I have been blogging over at SheGoes since September 2009. I have published 934 posts on that site and have written countless other blogs on behalf of clients.
So what have I learnt from all of this? While Google constantly changes it’s algorithm to penalise dodgy SEO-hacks and reward helpful sites, there are some perennial rules that go beyond the Googlebots’ daily whims. Read on to find out what they are:
1. Tell a story
I don’t care if you’re writing about cleaning products or your latest trip to Italy, you need to tell me a story to get me to listen. Facts are necessary but think of them in the context of a conversation at a party. You would be a dull guest indeed if all you did was stand there spouting product facts without any attempt at human interaction.
2. Do not hard sell
You want to flog your product or service? That’s fine but don’t bash me over the head with it on the blog. Instead, answer my questions, teach me something or entertain me. And then, when you have successfully done this, you have earned the opportunity to sell to me because now I kinda like you.
Include a call-to-action at the bottom of the post, or link to another page with more information, and maybe – just maybe – I will get out my credit card.
3. Avoid obvious search phrases
If your blog is peppered with bizarre hyperlinked phrasing, just stop. SEO is a glorious thing but remember that you are talking to a person, not Google, when you are writing a blog. Write simply and clearly. Trust me – Google is smart enough to figure out what you’re saying without the search term gibberish.
4. Have a personality
This is my all-time favourite thing about blogging and the reason I started doing it: you are allowed – nay, encouraged – to have a personality. Write in first person, use colloquialisms, make obscure cultural references; do whatever you like so long as it resonates with your target market.
5. Write well
This may seem to contradict the point above but notice I didn’t say throw away all of your grammar, spelling and punctuation? You are allowed to bend the rules but you still need to make sense. A blog is not a Thermomix – you can’t throw in a bunch of words and wind up with a finished article simply by pressing ‘publish’. You need technique. Boil the water, add the salt, sauté the garlic in butter.
Remember that blogs are a tool for defining yourself and your business in the wilderness of the Internet. You don’t want to define yourself as that doofus who can’t tell the difference between they’re, their and there.