Posted on

The Ultimate Blog Writing and SEO Checklist

The Ultimate Blog and SEO Checklist

The Ultimate Blog and SEO ChecklistWriting a blog post should be entirely about helping your readers. Even though you are ultimately promoting yourself, your business, or your brand, self-promotion should take place behind the scenes.

That’s what search engine optimization (SEO) is all about. Underutilizing the tools at your disposal is dangerous, and it will drown your valuable content under the torrential downpour of posts and articles.

Here, we have not only provided the ultimate list of tips and tricks for writing an effective and engaging blog post, but we have also provided a comprehensive SEO checklist to help you optimize your blog for a wider readership.

Checklist for Writing a Blog Post

  1. Know your audience. You should only begin blogging once you understand your target audience (often called a buyer persona or ideal customer). If you know your audience—prospective clients, primarily—you can cater posts to their needs. Such knowledge will also help you to decide on topics and content to create, and you will be able to establish a tone that best suits your audience. Everything about your post should revolve around your readers, so figuring out who they are is a key step.
  2. Be smart about your title. There are so many different ways to go with your title, so it’s important to pick the option that’s most likely to garner the all-important click. You can be super-direct and get straight to the point, which is great for informational pieces. Clever headlines can generate curiosity, but being too vague can also cause those who are not actually interested in your content to stumble upon the post. Ultimately, your title should promise to answer a question or provide a solution to a problem to get the best results.
  3. Make headings stand out. Not only should titles define your text, but headings and subheadings should also separate key ideas, especially if you are writing an article or a longer piece. It should be easy to tell where and why information is separated.
  4. Separate key phrases for scanning. Many readers simply scan through posts and articles to get to the good stuff. If you are providing an answer to a question, that question should be readily available through a quick scan. Even though you want your readers to stick around and read the whole post, the reality is that readers will find another post if they can’t easily find the information they’re looking for in yours.
  5. Keep sentences short and sweet. Long sentences drag on and make it difficult for readers to focus. While capturing reader attention is difficult, it’s only half the battle. Try to keep reader attention by using short sentences that increase readability. If a reader is only scanning your article, short sentences will still allow you to get your point across.
  6. Show your personalityUse a conversational tone, and share your personality. It’s better to speak with your readers than to speak at them. Even in professional articles, it’s possible to use everyday words to communicate your point. At the very least, be consistent with your tone from post to post, so your readers will become familiar with your blog personality. On the same note, try to tell a story, and write what only you can write. Adding a personal touch to posts will help you to build a relationship with your readers.
  7. Provide a service. Going along with knowing the needs of your audience, it’s important that you’re meeting those needs. Not only should everything in the post cater to your audience, but you should also be providing your readers with a service to meet those needs. For example, the aim of this article is to help readers write the best blog posts possible by providing helpful tips and tricks. Whether you are answering a question for your readers or providing a solution to their problem, it’s very important that your content is useful to your readers in some way.
  8. Try to be original. Of course, that’s always the goal, right? But try to do the opposite of what everybody else is doing. If everyone else is turning left, turn right. Even if what you want to say has already been said, though, try to say it in a different way. If that still fails, at least try to be interesting in the way you put everything together.
  9. Enhance accessibility. It’s essential that your post is user-friendly. Users with disabilities should have the same access to information as those who do not. That means no crazy fonts or patterned backgrounds. There should also be no walls of text; everything should be spaced well. Use your white space effectively to create breaks for readers.
  10. Have your post professionally edited and proofread. Nothing’s worse than reading a post that was hastily thrown together and slapped up on the web. If you don’t have someone else look over your post, it can mean the difference between a regular visitor and somebody who leaves your blog, never to return again. Hitting that first typo is even off-putting for an established audience. Look over your post, and make sure it meets quality standards. Better yet, get a professional to do it for you.
  11. Create a call to action (CTA). Ending your post with a CTA is vital. What is it that you are trying to accomplish? Or what is it that you are inciting your readers to do? Make the next steps easy by adding in-text or button CTAs that direct visitors toward the desired action. Do you have an ebook that relates to the content of the post? Include a download button. Do you have a product that would solve the problem discussed in the post? Include a demo button. Decide what you want readers to do next, and make it easy for them to do it.
  12.  Schedule posts regularlySchedule posts regularly. Sharing posts consistently is important for establishing an audience. Along with knowing what to expect from your blog, an audience should know when to expect your posts. Many popular platforms, such as WordPress, allow you to schedule posts automatically. Once you have a schedule, though, remember to stick to it. Don’t let your readers down if they’re expecting a post on a certain day or at a particular time.
  13. Answer comments and questions. Engaging with your audience is important for building rapport. If you are an authority in your field (as you should be), then show them! Answer all of their comments and questions, both on your blog and on social media. This is especially important if you don’t yet have a wide readership. Having a conversation with your readers will help you forge a relationship with them.
  14. Engage in social media. Even post-creation, your work is not yet finished. Now it’s time to share, share, share. Social media is your best friend here. Get a Twitter account; get a Facebook page; find out where your audience is, and make sure you’re there, too. You need to share your post with the world, and you want your readers to share your article with others.
  15. Promote in relevant and welcoming places. Don’t be shy about promoting your work outside of your own social media platforms. Distribute your content where you think readers might actually be interested in checking out your blog. Once you find welcoming spaces, this sharing process can become routine.

Creating great content is the main goal, but optimizing your post for visibility in search engines will help your great content get onto the screens of those who need it.

SEO Checklist

  1. Research optimal keywords. Before writing, find tools to help you decide which keywords are best for you to use in your post. Using resources such as the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, you can look up relevant terms to determine how well they are performing. This will help you to identify what your audience is searching for so you can write your article accordingly.
  2. Apply keywords in prime and controlled locations. Try to use your primary keyword in the title of your post. Keywords should also appear in your introduction and your conclusion, as well as your URL.
  3. Introduce keywords naturally. Don’t force it, though. Readers will not be pleased if they are bombarded with keywords. Keywords should flow seamlessly with the rest of your sentence.
  4. Use long-tail key phrases instead of small terms. If local audience members research “all-day breakfast” in their town, the keyword shouldn’t be “all-day breakfast”; it should be “all day breakfast in (town name),” as that is likely the phrase they will input into their search engine. Doing this will make your post a focal point even in a huge sea of articles on the subject.
  5. Don’t forget to optimize your images, too. When uploading your photos, use the keyword in the image name and in the alt image tags. Providing as much information as possible to search engine sites will only help to rank your blog’s relevancy.
  6. Be smart in your meta description. Your blog post’s meta description should be short and to the point. Aim for around 150 characters at most. Writing an engaging meta description, which appears below the page’s title on Google, is a simple and effective way to ensure that your readers click through and read your post.
  7. Use descriptive anchor text on links. Anchor text is the clickable text of your hyperlink. Showing your audience other relevant posts (and making sure they know where a link will take them) is an important part of SEO. It also helps the audience to feel engaged with the text and play a role in their reading.
  8. Reference current and relevant links. Use other websites as references when possible. If you’re proving a point or referring to another article, linking to that article is not only courteous, it’s also good for your blog. Make sure what you’re linking to is current, though, and make sure it actually has something to do with your post.
  9. Link internally. Not only should you link to other sites’ posts, you should also link to your own. Relevant content you’ve published in the past should be linked to your new post. This allows for an endless cycle of promotion that can be used to your advantage.
  10. Ensure your site is compatible for all formatsEnsure that your site is compatible in all formats. Your readers should be able to access your blog post on their computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. The format should therefore be easily readable across all platforms. It’s also important that your mobile site loads quickly, as readers may exit your site if they have to wait too long.
  11. Improve loading time. You can improve loading time by tweaking the images on your site. Eliminate unnecessary images, and reduce the file size of necessary photos. You should also use very small images in your thumbnails so the whole picture is visible and your readers can click through to see the image at a higher resolution if they so desire.
  12. Provide subscription tools. Giving your readers a way to subscribe to your content is extremely beneficial for building and maintaining a readership. If you’ve already convinced a reader to subscribe, then you’ve given yourself a chance to have the same reader for a future post.
  13. Actively use social media. Setting up social media accounts will help you to engage with readers. Actually maintaining those social media accounts can help with SEO and will allow loyal readers to easily find and follow your blog. It will also help you to broaden your audience, as you may reach a readership you might not have been able to reach before. Be sure to include social share buttons directly on your blog posts, too, to make it easier for readers to engage.

Effective blogging and SEO go hand in hand. Being able to find your post will not matter if readers do not enjoy the content, and readers will not be able to enjoy your content if they cannot find your post. That’s why it’s so important to be able to do both. Using both the blog checklist and the SEO checklist will aid you in attaining the perfect balance. Get to it, bloggers!

 

Image source: stockpic.com/Pexels.com, Zak Suhar/Stocksnap.io, SplitShire.com, Wilfred Iven/Stocksnap.io

Posted on

Easy Tips to Make Money Blogging

The word "blog" sits on top of a stack of money.

The word "blog" sits on top of a stack of money.Creating and managing your own website has never been easier since the explosion of blog websites on the Internet. “Blogs,” short for weblogs, are websites that produce new content on a regular basis. Blog popularity is based on the amount of Internet traffic directed to the website. Since blogs consistently update their content, blog writers develop an audience that follows the posts. Upon discovering this, companies have jumped at the opportunity to reach new demographics for products and services by writing blogs. As a result, it is possible for individuals, companies, organizations, and many more groups to make money blogging.

Money can be made through a blog in a few different ways:

Advertising: Particularly for personal blogs, advertisers have access to an untapped marketing opportunity. Based on the topic of the blog—for example, fashion—companies that offer products and services related to the topic can advertise on the site. The blog reaches a predetermined demographic for the company. The readers already have an interest in the topic of the blog. Advertisers can then point toward specific products and services related to the topic, which will ensure successful sales. You can make money blogging by advertising space on your site, much like advertising space in a newspaper.

Affiliate Programs: Another one of the benefits of blogging is that bloggers can earn money from affiliate programs. Affiliate programs are companies that will link up with a blog to increase Internet traffic toward a particular product or service. Like advertising, bloggers apply for the programs that complement the topic about which they write. However, this differs from advertising because, instead of selling advertising space on the website, the company pays for the blogger to promote the product or service in the content of the blog. Bloggers will post links on their page that direct the audience toward the company’s website. Bloggers are then paid commissions based on how much traffic the website receives.

Selling Products: Individuals and companies can sell their products and services on a blog as a way of directly engaging with the audience. They can promote their products and connect with the audience on a more personal level. Customers can also ask questions and leave comments.

As you can see, while blogs are often considered a site for self-expression, they can also be used for business purposes. You might be thinking, “Well, if everyone has a blog these days, sign me up.”

You can make money blogging, but it’s not always simple. There are a few things to consider before starting your very own blog:

What is my topic going to be? Maybe you write movie reviews, maybe you invent your own recipes, or maybe you want to document the adventures of your cats. Whatever the topic is, there must be a market for a particular product, or there is no business model. Make sure your topic is specific enough that it can attract a common audience, but original and interesting enough that readers will want to continue to follow you.

Can I keep my blog up to date? The whole appeal of advertising through a blog is the promise that readers will return to read more. This means that the author needs to be writing compelling posts on a regular basis that will engage the readers. Once there is a steady flow of traffic, advertising opportunities can emerge.

Even though writing a blog might take time and energy, it can be incredibly rewarding to earn money by discussing interesting topics on the Internet.

Image source: rukanoga/BigStockPhoto.com

Inklyo's free ebook about business blogging.

Posted on

What Kind of Content Should I Be Posting on My Website?

It’s no secret that search engines love content that’s optimized, engaging, and relevant to your industry. But remember — robots aren’t the only ones reviewing the information on your website. Creative, credible content can also help set you apart from your competitors, gaining you loyal customers and brand followers. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a lean start-up, strong content can help you generate leads, convert browsers into buyers, and encourage referrals following the sale.

The trick is knowing what kind of content you need to produce in order to initiate and nurture client relationships.

Build trust with better content

According to a recent study by Focus Research, companies should use a mix of content types to attract customers, depending on the type of business they operate. Blog posts, white papers, research papers, and infographics all offer unique opportunities to engage and build trust with your audience.

But what if you want to shake things up a little bit? Here are three unconventional ways to create content that attracts attention to your company.

1. Create a competitive analysis

You heard that right. Publish a downloadable document to your website that compares your product or service to a competitors’. Today, most consumers begin the buying process by Googling information on products or asking advice from friends on Facebook and Twitter. Publishing content that clearly explains how your product measures up (and outperforms) your competition will make it easier for potential clients to appreciate what your company has to offer.

Industry insider tip: According to TechTarget’s 2009 Media Consumption Benchmark Report, technology consumers are especially receptive to competitive comparisons. This report found that technology companies seek out content comparing a vendor’s offering to the competition as they get further along in the decision-making process.

2. Don’t shy away from controversy

A little controversy can give your company’s blog a big boost in readership, but only when the topic is well executed and properly researched. This means quoting reputable sources that support your argument and lend validity to your stance. When done properly, controversial content can increase engagement and brand awareness, as well as drive traffic, comments, and inbound links to your website.

3. Use your FAQ page properly

Never underestimate the value of the frequently asked questions (FAQ) page on your website. When executed properly, your FAQ page can help enhance your customer service and communicate your brand value.

Unfortunately, many companies seem to go out of their way to avoid answering questions that could open their product or brand up to criticism. Of course, these are exactly the questions every company should address. Publishing this kind of content to your website is your first line of defense against negativity and skepticism. Be transparent and address any uncomfortable issues up front. Your customers will appreciate your honesty.

4. Interview an expert

Running out of interesting content ideas to incorporate into your blog or website? Then why not ask an expert for their opinion? Interviews are a great way to provide your readers with a fresh perspective on a popular topic. If you’re lucky, you might even learn a thing or two yourself!

At the end of the day, the goal is to develop content that your audience finds useful. Quality content can position your company as an industry leader and a reliable source of consistent, credible information.

Inklyo.com's free ebook about business blogging.

Posted on

6 Article Marketing Tips for Your Business

6 Article Marketing Tips for your Business

6 Article Marketing Tips for your Business Creating content for your website is a great way to promote your business. You can indirectly promote your business and encourage readers to become customers if you provide your readers with interesting information they enjoy reading.

Articles are an excellent form of content for marketing. Articles can be any length; they provide information that customers find useful, and they can be published regularly, often in a short time. These articles must be published online strategically so they can effectively promote your business and give your website the engagement it needs to succeed.

How do you achieve this? How can you ensure your article marketing reaches your audience?

1. Give your readers something unique

Article marketing is the presentation of written material that gives customers useful information about your product. This means that the articles you write must give your customers something no one else can. This content should be unique and interesting, as well as encourage readers to visit your website again. A really good question to ask yourself when thinking about what to write about is: “How can I serve my customers?” By making it about your customers, and not about you, you will provide value.

2. Summarize your article

To convince your customers to read your article, try writing a summary paragraph to accompany the full article. Beyond a catchy headline, a summary will give your readers a better idea of what your article is about so they will be more inclined to read it. In article marketing, a summary could be the deciding factor of whether someone browsing the Internet will devote time to reading your business’s material. The one or two line summary should reinforce the headline and suggest the article’s value proposition. You want to reassure the reader that the article will be worth his or her time.

3. Build authority

Obviously, you should share your own content to your followers. However, you should also share good material from other authors. Why? Because doing so will help you build authority in your niche.

The key word here is good material. Try to find articles that will provide high value to your followers. The more value you provide, the more likely people are to trust your judgement. You will become an authority in your industry, and you will find more people willing to share your articles.

4. Publish your articles elsewhere

While it is necessary to publish your articles on your own website, it is a good idea to publish them on other websites, as well. Some websites only accept new and original guest articles, while others allow you to republish material from your site. Readers that might not have previously heard of your business can be directed to your website, opening up new possibilities for potential customers.

Where should you publish? Where your customers are, of course. Rather than just submitting your articles everywhere and hoping for the best, it’s a good idea to figure out what your potential customers are reading and submit your work there. This will have two benefits: First, you will help search engines understand what your site is about if your inbound links come from places that are semantically related to what you do. Second, the best inbound link is one that also sends you visitors.

5. Use social media to share

Social media is an excellent tool for increasing your website’s visibility and engaging in valuable article marketing. Sharing your articles regularly on these newsfeeds will remind your followers of your business and brand. As well, customers can re-share your posts to their own networks.

6. Ask for the share

If your articles are well written and informative, other websites will probably link to them or share them organically. However, it doesn’t hurt to gently remind readers occasionally to help you get the word out. This can be done via share buttons at the bottom of your page, or in your status update (e.g., if you like this piece, please share it with your friends!)

Image source: Gustavo Frazao/BigStockPhoto.com

Posted on

Writing Cats and Dogs: Which Blog Style Should You Adopt?

Which Blog Style Should You Adopt? I couldn’t possibly begin to tell you why a raven is like a writing desk, but I can tell you how a pet is like a blog post. As you’re probably aware, there are different types of blog posts, just as there are different types of pets. One easy way to break down blog styles, particularly if you’re as great a fan of four-legged companions as I am, is to think of the different types of blog posts in terms of two groups: the Dog and the Cat.

No, I’m not saying that some blog posts rule while others drool. And no, your blog posts aren’t going to drink from your toilet or shred your curtains. The analogy is a bit subtler than that, though I think we can agree that blog posts would be much more exciting—although also more destructive—if they did get into such shenanigans, no?

The “Dog” Post

The first type of blog post is the Dog. Much like my favorite type of furry friend, this blog style tends to have a short attention span. Most dogs are content to chase a ball, but only until they spot a squirrel. Likewise, a Dog-type blog post only addresses one topic, and it only does so long enough to cover the basic information about that topic. Just as your dog must investigate every smell in the backyard, the readers of your Dog-type blog post have other posts to . . . smell. Don’t try to limit their noses to just your post. Instead of sticking around, they’ll probably just get distracted and—SQUIRREL!

Dog PostShort-form content is best for Dog posts. This blog style also lends itself to fun topics, like this one. Dogs enjoy playing and generally having a good time; similarly, you should use Dog posts to focus more on enjoyment than on information. Just as certain dog breeds are more suited to some people than to others, different types of Dog posts will be enjoyed and shared more by some readers than by others. This means you need to create lots of different types of blog posts to appeal to different kinds of readers. Think of each type of Dog post as a different breed of dog, if you will.

One of the great benefits of the Dog post is that this blog style encourages social sharing. Dogs make great companions to almost all people, and Dog-type posts tend to get along with a wide variety of people as well. In summary, Dog posts are fun, easy to read, and highly shareable.

The “Cat” Post

My dog has one solution to most of life’s mysteries: sniff it, lick it, and hope for the best. My cat, on the other hand, is a much more pensive creature. While my dog is happy to abandon any problem that cannot be solved with his mouth, my cat investigates each new scenario she encounters until she comes up with what she deems a reasonable solution (or until she gets scared and runs away—whichever happens first, really).

Cat PostIn terms of types of blog posts, the Cat-style post tends to be longer, more focused, and more targeted (here’s an example). This blog style lends itself to long-form content, allowing the reader to learn lots of specific information about a given topic. Each Cat-style post should be targeted to one specific group of readers. While dogs get the happy title of “man’s best friend,” cats aren’t always so universally loved. However, those who do have cats love them a lot. So each Cat-style post should be tailored to the type of person who needs the information that post has to offer rather than be written for everyone.

Ever asked someone to watch your cat while you were away? If your cat is anything like mine, it probably hid every time that person entered the room. It may have even refused to eat until it felt safe enough to come out of hiding. Like real cats, Cat-style blog posts are not always shareable. Sure, your cat may accept an elite group of people into its life, but for the most part, that feline is not willing to spend time with strangers. While Cat-style blog posts aren’t necessarily as shareable as their Dog-style counterparts, they provide great benefits for the people who do choose to read them. After all, cats make great pets, too!

Which Type of Blog Style Should You Use?

I know there’s an epic battle between “dog people” and “cat people.” Some may argue that you can only have one or the other, but when it comes to types of blog posts, you definitely need to take advantage of the benefits of both Dog posts and Cat posts. One works to attract and entertain people, while the other works to target more specific groups with the information they need to make educated business and consumer decisions. And, as with real dogs and cats, why would you choose only one when you can have the best of both worlds?

Image sources: Websubstance/BigStockPhoto.com, snapwiresnaps.tumblr.com/Pexels.com, Thomas Jarrand/Stocksnap.io

Posted on

Catch Me If You Can: 10 Ways to Hold Attention by Producing Engaging Content

How to Produce Engaging Content

Catch Me If You CanProducing engaging content is one thing, but holding a reader’s attention? That’s another. We all know how much content there is on the web, but we also know how easy it is to not read it. Okay, okay, so maybe we do read some articles and blog posts, but let’s be real—most of us tend to skim them rather than read through them in their entirety. We’re busy, and we’ve got things to do! So in today’s hustling and bustling world, how do you write engaging content (articles, blog posts, ebooks, etc.) while keeping your readers interested? Read, skim, or scan the top 10 list below to find out.

1. Make your offer.

Offer information that is original and relatable.

By providing your readers with information that is new, original, and relatable, you will be giving them something that no one else is—engaging content that holds their attention. A lot of the news and information that can be found online is the same from one source to the next, but by offering readers something new that they can’t find anywhere else, you are bound to capture—and hold—their attention.

2. Tell a story.

Present your information as a story to really connect with your reader.

If you present your information as a story, readers will be much more inclined to keep reading—to find out what happens, to learn more about your product, or to find a meaningful connection that they can relate to. In addition, if you have a consistent voice and make your story emotionally relevant, you will be that much more likely to connect with your readers and hold their attention.

3. Be a space maker.

Make your content reader-friendly by optimizing your use of white space.

By formatting your content in a way that is visually appealing and uses the right balance of white space and text, you will already have readers wanting to read your article or blog post. The right amount of white space draws the eye to certain areas and prevents the page from becoming cluttered or disorganized, making skimming much easier.

4. Don’t be afraid to be bold.

Make your headings and subheadings stand out so they can be scanned by the reader.

Just as with white space, you want to make sure you’re using headings and subheadings that draw the eye, offer relevant information, and provide enough knowledge to give even skimmers and scanners a general idea of your article or blog post. Although your ultimate goal is to have them read the whole thing, if they can get what they need just by skimming, then you’ve still done your job well.

5. Make magic with bullets.

Use bullet points to provide a visual break while presenting your information in a way that is easily skimmable.

Bullet points break information up to make it easily digestible, concise, and generally easier to skim. They also contribute to the balance of white space and lend themselves to the visually appealing layout of your content.

6. Get the gist.

Scan only the points that you have highlighted to see if the reader will be able to get the gist of your article or blog post simply by skimming or scanning.

This is probably one of the most important points in this article. While you want your readers to actually read your entire article, you know that many of them won’t. However, you still want to get your information across, and you want your readers to come away with more knowledge than they had before they stumbled upon your article. By making the content of your main headings and points informationally efficient, you will be able to give your readers what they need even when they don’t read every word. This will keep them coming back for more because it will be concise, compelling, and engaging. If you ask me, it’s a win–win!

7. Include links.

Include linksInclude internal links back to your own content.

Not only will these links give readers the opportunity to engage with more of your content via other areas of your site, but they will also allow you to keep the article or blog post concise. By including internal links, you won’t feel compelled to cram all the information into one article, which your readers will appreciate. This is also an easy way to boost your site’s search engine optimization (SEO), as the keywords you use will be more concise and the internal links will show the relevance of the content to the rest of your site.

8. Prettify your format.

Draw the reader’s eye by formatting your posts in a way that is visually appealing.

Whether this means using interesting font styles, unique images, or SlideShares instead of standard articles, format your articles so that they appeal to your readers. Readers are much more inclined to read visually appealing articles. And, once they realize that your content is engaging, too, they’ll be hooked!

9. Use numbers.

Numbers catch the eye and make information stand out.

Have you ever noticed that you’re much more interested in reading a headline if there’s a number in it? Numbers automatically give you some context, which keeps you wanting more. “The Top 5 Ways to Earn More and Do Less.” What does your brain automatically think? “What are the top five ways? I must know—now!” Including numbers, especially in your headings, makes your readers think they are privy to something, something that no one else knows . . . which keeps them engaged and glued to the page. It can also let readers know that an article is a quick read, because lists are easy to skim (see point 6!).

10. Avoid errors.

Edit, proofread, and be error-free.

Without proper editing and proofreading, none of the tips above will matter. If your content is great but riddled with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, there’s no way your readers are going to stick around. If your content is engaging but lacks the professionalism of grammatical accuracy, your readers will become disengaged with each typo they see. Having error-free content is the ultimate key to holding your readers’ attention, so it’s imperative that you avoid making mistakes. To ensure that your content is error-free and awesome, have your articles and blog posts edited by the experts at Scribendi.com. If you’re serious about producing engaging content that holds your readers’ attention, there’s no better way to get the results you want than by using a professional editing service (and following these 10 tips).

Image sources: Jon Eckert/Stocksnap.io, PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay.com

Posted on

How to Screw Up a Blog Post (In 7 Easy Steps!)

How to Screw Up a Blog Post

How to Screw Up a Blog PostHey, it’s a jungle out there. There’s a blog for everything. Food photography, travel blogs, political rant pages, corporate musings, fan page free-for-alls . . . you name it. With all that competition, who wants to stand out and create an engaging, creative blog that actually adds value to the Internet? Not you. Quality work and responsibility to readers are just too much darn effort. You and I, we much prefer to float comfortably in the recesses of Internet no man’s land. We’re not attention seekers—we’re far too lazy for that. Afraid your blog might actually do well? Follow these simple blogging tips to make sure your blog is a complete and utter dud—in fact, its boo-boos won’t even go viral. It’ll even fail at failing.

1. Don’t proofread.

Typos, punctuation errors, and painful spelling mistakes are the quickest, easiest way to give your blog a death sentence (ooh, the puns). After all, a clean, error-free post might actually make you look credible, and you don’t want that.

2. Remove all comprehensible train of thought.

You know what happens when your writing is easy to read and has a logical flow, don’t you? People might *gasp* keep reading it. All structure, consistency of tone, and clear thought processes must be removed from your writing. Immediately.

3. Post irregularly, if at all.

It’s bad enough that you have to be bombarded by all those bloggers constantly updating their sites with structured, consistent schedules. Who do they think they are, anyway? You certainly don’t want to add to the success mess, and you really need to take care of those annoying Internet prowlers who have decided that your blog is interesting, or they’ll stick around no matter what. How can you rid yourself of such pests? Well, stop posting, of course! Or, if you must, post at random with long stretches of silence in between. Once you’re off your readers’ radar and have established that you can’t be relied on, they’ll swipe on to terrorize the next site with their incessant subscriptions, comments, and shares.

4. Steal whenever possible.

Isn’t Internet rage a joy? Of course it is. And what’s the fastest way to stir up the anger pot? Why, stealing intellectual or creative property, of course! Hijack ideas, writing styles, photos, or other created media, and don’t credit any of the original sources. Be prepared for the initial wave of attention your blog will receive (what horror!) when people start to realize you’re stealing their material, but worry not—it’s all negative, and it won’t last. Once your integrity is destroyed, no one will subscribe to you. You might even be so lucky as to receive a cease-and-desist order.

5. Plaster blank space with gaudy advertisements.

Maybe you’re a literary genius. Despite all your best efforts, you just can’t turn off the wordsmith charm, and people keep flocking back to your blog. Lucky for you, there’s a fail-safe to divert readers from even the best content: gratuitous advertising. Banner ads, pop-ups, and sidebar post-its will send potential subscribers—even the ones who really want to stay—away from your blog with grimaces on their faces and carpal tunnel in their primary click fingers. Did you know the speed at which a user runs from your page is directly proportional to the degree to which ads are unrelated to your blog’s topic?

6. Fill up on keywords.

Google keeps getting smarter and faster when it comes to finding more ways to send people to your page. How rude! Lucky for you, there are always new ways to convince the Google bots that your page isn’t worth visiting. Some of the latest? Saturating your content, tags, and anchors with keywords, of course! Once your text is so agonizingly full of keywords that it’s nigh unreadable, and your primary keyword is in every tag, even when it doesn’t make sense for it to be, Google will obligingly penalize your blog so that it appears too far down in search results ever to be noticed.

7. Ignore your readers.

Ugh, are people leaving comments, tagging you in things, asking questions, and suggesting content for future posts? Give them the silent treatment. Readers stick around when they feel like they receive a personalized, relevant, engaging experience, which of course you don’t want. By no means should you ever reply to readers when they make an effort to communicate with you. That would just make them feel too validated and like they actually gained something from your blog. Yuck.

In summary . . .

Be a bore. Be inconsistent. Over-advertise. Refuse to communicate. Publish your typos. Steal. Confuse. Distract. Disappear. Such are the magic tools by which you can keep your blog safe from Internet success. Now… who wants to hang out on MySpace?

Image source: Luke Chesser/Stocksnap.io

Posted on

How to Speak Millennial: 9 Best Practices to Follow When Writing for Millennials

Millennial Falcon

The Millennial Falcon

Haters gonna hate . . .

Many an article has been penned (or, for the comment-lurking nitpickers, typed) about the failings of the Millennial generation.

  • Why, they’re online addicts with short attention spans!
  • They’re narcissistic, materialistic, unrealistic twerps who don’t understand what it means to get a real job!
  • They’ve forgotten how to maintain interpersonal relationships that don’t involve a screen!
  • They’re entitled and demand everything for free!
  • They’re the reason marriages don’t work out anymore!
  • They’re only skinny because they photograph their food instead of eating it!
  • They’re click-happy, swipe-happy, selfie-taking, duck-lipped (or, if we’re really staying on trend, sparrow-faced) Fickle Freddies who share content more for social recognition than personal interest!

Whew. Annoyed yet? We certainly are.

Leave the big brush behind

In addition to painting with ridiculously broad strokes over a population that spans different countries, cultures, education levels, and consumer values, these often obnoxious claims fail to recognize the power of Millennials in online culture. Perhaps one truth that may be safely applied en masse is that this generation grew up during the rise of the Internet. Their formative years were spent alongside a rapid technological advancement not experienced by any other generation.

We’re talking about people who watched Family Matters and Full House, nursed Nano Pets, and jammed to the Backstreet Boys on Discmans. People who can imitate the sound of dial-up Internet but now navigate touchscreens and instant communication like extensions of their bodies. Millennials have grown up with constant, fast-paced changes to the way knowledge and information are obtained, processed, and shared.

As a result, they read and interact with content differently than those who witnessed these changes during adulthood, or those who were born already plugged in to the App Store. Any online writing venture marketing to Millennials must address their unique reading styles. These are tech-savvy individuals with a literal world of obtainable knowledge and purchasing power. Writing specifically for Millennials may be the biggest influence on your blog’s potential success.

Get ready to target your writing

Millennial PocahontasIf Pocahontas were a Millennial, she’d have sung, “The thing I like about news feeds is, you can’t log in to the same feed twice; the info’s always changing, always flowiiiiing!” In addition to the surge of information that constantly threatens to drown out yours, there’s this hard truth to face: your content probably isn’t original. The rule of the Internet seems to be if you can think of a concept, it already exists online somewhere. So, should Millennials swipe upon your blog, will the design and writing be enough to keep them there? The following steps are a guide to help you when blogging for Millennials so that you attract and keep your readers—and convince them to share your posts.

1. Looks are everything

Online content marketing tycoon Hubspot reported that Internet users judge the aesthetic value of a website in as fast as one-fiftieth of a second. That snap impression is particularly influential on Millennials, who, according to Millennial Marketing, will actually reject quality content if the visual effect is poor. Cluttered, unappealing web spaces are perceived as unreliable, unprofessional, and unintelligent. As seen in this helpful infographic by Digital Information World, 94% of online users develop mistrust and dismiss a website because of poor design, and 75% use website design as the basis for their opinion of a website’s credibility. For those who don’t identify as particularly tech-savvy, blog hosts like Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr have built-in design templates and customizable options, as do many domain providers like GoDaddy and Wix.com. It’s worth it to take a few hours to play with these features and develop a unique, attractive web space that will make Internet readers want to stick around.

2. Meet their needs, and stop there

Remember the cutesy acronym KISS—Keep It Simple, Stupid? This doesn’t mean you should lower the reading level of your writing, but rather that you should keep your main text focused. Provide links to supplementary information instead of explaining it in the post itself, which often weighs down the writing and makes it harder for your answer-seeking readers to find the information they came to your page for in the first place.

3. Make the hunt easy

An important development (evolution or mutation? We’re not sure…) in the way Millennials read is that they scan for important information rather than reading content in its entirety. The most successful blog posts are those that are structured so that the main points can be gleaned from a quick scan even if you don’t read the entire piece. Headings, subheadings, lists, and graphical content are all excellent ways to guide readers to your post’s critical information in a hurry.

4. Use visual interest

In a similar vein, Millennials are more responsive to visual content than block text. This may require some technical skills or the selection of a host site that is better optimized for visual aids (Medium and Tumblr are great examples). High-quality images or videos are not only more likely to attract online readers to your blog post in the first place; they also increase the chances of those users sharing your post with their social media circles.

5. Teach, don’t preach

Unlike the older Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, Millennials respond best to content that reads as if it’s been written by someone similar to themselves—friends, family, even strangers—rather than by “experts.” In short? Be relatable and genuine in your writing. The #YOLO trend has thankfully died down (save for a few ill-thought-out tattoos), but the concept “You Only Live Once” does a good job of summing up what kind of content reaches Millennials. This is a generation that is largely motivated by firsthand experience. Create an experience through your writing that is interesting, relatable, and shareable.

That said, one of the most painful and misguided writing trends hitting websites meant to market to Millennials is the plague of dumbed-down writing. People read content to learn something, so don’t make your audiences feel that they aren’t being taken seriously or that you, the writer, are not trustworthy. Interesting, engagingly written content that teaches its readers something or inspires a dialogue will have more lasting appeal than assumed-to-be-popular vernacular.

6. Separate the trends from the fads

This is a biggie. Staying on top of trending topics, visual styles, and overarching messages that resonate positively with Millennials is important in developing a feel in your writing that will appeal to this target group. For example, 48% of Millennials interviewed for the Boston Consulting Group’s U.S. Millennial Supplemental Consumer Sentiment Survey (2013) reported they prefer to invest their time, money, and attention in companies that demonstrate social responsibility and environmental sustainability. In this study by NewsCred, 64% of Millennials report positive responsiveness to posts that are useful and relevant to their cultural interests.

What not to do, however, is hastily adopt fads. Fads don’t have lasting value within the generation; they are catchy items that surge in popularity and die down just as quickly, often drawing negative reactions when used after their peak. Need proof? Think of how quickly “clickbait” headlines plummeted from edgy to cringe-worthy.

7. Optimize for sharing

While the joke that the Millennial reader processes only 140 characters or fewer is a tad insulting, the point does have merit in terms of sharing potential. Incorporating Twitter-sized pockets of information into your post or boiling down the essence of the piece to such a size will help in getting it shared across social media platforms. Consider how lengthy news articles use pull-out quotes to highlight key information. Are the most important points of your post contained in succinct, nicely worded parcels?

8. Proofread

The Internet is brutal to those who make innocuous typos or punctuation and spelling errors. What happens in Vegas may stay there, but your Internet blunders are just a screenshot away from being permanent and globally accessible, like the ones seen here. We cannot state enough the importance of having your blog content edited by another party, preferably a professional.

9. Creep

Millennials process information quickly.When you’re faced with endless waves of competition, staying current is critical in maintaining approval from Millennial audiences. Research popular keywords, keep track of trending headlines and hashtags on Twitter, and be aware of frequently shared or liked news items to keep your own writing interesting and relevant. Millennials grew up in an era of rapid change that forced intuitive learning. As a result, this group of Internet consumers processes information quickly, learns fast, and adapts even faster; if your blog doesn’t do the same, they’ll move on to one that does.

Marketing ain’t wasted on the young

Advertising analytics prove that brand loyalty and buying habits are established at a young age. Politicians know that the underexploited young vote has the power to turn an election. Online writing industries—from blogs to news outlets to creative content hubs like Colossal and Upworthy—have shifted their headlines, content presentation, and writing voices to suit the reading styles most consistently observed in younger audiences. Millennials dominate the online world and are the next generation of consumers; wise bloggers know how to play to the reading habits and responses of this age group to successfully generate a following. Still above writing for Millennials? Better not quit your day job, son.

Image sources: OpenClipartVectors/Pixabay.com, Luis Llerena/Stocksnap.io, ClkerFreeVectorImages/Pixabay.com

Posted on

10 Ways to Alienate Your Blog Audience

10 Ways to Alienate Your Blog AudienceThere’s a lot of great information out there about how to engage your audience. I’m sure you’ve read all the guides on how to avoid common blogging mistakes, but those guides have one big problem in common: they all assume that you want to avoid those blogging mistakes. All these experts think you and everyone else out there just wants to engage your audience, but I know better. I know that you would much rather alienate the heck out of your audience than engage them with your writing, which is why I’ve compiled a list of the 10 best ways to do just that.

1. Be a know-it-all.

You’re not writing about your topic because you’re a novice in the field; you’re writing because you’re knowledgeable about your subject, and as such, you have every right to tell your audience everything they need to know. They might not know they need to know, but you know they need to know, you know? Some may say that this type of alienation is bad, but I say there’s no better way to engage your audience than to cram information they don’t understand (or care about) down their throats.

2. Be better than casual English.

And by that I mean be as formal in tone as you can possibly be. They say that using the wrong tone is one of the most common blogging mistakes out there, but I say that “wrong tone” is subjective. Ideally, you should use a document that’s at least 100 years old for your tone guidelines. People will love it. You’ll sound super smart and definitely not like you think you’re better than everyone else—including, you know, your readers, who will totally love feeling left out of the language loop.

3. Don’t distract them with pictures.

Why on earth would anyone want to look at images when they have all your wonderful, exceedingly thorough, and painfully pompous—um, I mean, formal—prose to get through? Sure, there may be tons of evidence out there about how much images can do to help you engage your audience. But that’s not what you’re going for; you’re going for complete and total alienation. With no images for your readers to look at, you’ll be well on your way to achieving that goal.

4. Talk about yourself. Really, who cares about anyone else anyway?

This is your blog. This means that it is totally acceptable to make it about you and only you. I mean, why would anyone even be bothering to read something you have written if they weren’t interested in hearing about every single occurrence of your everyday life? Being a complete narcissist is absolutely the best way to engage your audience, especially if you’re the only member.

5. Put other people down.

I think we’ve already established that when it comes to blogging, you clearly know better than your readers. And you know who else you probably know better than? Everyone else. You obviously don’t conform to common wisdom regarding blogging mistakes, and because you’re not all that interested in learning how to engage your audience, I think it’s fair to say that you can totally get away with being a big virtual bully.

6. Ignore your followers.

One way to engage your audience is to keep the lines of communication open. Allow commenting on your blog, and be sure to respond to all constructive feedback—both positive and negative—and suggestions. You can also pay attention to what people are saying about you on social media and respond accordingly. That is, those are the rules if you want to engage your audience. Because your blog aims to alienate your audience, you want to be sure to ignore any and all feedback. Ain’t nobody got time for responding to feedback anyway.

7. Share your broad spectrum of knowledge.

Share your broad spectrum of knowledgeIf you want to engage your audience, you might consider focusing on one very specific topic for each blog post. However, seeing as you’re looking to alienate your blog audience, I suggest a different route: tell your readers everything you know about anything related to your topic. Then tell them everything you know that’s even vaguely related to your topic. Heck, just tell them everything you know about everything.

8. Rely on keywords like you rely on oxygen.

There’s nothing that can alienate a reader quicker than a post that’s jam-packed with keywords. As you’re not looking to engage your audience, be sure to use keywords more liberally than McDonald’s uses salt. While your readers are washing down your blog post with a large Coke, you can take the time to watch your SEO not improve at all, thanks to Google’s latest algorithm updates. Better to have no winners than for everyone to be a winner. Am I right?

9. Write for everyone.

You don’t want to discriminate in your quest for alienation; you want to alienate everyone equally. That’s why you should write your blog posts on the principle that everyone and their grandma is going to be interested in reading them. Be formal for the stuffier folk, write more casually for the younger readers, and throw in lots of references that only your hipster fan base will understand. Before you know it, you’ll have quickly and easily alienated most of your readers!

10. Don’t proofread.

A well-written, thoroughly proofread post is one of those blogging mistakes that you can’t afford to make when you’re trying to alienate your audience. Don’t waste your time by hiring an editor or proofreader for your work. Just write, publish, and watch as your readers all run away in displeasure. It feels good to be alone, doesn’t it?

An Alternative Approach

If you’ve changed your mind and decided that you’d like to avoid blogging mistakes and engage your audience in the future, you might want to consider checking out some of the other advice Inklyo has to offer. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with all the latest in content writing, including advice for keeping your blog active and up to date.

Image sources: wgbieber/Pixabay.com, robeo/BigStockPhoto.com