Blah, blah, blog!
I have a client who is really engaging the digital world with fantastic results. They have built a clean, professional and easy-to-navigate website that’s intended for the average tire shopper; not the enthusiast or weekend auto-crosser, but John Q. Public. The website is targeted toward their main customer base, the local neighborhood tire buyer.
Recently, they asked me to write a series of blogs to assist in their search engine optimization and their continued effort to communicate to their target audience in a friendly and professional manner. I did a little research on preparing content for social media, and I thought I would pass along what I found.
There are two primary reasons to blog: One is to get your message out, and the other is to get noticed by search engines.
Google has an insatiable appetite for new and fresh information. Posting blogs is a simple and easy way to refresh your Web content and cause Google and others to pay better attention to your digital initiatives. I encourage you to consider the following simple steps to improve your content and visibility.
1. Keep your content simple. Content should be short and to the point. In our digital world, people want what they want fast. Don’t make people dig for your point. The old adage of “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them” is a simple and direct approach. It’s better not to elaborate or make more than a few points. Avoid the temptation to cram too much information or too many ideas into a paragraph, or the entire blog for that matter.
2. Start strong, do what journalists do. Journalists use a style of writing or storytelling known as the “inverted pyramid.” The most important or interesting information leads the article. The information is then presented in descending order of importance. Why bury the good stuff deeper in the article? If you do, you’ll lose readers and compromise your message. Many people skim articles and blogs, so I suggest to start strong and finish strong.
3. Design a proper layout. A structure that works well in a blog is a skim-able format. People like to skim, so make it easy for them by using bullet points, lists, headers, sub-headers, and short summaries. Make your points consumable and resist the temptation to be too cute or overly creative. An Internet blog is about getting information out quickly and efficiently.
4. A picture is worth a thousand words. A lot can be “said” in a picture. Pictures are how humans interpret words. If I say, “big, white, fluffy cat,” in your mind’s eye, you visualize a cat, not the words “big, white, fluffy cat.” The right image(s) will help tell the story and communicate the ideas and thoughts you’re trying to express. Again, don’t overdo it.
5. Be yourself. Write your blog in the voice of you. Don’t try to be funny if you’re a serious person. If you are a friendly person, be upbeat and casual. Always be professional, and look at the blog as more than something you have to do. Make it an adventure for you to write and others to read and digest. I took a Dale Carnegie Public Speaking class in the early ’80s, and I remember the instructor saying, “Nobody is more qualified to tell your story than you.” This is so true. It’s your story, your blog, your idea; have at it and don’t be too tentative.
6. Remember your audience. It seems today that so many people are easily offended or overly defensive; then again, maybe it’s just me. I caution you to remember your audience and remember the reason you are writing the article. It should be written to inform and certainly not to offend.
Here’s my simple recap. Decide on your message, and stick to your message. Start strong, clearly stating your intent and most important points first. The easier the format, the more they’ll read. Insert an image or images that support and clarify the central message. Be yourself; you’re the best you got, go for it. And like Mama said, “Remember who you’re talking to.” ■
Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.