because nobody has the time to write it. By establishing a writer (or team of writers), either through your own company or through another avenue (such as your web development company) you can ensure that the time needed to create each blog post is available.

Set up an editorial calendar as part of your blog strategy.

Finally, a successful content strategy will include an editorial calendar that delineates when your content is being written. The key to a workable editorial calendar is to create a schedule that you can reasonably manage. For example, while daily blog writing is often held up as the ideal, the truth is that most companies simply cannot produce content that frequently. For example, creating an editorial calendar calling for a fresh blog post every day will do little but cause frustration if you only have the resources to produce blog posts once a week. Instead, focus on quality over quantity, and consistency over frequency. This means that you should publish excellent content regularly, instead of throwing up subpar material inconsistently.

If you can create one powerful, engaging blog post a month and your readers know when that post will go live, you will likely earn more brand loyalty, leads, visibility, etc., than if you are trying to post fluff every day. A good editorial calendar should plan out your content at least a month ahead of time. If you only post once a month, you might be able to plan your content out for several months at a time. The calendar should be available to everyone on the writing team and clearly list what the topic is, how long it should be, what format it should follow, who is writing it, and when it is due. Creating and then sticking to this calendar will help you to more easily create and post regular, high-quality content as part of your blog strategy.

Use your blog strategy to establish a plan for promoting your blog.

Once you have built a plan for your content into your blog strategy, you will need to create a plan for promoting your blog. Aside from great content, promotion is the best way to make sure your blog stands out from the millions of others available on the Internet. It will also build traffic to your blog more quickly than will waiting for your blog to simply be “discovered.” There are a number of ways to promote your blog. One is to reuse your blog content in other ways. For example, a blog post could become part of a longer white paper, part of a Facebook post, or a segment of an email. You can then link back to your blog in order to drive people to your offerings.

This strategy also has the advantage of providing you with ready-made avenues to create more content for your business. Another way to promote your blog material is to utilize social media and emails. By linking to your blog posts through these avenues, you can drive traffic to your blog and encourage others to share your material with their networks. You can also target influencers (those people who have broad connections to other networks) in order to get your blog (and business) out to as many people as possible. An effective blog strategy should include a segment that addresses the various strategies you intend to use to promote your blog content. As with every other element of your blog strategy, this plan should include specifics regarding when the promotion happens, what it looks like, and who is responsible for it.

Use metrics to track the success of your blog and make changes as necessary.

Finally, an effective blog strategy will use metrics to track the success of the blog. There are many metrics you can use to track how your blog strategy (and individual blog posts) are performing. Instead of trying to sort through all of this data, you may need to select the metrics that will help you to track your specific goals for your blog strategy. For example, if you want to improve traffic and leads, you can track how many of those come through your blog. If you want to improve brand awareness, however, you may need to look at social signals or where people go after they read your blog. The right metrics will help you to see concretely how your blog strategy is working and where tweaks might need to be made.

Don’t be afraid to hire professional help along the way.

You may find that, along the way, you need professional support. For example, you might need SEO experts to create a search engine optimization strategy, or you may need a web development company to provide writers for your content. These professionals can help to enhance your blog strategy in order to achieve the results you are looking for from this promising new way to reach your target audience. Creating a blog strategy will give you the tools you need to create a regular, high-quality blog that reaches your target audience and meets your business goals. By determining what your business goals are, identifying your target audience, conducting keyword research, creating a content strategy, creating a promotional plan, and using metrics to track the success of your blog, you can develop a successful and robust blog strategy.

Posted in: Content Marketing, How To, Internet Marketing, Social Networking, WWW Learning Center

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