When I hear clients discuss lack of visibility, I realize that I have much to learn from my cat. When I inform them of the benefits of writing a blog I feel like a seashell in the ocean when the tide goes out. They smile and nod, and nothing happens…
I recently listened to a presentation by James Osborne from Google on
Web Stories are a modern way to engage with an audience who enjoy the swipe style of functionality that is used in Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok. The framework behind the scenes is Amp. The advantage is that they load extremely fast, have ADA compliance built in and are stored on Google’s Servers.
You can easily:
- Share your stories, add buttons and use different swipe effects.
- Monetize using ads
- Track and measure by adding tracking ids between the stories.
- They don’t expire and are optimized for performance
- Publish and unpublish them whenever you like.
If your site is built using WordPress you can easily create stories from within your WordPress dashboard using a plugin. There are drag and drop tools with 3rd party image and video tools. An additional feature is an accessibility tab on the plugin.
Your stories could show up in Google Search. It is not rolled out to all regions.
Stories appear on mobile in the carousel format on Google Discover, and in the grid view on Google Search.
On Mobile if you do an image or video search, there is a Story section. On an image search, the images can be found as an image card with a webstories icon.
The internet is highly competitive. If creating content using visual tools is something that you enjoy, I would consider using Stories for visibility.
If you wanted to answer a general knowledge question like the name of the current Google CEO or your local house representative, how would you search for the information?
- Would you type it into your electronic device?
- Would you ask Alexa, Siri, Cortana or Google?
According to Forbes by 2020 half of all search engine queries will be made by voice search. Even if that figure is a little optimistic, it still means that a huge chunk of searches on search engines will be made with voice in the near future. Mobile Marketer claims that there will be a huge surge and the number of voice assistants will jump to threefold their current rate. Bright Local claim that 58% of users have used voice search to find information about a local business. As business owners or bloggers we should be asking ourselves :
- Who is using the technology and what devices are they using?
- What search engines are providing voice search results?
- Is there a way for us to become early adopters and incorporate this concept into our website?
- What does the Return on Investment look like?
Who is using Voice Operated Search Queries?
According to Path Interactive Research some demographics are adopting faster than others. The age groups that have the largest amount of voice queries are 13-18, and 45-54. The most surprising detail is that people over the age of 64 use voice search 1-3 times a day.
What devices are used for Voice Engine Searches?
Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa results are provided by Bing. Google powers the Google Assistant.
How can I measure voice search data on my website?
The short answer is you can’t.
Voice searches on mobile search widgets and apps are being recorded in Google Analytics and Safari devices as “direct” vs organic. Similarly, visits from Google voice search sources (Assistant, Home, and Google Siri) and voice searches from Bing-powered devices like Alexa and Cortana are also recorded as “direct”. If you see a surge in “direct” traffic on pages of your site, aside from your Home Page, it may be from these searches.
How can I target Voice Search Engine results on my website?
- You can do some keyword research, however according to Moz blog people are searching with phrases and not single words. Many people are asking for directions, and 22% are asking for local content or “near me”. Neil Patel had a great suggestion on how to deal with this kind of search using Answer the Public . It provides a question graph.
- Create blog posts answering the questions that apply to your topic. Try to include a natural language question with a longer query phrase and provide an answer. Listen to the questions that potential clients ask and attempt to include those on your website. That is the information that people are looking for.
- You can add a Frequently Asked Questions page, and the more information that you offer, the more likely it is that your content will be featured in the search results. This is why a blog post on the question is recommended in addition to a question and answer paragraph.
- Claim your Google My Business listing. Make sure that the correct business category has been selected since Google will use it to direct traffic to your site. Check that the address is updated if you have a brick and mortar store and include pictures of the business. All businesses can put in a phone number and business hours. Request that clients give you reviews.
- Search Engines have robots that scan our websites. If we want to be featured on these search engines, we need to communicate with them and feed them information in a format that they can process in addition to being user friendly for humans. We can provide the search engines with the data that they need by using tools like:
- Applying Schema markup or structured data.
- Submitting a sitemap to the search engines.
- There is a file on all sites called robots.txt. Sometimes people do not set it up correctly, and it can block the search engines from searching the site.
- Google search engine has rolled out a new feature where people can click from an image to a website, so I would provide a link to the page or blog post from the images that I use.
- Is your website mobile responsive? Use the Google Page Insights to check .
- Does your web page load quickly? People simply do not have the patience to wait around, so your site should load within 2 seconds on mobile.
- Test Voice Readiness . This tool gives you an estimate what results you would receive if you were using devices like Google Home Assistant or Alexa. It works for local businesses only, not for general information or products.
Unfortunately, since the tools to measure the effectiveness of voice search result optimization are yet to be developed, it is difficult to measure whether applying new strategies is effective or economical. The tactics mentioned here will also help with general search engine optimization (SEO) and implementing these suggestions is likely to improve traffic.
I recommend that you plan to target voice engine optimization in your marketing budget. As an early adopter, you are more likely to gain an edge.
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Blogging is a great way to grow your audience and attract people to your website. No matter if you are marketing a product or blogging for personal interest, you don’t want to have a “Halloween site” that people see once and never again. The question is how to attract people to your site? If you are waiting for Google to tell them, you are very optimistic. Blogging is one of the ways to tell the search engines that you have new content on a static site.
Most of us are not natural born bloggers. It is something that starts out with trepidation and evolves over time. Writing an effective post requires not only motivation and creativity, but also strategy. Documenting your strategy will help you become an effective blogger and save your valuable time.
Recently I was reading an article on Content Marketing. Content Marketing strategies often overlap with blogging. This is what it said:
Most of the time, the content creation process it pretty simple. It looks like this:
- Pour a cup of coffee.
- Sit down at your computer.
- Think about a topic to write about.
- Click publish.
- Go back to what you were doing before creating content.
- Repeat next week.
What happens when the coffee is finished and the page is empty?
It’s easy to read about the steps.
Finding a topic is often a challenge.
A blog is meant to educate and excite your audience. The question is what do they want to know?
There are a few ways of finding out.
In this post, we will explore options to come up with good topics for our blog, discuss effective strategies and the structure of a blog post.
Finding a topic
I often feel a sense of despair when looking for a topic. Here are some ideas to inspire you.
1. Talk to people
In the course of your conversation listen to see what questions people have and what information they are looking for. What answers did you provide in your conversation? What should people ask you, but don’t ask?
2. Share your learning journey
Think about topics you want to learn about or wanted to learn about in your journey. Never assume that your audience are experts. They may know less that you do.
3. Controversial topics
Write down controversial opinions that excite you.
4. Use Social Media
Some bloggers look at Quora for questions that people ask. I like Reddit. The question is where are your audience spending time on social media? What questions are they asking there? Look at the threads with lots of comments.
Take notes. Keep a journal of ideas that inspire you.
A great source of topics is questions that my clients ask me.
In fact that is what led to this post.
Writing your blog post
Let us assume that you have found a topic.
The next challenge is how to begin writing your blog post?
I like to do a brain dump of ideas on my topic, then go and see what others have said or check Wikipedia in order to make sure that I haven’t left out important details that would help them.
A blog is a way of developing a relationship with your audience. Do you use academic style writing language when you talk to people? Write the way that you speak! In fact, once you know what you want to write about, create a Google Doc (free with a Google Account), press the microphone icon and just talk into the Google Doc. Your voice will be transcribed into text.
What happens if you did all of that, and your page is still empty?
You can read something that someone else wrote and write your own take on the topic. If you find something valuable, first make a note of the link so that you can refer back to it. If there is a question that you can expand upon, write about it in your own voice.
99.9% of bloggers are not awesome on day 1.
Their awesomeness is the accumulation of the value they create over time.
– Darren Rowse
There is one way of become a great blogger. Write. A LOT. Writing may be compared to other creative processes: the more you do it, the better you become. Inspiration and finding your own style are only part of the equation. The other part is technique.
Abandon the critics
Starting a blog or writing process can be a little nerve wracking. We are each our own worst critic. Then, there are the external critics that comment on our posts… the ones that are not selling performance enhancing drugs…Hey, but guess what? You can approve and disapprove your comments. There is a delete button on your comments. If you don’t like them, delete. Just don’t stop what you set out to do! Don’t hide under the table! Carry on writing…
Your unique voice
The only way that your blog post can differ from a million other posts on the web on the same topic is if you find your own inner voice where you are not afraid to express your opinion. People will connect with you on a personal level and might even feel like they know you because they read your posts.
But wait! We are not ready to hit the publish button yet! We are writing in order for people to read our stuff. In order for them to find it easy to follow, we need to take care of some technical housekeeping first….
Planning Content – reader’s journey
- Who are your audience?
- What do they want to know?
- What options do they have?
- How can they evaluate their options?
- Recommend a solution.
This may be called the reader’s journey.
Who are your audience?
This is a topic that many bloggers skip and can be critical to your writing style. We don’t talk to grandma in the same way that we talk to our colleagues. In the same way that we differentiate in our daily conversation, it is important to apply the same strategy in our blog. It is important to be very specific in defining your audience persona in order to reach the right people.
What do they want to know?
Understand the Problem and Gather Information
Think about something significant that you want to purchase. Like a bike. How do you go about that? First you do some research on bikes to check what’s on the market. Then you decide what features you want for your bike. Then you look at prices and try to match the features with the budget that you have. Read up about the quality of the product that you are interested in. Learn how to judge if it is good for you. Finally you make a choice and buy the bike.
When you structure your content, think about your audience’s journey so that they can easily follow the information that you are sharing with them. Where is your audience in this journey?
Write down some headlines, sub headings and topics that you want to address in order to provide a logical solution to your audience. If you are offering a product, attempt to explain what your approach is and how it is beneficial.
Keep to a structure in your writing
Write a captivating introduction.
You have only a few seconds to grab the reader’s attention. You can tell a joke, be empathetic or surprise them with an interesting fact of statistic.
You then explain how the post will address the problem and inform the reader. Give your audience a reason to stop scrolling and read on.
Write engaging headlines
Most people skim an article before they read it. Many people only ever read headlines, lists and look at images. They never read the text of a post.
Use a tool like aminstitute to check the emotional appeal of your headline.
CoSchedule also has a tool to optimize headlines:
Use document formatting to break up the content.
Headings, subheadings (h2, h3 tags), lists, images/personal photos, bold, italicize, short paragraphs, and other formatting can help with the overall reading experience.
End with key take aways or some kind of summary.
Some people skip to the end and read that first.
CTA – Call to Action
What do you want your audience to do after they have read your post? Like? Share on Social Media? Comment?
Remember to ask them to do that. You are more likely to get a response.
Add Categories and Tags
Remember that if you publish a post without a category, it will show up as uncategorized.
I think of categories like chapters in a book, and tags may be compared to the index at the back of the book. If someone was searching your website, how would they search for your post? Help them out!
Read over your post again.
If you are posting on your website, remember to review and approve the comments that you like, and delete the unsuitable comments. Remember to close the comments on the site after a specific amount of time.
Whether you are posting on your personal blog/website or social media, please remember to respond when people post. If it is on Facebook, respond or “like” comments. On your blog, thank people for responding. It will encourage them to interact with you in the future.
Additional Content Types
Blogging is not the only way to connect with your audience. There may be additional techniques that work for as well or better for you, such as:
- How to/ Tutorials
- Vlogs – video blog
- Product reviews
- Opinion pieces
- Webinars or Podcasts
Common Best Practices
# Be Helpful First
If you motivate and educate the reader, they will want to connect and come back for more.
# Be Authentic
Write to a specific audience in your own voice.
# Create Easily Consumed Content
People are busy. If you can make it easier to understand with a video, diagram or audio file you will make it easier for them to follow you.
Don’t write a blog post with thousands of words because it will rank better if you can write the same thing in a hundred words. People will respect you for your brevity and clarity.
# Make Your Post Easy to Consume
Use Document Structure and formatting. Add images, diagrams, videos and other forms of media to keep it interesting and simple.
The purpose of this post was to offer you tips on how to start writing your blog posts, some strategies that will help you shorten the blogging process and reach a wider audience. Strategy is key to differentiating yourself from a brain-dump writer.
What techniques do you use that are effective?
Mobile first arrived in 2014
It is taking us time to internalize this fact.
According to Google Analytics data gathered by Google Search Engine in 2017, 40% of online transactions are carried out on mobile devices.
Mobile World Congress 2018
Recently, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, 3 industry leaders, Clorox CMO Eric Reynolds, Horizon Media Executive VP and Managing Partner Sarah Baehr, and Lego VP and Head of U.S. Marketing Amy Pascal stated
- Stop thinking of mobile as a channel; marketing is mobile.
- Make your creative mobile-first.
- Answer a consumer need.