How To Get More SEO Value Out of Your Existing Content

Most bloggers would agree that high-quality content creation requires a significant investment in time and energy. Because of this sunk cost associated with any existing content on your website, it’s crazy that bloggers don’t invest additional resources improving, optimizing and ranking underperforming pages. This is especially true when certain posts are just shy of reaching the first page of Google’s search results, where they could be earning you a return on your investment.

With a few of the tactics below, digital marketers can make sure that every piece of content they publish is generating traffic, leads, and ultimately revenue.

Use Google’s Webmaster Tools To Optimize Headlines and Keywords

Are you ever surprised at some of the keywords a post ends up ranking for? Even when you complete keyword research, decide to target a specific phrase, and optimize the post to rank for that term, you sometimes end up getting traffic from unexpected terms. If you find a post that isn’t ranking for your targeted keyword due to higher than anticipated competition, then maybe it’s better to repurpose the post and optimize it for another term.

To find these types of posts, you will need to access Google’s Webmaster Tools. Click on the “Search Analytics” tab on your Dashboard, or go under “Search Analytics” at the left and choose “Search Analytics” there.

GWT - Search Analytics

I prefer the old “Search Queries” report, so I click on the link towards the top of the page. Now you need to click on the “Top Pages” tab, sort by “Impressions”, and expand the tabs you are interested in analyzing. If you have a large blog, instead of working within your browser, you may want to click on “Download This Table”.

GWT - Top Pages

Ultimately what you are looking for are pages that have high impression counts but low clickthroughs (CTRs). These pages constitute your highest potential content because they are getting exposure in Google’s rankings but aren’t high enough to get more clicks. Optimizing these pages could easily earn you significantly more traffic.

Here are a few ways to optimize your titles and on-page SEO:

  • Use a hyphen or colon. When writing a title, I create for both Google and humans. The first half of the title is usually an exact match keyword phrase and the second half is a killer description to get the reader’s attention. For example, if I wrote an article about affiliate marketing, I would title it “CPA Marketing – How To Increase Your Affiliate Marketing Revenue By 137%”.
  • Add more content. When targeting additional keywords, it may be helpful to add more content that directly addresses the related topic, thereby increasing your post’s relevance. In doing so, you may rank for even more long-tail terms.
  • Target lower competition terms. If you’re a small business owner learning how to build a blog, you should not be targeting high-volume, high-competition keywords. This strategy will quickly exhaust your resources with little results. Always start with easy terms to build traffic and recognition, and as your blog’s backlink profile strengthens, target more valuable keywords. If a page is underperforming, this might be the underlying issue.

Internal Linking – Connecting Old and New Content

Internal linking is easily overlooked and underappreciated. Not only does internal linking old pages to new and new pages to old help decrease bounce rate, increase time on site, multiply your email subscribers and promote conversions, it can provide a slight boost in your on-page SEO and rankings.

In an algorithm that takes into account over 200 ranking signals, each given a different weight, a small boost in one category that pushes you up a position can get you double the traffic from a single keyword.

While internal linking is mostly self-explanatory, here are a few guidelines:

  • Find older, authoritative posts that rank high and add internal links to newer, high-value posts.
  • Don’t use the same exact match anchor text to link to a page dozens of times. Diversify your internal links and incorporate long-tail keywords.
  • Internal linking offers subtle results. Even if the tactic doesn’t increase your rankings, it can provide a better user experience, keep readers on your site longer, and most likely improve conversions.

Other Tactics To Leverage Old Content

While the suggestions above constitute the easiest adjustments you can make overnight, there are other ways to grow your blog using your existing content. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Outreach marketing. On-page SEO is important, but a campaign to increase your blog’s exposure and earn natural links will boost not only the page you are marketing but improve your entire site’s authority.
  • Share your content more than once. Perhaps you’ve developed a great resource that you’ve recently updated. Be sure to re-share old work that stands the test of time, but know the best times to post on social media so your content isn’t buried or unseen.
  • Create different forms of multimedia. Bloggers and internet users absolutely love images, graphics and different types of media. Creating a quality infographic using your existing content may be the solution to grabbing people’s attention, increasing shares, and earning links.

Gary DekGary Dek is a professional blogger, SEO expert, and freelance writer. He is the founder of StartABlog123.com as well as a dozen other niche websites and specializes in content marketing and link building strategies. Previously, Gary was an investment banking and private equity analyst.

7 Steps to Optimize Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

I’m a content manager; my background is in public relations with a little bit of marketing strategy and graphic design. I’m sitting here thinking, “What do I know about online optimization!?” I’m not a web design guru; I’m no software engineer or web developer.

And then it occurs to me, if I can get the basics done, like keyword research, I can easily optimize those blog posts I write by using a simple tool that is built into our WordPress dashboard, Yoast. I’m sure there are other SEO plugins that do similar things, but Yoast is the one I know so Yoast is the way it goes.

Now that you know my secret tool, here is a step-by-step guide to optimizing your blog posts:

Step 1:

Identify the keywords you’d like to optimize for. This process starts with a basic idea of what your organization (or your client’s) covers, and then you can dig down into the specific relevant phrases that people are using to search for your organization’s product or services.

Step 2:

Pick a focus. Don’t try to optimize one post for all of the keywords you’ve identified. Pick a few that correlate and make sense and then delegate the rest into groups of similar terms as well (those can be for your next post, and then the one after that.)

Step 3:

Write your post. Try to use the exact phrases that you’ve identified in your keyword search, without sounding forced. You don’t want optimizing your blog post to make it unreadable. For example, did you notice I have used a version of the word “optimize” four times already?

Step 4:

Proofread. This isn’t really necessary to optimize your blog post, but a personal preference that you ensure what you’re publishing makes sense. (Thanks!)

Step 5:

Tell the web what your post is! This is where Yoast comes in.

  1. Enter your focus keyword into the spot that says “Focus keyword.” This is the specific keyword or phrase that you used the most throughout the post.
  2. Write your SEO title. You might have an awesomely clever title, but if it doesn’t say what your post is about, your SEO won’t be as strong for your blog post. Use this space to write a title that is enticing and clear, and preferably that includes the focus keyword. This is what will show up in search results when someone does an online search for your keyword.
  3. Develop the meta description. This should have your focus keyword in it, and be in complete sentences. Typically, I like to copy a sentence or two that includes my keyword straight from the post. This is what will show up under your SEO title to give online searchers more information about your post. It should be short, sweet and to the point.

Step 6:

yoast seoMake sure you get the “green light” on your SEO check provided by Yoast. If you don’t, go back and identify the places that can be improved.
The plug-in will show you if your keyword is being used in each of these places for maximum optimization:

  • Article heading
  • Page Title
  • Page URL
  • Content
  • Meta Description

If you’ve included your keyword in all of these places, you’ll get an SEO green light.

Green light means go!

Step 7:

Publish and share!

Bonus:

Here are some bonus tips to ensure your blog post is optimized to its max potential:

  • Use your target keyword more than once.
  • Incorporate your target keyword into your URL.
  • Include an image that has your target keyword in the “alt text.”
  • Pin that image as the “featured image.”
  • Link to other blog posts on your site and/or link to other influencers’ content (they will get a pingback to notify them that their content is being shared).
  • Apply relevant tags and categories to your post.
  • If you can, use your target keyword in a heading somewhere in your post.

So I’m not an SEO expert or web development guru, but with a little research and help from a plug-in, I can optimize my blog posts with the big guns. Do you have any other tips or best practices to share for optimizing posts?

IMG_2750Kala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels and tweeting about marketing, coffee, and cats @tadasunshine.

10 Simple Ways to Generate Blog Post Ideas

light bulb imageBrainstorming blog post ideas off the top of your head only goes so far. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to get into your reader’s mind to generate post ideas you know will be helpful and relevant.

Here are ten simple ways to keep your blog post ideation machine cranking:

 

1. Hop on a call with readers.

A quick 10-minute phone call can provide tons of ideas in a short amount of time. Plus, you’ll get the actual language your readers use to articulate what they want to learn and their problems that need solving.

Here are a few questions you can modify for your own business:

  • What are the roadblocks you are facing with [insert your topic] right now?
  • What [insert topic] problems have you or your team researched recently on Google, books, or blogs to learn more about?
  • What are you curious to learn more about with [insert topic] here?

2. Send a survey asking what folks want to learn.

Using a tool like SurveyMonkey, ask your readers the same list of open-ended questions in the above phone call example. You could create this as an automated email to new people who sign up for your blog digest update or as a one-time send to the existing readers on your opt-in subscriber list.

3. Research Google autosuggest results.

Open an “incognito window” in your web browser and do a Google search of topics you are interested in writing about. When you do, Google will autosuggest keyword phrases people are already searching for. These are perfect for modifying into blog post titles.

For example, let’s say you are a winery who is interested in generating more blog post ideas. When you type in “how to wine” into Google here’s the autosuggest results you see:

autosuggest screenshot

You could write a post called “The Beginner’s Guide to Wine Tasting in Napa” or use the direct phrase for a piece about “How to Wine Taste in Napa.” By using what people are actually typing into Google, you will increase your chances of ranking in the search results.

4. Peruse what people are saying on social media.

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels are a goldmine of information. Do a search of your target topics and see what people are saying about their problems, needs and wants. From there, turn those into blog post ideas.

5. Browse Amazon book reviews.

Find the top 3-5 books on Amazon that cover your blog post topics and/or you know your readers love. Look at the written reviews and keep your eyes peeled for a) what people learned and b) what they are still interested in learning about the topic. You can write a short, informative post to fill in their knowledge gap.

6. Study what’s working for similar bloggers.

This isn’t about stealing or copying, it’s about seeing what readers of other blogs in your industry are responding to, then putting your own spin on it with your own unique voice and language.

7. Discover keyword volume using Google.

The Google Keyword Planner gives you the volume of searches for keywords and phrases and can also be used to generate new keyword ideas.

For example, our team is focused on the “customer journey” which gets an average of 880 searches a month. After plugging “customer journey” to get new keyword ideas, here are the results:

keyword volume

Posts that could be created from this list are “Everything You Need to Know About Customer Journey Mapping” or “How to Understand the Customer Decision Journey”.

Get the idea? Transform the keywords in clickable, irresistible blog post titles.

8. Check out questions people are asking on Quora.

Quora is a popular question-and-answer website. And there is a lot of questions on Quora. One estimate says there has been nearly 11 million questions asked and that number is growing daily. Similar to the other strategies in this article, search for your blog topics and take note of the questions people are asking and repurpose them into blog posts.

9. Read the table of contents in industry books.

Take a “look inside” books about your topic on Amazon, specifically at the table of contents. Chapter titles are meant to draw people in and can spark inspiration for your own post ideas.

10. Share what your company is learning.

People love learning from companies they like. What are some insights your team has learned recently? What’s a strategy you’ve implemented that’s been successful? Share it with your readers.

 

Brian Sun headshotBrian Sun runs the blog at Autopilot, a marketing automation platform that helps small business owners automate the customer journey, visually. Check out Autopilot’s most popular blog post, 7 Lead Nurturing Secrets to Turn Strangers into Customers.

3 Effective Ways to Use Video in Your Marketing Mix

With consumers viewing more than 8 billion videos per day on Facebook and YouTube, it’s increasingly critical that businesses include video in their marketing strategy.

In a recent survey conducted by Animoto, we asked more than 1,000 U.S. consumers how they interact with and feel about businesses that use video in their marketing. Customers prefer video — in fact, one in four consumers actually lose interest in a company if it doesn’t use video. Read on to see where video can be used most effectively and how you can incorporate it into your marketing mix, in a way consumers will respond:

Boost email open rates

Our survey revealed that consumers are nearly 50 percent more likely to read email newsletters that include links to video. Additionally, more than half of consumers said they’ve watched a company video that came through email.

Embedding video in emails directly can be tricky, and won’t work with most email clients. So how do you go about using video in newsletters and other emails? Here are a few tips:

  • Link to the video hosted on your site rather than embedding the video in an email
  • Make it clear you’ve included a video by adding a still frame and linking the image to your video; superimpose a play button on top of the image to get more clicks
  • Use an animated .gif of several frames of your video to grab readers’ attention — this can replace the static image
  • Use the copy in the email to let readers know what the video is about
  • Mention the video in your subject line, especially if it’s a prominent feature in your email

Encourage engagement on social media

Videos shared on Facebook are proven to get more engagement than other types of media, and consumers are proven to interact with them. 84 percent of consumers said they’ve ‘Liked’ a company video in their news feed, and nearly half have shared a company video on their profile. A recent study from Socialbakers found that videos posted on company Facebook pages see an increase in organic reach of 135 percent, on average, over photos.

Use Facebook to engage existing customers with videos promoting special deals, exclusive insider looks at your products and short, fun clips that show off your company’s personality. To pique the interest of new customers, feature a video about your company, along with videos related to your industry. This video, posted by photographer Kelly Brown on her Facebook page, has been viewed over 17,000 times and received over 600 likes, 71 shares, and 40 comments.

 

Little Pieces Photography by Kelly Brown – Brisbane Newborn Baby Photographer from Kelly Brown on Vimeo.

Drive sales on your website

Video is a great way to move customers through the sales process — and especially to provide more details about your company and product offering. In a Video Commerce Report earlier this year, Liveclicker found companies that featured product videos on their websites saw larger average order values (AOV) than companies that did not.

What should you include in the videos you host on your website? The Animoto survey found consumers prefer these types of videos, in this order:

  1. Videos showing how a product is made
  2. Customer testimonial videos
  3. Videos about your company

Consumers want an inside look: 80 percent of those surveyed said a video showing how a product or service works is important.

Today consumers respond to, and even expect, video marketing on the web, via social, and in email. It’s the perfect time to start incorporating video into your marketing strategy.

 

Video Marketing Cheat Sheet

 

BradHorizontalAs founding CEO of Animoto, Brad leads the charge in driving Animoto to be the global standard for automated video creation. Prior to co-founding Animoto in August 2006, Brad spent eight years with Onyx Software, an enterprise software company. Through Brad’s career at Onyx he saw the company grow from a 17-person start-up to an 800-person public company, and eventually an acquisition. Brad graduated from Dartmouth College and currently resides in Oakland, California, with his wife and their two children, both of whom are stars of his frequent Animoto video creations.

How to Use Your Content Platforms to Gain Valuable Customer Insights

Audience data 240x180You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on industry research or surveying your audience — most small businesses already have plenty of data collection tools right at their fingertips! The savviest businesses utilize their content to gain invaluable insights into their customer and potential customer base to understand what they want most- here’s how you can too!

Google Analytics

To get a good baseline for who your audience is, use your website’s Google Analytics data. On the left sidebar, click audience, then explore the demographics, interests, and geo sections. The location, age, gender, industry and topical interests of your website traffic is all displayed in these section. The interests section of your audience report contains particularly insightful gems. Affinity Categories relates to the other lifestyle interests they have, while In-Market Segments shows you their product and purchase based interests. Other Categories hones in on the most specific topics of interest or activities.

Blog Topics

Which blog posts get the most shares, views, or impressions on your blog and across your social networks? It’s important to distribute your blogs across a wide variety of platforms to get a feel for as many different segments of your audience as possible, as well as to get a better sense of the piece’s success. Sharing your blogs widely across the web also brings more traffic back to you site, and continues to feed into what your insights.

Downloaded Resources

You should make a few helpful pdf downloads available on your website. Not only is this a great way to capture emails, but it’s also a useful tool to see where your audience’s interests lie, or what problems are currently affecting them. Make sure all your resources relate to your business in some way- it wouldn’t be particularly helpful to learn what someone’s favorite color is or where they would most like to vacation.

Emailed Content

Whether you use a full on CRM like Salesforce or a simpler service like MailChimp- take note of what content your readers are clicking on. When sending them blog updates, industry news, or new services offered- note where their interests lie. Deliver more, similar content to see if you can hone in on the specific topics they care most about. Optimize your newsletters for key learnings.

Quizzes

People love quizzes, especially on social media. It’s also a genius way to learn more about your audience than any other technique. An easy tactic to start is a quiz themed to “What ___ Are You?”. Make sure you come up with questions that will help you in your your quest to understand your audience, such as “do you like to attack and solve problems, or do you seek the advice of others?”.

Facebook Insights

Immediately upon logging into Facebook, navigate to the left side menu and select Insights. You’ll find your Facebook audience demographics under the People category. Be sure to also note the section for when your fans are online to see what types of content you should be sharing to this audience. Lunch hour readers prefer entertainment, while morning browsers are primed for news. Long reads are best for the evening and weekend. For many brands, their Facebook audience consists of different groups, using Facebook at different times. Optimize your Facebook posts for greatest potential to collect the most audience data possible.

Twitter Analytics

Every user can now access their Twitter analytics. Similar to Facebook, Twitter’s Analytics lets you see basic audience demographic information (do you see any differences between your Facebook and Twitter audiences?) as well as an overview of your tweet performance. Twitter add-on Followerwonk assesses the bios of your followers to provide you with insights on their interests and how they describe themselves. You can see who else your followers tend to follow, what they tweet about and Followerwonk points you in the direction of new groups to go after (moms who love DIY or dads who like soccer).

LinkedIn Audience

When viewing your company page, select Analytics. You’ll see a concise listing of your posts’ performance as well as audience demographics. LinkedIn shares what level of professional attainment your followers are: entry-level employee through owner or VPs. You can also select Industry and Job Function from the audience data drop down menus. It’s highly advisable to appropriately tailor your content to appeal to the right level of reader: decision maker or someone who might suggest your company to the decision maker.

 

pro pic 150Diana Mackie is a small business writer, specializing in marketing and content. Diana writes for AllBusiness, Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Duct Tape Marketing and many other publications. She is currently the Chief Content Officer at Funding Gates. Diana attended Fordham University and now lives in New York City.

 

5 Ways to Produce Eye-Catching Content Without a Designer

photo credit: kaboompics

photo credit: kaboompics

There’s nothing like great content. I create it for work. I create it for fun. Crazy? Perhaps. Especially since creating good, visually appealing content is a huge challenge faced by many.

There is no rule that says you have to hire a pricey graphic designer in order to generate beautiful, design-rich content.  Of course, design specialists are a great resource to have on a team – but, for many earlier-stage businesses, increased costs and headcount may not be ideal.

Luckily, a universe of tools exist that enable quick content creation for even the non-designers among us – whether it’s as simple as a quick meme or as elaborate as an ebook. Slim, bootstrapping teams could wear a designer hat and produce the rich content quickly and inexpensively by enlisting some of these fantastic content-producing tools:

Capture the moment with Skitch

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.32.16 PMSkitch is a great app that helps brands tell a visual story – and it’s free! Grab a quick screenshot on your device and mark it up with arrows, boxes, text and more. Skitch lets you mark up images, digital assets, PDFs, and other files with arrows, callout boxes, text, and more.

I find that at least once a day I use Skitch’s “Screen Snap” function to grab all or part of my screen for use in content. I don’t need to plug my captured image into another program for further cropping and other editing since the all-in-one features of Skitch enable me to do so right in their app. A great time saver and useful tool for supporting your talking points with a rich visual design.

Skitch is owned by Evernote but does not require an Evernote account to start using. Try it out and screengrab to your heart’s content.

Don’t use any old font, use Dafont

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.32.42 PMSick of using Times and Ariel in your creative. Aren’t we all? Luckily, resources like Google Fonts, Font Squirrel and more offer a wealth of wonderfully designed, open-source fonts to add a little character to your characters.

I like Dafont for its abundance of options that range from general purpose to highly specialized. Each font is well-tagged so the site’s great search function could pull up just what you’re looking for. Simply download, install and use a desired font in graphics, presentations, ebooks and more – just make sure to check for any attribution requirements.

Pound out a quick infographic with Piktochart

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.33.07 PMThere’s nothing like a good infographic to capture an audience and teach them something new. When it’s simple to create in just minutes and free, it’s all the more reason to inject them into a content strategy.

Piktochart is quick and simple for anyone to create professional-looking infographics, reports, banners, and presentations. An intuitive interface and simple drag-and-drop features help a designer-less team fake it until they make it.

Get instant access and “start creating in 30 seconds,” as the site’s homepage describes. Start yours from scratch, choose from customizable free templates or step up to Pro for some more options.

Along with the vast library of templates, you can find over four thousand graphics to really spruce things up, or get more custom and create your very own images. When generating visual creations to represent your brand, avoid a clunky MS Paint design and make them look professionally mastered at low commitment.

Become an author with Guides.co

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 7.33.14 PMHave what it takes to write an informative eBook but lack the design skill to bring into fruition? Guide.co offers the perfect solution.

We’ve all experienced the power of eBooks, in educating an audience, adding credibility and thought leadership status to a brand and capturing more qualified leads. But the more comprehensive the piece of content the more time and budget it consumes.

Guides.co provides a useful, plug-and-lay model to take on the burden creating an attractive body for your killer copy. Like Piktochart, Guides.co offers multiple templates to kick off your design – and easy-to-use customizing features help to guide your guide to fit your brand.

Guides.co even goes the extra mile and hosts your content on their site for the world to discover!

Get interactive and think ThingLink

ThingLink adds a totally new form to social media that brings life to your content. The tool makes interactive visual graphics easy to make and void of the premium price tag.

The site integrates with others like YouTube, SoundCloud, and Vimeo to pull in sounds and videos to add to your graphic.

Register for free or get a few other advantages with a membership – but you might not need to spend the extra cash. The tools basic features enable users to design quite rich, interactive videos and images to incorporate into a content marketing strategy.

Even better, once completed, ThingLink lets you tag your piece and share with your social network along with their own community. Interact with other creative ThingLink users for ideas, inspiration and feedback.

Go forth and design

Designing is not easy. Supplementing the talent of an experienced designer will save costs but could indeed reduce the effectiveness of a content strategy. However, since more basic content is better than no content at all, getting your engine running with intuitive and affordable tools is key.  Helpful apps that enable the everyday entrepreneur or busy marketing generalist to design without breaking the bank or eating up your time is lifesaving.

Have any questions about improving your content strategy? Contact me! 

VinceVince is a passionate digital marketing specialist with a track record of evangelizing technology to modernize business development and brand building in the startup through enterprise levels. Skilled in strategic data-driven campaign management, Vince focuses on demand generation programs that influence growth, including marketing automation, social media, digital advertising, search engine optimization, blogging, public relations, video and event marketing.? Vince is a well-established Twitter influencer under @vince_tech and Founder of Boom Digital, a boutique digital marketing agency specializing in supporting the growth of early-stage startup companies through social media, content marketing, and design.

 

3 Effective Ways to Use a Blog to Boost Your Retail Business

Depositphotos_41742531_smallA million times you’ve heard that you need a blog to get more customers. Maybe you even created a blog for your retail business. You created the blog, wrote a bunch of articles with eager anticipation of the customers who would stampede through your door. You stare at your door waiting…

The flood of new customers never arrives. Heck, it seems like not a single additional customer came in due to your blog. What’s wrong? Maybe you’ve avoided creating a blog because of similar stories you’ve heard from others who have tried and failed. Whether you have tried a blog and had no success or avoided starting a blog, this article is for you.

What nobody explains about blogging for a retail business

Nobody explains just HOW to blog to bring customers through your door, but I’m here to help you with that. The first mistake that everybody makes is blogging about them self. The truth is your customers don’t care about you. Customers care about themselves. They’ll never come into your shop just to put money in your cash register; they’ll only come to get something they want or need for themselves. So, blog about how your customers benefit from your products.

Here are 3 things that will help you attract customers to your store.

1. Demonstrate your products being used

Few stores show their product being enjoyed or put to best use.

Write a blog post showing how your product can be used. If your product is a tool, show it being used by an expert to fix things. If it is clothing, show it being worn with other items you sell and inspire your customers to make their own fashion statement. How-to articles are one of the most popular types of blog posts. People are always searching for ways to do something. Demonstrate what problem your product solves or how people are happier using your product.

IKEA’s Share Space blog allows people show the creative ways they have used IKEA products. The blog is written in a casual, friendly tone and includes lots of pictures of people’s projects.

2 Establish trust in your industry

Over 80% of people do research on the web before making a purchase. A blog is the perfect place to give people a buying guide to the products you sell. Start by answering questions that your customers regularly ask.

River Pools and Spas started writing content on their blog that simply answered their customers’ questions. Today their blog gets more traffic than any other pool company site in the world.

Do not be a salesman when you write a guide. Write the post as if you were talking to a dear friend that you wanted to know the honest truth. Use some photographs in the article and help people understand why one feature is better, in what circumstances, and what its shortcomings are. Giving people honest expert advice to make a purchase will build a rapport with your customers.

Create an article that explains, step-by-step, how to use or make something with your product. Add a checklist, or questions to ask when shopping and you have given your customers a goldmine of information. Strive to inform in a way that doesn’t have the goal of making you money. Instead, help everyone better informed about your products.

3. Show off your shop’s personality

More and more, people are buying from those who they know, like and trust. A blog gives your shop personality. Like I said earlier, you don’t want to sound like a salesman. When you write blog posts, be personable.

Use empathy with your customer when writing. By sharing common experiences with your customers, you are building a relationship with them because you have a shared interest in common. This increases the bond you and your customer have and will increase traffic through your door.

The Artists Frame Service does a good job of mixing in their personality with their blog.

Your customers are online and you should be there too

Retail blogs fail because they don’t focus on what the customers want; blog about topics that your customers find interesting. A blog is the easiest way to link your brick and mortar store with the online world. If you use it right, you’ll have a major advantage over your competition.

Your customer will be much more likely to find you in search engines. You’ll not only answer all their questions but show them that you really get them. They will remember you for it, and from then on they will much rather come to your shop over others.

robert-newmanRob Newman is CEO of Get Web Clients. If you’d like to learn more about what it really takes to get more visitors to your website, build your email list, and become an authority in your niche, subscribe today.

 

5 Easy-To-Use Blog Post Formats

If you’re starting a new blog for your business, you probably have done a lot of research on how to write blog posts. You’ve probably come across all different kinds of posts, everything from other businesses like yours to Buzzfeed’s top 10 cat gifs of the week. It can be a bit overwhelming. Every blog post is different, and you may not know which styles and formats to emulate.

The truth is, there are countless ways to write blog posts, and many different formats you can use. In my last post, I even suggested you use multiple different formats every week or month to help you write more efficiently. Here are several different, easy to use blog post formats and how to use them.

Countdown / List

Countdown or list posts are some of the most highly shared posts on the Internet, and they are easy to read and create. Made popular by sites like Buzzfeed, the countdown post is a list of headers, broken apart by small bits of content under each header. You see this all the time: “5 tips to make you a better blogger,” “The top 10 teams in Major League Baseball,” even posts like this would fall under that format.

These sorts of posts are frequently shared because the headers make it easier for speed readers to comprehend the content of the post. They also make it and for those who may not want to read the entire post to pick and choose the content they want to read. It is easy to write because the list format allows you to gather and organize your thoughts without having to worry about those pesky and sometimes difficult-to-write transitions.

To write a countdown or list post, begin with a topic. Next think of a handful of examples. Aim for a nice round number like 5 or 10, but don’t sweat it if you can only think of 4 or 7. Next, write a little bit about each example and why it pertains to the topic. Finally, write a short intro and conclusion about the subject and why it matters to your audience. It’s as simple as that!

How-To

How-to blog posts are exactly what they sound like, a post with a step-by-step outline of how to complete a task. Here on the Duct Tape Marketing blog, Sara writes great how-to posts. These are often easy to write because you’re outlining something you already know how to do, and really helpful to your audience.

To write a how-to blog post, begin with a task and list out the steps one by one. Next, spend a bit of time explaining each step, maybe even including photos or examples of each step. Make sure these steps and explanations are broken down so your blog’s audience can understand, and avoid any industry-specific jargon. Finally, write an introduction explaining to your audience why they should learn this new skill, and maybe a conclusion encouraging your audience to practice and use the new skill.

News

News posts are editorial posts that analyze a newsworthy event and apply it to your industry. News posts get shared because there is a good chance your audience is already talking about the news story.

To write a news blog post, start by creating a listening post to keep an eye (or ear) out for news that applies to your business. This can be done by following journalists and news outlets on social media, or just checking your favorite news outlets daily. Next, find a news story that may have an impact on your industry or business in the future. Begin by writing a little bit of background on the news story, and then spend time talking about how it impacts you, your industry or your customers.

Sharing

Sharing posts are some of the easiest to write, and are a valuable tool to leverage for growing your strategic partner base. These are posts where you can share other posts or products to your audience. For example, every weekend John shares his “Weekend Favs,” three new tools that can help make running a business easier.

To write a sharing post, collect blog posts or products to share throughout the week leading to the post. Be sure to keep your strategic partners in mind, and work their products and posts in often. List each item and hyperlink each one. Next, write a little about each post or product you are sharing, specifically why your audience should click the link. That’s it!

Mailbag

Finally, the mailbag post is a great way to get your audience to write your posts for you. The only catch is that you have to build up an active audience for this to work. These posts simply consist of you answering questions directly from your audience.

To write a mailbag post, call for questions from your audience either in a post on your blog or social media. Then copy/paste the questions and write your answers. If you don’t have much of an active audience, you can always think of commonly asked questions to answer, but this can be difficult.

Blog posts shouldn’t be difficult to write. These five easy blog post formats should help you get your blog rolling with great, consistent content.

Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC