- Blogging is one of the most important aspects of digital marketing, but success requires a clear blog marketing strategy.
- The first step of blogging is deciding on the purpose of your blog. I.e., What value will your blog provide to readers?
- Once you’ve set up your blog and created a strategy, regularly monitor ROI, use social media to promote content, and periodically prune or refresh existing content.
Blogging is one of the most important aspects of digital marketing. We’re not just saying that because we’re content marketers (though yes, we are a little biased). Statistics continue to reflect the positive effects of blogging on ROI, inbound links, indexing, lead generation, and more.
But like all aspects of digital marketing, reaping the benefits of blogging takes work. As seasoned content marketers, we’re here to make that work a little easier for you. Keep reading to check out our ultimate guide to blog marketing. We’ll cover all the basics, from setting up your blog to executing your blog marketing strategy.
Blogging 101: What’s your “why”?
What’s the purpose of your blog? If your answer is “To get more leads/traffic/revenue,” think again. Before launching your blog, you need to figure out what purpose it will serve for readers. That’s because search engines exist to serve high-quality, highly relevant content to users. Google in particular has long adopted a user-first approach.
Obviously your blog has a marketing purpose, but it can only serve that purpose by being focused first and foremost on readers. So, what needs will your blog meet for readers? In other words, how will your blog provide value?
Depending on your industry and ideal readership, your blog may serve one or more of the following purposes:
- Informing and educating – This can mean providing information about topics related to your industry or services, such as a gardening blog run by a seed store. It can also mean informing readers about your products or services in order to enhance the user experience – for example, articles about the features of a new product written by a software company.
- Thought leadership – Using your blog to publish well-researched, well-written content about your industry is a great way to boost your E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness).
- Providing company news – A branded blog can be a great place to share company updates that are valuable to your readers – for example, the launch of a new service or product, or a podcast or webinar in which your company is featured.
As you can probably guess, many blogs do all of the above in some form or another. That said, some brands choose to create separate blog-type sites for different purposes. For example, one of our clients uses their blog for company and product updates while publishing longer-form educational articles on a separate resources page.
When making decisions about what kinds of content will go where, discuss the pros and cons of each option with your SEO team. They can help you make wise choices about what kinds of content you should be publishing, and about how to handle technical SEO aspects like domains, subdomains and subdirectories, and URL structures.
Once you’ve decided on the purpose of your blog and what kinds of content you’ll be creating, it’s time to cook up your strategy.
Why you need a blog marketing strategy
You need a strategy for everything in digital marketing, and blogging is no exception. Having a solid plan is how you make sure your investment in SEO doesn’t go to waste. But it’s worth it to unpack the importance of strategy in blog marketing specifically.
If Google were a person, low-value (a.k.a. “thin”) content would be its biggest pet peeve. So, your blog shouldn’t exist just to exist. If your articles don’t provide value to readers in the form of useful information, Google won’t be handing you any rewards. Creating and following a well-thought-out strategy makes your blog more likely to have a clear purpose.
Creating a strategy also helps you get more out of content marketing by:
- Standardizing content development processes
- Setting basic content guidelines
- Providing goalposts and timelines for production and publication
- …and so much more
Essentially, a blog marketing strategy ensures that you won’t be embarking on your blogging journey with no destination. So, what kinds of things should be included in your strategy? At the very least, decide:
- What kinds of content will be produced
- What SEO goals you’re trying to meet (e.g., the keywords you’ll be targeting and why)
- Who will write content
- How often you’ll publish content
- Who will be in charge of publishing
- How images and graphics will be sourced or created
- Guidelines for posts, such as minimum word counts, grammar & style standards, etc.
- How often you’ll prune and refresh existing content
- How you’ll monitor ROI
Naturally, some aspects of your strategy may evolve over time as you build your audience, hone the blog’s purpose, and learn more about what works and what doesn’t. Revisit your strategy periodically throughout the year and make room in your content plan for flexibility.
Making decisions about the items above will set you on the right path for your blog. But before you can get to publishing your awesome content, you’ll first need to set up your site.
Setting up your blog
Registering your domain
Creating your blog will require some basic technical decisions, but your web designers or SEO agency can help make this easy. Typically, you’ll create a subdomain – think “blog.[yourbrand].com” – or subdirectory – think “[yourbrand].com/blog/” – to house all your blog posts in a section of your site.
Each strategy has its pros and cons to consider. A subdomain can be helpful for a large company that has lots of content to organize, but in the short-term, understand that the authority built by the subdomain (your blog) is not shared by the root domain (your website).
A subdirectory, on the other hand, helps ensure that traffic and authority are passed from your blog to your main site, since the subdirectory is part of your primary domain. Subdirectories help protect the user experience while also making sure you can easily track blog posts (as opposed to other pages on your website) when using analytics tools such as Google Analytics. However, some argue that subdirectories make content strategies harder to scale in the long term.
Talk to your SEO team to make the best decision for your blog marketing goals.
No one knows your brand and target audience better than you, so you probably already have a million great ideas for content you want to write and publish on your blog. But starting with keyword research makes it more likely that your great content will actually get read by search engine users.
Work with your SEO team or agency to generate a list of keywords you want to target for organic search (the focus of any blog marketing strategy). Starting with target keywords gives you a data-driven starting point for creating great topic ideas that will seamlessly fit into your SEO strategy.
Content calendars & creative briefs
In journalism, editorial calendars help writing teams stay organized and plan ahead. The same goes for content calendars in a blog marketing strategy. Planning out what, when, and why you will publish a given piece of content 1-3 months in advance yet again ensures that your content efforts are in alignment with your overall content marketing goals.
Content calendars should include:
- The pieces that will be created (e.g., the intended page titles and a descriptions of topics)
- Target keywords (and search volumes and keyword difficulty if desired)
- Target word counts
- Due dates and publication dates
- Any other information useful to your content team(s) and workflow, such as graphics that will be included or writers assigned to each piece
Another way to standardize the content production process is to provide writers with creative briefs. These inform writers of the basic expectations for the content and can be especially useful when working with freelancers who need to be brought up to speed on your brand’s voice and content goals.
What actions do you want readers to take when they read articles on your blog? Sign up for a free trial or demo? Learn more about a product or service? Before you begin creating content, take some time to decide on CTAs you would like included in your articles. You may also want to create custom CTA buttons to insert into published articles.
Monitoring and maintaining your blog marketing strategy
Choosing your metrics
No blog marketing strategy is complete without a plan for monitoring your success. That means choosing the right metrics to track.
For blog marketing, we recommend at the very least tracking pageviews, average session duration, average time on page, and bounce rate. It’s also a good idea to track clicks, social shares, and inbound links. Metrics (and how to track them) vary slightly depending on the analytics tools you use, so you may need to do some research or work with an SEO agency familiar with these tools.
You might think the hard work is done once you hit “Publish,” but not so fast. One of the most important steps of content marketing is sharing posts on social media. This amplifies your reach, helping grow your audience and strengthen your brand presence across channels.
Keeping content fresh
Okay, so you hit “Publish” and shared your post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Done, right?
Not quite. Taking your blog marketing strategy to the next level means keeping a constant eye on your blog to make sure your content stays fresh. All content naturally decays over time, but there are ways to combat this and win back some clicks. Here’s how:
It’s important to periodically comb your blog for underperforming content and take action to improve or eliminate it. As mentioned above, Google doesn’t like low-quality content, so if you have some hanging around your blog, there’s nothing wrong with cutting the fat.
Read our guide to content pruning to learn some of the best strategies for identifying underperforming content, such as striking distance analyses and content decay analyses.
The content pruning process will ideally provide you with a list of articles that aren’t carrying their weight. Sometimes, they’re outdated or poorly written enough that they should simply be eliminated. More often than not, though, they can be improved through a content refresh project. We perform these a few times a year for our clients because it’s a great way to capitalize on past efforts and get some quick wins.
Some ways to refresh underperforming content include:
- Expanding the content to reach a higher word count – Long-form content still tends to perform better on SERPs
- Re-formatting the content to be more readable
- Re-optimizing content for SEO (e.g., revising headings & subheadings, adding bulleted lists, etc.)
- Adding new target keywords or striking distance keywords
- Optimizing content for SERP features such as Featured Snippets/Quick Answers
- Repurposing the article, such as putting it into a new format like a video or infographic
Blog marketing strategy pro tips
- Publish often. While there’s no exact formula, we recommend publishing at least 2-4x per month if not every week.
- Include mostly evergreen content. Evergreen content stays relevant for longer than trending content, so you should aim for your total blog content to be at least 75% evergreen.
- Consider guest blogging. Some brands may be hesitant to invest precious resources into producing content for an outsider, but submitting guest posts to well-performing blogs can help you demonstrate your authority and expertise and build long-lasting relationships.
Talk to the blogging experts
Overwhelmed at the idea of creating your blog marketing strategy? We’ve run lots of blog marketing campaigns for clients (and ourselves) and we’d be happy to help with yours. Just reach out to the team today.