Blogging Isn’t Enough
You likely know that you need to have a blog on your website. It lets the search engine crawlers know that your site is active, it gives you a place to use keywords to help you be found when your potential clients do a search and it creates a way to stay in touch with existing clients by using it as a newsletter.
But it’s 2020 and just sharing interesting information is no longer enough. Everyone does that, some people blog just as a hobby. There are literally thousands of blogs with varying quality on every subject you can imagine and some you can’t even imagine.
There are a few approaches you can implement to help your content stand out.
Use a cluster strategy
Create a pillar post
What to include in a pillar post
Use outbound-links without giving away business
Breakup walls of text
Use a linked table of contents
Don’t forget your call to action
(Click on any of the above sub-headings to jump to that section)
Use a Cluster Strategy
The idea with cluster blogging is that you write A LOT about one topic and then use links to connect them. The “easy” way of doing this is to create a blog series. Take a topic and break it into subtopics. Each post could be 750 – 1000 words. You might remember the example of us doing that with these three posts. Part one https://rgbdesigngroup.com/Color-Theory-part-one.php, Part two https://rgbdesigngroup.com/Color-Theory-part-two.php and Part three https://rgbdesigngroup.com/Color-Theory-part-Three-Neutral-Colors.php.
The other option is to create what is commonly called a “pillar post.” In this case you would take all the content from your series and put it into one long post. Long-form posts allow you to then create spokes of other content off of them. These links improve your SEO, are evergreen (meaning they continue to draw traffic to your site) and have better ROI than a typical blog post.
How to Start Creating a Pillar Post
Pick a topic that is DIRECTLY related to what you do. If you blog regularly you know how easy it is to end up writing on subjects that are only tangentially related to what you actually do to make money. A pillar post needs to pre-sell your audience by making it clear why your service is valuable, while at the same time, educating your reader on the topic. A confused prospect will never buy. An educated prospect will happily buy.
How to pick a pillar post topic. It might seem a little daunting. But that’s only because you are so close to your content you can’t imagine where to start. If you have an outside person who writes content for you, spend time brainstorming with them. If they aren’t used to creating this type of content, you are likely going to have to lead the conversation. If you are planning to write it yourself, it’s worth the expense to hire a content creator to talk through and layout a direction with you (Dr Robyn is a great source for this service: DrRobynOdegaard.com).
Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
- What are all the benefits clients get from working with you?
- What do your clients research before they call you?
- What excuses might people use to NOT use your product or service?
- Use AnswerThePublic.com to see what types of questions people are asking about what you do
- How do your clients self-identify with regard to your work? For example, they may think of themselves as the type of person who pays for XYZ because it is a smart thing to do.
You likely aren’t going to pick the perfect topic the first time out of the gate. Start with a list of about ten ideas. Pick the one you think has the most value and start to build it out. Treat a pillar post like a living document. You can keep tweaking it until its working like you want it to. Then, let it go evergreen (plan to review and update it at least once a year) and move on to another topic.
If you get stuck or run out of steam on a particular topic, set it aside and work on a different one. However, be careful about jumping from one project to another to another. Entrepreneurs are often gifted at starting things but not so keen on finishing them. If you find yourself in that boat, it might be time to delegate or outsource your blogging responsibilities or in the very least, have an accountability partner whose job it is to keep you on track to finishing things.
Pick a style or format for your pillar post. You might create lists. Readers love titles like “The top 10 reasons you should…” Providing resource lists, best of lists and trends lists are always popular.
If you have the time and resources, expert round up posts work well for pillar content. Interview experts in your field and then provide your own feedback on their take on the industry. This type of content does double duty because it provides built-in outbound links to the people you interviewed.
Curated content and “how to” posts are always useful. Sure, your readers could do their own search and spend hours finding and sorting through information to learn what you’re sharing. But the point is, they won’t. Make the useful highlights all available in one place – your blog. Your readers will be thankful.
What to Include in a Pillar Post
There are a lot of different forms of media available and if you have an updated website (which you totally need to have if you are going to get the full value out of the effort you’re putting into creating a pillar post) you can take advantage of all of them.
If you have a video that is relevant, include it! If you don’t, take the content you’ve researched for your pillar post and create a video. It doesn’t have to be any different than the content that is actually in the post. Some people would rather watch a video, others would rather read the post. Some will even do both! If you aren’t comfortable being on camera yourself, screen share videos and animation videos might be a good option for you.
Infographics are also popular inserts into pillar posts. Break up your content into small, digestible pieces. An easy way to think about is, what would it look like if you were going to tweet your main points? Those tweets become the foundation for your infographic.
Pick a color scheme for your infographic. This should be inline with your current marketing and branding.
Next, you’ll need to find images, illustrations, and widgets to intermingle with your content.
Finally, create a flowchart that is fun and easy to read.
Infographics are great marketing-leaders to post to social media to draw people into your pillar post.
(We can create an infographic for you on the topic of your choosing. Email us to get started: RussB@RgBDesignGroup.com)
Audio is another great format to include. This could be you interviewing an expert or someone interviewing you. It could also be you or an expert sharing thoughts or ideas on the topic of your pillar post. You can even provide a transcript of the audio at the end of your post (put a link to it under the audio).
Having the transcript will allow web crawlers to include the audio content when they search your page. You can pay someone to transcribe it for you. Or you can put it into YouTube and have it autogenerated. Just make sure you go through it and clean it up before you post it or you risk having embarrassing copy ending up on your post.
Use Outbound-links Without Giving Away Business
You might be concerned about having outbound links because it sends people off of your website and, potentially, to a competitor’s site. Like we talked about in our last post outbound links are an important part of creating good SEO (If you missed it you can read that post here https://rgbdesigngroup.com/How-to-Optimize-Local-SEO.php). You can reference professionals who offer different services than you do who your clients could benefit from using (like we did with Dr Robyn above). While links to articles are the most popular, embedded videos from experts are also good.
Another option is to find a news article that expands on or slightly deviates from your topic like this: Here is an example of old-school blogging techniques that are still helpful today: https://buffer.com/resources/perfect-blog-post-research-data
Research content from universities is a great source. They are not in competition with you and linking to them gives you credibility. This is a post out of the UK about why blogging is an important part of branding that I found by Googling “university research about blogging.” https://thinking.is.ed.ac.uk/professional-blogging/2018/09/05/slide-2/
But don’t be afraid to link to the huge players in your market. Your clients are unlikely to skip using you to go spend 10x more and not get the unique value you bring to your work.
Pro tip – ALWAYS set up your links to open in a new tab or window. That way your post stays open for them to refer back to after they are done looking at the link you provided. There is nothing worse than losing the article you were reading because you wanted to read a reference.
Breakup Walls of Text
Long-form content is great and there will be the rare person who reads every word you wrote, but for the most part, only web crawlers read everything. Humans are busy and they will typically scan for the highlights and read the parts that interest them most (we bet you did that on this post). No one can consume walls of unbroken words.
Make it easy for them. Break your content up into paragraphs that are no more than three to five sentences long. If it doesn’t come naturally to you to write that way, create your content, then go back and read it with a critical eye and break it up in to smaller segments.
Create a Linked Table of Contents at the Top
Your pillar post should be at least 1200 words and could be upwards of 5000 or more. At that length, even headings and sub-headings aren’t enough. Give your reader a way to jump to the section that is of the most interest to them.
With that, also include a way for your reader to get back to the top without having to scroll back up. A back-to-top option should be included at least at every topic break. If you have a topic that is more than 750 words, include a back-to-top option at a sub-heading point in the middle.
Call to action
No post is complete without a call to action. If you need help implementing any of the strategies in this article, including content creation, RgB Design Group is ready to help. Email us to get started right away: RussB@RgBDesignGroup.com