Every business is constantly looking for ways to reach their audience and drive more traffic to their website. Unfortunately often overlooked, blogging is actually a fantastic and robust way to do just that. But maybe you’re not confident in your writing ability, or just aren’t sure how to start or what to write about.
Have no fear, Rich Brooks – creator of the Agents Of Change podcast – is here to share 12 different and creative examples of blogging ideas that anyone can do. Now you have no excuse not to start that business blog and reap all of the benefits (SEO, drive traffic, establish authority, just to name a few) to help build and market your business.
One of the things that we do for our clients each month here at flyte is run marketing reports. Now every one of our clients has different needs, so the reports are tailored to each one of them. Although there are certainly reports that show up in every report we deliver. Recently I asked John Paglio – one of our digital marketing specialists – to treat flyte as if we were our own client, and to treat me as if I was his client. To write up monthly reports and deliver them so I would have a better understanding of what our clients are getting, and whether it’s really valuable. And I just found this to be a great exercise anyway.
So recently John delivered the monthly report to me, and as I was going through it I was looking at some of our most popular pages by traffic, it’s one of the reports we include for flyte. And what I noticed was 9 out of 10 of the top pages for traffic were blog posts. And that was true for landing pages as well. In other words, the first page somebody finds when they find you. Included in that top 10 list, two of the pages generated more traffic than our homepage. Which I found to be wildly incredible that our homepage – which almost everybody links to – was still not the most popular page on our website.
This reinforces what I’ve always believed, that well written quality blog posts increase your business’s visibility and drive traffic to your website. Now however, sometimes even when you know which topics to cover, knowing how to craft that post is still difficult. And that’s what I want to talk about today.
I believe that if you want to rank well for a search term – whether it’s dog training, or Boston plastic surgery, or whatever is relevant for your business – you don’t just write one post and forget about it. You have to write many posts, all approaching the topic in a new and interesting way, to answer different kinds of questions that your ideal customers are asking on Google right now. I call this the electromagnetic approach to blogging. And let me explain why.
If you remember your 7th or 8th grade science class, you might remember building an electromagnet. And basically what they gave you was an iron rod – or very often just a very long nail – two copper wires, and a battery. And when you used the copper wires to connect these items, you got a very low powered electromagnet. But if you took the copper wires and you started to wrap them around the iron rod, the more times you wrapped them, the more magnetic that rod became, the more powerful it became. The same in my mind is true with blogging. That if you write one post about email marketing, you’ll get a little search engine visibility out of it. But if you write another and another and each one talking about a different aspect of email marketing, or human resources, or attracting the right type of employee – whatever your topic – the more you write the more established you become in Google’s view that this is really good content, and the more of a magnet your website becomes for that topic when it comes to search results.
Not only that, what you’re going to do is you’re going to take the keyword that you’re really trying to position yourself well for and link it for each blog post to a page on your website where you sell that product or service. And when I say “sell”, I’m not talking necessarily about e-commerce, but I am talking about a page that kind of lays out what you do, how you help people, the problems people overcome, with some sort of call to action at the end. So create 5-10 blog posts about a topic, and then each one links to that page on your website. That’s the benefit of an electromagnet when it comes to blogging and SEO for your business.
Now this of course invites another challenge. And that challenge is, how do I create so many blog posts about the same topic. And that’s what I want to talk about today. I want to share with you 12 different blog post types that you can do to create content that’s going to help you rank well in the search engines, drive more traffic to your website, and establish yourself as an expert. Some of these blog post types may lend themselves better to your type of business or may feel easier for you to create than others. I’m not saying you have to use each one, I’m just saying that from this set of 12, you’re going to be able to more quickly create valuable copy that’s going to help you rank well and build your business. Let’s get started.
Number 1: “How to’s” and tutorials. The “how to” is the most powerful of all the blogging archetypes. Think about it, why do we go to the web? Sure, sometimes it’s just to check last night’s sports score, or check out the news, or catch up with friends on Facebook or some other social media site. But very often it’s because we’re looking to accomplish something. We’ve got some sort of problem or need, and we need an answer, and we know that that answer is going to be somewhere online. So we head on over to Google and we ask the question. Now your prospects and customers, they behave the exact same way. They have a problem and you can help them solve it by creating a step by step post that’s going to walk them through a solution.
Interestingly, I’ve talked to a number of business owners over the years who are literally afraid of the “how to” post. They wonder.”Rich, if I share with somebody how to do my job, why do they even need me?” And my response is pretty much always the same. If your entire job can be explained in a 500 word blog post, you’re probably in the wrong business. The bottom line is, somebody has already created that blog post anyways. They’ve already given away your deepest, darkest secrets in how to run your business. The only thing you have to offer is your own voice and your own perspective. If somebody does a Google search and your competitor comes up because they were willing to answer that question, who do you think they’re going to do business with? How to’s and tutorials establish your credibility and expertise. Even if the reader chooses to do it on their own, at least they know about your business. They may consider you for other opportunities down the road, or they may refer your business when a friend asks them the same question. Of all the blog post types that I’m talking about today, I probably use “how to” more than any other, and it’s been hugely successful for my business.
Number 2: Lists. List posts are very popular and pretty hated as well. In fact, a lot of bloggers almost refuse to do list posts because they feel like it’s been done to death. They seem to think that because so many other people are doing it, they’re not effective or successful. But this is a type that’s been used a lot longer than blogging has been around. All you need to do is go down to the local newsstand – if there is a local newsstand, I don’t know if there are anymore – but if there were, all you need to do is go down there and take a look at the covers of the magazines, and so many magazines have, “101 Ways To Save Money For College”, or “6 Ways To See If He Still Loves You”, those kinds of things.
We live in a busy world where people don’t have time to learn everything they need to know. But if you can show them 6 kickass kettlebell exercises, that’s something that they’re going to find time for. So when they do a search or when they follow a link to to see that kind of post, they’re going to appreciate that, they’re going to bookmark it, they’re going to share it with their friends, and it’s very easy to create list posts. After “how to” posts, I would say that list posts have been the most successful for our business.
Number 3: Resources or link lists. Quite honestly, this is very similar to #2. If there is a venn diagram out there, there’s a lot of overlap between these two. The big difference in my mind between just the straight up list and a resource or link list, is the fact that the link list or resources are usually other sources. In other words, you’re curating other people’s topics or expertise. And that can be very beneficial on a number of different levels.
One is, you don’t have to spend all that time creating your own content. Secondly, you’re probably doing research on your industry anyway, so you’ve already got this list even if it’s not quite fleshed out the way you thought. And thirdly, this is something you can hand off to an intern, a virtual assistant, or just another employee to gather all these resources for you, thus saving you a lot of time.
Another approach to this type of list is the expert list. So what you can do is reach out to experts in your industry and get them to give you a small or short tidbit. Last year we ran a post on Agents Of Change called, 69 List Building Tips From The Experts. I just reached out to a bunch of previous guests who had been on the show and asked them for one tip that they could share with our audience. They were happy to do it, we linked back to all of their websites so they got some visibility as well, and it became one of the most popular posts we had ever created.
Number 4: Cheat sheets, checklists, and “to do’s”. When people are looking for help on the internet, and if they come to your website and they see an expert or credible resource, what they’re looking for is shortcuts, direction, help. If they have a question, they want somebody to answer it, or at least get them on the right track. This post type isn’t too different from a “how to”, but they tend to focus more on how to do something more efficiently, like a “hack” or to make sure nothing is forgotten. Now this is also the kind of post that you could turn into some sort of value add, like a PDF that you would either give away for free or use for an email registration to help build your list.
Number 5: Reviews. There are two kinds of review posts. There’s a review of a single product, and then there’s also a compare and contrast of two or more products. There are entire blogs that have made their business just by reviewing products and services. If you ever do a review on any physical product or digital product or service with the word “review” after it, I’m sure you’re going to find some of those posts.
Let’s say that you’re a personal trainer, you could do reviews of different home barbell sets or kettlebells, or other types of products that they sell online or on TV to give people a sense, so when they a search on “kettlebell review”, they’re going to find your post. From that post you can help establish your expertise, and maybe get them to download your ebook, or sign up for your virtual training course, or even hire you as a personal trainer.
Number 6: Controversial posts. If you want interaction and engagement, the easiest way to do this is take a controversial stance on a subject your audience is passionate about. Before I did Agents Of Change, I had another brand called The Marketing Agents. One of the first posts I ever wrote over there was the case against responsive web design, the popular approach to mobile friendly design. To this day it’s one of the most shared and commented posts I’ve written on that blog, and it’s because I angered people. Now what I also did is something I stole from Derek Halpern, where after I wrote the post I went to a bunch of forums where people loved responsive web design, and basically created links over to the post and asked them if they were done drinking the Kool-aid.
After I got a bunch of hateful comments in the comments section and a bunch of shares, I went over to some places where people didn’t like responsive web design and said, “Look what they’re saying about it”, and got them to come to the website and comment and share. It was a great blog post it was very popular, it was very controversial, and you have to decide for yourself if you’re ready for the hate mail that might come from doing such a controversial post.
Number 7: Infographics. Infographics are extremely popular these days, in part because we’re visual. I think this gets back also to the idea we just don’t have a lot of time to dig too deeply into something, so we just want to get the information as quickly as possible. And an infographic – when done well – will often take the most important information and put it together in a visually pleasing way that gets the message across.
You can either design the infographic yourself, you can have someone from your team – maybe a graphic designer – do it for you, or you can just search on “infographics” within Google image search. If you’re writing to restaurateurs, go to Google image search and search for “restaurant infographic”. You’ll find a bunch of great topics, you can find an infographic that’s relevant to what you want to educate people on, and then you can basically link to that infographic or post it with the original information on it so that the creator of that infographic gets credit. And then just write a few extra words about it, maybe 50-100 words kind of explaining why you’re sharing this and why you think it’s important. That entire thing might take you 15 minutes, and now you’ve got another blog post created.
Number 8: Podcast shownotes. Now obviously this is only going to work if you have a podcast. I love podcasts, I love podcasting, and there’s definitely a great business case for many small businesses to have a podcast. However, one of the shortcomings I found with podcasts is it’s often difficult to take somebody who is listening to the podcast – whether they’re on their desktop, or more likely on a mobile device – and get them over to your website.
Very often our listeners are listening while they’re walking, driving, on the stairmaster or elliptical trainer, and there’s just not that smooth transition. So one of the things that I do – and many business podcasters do – is they have a companion website or blog, and for each episode of their podcast, they have show notes. Sometimes it’s just an abbreviated version of the show, other times – like for our show – we have the full transcript, thanks to the amazing work by Jennifer Scholz for each one of our podcasts. Whichever the case is, this is an easy way to create content for your blog. And for me, every week I have just budgeted a certain amount of money to get my work transcribed, and then I get a great blog post that has search engine benefits to it as well. And that’s the benefit of creating blog posts based on your podcast episodes.
Number 9: Videos. Hopefully you’re already creating videos and posting them to YouTube. You’re taking advantage now of the second largest search engine, and you’re gaining access to over a billion people who watch YouTube videos every month, and you’re building rapport. Because when it comes to the web, there’s no closer way than video to being there in real life, people can see your body language. But why stop at YouTube? Why not take that same video and embed it back into your blog. You can create content around that video as well, so there’s some good content for the search engines. Plus, if people are reading your blog and they don’t yet know about your YouTube channel, that’s a great way to increase the number of views of your video, as well as getting people to subscribe to your YouTube channel.
This is especially helpful if you have a very demonstrable product or service. So if you’re trying to teach somebody something on the computer, you can create a screencast. Or if you’ve got a product that you really want to show to people, creating videos and uploading them to YouTube – or even to Vimeo – and then embedding them back in your blog, is a very powerful way of creating new, valuable content on your blog.
Number 10: Interviews. Now this type of podcast or episode from me is pretty rare. Most of the time I get to interview digital marketing experts. It makes my life a lot easier, quite honestly. I spend a little bit of time up front posing some questions and figuring out what I want to talk about, and then I just get to talk to really smart people. Interviews are incredibly powerful, and you can take those interviews and create a blog post out of them. Most of the work is actually done by the interviewee. They’ve got to come up with the really good content, you just have to come up with the questions.
These interviews can be done via email as a bunch of questions that you just send off, or they can be part of a podcast, or they can be part of a video. So there’s a lot of different ways to approach this, but at the same time you’re getting great valuable content from an outside resource who may be willing to share your blog post after the fact. It’s a win/win.
Number 11: Guest posts. Now there’s 2 sides of the coin when it comes to guest posts. The first is you get experts – or just people who are established in your industry – to create content for your blog. This is beneficial to you because you don’t have to create every single blog post and you still get fresh content up at your website. It’s beneficial to them because they get in front of a new audience. That’s one aspect to guest blogging.
Now the nice thing about guest blogging is you usually don’t have to pay anybody to get this post up, but I will say my experience has been that unless you know somebody is an excellent writer, you often have to spend quite a bit of time editing their work or sending it back and forth. And it actually can be more time consuming than writing your own content, so just be aware of that.
The flipside of that coin is when you’re guest blogging, this also has huge benefits for your blog. When you’re creating valuable unique content, and posting it on other people’s blogs, you’re getting in front of a new audience and you’re getting inbound links from another website to yours. And that’s huge when it comes to search engine optimization. So if you have an opportunity to write content for another blog, definitely take it. Find out what the rules are. Sometimes they want fresh content and they want it to only be on their website. Other times they just want to be able to post it first on their website.
A sneaky trick that I learned from my friend, Andy Crestodina, is you can write an evil twin post. So for example if you wrote a blog post on “10 Ways To Serve An Ace Every Time” for your tennis blog, you could create an evil twin post which would be “10 Ways In How To Screw Up Your Serve Every Single Time”. I’m sure you can come up with a better example than that, but you get the idea. You’re creating very similar content, but it is fresh and unique to the other website.
Number 12: The blog series. Sometimes an idea is just too big for a single post. Now in the last few years I’ve definitely moved to a model of fewer posts, but longer posts. This is the type of model that Social Media Examiner does, and does so well. Longer, deeper posts that tend to get more search engine visibility. But there has been some studies recently that harken back to an older day of blog posts where they were shorter and answered a very specific question.
Depending on where you want to go with this, you could take a very long blog post and perhaps create a series instead. We did this recently with some Google Analytics posts over at flyte new media’s blog, where rather than create one long blog post with a bunch of videos in it on everything about Google Analytics, we decided to create a series of one offs, one specific thing that you needed to do in Google Analytics that would make a difference. And then when we finally finish the series, we’ll probably create a Table Of Contents blog post that links to each one of them.
Now, are there other types of blog posts out there? I’m sure there are. They might be variations on some of the 12 I already mentioned, they might be subcategories, or there might be something that I didn’t even think about. The bottom line is that I want you to have the opportunity to create a wide variety of different types of blog posts around the areas of expertise that you want to be recognized for, that you want to rank well for, and that you want to drive traffic for.
So once you know what the keywords are and what the topics are that you should be talking about, these 12 blog archetypes are going to help you create the content that’s going to grow your business.
- To hear more pearls of wisdom from Rich, follow him pretty much anywhere online: Twitter, LinkedIn, website, Facebook. Or just Google him, seriously, he’s everywhere.
- Transcription services courtesy of Jennifer Scholz Transcription Services.