You want to create a successful, quality blog that will attract leads, boost your Google search rankings, provide a spark to your Social Media portfolio, and give your name and business a level of credibility previously unreached.
In last week’s blog, How to Start a Network Marketing Blog, we covered which blogging sites to use between WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr; how to create an effective blog design; and how to decide what topics to cover. In quick review, Blogger and WordPress are probably your best bets, research blog design trends to determine your blog’s appearance, and write about your Network Marketing small business’s products or structure.
Now onto the juicy stuff: the details, tips and tricks that will turn your well-structured, beautifully designed blog into an industry hit that converts readers into leads.
How Often and When to Post to Your Blog
Social Media Today posted a great blog about when and how often to post to your blog. Essentially, the key is to post at least one article every week, and post at the same time and days every week. Your readers will learn to look for your new content, and Google will consider your blog more professional and move it up the search rankings.
Online Income Teacher also has some guidelines on how often to blog and when. He also goes through some pros and cons of blogging every day, if such a feat has crossed your mind: “Of course, posting everyday requires you to write every day! You will need to have a different subject to write on every day and keep churning them out on a consistent basis. You need to make sure that the quality of your articles is maintained, whilst being interesting to your readers. I’ll be honest and say that posting every day is very hard work. It can be a great way to promote your blog, but often writers get fatigued and the quality of posts slips. But if you can do it, then hats off to you!”
I can tell from experience as a professional writer and former journalist for a daily newspaper that writing one blog post a day really isn’t that time consuming. You will definitely get used to it, especially if the article lengths remain consistent, and if the topics do not require much research.
How Long Should My Blog Articles Be?
There are many different thoughts and theories about blog lengths. Openvine.com suggest that web audiences have a short attention span and therefore your blogs should remain relatively short, especially if you intend to post content often.
WeBuildYourBlog.com advises that every blog post should be at least 300 words, but rarely ever more than 500 words if you don’t want to bore readers to death.
However, Quicksprout.com found that their lead generation numbers and lead-to-sale conversion rates were higher with longer blog posts. Quick Sprout further analyzed long content sites and Google rankings and found that the top 3 ranking web sites for the average keyword on Google averaged more than 2,000 words per page! Okay, so Google likes longer word counts. Google isn’t exactly your customer, right? Quick Sprout continued its research into social channels and found that, well, I will let the author, Neil Patel, explain it: “I took the 327 blog posts I have written on Quick Sprout and broke them down into 2 buckets. The first bucket contained blog posts that were less than 1500 words and second contained posts that were greater than 1500 words. I then analyzed how many tweets and how many Facebook likes each post got. Posts that were under 1500 words on average received 174.6 tweets and 59.3 Facebook likes. Posts that were over 1500 words on average received 293.5 tweets and 72.7 Facebook likes.”
In my opinion, 327 blog posts is plenty of data to create proof of concept here.
I was taught in journalism school that Harvard studies proved that virtually no one with less than a graduate degree will read and follow an article of more than 1,000 words. I am paraphrasing, of course. And that very few readers with less than a bachelor’s degree will read articles of 500 words. These numbers did not reflect attention span correlations to advanced levels of education, but they rather reflected, simply put, what people are used to reading. A graduate degree means the former student has read countless texts of countless words in case studies, essays, etc. Whereas the high school graduate has yet to read intellectual texts longer than a few pages, other than books, of course.
This study formed the foundation of journalistic guidelines for many, many newspapers in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, before newspapers practically became extinct. Magazines also began following this study’s guidelines, breaking up text with more and more photos.
Perhaps common ground can be found between what everyone seems to believe (shorter blog posts are optimal), and what Quick Sprout and the SEO Moz community have found in studies (that longer posts attract more readers, links, and respect from Google). Perhaps the key is to break up the length of your blog posts: write one 400-word article one week, and counter it with a massive 2,000-word article the next week. Not only could this theory still gain respect from Google, but you can measure for yourself which article lengths work best for your target audience.
Every single article you post on your blog absolutely must have an image. Don’t believe me? Fine. Believe the experts at Masters of Seo, who make photos an absolute must. Preferably use an image that ties into the content of the article, of course. I wouldn’t say “the more photos the better”, but perhaps one image for every 200 words or so in your articles. Where can you find these photos? There are several free sites for images that won’t break copyright laws. Susan Gunelius of About.com lists several free image stock sites where you can find decent, legal images for your blog. Epreneur gives a shorter, more recent list that includes PhotoPin.com, Foter.com, and stock.xchng.
My personal favorite is SolidStockArt.com. It costs a very, very small amount per image, but is pretty easy to navigate and has plenty of images you can use over and over again. Most other image sites have restrictions against reuse of their photos. Plus, SolidStockArt actually provides customer service, an unheard of concept in the world of image rights.
There is also a popular concept among SEO circles about tagging your blog’s photos to improve your blog’s and web site’s ranking in Google search results. Refer to this article from Salesforce.com about how to tag your photos and how doing so will benefit your Google rankings. It’s easy to do, takes little time, and is very effective.
Aim for More Comments
Engagement is pivotal in your Social Media efforts and on your blogs for two very key reasons:
1. Engagement with a potential customer makes them far more likely to convert to your customer or downline rep
2. Engagement on your blogs and web sites makes them skyrocket up the Google search rankings.
FernandoBiz.com explains why comments on your blog are big for search ranking purposes. He also explains how commenting on others’ blogs can build your own SEO rankings using the story of Mashable as an effective anecdote: “The best example is Pete Cashmore who built Mashable to become a world famous blog by commenting on other competing successful blogs like TechCrunch, when he first launched his blog from his room United Kingdom. The blogging success stories and online sources say, he literally left hundreds of comments and as the return on his investment, now he has one of the most popular websites on the Internet.”
Social Media Today, however, notes that many, many comments on blogs these days are simply spam comments. I received a few thousand of these on my old blogs every day. It’s an annoying, cheap attempt by others to build links and magnify their own search rankings, but Google has cracked down on spam comments immensely, punishing the spammers and not the bloggers directly.
Hyperlink Text in Your Blog
They’re called backlinks: they link back to other content. But for you beginners, we’ll just call them links: when you highlight text within your article and create a hyperlink from that text to another web page.
You want to link text in your articles often: around every 100 words. Too much will cause Google to consider your blog a “link farm”, a blog solely intended to improve the SEO of another site. Too few links and Google won’t even notice you.
Susan Gunelius bails us out again with the perfect number and explanation for links in our blog articles. “The accepted link to text ratio estimated by search engine optimization experts is one link for every 125 words. That means if your blog post is 250 words, you can feel confident including up to two links in that post without hurting your search engine rankings but still helping those rankings if your links are keyword-specific. Once a blog is removed from search engine rankings because it is flagged as spam, it’s nearly impossible for it to get readmitted. Therefore, avoid potentially being labeled as a link spammer by sticking with the rule of including no more than one link per 125 words of content within a blog post.”
A fashion blog, of all places, called Independent Fashion blog accurately describes the delicate relationship between links in your blog and how Google views them. Talk about blogging outside of your topic! Nonetheless, it’s a great article with a lot of truth to it. The author, YM Ousley, explains in very basic, easy-to-understand wording, the different types of links and how Google essentially “feels” about them. “Bad links – by Google’s definition – are any that are obviously designed to manipulate PageRank, part of Google’s algorithm for determining the most relevant results.”
According to Ousley, Google hates to see Automated Links, Overly Optimized Links, and Paid Links. To summarize: “In Google’s ideal world, links to websites occur because someone else reads your content and thinks it’s good enough or important enough to share with their audience. While it’s tempting to take the “you want links? I’ll give you some links!” message to heart, and get as many links as you can, overdoing it can push Google away and push your own site far away from any of that sweet, free search traffic you were going after in the first place.”
Where and How to Share Your Blog
As a Network Marketer, the list of where and how to share your blog may get pretty interesting and diverse. For example, most bloggers share their work on Facebook with all their friends. But if you do that, you face the disheartening potential reality of many friends “unfriending” you because they feel like you’re pushing your MLM on them.
First and foremost, share your blog on Pinterest and Google Plus; these two social networks are well known for their SEO benefits. Hopefully you are a somewhat experienced pinner and knew to create a special pinboard for your MLM activities.
Secondly, share your blog on Twitter with target-specific keywords. This tweet is not necessarily for your current followers as much as it is for your potential customers and downline reps. Hashtag the heck out that tweet with anything relevant to the topic matter. If it’s about tea tree oil, hashtag Melaleuca, TeaTree, Healing, NaturalProducts, and others. You get the point. Oh, and do the same with your Google Plus post.
On Facebook, however, be very selective about who you share your blog with. Share it only with current customers and downline reps, or with those whom you have specifically identified as hot leads. DO NOT SHARE YOUR MLM BLOG WITH ALL YOUR FRIENDS.
Finally, share your blog via email with all your current downline and upline reps, as well as simple customers and current leads. Share every weekly post, but no more than that, for fear you might annoy.
With your blog created and designed perfectly, your topics picked out, your dates and times of day scheduled, your images at hand, and armed with your many other weapons for successful small business blogging, you should be ready for success.