A few months ago, I put together a special issue of Digital Upstart all about SEO, or ‘search engine optimisation’.
It wasn’t so long ago that SEO was viewed as the dark art of Internet marketing. If you knew how to engineer your webpages so they reached the top of Google’s organic search rankings, you’d pull in traffic for free and make loads of money.
And for a while this was true. The Internet was like the Wild West, where anything was possible if you had the chutzpah to hack the system.
Clever boffins worked out ways to jam Google’s organic searchers using keywords and tags that made the engine BELIEVE a webpage was highly useful and relevant, even when it was anything but.
As a result, the Internet filled up with spammy pages stuffed with keywords repeated over and over again. After all, why bother with delivering anything of use when you could pack your website with specific word combinations and pull in the punters that way?
But Google had boffins too. Smarter, better-paid boffins. And they set to work to ensure Google found only the highest quality and most genuinely useful pages for their impatient searchers.
Well, there are things you can do to organise your website so that Google trusts you… And the ultimate way to make your website visible, relevant and trusted is this…
Blog – and keep blogging.
The more fresh content you produce, the more potential customers you’ll attract to your site.
If you keep adding new material every week and make it relevant, topical and useful, then you will start to rank in search engine results
You’ll also become more visible on social media, as people start to share your content on their networks.
Many online businesses struggle to know what to post on their blog, particularly if they don’t have an army of writers or lots of time for research.
I want to take away some of that pondering, so here are 42 blog post ideas you can adapt for your own business marketing.
These are all tried and tested. Just work your way through this list and you should be able to plan ahead for the coming months without feeling too overwhelmed.
1. How to – the classic blog post is one which offers simple ‘how to’ advice in a series of steps or bullet points, helping readers achieve a small goal. Think of a problem your ideal prospect might be struggling with, then give them some steps to follow in the right sequence.
2. Make a recommendation – is there a product, service, book or system you’ve tried and really like? Write a few sentences on why you recommend it. Don’t be afraid to share the link – you’re not losing a visitor to someone else, you’re showing them your priority is to help them.
3. News bulletin – has something happened in your industry, or to your business? If it’s urgent, timely and interesting, then pass on that news and get it out there. News makes you relevant and topical.
4. Share a YouTube video – search on www.youtube.com for engaging videos by experts in your field of business. When you’ve found one, simply click on the ‘Embed’ tab beneath the YouTube video of your choosing, then paste that into a blog post with a headline and brief explanation. Congratulations on repurposing already-created material!
5. Infographic – turn complex information into a visually arresting image, using elements such as photos, cartoons, arrows and bubbles. Piktochart.com offers over 400 templates you can then tweak and adapt to your needs, simply by clicking a mouse and dragging icons – no advanced technical skills required!
6. Quiz – ask a series of fun quiz questions relating to your field of interest, customers or business. Either answer the questions by getting readers to click through, or submit their email address. Or reveal the answers in the next blog post. This is a great way to keep ’em reading…
7. Diary dates – pass on interesting and relevant dates for your readers/customers. Perhaps it could be a list of up and coming events, launches, or goals? Or you could focus on previewing one big important event that’s coming up.
8. Ask the experts – email a handful of experts in your area of business with five of the top questions your ideal customer might want to know. Put the answers in a post.
9. Q&A – take the most common questions you’ve received from customers and then create a post with all the questions and answers.
10. Video tour – take a tour of your shop, factory or hometown…. Or tour a place that’s important to your business. All you need is a smartphone or digital camera to make a short five-minute film. If your business is 100% online, you can record your computer screen as you show people around your website or online activities. TIP: look up recording tools like Camtasia if you want to annotate or use screen casting facilities on your video.
11. Interview – talk to someone of interest to your readers and record it as an audio file. A smartphone recording device will be fine. Use Soundcloud.com to upload the file (you’ll need to join first, but it’s free). You can then embed that in a blog post, simply by cutting and pasting the link. Visitors will be able to click ‘Play’ and hear your audio on the site.
12. ‘Best of’ list – make a list of the best/worst/funniest/stupidest things you’ve seen or heard and list them, for instance ‘The 10 Best Wet Suits for Triathletes’, ‘The 8 best Christmas Treats to bake at home’ or the ‘20 Most Stupid Excuses for Being Late’.
13. Competition – open a short, time-limited competition where readers must send in feedback/answers/photos/product reviews in return for a prize.
14. Compile a list of ‘must see’ links – make yourself really useful in a very few words by collecting up the best links you’ve found relating to a topic (for instance ‘7 Paleo Diet Websites You Should Read’) and pass them on in a bullet point list, with a few words on why you recommend each one.
15. Warning – is there a product, service, book or system you’ve tried and don’t like? Is there a common problem your customers should look out for? Write the details down with any useful tips they can take to avoid it.
16. Go behind the scenes – offer a bit of ‘behind the scenes’ gossip or insight, perhaps talk about the people in the office, or how you created a product, or what happened on the way to an event.
17. Profile your team – show off your team members in special profiles, making sure it’s more about how they are qualified to help readers than a boastful piece.
18. Event report – report back on an event you’ve attended, summarising the things you’ve learned, people you’ve met, with photos.
19. Tutorial – in written steps, or using photos or video, create a tutorial on how to use a product correctly, how to perform a task.
20. Questionnaire – ask customers to fill in answers to questions with a view to improving services, launching a new product, or working out ways to help them more. Try SurveyMonkey.com for this.
21. Make an announcement – it could something that’s happening on the blog, or a new service or social media network you’re on, a piece of industry news, a new product, something big coming up you are finally able to share.
22. Deadline reminder – if there’s an offer closing, a product running out of stock, tickets selling fast, or an event coming up soon, then remind your readers and get them to hurry up and take action!
23. Customer feedback – share the latest results, testimonials, results or praise from blog readers and customers. Make sure you ask their permission to use their comments. Get their full name and location if possible. Otherwise, initials or surnames will do.
24. Introduce a guest post – ask someone you’ve connected with on social media, or through your blog, to write a post for you in return for a link to their site, or a reciprocal post on their site from you. Introduce it with a few choice words, then let them do the rest.
25. Share statistics – if you’re in a business where performance is measured, for instance marketing, sales, fitness, sports, betting – then why not share some useful statistics, either that you’ve found or that you’ve measured yourself.
26. Social media – create a post reminding readers that you’re on social media accounts and that’s more great content to be found there. Offer the links and explain what you get up to on each (maybe even add a screenshot or two of your latest posts and tweets). If you’re not yet on any social media, consider doing this as a priority. I’d recommend Twitter to get started.
27. Poll your readers – ask readers a straight question with a choice of two answers (for instance, “Which do you think are healthier, e-cigs or vaporizers?”) and get people to email you the answers. Compile the results and share them in another blog post.
28. Ask a question – think of a ‘big’ question that will get readers thinking and see what responses you get. Perhaps something controversial, highly topical or unusual. Fire them up and draw them in!
29. Answer a query – if you’ve had an interesting email from a customer you’ve spent a long time answering, why not turn that answer into a blog post so everyone gets the benefit?
30. Have a giveaway – offer to give away a free report, product, sample or membership. Make sure you get their email addresses in return.
31. Promote your email service – write a post getting across all the exciting benefits they might enjoy if they put their email address down (free gifts, discounts, exclusive tips, previews and behind the scenes revelations).
32. Case study – take a person/business/event as an example that illustrates a point you’d like to make, then simply explain what happened. Draw as many conclusions as you can on behalf of the reader.
33. Have a rant – if something really bugs you and you think the readers should hear it, don’t be afraid to let loose, especially if it’s a common enemy (for instance natural health writers railing at the pharmaceutical industry, or parents disgruntled with advertising aimed at children).
34. Digest – take a book, film or course you’ve seen/read and try and summarise the key points simply, perhaps using bullet points.
35. Declare your manifesto – offer the reader a set of values and principles that sum up your brand, attitude or approach. They should be principles your reader shares, based on your common goals. Number your manifesto, with the most important points at the top.
36. Annotate an image – use a simple tool like Skitch (Evernote.com/skitch/) to draw notes, arrows, bubble and circles on a presentation, report, image or website screenshot. You could challenge, clarify or analyse something on behalf of your readers.
37. Cartoon animation – get someone to make a cartoon that sums up a common problem, celebrates something your customers enjoy, or pokes fun at a common enemy. Use Fiverr.com to commission something at a low price.
38. Results – pass on your latest stats or results as a way of inspiring readers. Ideal for health, fitness, investment, trading, betting, marketing, business and sales.
39. Watchlist – come up with a ‘movers and shakers’ or ‘people to watch’ list for your industry or field of interest. Include people who haven’t quite made it yet but are doing good things, too. This is a great way to make friends and contacts online.
40. Comparison – take two similar products, services or website and compare each feature and benefits (price, usability, customer service etc), with a little score for each, then work out the winner.
41. Resources – dare to be open with readers and list the resources you use to get results, so they can try the same, whether that be apps, software, social media tools, RSS feeds, subscriptions or databases.
42. Cheat sheet – come up with a concise set of notes that someone can use to do something more quickly, using shortcuts and tricks.
Finally, if you’ve had success with particular blog posts, or approaches to blogging, and you’d like to share them with other Digital Upstart readers, please send them in!