How to start a blog
A blogging platform is the internet based software that you will be using. I find the following the easiest to navigate and the most intuitive to set up and use:
Because of its diversity, WordPress is a great blogging and website platform. I’m going to run through the steps for starting a blog on WordPress but if you find that you would prefer another platform, most internet “how to” guides are useful and each platform has their own help guide which is usually designed for people who have never bloggedbefore.
If you are registering your own domain, the hosting company (WordPress or other) will offer you an additional service of privacy settings, where for a nominal fee they can hide your personal details that are linked to your domain. This is a personal choice and stops the lay person web searching your residential address and phone number. But know that anything you put into the internet, is discoverable by those who have more advanced skills, should they want to.
You can get a cheaper domain through hosting sites outside of WordPress but it does offer a very simple process of matching up your domain to your new WordPress site.
The following are some common web hosting services you might like to use:
I recommend using the free WordPress package option (at least for now), you can always upgrade to the bigger packages at a later stage and they probably aren’t necessary unless you are running a website that requires a lot of storage space. You can also have as many WordPress blogs/sites as you like!
Plan: free beginner
Domain hosting: choose a company (or use WordPress to host) Platform: WordPress
WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
WordPress.org is the one to use if you are self hosting (that means you’ve bought a domain via an external company, such as Zuver etc).
WordPress.com is fine for beginners and people who don’t need a website with too much complexity. If you have some technical know how or know someone that does that can help you, and you intend to have lots of extras on your website (for example. you would like to run an online course, use more plugins, have your own custom design, discussion forums etc), then it is worth exploring WordPress.org.
WordPress use the analogy that WordPress.com is like renting a house and WordPress.org is like buying a house—you can make all the alterations and modifications to suit you but you’re also responsible if things break or go awry.
It’s worth noting that whilst you can still sell easily on a WordPress.com site, if online selling is your primary goal, then it’s advised to use WordPress.org.
Choose a theme via the dashboard function (you will need to be logged in). Go to Appearance > theme. Select your theme and click "Preview" to see what it looks like and “Activate”, once you have decided. You can customise it by clicking "Customize".
Choose a theme that represents your business and blog and is consistent with your branding.
WordPress has an array of themes to choose from, some are free and some with a fee attached. The free ones are adequate and customisable but sometimes you might want something a bit more unique or you have seen a design that you just have to have that will do your business justice and then it’s worth paying for your theme. Themes can generally cost approximately $30 -$130 for their lifetime. Their creators will often create updates for the theme (ironing out any bugs, adding more options etc— much like when you update your iPhone apps) and you’ll be alerted when you login to your WordPress blog as to when you need to do this. Often, it only involves clicking “update”.
Remember: your logo will need to be prominent, ideally in the top header/banner, so be sure to choose colours and design that will complement your logo and branding.
Don’t forget that the majority of people will be viewing your blog on their phone or tablet, so you need to make sure that it looks okay on these devices too. When you are customising the theme, there is a little icon that displays a computer, phone and tablet image and by clicking on each one, it will give you a preview of what it will look like on each device.
Pages are the static pages of text that can be chosen from the menu. One page will contain your blog posts and more often than not, this will default as your home page, although you can change this in the dashboard. It’s up to you which page you choose as your landing page (where people “land” when they type in your web address) but I recommend that it be your home page or your blog posts, which may be one and the same.
You may choose to have a home page that acts as an introductory text, especially if you are combining your website and blog into the one platform.
To add pages to your menu (or your menu may reside at the top or side of your page), go to: Dashboard> Appearance> Menu.
Posts are the rolling, usually reverse chronological order boxes of text that you will be regularly updating. This is where your blog posts will go. All your posts will sit on one page (unless you direct them to various pages, based on categories—this is an option for the more advanced users or the more complex site).
You can password protect any post that you wish. This may be a useful tool in case you have content that only some people are privy to; maybe it’s private information that you would like to keep for your friends or your regular clients. Or maybe you have a subscription service where people pay to access some of your content. WordPress has a plugin for more advanced users such as Membership, which helps to organise subscription services like a lot of modern news services offer these days or LMS plugins which allows you to run online courses. There is undoubtedly a plugin for everything you can think of. Try having a search through the plugin directory (you’ll need WordPress.org to install plugins).
Copyright belongs to you if it’s your own work. You are automatically granted copyright— you don’t have to do anything. On the other side of the coin—do not plagiarise! You’ll ruin your reputation at the click of a button. That applies for uploading other people’s images to your website or blog. You must fully accredit the creator of the image. Australian Copyright Council is a useful resource for all copyright information.
Once you've set up your blog there is nothing left to do but start blogging! Write all those interesting and rich posts and share with the world. You might like to read these posts to help with writing blog posts:
What makes a good content article?
How to develop excellent structure.
Want to start blogging? Here's what you need to know.
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How to write a great SEO article
Sure, you have to be creative when it comes to SEO article writing. But there are also also handy tricks and tips that you need to keep in mind when writing for SEO.
This SEO article will cover:
Put your readership (which is your target demographic) first. Write how they want to hear things and solve their problems. Straight up give them the information they need, that they are searching Google for and that will generally make their lives easier.
The guru of SEO, Neil Patel, says ‘Your content needs to accomplish two goals: first, appeal to the end-user (customers, clients, prospects, readers, etc.) and second, solve a particular problem.’
For example, you’ve most likely come to this content article because you’ve searched how to write a SEO article. And I’m spelling it out as best I can and lay out all the right information you need to write an epic post.
What I often do when writing an article or web copy that I want optimised, is to write it as natural and best fitting to the audience as possible. It’s only after I’ve written the article to the best of my ability do I insert keywords. I don’t include them arbitrarily but where they can sit naturally without damaging the flow of the writing. But don’t misunderstand me because with most content writing, the keyword will inform the topic that I write about, so it’s important to do your keyword research from the absolute beginning.
Title and headlines
You need to include your keyword in your page title and your heading, once only. These are two separate facets of your content writing. The page title forms one of your meta tags and your heading (or headline) is your <h1> or <h2> tags.
It’s often suggested to put your keyword towards the front of your headline but you still need it to be super catchy and natural sounding. How to write great headlines.
Use your SEO keywords in your body text. In the olden days of SEO (AKA ten years ago), keyword stuffing was a surefire way to make you rank better. These days you will stuff yourself up if you do so. Google will recognise when you are doing so and penalise you as such. Plus, your readers will just be left shaking their heads.
I can’t give you a magic number of times to use your keyword in one piece because I want you to focus on making the content article sounding natural and flowing. But if you’ve only included the keyword once in one thousand words and one semantic keyword, you might need to hire a SEO copywriter. Know any good ones? Kidding.
However, it’s purported that on page keyword usage is as important as 15.04 per cent of Google’s ranking algorithm. So that should give you an indication of the time and attention you should give just to your keywords alone.
It’s beneficial to include your keyword at the start of your article body. I aim for the first three words or the first sentence at best. Unless it sounds awkward and forced, then I forego it. Because great writing always comes first, right? ‘Quality has become the #1 ranking factor in Google, especially since the Google Panda and Penguin updates.’
Essentially, you need to write an entertaining and informative article. SEO writing is a little like juggling or doing a puzzle: each piece is as important as the other and they all need to fit together until it makes a whole picture.
In summary, here are the most important factors— or secrets— of SEO writing, particularly if you are new to it:
It’s really important to write with authority and establish credibility if you want to build an audience and/or following for your website or blog. It’s even more important if you want that audience to buy what you tell them to buy.
Writing with authority is about demonstrating your expertise and knowledge and defining where you sit in the market and in your industry. Are you renowned for selling multimillion dollar houses in the hills? Are you the most efficient bookkeeper that your clients have ever worked with? Do you have exceptional and up to date knowledge on what is happening with big data? By writing about your niche and using specific language choice, you can begin to assert your authority.
Below are five useful links to help you write with authority.
This post has many valuable key takeaways but one of my favourite is keeping your writing succinct. Including short words and short sentences.
Although it’s nearly three years old this post is from a really credible copywriting site and has very clear cut information on writing with credibility, with some snapshots from some of the most influential business leaders. One of the key takeaways is to just do the hard work.
Although this is written for fiction writing, it has a lot of valuable advice that can be applied to copywriting. My favourite advice of all time and I regularly employ it in my own copywriting is specificity. Honestly, I believe this is key to success in all types of writing.
This super simple post is ideal for the beginner. These six crystal clear tips will have you sharpen your copywriting in no time.
This content article is more indepth and has a lot more information and some super great bullet points to follow. A brilliant takeaway is ‘Put the important information at the beginning of the writing. Support the rest of your copy with the details.’
As part of your content writing strategy, you must have an editorial calendar so that you can plan out a year’s worth of content. Take a look here why it’s important to have a content writing strategy in place.
Download an editorial calendar template and plan your blog content out.
Not sure what you’re doing or too busy to plan? Book in for my content writing strategy now.
Copywriting squeeze pages
It is almost impossible to surf the net for more than a couple of minutes without encountering a number of squeeze pages. This is not surprising since email marketing is considered one of the most powerful marketing tools, with an average ROI of 3800%. There are several email marketing activities that are great at capturing email addresses and building your enews database but the one that has incredibly effective results is a squeeze page.
What is a squeeze page?
A squeeze page is a type of landing page that is designed for one specific purpose; to “squeeeeeze” an email address and a name out of you prospective clients that land on the page.
When looking to collect personal information from internet users who strive to remain anonymous at all costs, you have to employ a lot of guile. Squeeze pages are designed to lure website visitors to put in their personal details (an email address and name, and in some cases a phone number) in exchange for a reward such as more information, a discount, a tangible or digital asset or a free service.
To achieve this, there has to be a form of subtle pressure designed to compel website visitors to fill in their details. This is usually done using expert web copywriting, deliberate colour schemes and purposeful layouts to place your offer in the best possible light while asking for just a measly email address.
Five steps to writing a valuable squeeze page
1. Create an enticing offer that has some value
How often have you seen this phrase – 'To download XXXXX, simply enter your email here.' Your enticing offer can be anything: a free ebook, software, template, webinar, online course or design aid that is important enough for the visitor to want to give up their email. The important thing being is that it has some specific benefits, particularly to the reader.
Think along the lines of:
2. Let your customers do the talking
Customer reviews have influenced an extraordinary amount of buyer decisions, with some reports suggesting 93 per cent of people impacted by online reviews.
Allowing your customers to do the talking builds trust as this shows prospective customers what they will experience if they use your product or service. You might remember we’ve talked about this in terms of social proof. It’s also just common sense as a customer would rather trust another customer’s (who they see as unbiased) review than any marketing material you may have.
3. Spend time copywriting your page content
Copywriting is the act of writing content with the aim of advertising, marketing or increasing brand awareness. Copywriting is absolutely necessary because we are all lazy readers, especially when it comes to online content; your visitors are more likely to scan and skim through the page content. So great copywriting will help them do just that with a bold headline, compelling subheadings, captivating pictures and prominent CTA buttons.
4. Keep it simple
No, really! You have to keep things really simple to the point when it would even make sense to anyone and everyone. Simplicity sells and using clear concise statements will make your copywriting easy to understand and skim. Opt for simple short sentences using basic words to describe exactly what you want to say.
5. End things with a compelling CTA
Your call to action button will be the deciding factor on whether your squeeze page converts (turns someone into a reader to an actual sale) or not. One website saw a 321 per cent increase in opt ins when they provided visitors with a compelling reason to subscribe.
Visitors usually spend a short time deciding whether to opt in to your offer and a button that says ‘Yes, I want the free report,’ is more likely to convert than one that says ‘Download report.’ Adding the super, all time converting word free is also a good way to increase the chances of them clicking on your offer.
Not everyone can be the charismatic copywriter that is Don Draper. In fact, not even Don Draper was Don Draper. Unsubstantiated rumours claim the character is modelled on an amalgamation of four real people.
It may not be easy to be Don Draper but that doesn’t mean that you can't do your best at copywriting. Particularly with these useful copywriting formulas that you can use as a quick hack to writing better.
Copywriting formulas and techniques
These simple little tactics are great to use when you are stuck in your writing and can’t seem to add the necessary “punch” to make it stand out from the plethora of written communications out there.
Sometimes it’s not enough to tell your readership that you are holding a new event, you have a new or improved service or that there is a fundraising drive that they absolutely must attend.
As consumers, we’re so overwhelmed by information that a lot of what you will put out into the world (or online) as marketers or business owners will fade into the background. These days, it takes a concerted effort to make your communications stand out and reach the correct people.
Below you will find three reliable copywriting formulas that will help you write significant pieces of information that will drive your audience to do something. These writing formulas are particularly effective for fundraising or charity campaigns and I have written the example with that in mind. However, these copywriting processes aren’t limited to not for profit but are applicable for any type of copywriting. Test them out on your next content article, squeeze page or advert.
DRD copywriting formula
This is a formula that is often used in creative writing but can equally be used in effective storytelling as part of your copywriting. In creative writing, it is used to create scenes, eg character finds out husband is cheating (dilemma), character is distraught (reaction) and decides to leave him (decision). This is one of the most effective ways to get action happening in a story. Translated into copywriting, it is an effective way to move the readers along with you so by the time you have taken them through the journey of a dilemma, they are ready to agree to the decision you propose (eg, buy this service to abate your dilemma).
The problem and solution copywriting formula
The problem and solution copywriting formula is particularly effective for writing media releases or anything where you need to take people on a particular journey for them to emotionally invest in your plight. Many not for profit and charity organisations would value from using this copywriting technique.
Let’s look at these steps in closer detail:
The AIDA technique is a time tested process in sales and it is also known as the purchase funnel. You may recognise a semblance of this process in modern day sales funnel marketing – many visible bloggers and digital sellers use it to varying degrees of success.
‘The AIDA model is one of the longest serving models used in advertising, having been developed in the late nineteenth century.’
How to grab attention?
There are some surefire ways to grab attention. Words such as “free”, “discount”, “sale”, “you” and similar are very effective in grabbing almost anyone’s attention.
Develop interest with unusual statistics, social proof statements or claims, credible testimonies or endorsements or proposition your reader with a hypothetical scenario that would leave them wondering.
Create desire by proposing something that is absolutely irresistible to your reader. A new product that will eliminate their problem? Something that will boost their confidence or provide them with the comfort or luxury that they have wanted for ages?
By this stage in your copywriting, your reader is all prepped and ready to take some action to make their desire manifest in reality. If your writing is well done, they will be easy to convince at this point. Incorporate an effective call to action.
At the end of the day, you can use these copywriting formulas with some sense of success. But for truly powerful copywriting, it still takes creativity, storytelling and marketing knowledge. And I have repeated this in many blog posts but I will say it again: you must, must, must know your target audience and exactly how to write to them in a way that makes them do what you want, for example read your website, buy your product, book your service straight away!
What are meta data descriptions and meta tags?
Meta tags and meta data descriptions are the summary of what your web page contains that is implemented at the backend of your website as part of your meta tags. This is the information that search engines (such as Google) uses to index your website and web pages and displays when someone searches for your keywords. You might also notice this information when you share it via your social channels, especially Facebook.
Meta tags consist of a title (page title), meta data description (a few sentences of description) and a slug (specific URL).
Although it can help with keyword searching (mainly in the title rather than description), it’s primary purpose is to encourage web searchers to click on the link and read your website.
They need to be cleverly crafted so that they appeal to both Google's robots and to human readers to improve your ranking/SERP.
Meta data descriptions are like a mini advert or sales tools. And it’s very short so it has to be super effective. Essentially, it has to contain the absolute perfect blend of sales copywriting and SEO text.
They are a vital part of your SEO strategy and plan. Perfecting meta data descriptions is a completely important part of your website's optimisation and it really does pay to get it right from the start.
A good meta data description could be the very reason someone clicks through to your website.
It is a unique blend of advertising and SEO and is one of the key factors in getting people to read your site. They really do need to be compelling and an accurate summary of the corresponding webpage. Each meta description needs to be unique and match the web page’s content. It's basically a summary of what the web page contains.
Neil Patel, who is considered one of the leading experts in SEO discusses why meta data description is so important.
Here are 33 examples of great meta data descriptions.
Here's exactly why you need a content writing strategy for your website
The purpose of a content strategy is to create thorough, enticing and meaningful content writing that draws in more website traffic and ultimately attracts the right kind of customer that sees you as the best choice when it comes to your industry.
Additionally, a content strategy will provide you with a sustainable way of creating and posting content without burning out.
‘Content strategy helps organizations provide the right content, to the right people, at the right times, for the right reasons,’ Content Marketing Institute.
Content writing and creation is still super important to your marketing and SERP results. ‘57% of marketers rated relevant content creation as being among their most effective SEO tactics.’ If you’re investing a lot of time into content creation, it absolutely pays to get it right from the start and have an overarching long term plan.
Here are five reasons why you need to invest in a content strategy.
You won’t have to spend ages wondering what topic to write about
How long does it take you to come up with the perfect blog post topic? Five minutes? An hour? Twenty days? It can be either of these and if your content plan requires you to put out a weekly post, that adds up to about fifty hours a year that you spend tossing up what to write about. That’s fifty hours of the year you could dedicate to client service, meeting new clients or giving keynote presentations or completing an extra project.
Content article topics will be crafted to speak to direct goals and audience
Don’t spend six months writing about irrelevant things that don’t do anything for your website traffic or boosting your SEO. Get it right from the start.
A content strategy will also help you avoid writing about the same category of topics over and over again, ensuring there is an even spread throughout the year, in alignment with your marketing objectives, world holidays and celebrations and any industry relevant events.
Plus, a content strategy will break it down and inform exactly what each post needs to entail, the title to use and any relevant key points to cover. Each post will be keyword matched, ensuring you’re putting your best SEO foot forward!
Your content articles will speak to each other
Content articles and blog posts will never be an afterthought and you can link each post to other relevant site content, build on from other topics and create a solid online asset for your business. Relevant categories (that again speak to your keywords) will be set up and ensure there is adequate content for each.
Consistency and reliability
Picture this: you have some spare time to work on marketing in February so you post a great blog post every week for four weeks. Then the leads start coming in, so you are swamped with client work and neglect the blog content for another six months. The leads and enquiries via your website start to go quieter so you hastily add other short and poorly written blog posts that aren’t really that relevant but you couldn’t come up with a right topic quickly.
Now picture this scenario:
Your content strategy tells you exactly what to write and when for the rest of the year, so you have dedicated half a day per week (or similar) to creating the right content and publishing a regular post. Your website always has an abundance of content that is regularly updated and the leads and enquiries are regularly coming in each week. Your SEO is not only steady but it is improving with the fresh, well thought out content.
And because the planning has been taken care of and you know what research has to be done and what resources are required, the blog posts are well written and helpful for your target audience.
Furthermore, you’ve had time to carefully plot out a marketing strategy to share the regular content which means it reaches more people and a wider audience. Before too long, you’ve developed a reputation for providing consistent and reliable information that attracts regular readers back to your site.
You’ll always be clear on your why
It’s not uncommon to get so wrapped up in your next bit of creative content that you completely dismiss why you are doing it. It’s only after you’ve posted a two thousand word article on the importance of the colour blue you realise that it has nothing to do with your business marketing objectives of getting more clients interested in taking out home loans.
You’ll waste valuable time and confuse your existing audience. A content plan will list your objectives and your “why” and help you always prioritise your clear message.
'The moment we stopped saying, “We’re pool builders,” and started saying, “We are the best teachers in the world about Fiberglass pools and we just happen to install them as well,”… that was one of the most prosperous days of our lives.' Case study.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere, allowing different forms of the technology to analyse data sets and make appropriate decisions for businesses. From booking flights to chatting with consumers about their insurance needs, AI is changing the way we work. Beyond the initial steps into voice recognition technology, AI is also affecting how marketers connect with consumers.
AI is the term used for technology that is able to ‘think like humans’. Below are four ways in which it is changing digital marketing, along with some of the applications that will soon become essential for any marketer wishing to stay ahead of the game.
AI for GDPR compliance
AI excels at gathering and analysing large sets of data to find insights. Much of a marketer’s job is to tailor advertising and digital marketing campaigns for specific buyer personas, segmented demographics, or on insights gleaned from the buyer journey. Given this information, AI is the perfect partner for these tasks.
Through the collection of data from a range of different platforms – like social media and a company’s own website – AI can be used to sift through the vast amounts of information. The technology is able to spot consumer behaviour patterns that will aid a marketer’s decisions when building a digital marketing campaign.
This is expected to help in a number of ways, from tweaking campaigns as they run to better engage an audience or even customising ads so individuals are more likely to take the requested action.
‘Artificial intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google. The ultimate search engine that would understand everything on the web. It would understand exactly what you wanted, and it would give you the right thing…’ Larry Page.
Voice search and speech recognition
62 per cent of British people are already happily using voice operated technology for shopping, music, and searching the web. AI can enhance a range of different searches, including voice recognition, by remembering user history.
This impacts marketers in a number of ways. Firstly, voice searches often take a different form to typed searches. We tend to use a more conversational tone when speaking, whereas typed searches encourage economy with words. Long tailed keywords will become more useful as voice search becomes the preferred way to use the internet for getting information and shopping.
Speech recognition can also be used to heighten consumer security. Similarly to how the UK banking system has adopted a “my voice is my password” approach to phone banking, businesses can ensure purchases made from a customer’s account were in fact requested by them. Even better, users will no longer need to rely on complex passwords.
Generating new leads
It’s no secret that AI can be used to sort through the data you have already gathered and provide additional insights to support a digital marketing campaign. However, AI can also be used to find more ideal customers, new clients and even work colleagues.
For B2B communications and certain B2C interactions (depending on the individual EU country’s consent requirements), AI can save you copious amounts of time. When it comes to searching for new leads, advanced tech can provide you with more time to craft the best pitch or email outreach campaign you can. LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator and Node are two programmes which can be used to help generate new leads for your business.
AI is moving forward at a surprising speed. Understanding how to use the many applications of this technology ethically and effectively will allow marketers to remain on the right side of the law. It will also provide more opportunity to reach consumers in the ways they wish to connect with businesses.
This has been a guest post from Blue Label Labs.