If you’re blogging on a business website, you want to make the most return on your efforts. Here are 5 tips to help your blog posts or news items hit the mark.
Blogging on a business website is not something you do just to pass the time of day. There should be a purpose behind it and that purpose should broadly be to further the aims of your business – to make more sales, win more clients or build your credibility.
But for that two happen, two things must take place first – your post needs to be found, and people need to hang around long enough to read it.
You may have written the most amazing copy, but if you don’t present it in a visually-attractive way, people will struggle to read it and go elsewhere.
From the moment people land on your blog post, you are fighting to keep their interest in this world of short attention spans.
Visual design is not be-all and end-all of any website, but it is an important element.
Formatting text correctly can make the difference between someone becoming a customer and giving up on your website and going elsewhere.
But once you have your site design, you can easily make a mess of things when it comes to adding new content.
This short(ish) guide was originally intended for our clients who update their own WordPress blogs and news sections, but we’ve decided to share it because it can be useful for anyone. We’ve also added some examples of WordPress plugins that help us along the way.
So we’ll start with some tips on visual presentation, before moving on to a couple of things that will help your posts to be found in search results.
Use images to break things up and add visual interest
It’s hard to plough through a lot of text – however interesting or well-written, without an image or two to break things up.
In WordPress this also means a featured image, which will show in the blog feed page and help with visual interest there.
But the post itself needs images at regular intervals as well – aligned to the right so they don’t interrupt reading.
Sourcing and using images
Coming up with images for blog posts time after time can be a real pain, so at Moghill we have a couple of ways to make this easy for our clients – and ourselves.
The first way is to use a WordPress plugin to draw free-to-use images from websites such as Flickr.
Our particular choice is the WordPress ImageInject plugin, which allows you to search images by keyword, then adds them – with accreditation – straight into a blog post.
Of course you might want to use images you have taken yourself, but this can cause a problem for websites when even smartphones take photos with a very large file size. Add these straight to your site and they will slow it down dramatically.
So the solution for this is another piece of software we use on the sites we look after – called Imsanity which shrinks images down to a pre-set size that can be used in blog posts.
These are just the plugins we use – most of the time – but there are plenty of others available that do the same jobs.
Give readers signposts with headings – and format them properly
Headings help break up an article and, with long articles provide a valuable reading aid. They add structure to an article – not just by helping readers skim and part the part of the article they want to read, but for disabled visitors and for Google.
Headings help Google understand your blog post as they are used for main points, but it’s no good just highlighting text and making it bold – you have to use the Heading instruction in the WordPress editor.
Your top heading – Heading 1 – is used already by the title of your blog post and you’re only allowed one per post. As in this article, use Heading 2 for your main points and Heading 3 for points where you expand on the main topic, like this one:
Other ways to format your text
Your text always needs to be short and to the point, avoiding jargon and using short sentences and paragraphs. There’s more on writing for the web in our blog post.
Then, when coming back to your next main point, you use Heading 2 again, like this:
Keep things tidy with the Read More tag
Your feed page shows each blog post with a clickable title, featured image and (usually) the first 40 or so words – called the excerpt.
Your first paragraph should sum up your blog post in 25-30 words, but your excerpt is the same length for every post.
You’ll go mad trying to write opening paragraphs of exactly the same length, but there’s an easy solution – the Read More tag.
Just pop one in after your (short) introduction to keep things tidy on the feed page, rather than have your excerpts end in mid air half way into your second paragraph.
Test your post against the Yoast SEO tools
The Yoast SEO plugin helps us get our clients’ websites to do well in search results, and we install Yoast SEO (either the free or the premium version) on every website we build.
Part of its secret is automatic and ‘under the hood’, but much of its usefulness lies in how it allows you to test the content of every page and post of your website.
Under each post, you’ll find a content analysis panel. Add the keywords you want the article to be found under and it will test the article against many factors, for example how relevant and readable it is.
You can then adjust and improve your article accordingly, and don’t forget to fill in the description field, as this is what search engines will display in results.
There’s a lot more on how to use the SEO content analysis tools on the Yoast website. Yoast content analysis.
Use categories and tags to give your blog structure and make articles easy to find
If you blog about your business for any amount of time, you’re bound to cover related topics and grouping these into categories helps keep them organised.
WordPress comes with a default category – Uncategorized (which actually isn’t a category but never mind!) – so you have to set them up yourself if someone hasn’t done it for you.
But if you don’t use categories and tags, you’re missing a major opportunity to hlp your website do well in search.
Categories are for big topics, while you can use tags for more specific things.
So, for example, while this article is in our Content for business websites category, it’s also about SEO and Web usability, so we’ve added these tags to it.
Each post should have one category and multiple tags.
Using categories and tags helps visitors find their way around your website but also play an important role in search because each category (and tag) has its own landing page and feed of posts. Google indexes all of these and it’s not unusual to see tag pages in search results.
There’s a guide to WordPress categories and tags here: Best practices for using categories and tags in WordPress.
But you can also combine categories, tags and linking between posts to promote your best content to Google and get a better search ranking. That involves creating what’s called Cornerstone Content and there’s more on that on the Yoast website: What is cornerstone content?
Wrapping it up
So that’s about it for what was meant to be a short blog post!
These simple tips will help you create consitent blog posts that are more likely to serve their purpose, whether it’s bringing people to your event, selling your new product or winning new clients.
if you have any similar tips, feel free to share in the comments.
Photo by Jessie Pearl