Mar
14
How to write great blogs

How to write great blogs in WordPress

March 14, 2018 11:00 am Published by Comments Off on How to write great blogs in WordPress

Publishing regular blogs means all-important new web content that Google loves. It also gives you something new to share with your contacts. Here’s our advice on how to write great blogs in WordPress…

Getting started

In the left hand menu on your WordPress dashboard, click on Posts and Add New. This takes you to a page with everything you need to create your new blog post.

Give some thought to the right title

This is crucial, partly to keep Google happy. WordPress generates the URL (otherwise known as permalink) for your blog post based on your title – you can override their suggestion, but the key thing is to make sure your title is relevant to the content and search terms you want Google to pick up.

Also, according to copyblogger, whilst 8 in 10 people will read a blog title, only 2 in 10 will go on to read the actual post. So, as well as including your main keywords in the title (to help Google find it), you should also make sure it’s engaging and intriguing to readers.

Oh, and keep your title short and sweet – 8 words or fewer if possible, so Google search results will display it in full.

Make your blog post easy to read

As a guide, your blog should be at least 300 words long – with enough keywords for Google to pick up on, and plenty of content to engage and inform your readers. 500-600 words is ideal – anything longer, and your readers are likely to lose interest.

Divide up the blog post into easy-to-read chunks – short paragraphs with sub-headlines are a good way to do this, like we’ve done in this blog!

For more information, check out our tried and tested guide to writing successful blogs.

Always include a ‘call-to-action’ – what do you want people to do after reading your blog? This may be to view other content on your website, contact you, or complete an enquiry form, etc. Thanks to the magic of Google, many visitors will come straight to your blog from a search – so remember to include everything they need to know on this page!

Add images

Make your blog more appealing by adding images. It’s easy in WordPress – simply position your cursor where you want the image to go, and click on Add Media. Then choose Media Library to add an image you’ve uploaded before, or Upload Files to add a new one in JPG, PNG or GIF format. When you’ve added the image, click on Edit Image to change the size and positioning.

Categories and tags

Wordpress CategoriesConsider setting up categories and tags for your blog posts to help readers find your other content on the same topic. Categories provide a broader grouping, and tags are more specific – usually keywords.

For example, on a recipe website, categories could include starters, main courses and puddings – and tags could be specific ingredients like fish, chocolate, fruit, nuts, etc.

Use the Categories and Tags module on the right hand side of the text area to add relevant categories and tags to your blog post. You can select existing categories and tags – or add new ones.

Maximise your SEO impact

You’ll want your blog post to work hard at attracting new visitors to your website, and WordPress is very SEO-friendly – especially if you use a WordPress plug-in application like Yoast SEO.

Along with a raft of other great SEO features, this clever piece of software evaluates your blog post as you write it, and gives simple traffic light results to show how well it is optimised for SEO. You can then adjust any elements highlighted in red to make them more SEO-friendly, before publishing your post.

Yoast traffic light analysis

And finally, don’t forget to share your blog post on social media and your LinkedIn page, so your contacts know where to find it!

No time to write your own blogs? At Ketchup Marketing, we can help with planning, writing and marketing your blog posts. Find out more – call us on 0330 088 9277 or contact us here.

Jan
22
data protection

Data protection: what’s all the fuss about?

January 22, 2018 1:00 pm Published by Comments Off on Data protection: what’s all the fuss about?

On 25 May 2018,  a new era in data protection will begin. This is when new rules around collecting, storing and handling personal data come into effect.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), organisations will need to keep transparent records of how (and when) an individual gives consent to store and use personal data.

 

Built in, not bolted on

This isn’t just an evolution of the Data Protection Act – it has wider implications for the way that companies operate. It ensures that data is protected by design and default at a very intrinsic level.

Organisations will need to know exactly what personal data they hold and where it is located (on PCs, servers or in the Cloud). They must also have procedures in place to remove it permanently when an EU citizen requests this.

 

Why now?

We’ve moved on. The current Data Protection Act dates from the 1990s when only the largest companies had the means to collect and store significant amounts of data. Times have changed and the digital revolution is upon us. Thousands of SMEs now routinely access and store data about their customers.

As many of our clients are SMEs, we figured it would be useful to outline some key points about the new regulation. You have better things to do than read the official document’s 200+ pages.

 

What will the new data protection law mean for your business?

You will need to use simple language when asking for consent to collect data. You must explain clearly to customers what you do with their information. You’ll also need to have the functionality in place to respond to requests to delete data. In the future, all software will need to be capable of erasing data, rather than suppressing it. Quite a challenge.

 

So what’s changed?

The world has changed. Huge amounts of digital information are collected, exchanged and used every second around the globe. The GDPR will include,  for the first time, things such as genetic, mental, cultural, economic or social information that can be used to identify an individual.

It doesn’t matter where your business is based – after 25 May 2018, if you’re processing data about someone in the EU, you’ll need to follow the rules.

We’re all familiar with the small print on marketing materials. Things like the pre-ticked boxes that imply consent unless customers choose to opt out. Under the new rules, individuals have to actively give consent – and they can also withdraw this consent at any time. When this happens, their details must be permanently erased – not just deleted from mailing lists. It’s the right to be forgotten.

 

What happens in the event of proven non-compliance?

The penalty for breaching the regulation is eye-watering.

Serious violations will set you back up to £17 million or 4% of your annual global turnover, whichever is higher.

Here in the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will enforce the GDPR. It’s worth following their updates here before 25 May 2018.

Their intention isn’t to make early examples of organisations for minor infringements or to threaten big fines. There are other sanctions that they’ll use in cases of non-compliance… reprimands, warnings, corrective orders. As a result, it’s your reputation rather than your bank account that’s more likely to suffer.

Final guidance was published in December 2017 which you can see here.

Let’s end on a positive. You’re very likely to already comply with the terms of the Data Protection Act, so you’re well on the way to being ready for GDPR. If your website stores information about your customers, it’s a good idea to get in touch for an audit so we can help you identify the changes – if any – you need to put in place.

Jul
26
What makes a good blog

Writing successful blogs: our tried and tested guide

July 26, 2017 3:06 pm Published by Comments Off on Writing successful blogs: our tried and tested guide

Apparently someone posts a blog every two seconds. Writing successful blogs is one of the most popular ways to promote your business and your interests. It’s absolutely essential when you want to build your online presence.

Your blog is a valuable marketing tool

When you create a blog, you’re building a relationship with your audience – which leads to other benefits, including establishing trust with your customers, generating leads, educating consumers and boosting awareness of your brand.

What to include in a successful blog

Your readers expect to see targeted content and information of value. To be successful, you blog needs to chime with them. Your message and content must address their choices and their preferences. So you’ll need to produce something that is engaging, piques their interest and aligns with your business’s ethos and values.

First of all, you’ll need to understand your audience. Where they are today, what they need tomorrow. Provide that information. Give them answers to problems they may not know they have. Educate them. Empathise with them… and yes, entertain them.

Successful blogging is about conversation

In my experience, the most successful blogs are written in an informal conversational style so you’ll see a lot of “I” and “you”. It becomes personal.

Your purpose is to connect – it’s not a single-minded sales mission. Including a call to action is fine as part of a richer marketing mix, not a sole focus. Writing successful blogs is about laying the foundations for (and nurturing) a relationship and getting buy in rather than just buy…

My 5 top tips for writing successful blogs

Writing Successful Blogs - Be your own headline actBe your own headline act

Give some thought to a compelling blog title – 80% of people read headlines – so you’ve got to get it right to encourage your audience to read on. You’ll find a really interesting study about impactful headline here

 

Writing Successful Blogs - Write like you speakWrite like you speak

Short blocks of text work well. Use sub headings, embolden and italicize for effect. Drop in images (you can find out how to do this in an upcoming blog). Show passion. Stay real.

 

Writing Successful Blogs - Be useful and interestingBe useful and interesting

You’re sharing information with people who will keep coming back if you get it right. Create something of value in your blog – educate, entertain and engage your reader, and you’ll benefit from a steady stream of repeat traffic.

 

Writing Successful Blogs - Show what you meanShow what you know

Give away tips and be generous with your knowledge. Writing successful blogs isn’t a blatant sales exercise or a platform for you to big up your business, your product or your services. You’re reaching out to your readers – building trust, fulfilling a need, getting yourself on radar and positioning yourself – whether this is as an expert or enthusiast.

 

Writing Successful Blogs - Stay SEO savvyStay SEO savvy

Be aware of how your blog will appear online. Use keywords in the right ratio without sounding ultra-contrived. There’s more about this here.

 

Make it interesting

There are a lot of ‘expert’ opinions about how long blog posts should be, from a couple of hundred words right up to 2,000. When you’re writing your blog, aim for at least 300 words to rank well in search engines… and not just words. Include visuals like imagery, videos and infographics to keep it interesting and boost engagement – people respond to images rather than bulk blocks of text. Embedding videos linked from your YouTube or Vimeo account can be very effective, too.

It isn’t just a case of post and forget… successful blogs spark comments, so make sure you respond quickly to people who leave a message. Return the courtesy – check out their websites and react to their posts.

It’s no secret that Google loves fresh content, so make sure you blog frequently. Schedule a series – you’ll need to be well organised. Spend some time researching what’s hot and what’s not, make a note of trending topics (a good tip is to check FAQs to see what’s current in your marketplace) then make a plan to publish your posts on a timetable so that you’re delivering good quality content regularly.

Leverage the power of social media to spread the word – did you know you can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr amongst other channels to promote your blogs and engage your readers? This will really boost visibility and traffic. For more help on posting blogs to social media, check out this fantastic article [link to https://firstsiteguide.com/best-time-to-post-to-social-networks-cheat-sheet/]

Successful blogs in a nutshell

  1. Come up with an attention grabbing title/headline
  2. Research the right keywords
  3. Write at least 300 words in small, easy to read chunks of text.
  4. Create high quality back links
  5. Add in a call to action… what do you want your reader to do?
  6. Complete an SEO check – there are tools you can use
  7. Publish on your website
  8. Share on social media

A final tip. Blog regularly. Make time for it…or if you don’t have time, ask us!

Blogging’s just one of the marketing services we provide for our clients to boost their profile and help them build a community. For more information give us a call on 0330 088 9277 or contact us here.

Aug
15
What makes a good blog

A – Z of Marketing: Blogs

August 15, 2014 8:58 am Published by Comments Off on A – Z of Marketing: Blogs

Continuing our A-Z of marketing we are talking about blogging. The truth is that blogs are one of the most effective ways you can promote your business today. In the age of content marketing, the more useful information you can offer your customers and potential customers the better. You may have heard the term content marketing used a lot recently and it is something that you should be including in your marketing activity.

So what is content marketing? In a nutshell, it’s offering your customers information that they will find useful without obviously selling your products and services. Content marketing includes activities such as whitepapers, eBooks, vlogs, informational videos, hints and tips, and of course blog posts.

Running a blog is cost effective, easy to do with the right content, and can offer your business a number of key benefits such as:

  • Encouraging engagement with your business and its products and services – people love to read information that is designed to be useful to them. If you provide engaging and informative blog posts you will build up a following of people interested in the information, and hopefully, the products and services you provide. Research by Content Plus shows that company websites with regularly updated blogs result in 55% more visitors.
  • Positioning your business as a thought leader – this is perfect for high information and knowledge based industries such as marketing, IT, business consultancy, accountancy etc… or industries where the values of purchases are high and involved such as car manufacturers and retailers, or leisure and travel companies. By putting useful, informative, and non salesy blog content onto your website, or contributing as a guest blogger, you can soon build yours and your company’s reputation as a thought leader in your industry. People buy from people and companies that know what they are doing.
  • Increase trust – if someone has never brought from your organisation before, or they buy from you rarely, you can build an element of trust through your blog. As people read the information you put out there they will begin to get a better understanding of who you are, what you do and the benefits of using your products and services. This will build an element of trust and hopefully encourage them to purchase from you.
  • Increase your organic rankings in relevant search results – new and well written content is hugely beneficial to businesses in terms of being placed higher in organic search results, in fact Google has recently made changes to its algorithm so that useful content, such as blog posts, are rewarded more highly. According to Content Plus, blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links.
  • Increase your market reach – people love to share and if you are providing useful and informative content on your blog it will be shared. This will increase awareness of your brand, products, and services; your audience will expand naturally, all you had to do was post some great content.

As with any marketing activity, if you do decide to add blogging to your marketing plan, there are pitfalls you should try to avoid. We help a number of clients get noticed through their blog so here are some tips for doing it right.

  1. Pick the right topics – the topics have to be useful and something that people would want to read. Offering advice, hints and tips, or an explanation of industry developments are always useful places to start.
  2. Jump on anything newsworthy – if something comes up in your industry that’s relevant to your customers, for example new legislation, a technological development, or even a failure of some kind, get your blog writer on it immediately. As news spreads people will be searching for relevant content, if you are one of the first to provide it you could get more exposure that you could ever get through paying for a print advertisement or attending an exhibition.
  3. Make sure your blogs are well written – this goes without saying, but for your opinion and information to be trusted your blog posts must be well written and easy to read. If they’re not people could switch off from the message you are trying to get across and you have lost any impact.
  4. Respond to comments – allow people to comment on your blog posts and you could receive some interesting insights and get into some useful discussions. Showing that you are happy to engage with people on your blog is great for your reputation.
  5. Market your blog posts – once your blog post is live you need to let people know that it’s there. Post a link on your social media networks and include the link in any email marketing you do. You can also find relevant topics on social media networks such as LinkedIn and on other blogs and comment on the topic whilst pointing people to your blog post. As you go on and your followers increase your content will be shared by them, it’s a bit of a snowball effect.

If you are looking for some help planning, writing, and marketing your blog posts then give Michelle or Kate a call on 0330 088 9277 today or use our contact form here.

Feb
11

Blogger’s Blog – part 3

February 11, 2013 9:55 am Published by Comments Off on Blogger’s Blog – part 3

And another blogging thing

OK, let’s pretend three things. Firstly, that you’re not busy and have nothing better to do. Secondly, that our copywriter’s time is worth more than yours. Thirdly, your blog isn’t that important to your marketing effort.

You can see where we’re going with this, but you’ll probably resist our point about calling in the professionals anyway. And so you should. If you have a unique viewpoint and like the idea of writing your own blog you should go for it, especially if you know how to turn a nifty phrase or two. It is, after all, fun.

But the real idea is to produce results. So here are some tips.

Blogging-It-Yourself

Before you start, make two quick lists. The first list should be a roll call of the things you want to achieve with your blog; ending with a brief description of how the reader should feel when they’ve finished it.

The second should be a list of the things that you need to say that will make the readers feel that way. So if, for example, your subject is kitchen taps you’d probably want your readers to think that you were the kitchen tap expert and they should consult you at kitchen refurb time. You’d reinforce that impression with a para or two on tap design, then underline it with a bit of light tech-talk about reliability. Why the porcelain disc, quarter turn will resist dripping longer than the brass barrel, crush washer. But, unless you’re talking to tap anoraks (are they called Tapsters and is the collective noun a ‘trickle of Tapsters’) you’ll want to keep the tech light and involving. Good luck with that.

Once your two lists are complete, you’re ready to blog.

How’s your belly for spots, Aunt Thora?

A great blog talks directly to the reader, so to speak. So you have to use exactly the right sort of language. Consider how your content, pace, texture and vocabulary effect your tone of voice. The right tone of voice is vital because it engages the reader and helps keep them with you till the end. It also creates a telling impression of you, in their minds. So if your target audience is Aunt Thora it might be best just to enquire after her health in general terms.

The two, top, tone-of-voice tips are this; before you start writing have in mind a clear picture of someone you actually know, who personifies your reader. Write as if you were speaking directly to her/him. And then, when you’ve finished, give your work to a sulky teenager to read and ask them to describe the person they think it’s talking to.

After a couple of rewrites you’ll be ready to publish. The penultimate check is to run through your original lists and tick off the items as they appear in the blog – if you have the full set you’re good to go. But before you do, recheck your spelling and grammar. Really. A literal mistake, an inadvertent Americanism or a malapropism will have everyone writing you off as educationally substandard.

You know what…

Why bother? You’re a busy exec with 100 more valuable things to do with your time. Hiring us is cost effective and could actually save you a fortune if your DIY blog misfires somehow and drives customers away. And we must know what we’re doing – you read this far, after all.

For amateur-sounding, professional blogs please talk to Michelle on 0330 088 9277 or contact Ketchup Marketing here

 

Bloggers part 1 can be found here.

Bloggers Part 2 can be found here.

Jan
07

Blogger’s Blog – part 2

January 7, 2013 12:25 pm Published by Comments Off on Blogger’s Blog – part 2

It’s like reverse Tourette’s

If you read the first part of the Blogger’s Blog you’ll know we posed the question “Should agency copywriters be employed to write ‘personal’ blogs?” You’ll also know that – hardly surprisingly since we’re an agency that writes blogs for our clients – we were in favour. If you didn’t read that blog you’ll have to take our word for it.

This blog is about why. This is why

Blogs aren’t supposed to be polished pieces of marketing speak. They’re supposed to be personal views. They supposed to be valuable insights delivered as conversations. They’re supposed to be witty, informative and – above all – entertaining. That’s why people bother reading the blighters. Yes, people are interested in what you have to say, but they’re even more interested in enjoying themselves. Selfish beggars.

And that is why a huge proportion of company blogs fail to deliver readership. They’re like chewing a legal document. Or straining wet muesli to find the almonds. In short, they’re boring.

Colourful language, you blue-nosed radish

At last; the reason for the reverse Tourette’s reference in the headline. Too many blogs randomly abuse readers, by wasting their time and boring their pants off. Instead of using colourful language that interests and exhilarates, they trot out the same old clichés and pre-chewed, officially approved corporate guff. How many times have you seen these pieces of bad language popped unthinkingly into blogs?

‘Quality of service that is second to none…on time and on budget…leveraging core competencies…tailored to suit your specific needs…dedicated, specialised teams with the expertise and experience…our commitment is caring for you…’

Do they mean anything? Difficult to tell; we stopped reading after the first ten seconds. Actually they mean nothing because they slip over the reader’s consciousness like a wet squid over warm blancmange. Without ever engaging their audience.

So we’re still of the opinion that, unless you’re a natural, you should use a trained person to write your blogs. Or at least read the Blogger’s Blog part III, which will give you a few BIY tips of the trade.

To be continued. Look out for the Blogger’s Blog part III – And Another Blogging Thing.

 

For more information regarding our copy writing service or blogging workshops in 2013 contact Michelle on 0330 088 9277 or use the contact form here.

Bloggers Part 3 can be found here.

Bloggers part 1 can be found here.

 

Dec
17

Blogger’s Blog – part 1

December 17, 2012 5:08 pm Published by Comments Off on Blogger’s Blog – part 1

Writer’s blog

A couple of years ago a client of ours was heartily pooh-poohing the idea of blogs. “Who the hell has time to read all that guff?” he said with more than a hint of exasperation. “No, forget about even reading it all, what pancake actually sits down and writes it all?” he added with growing – and growling – disbelief.

That, of course, was a couple of years ago. Nowadays the blog is an accepted communication tool, transcending the marketing speak of adland and talking to people as if they were, well, people. Never a bad thing. Blogs are seen as a proffering of opinion. A forum. An insight that goes deeper than any formalised communication.

There’s something earnest and honest about a blog. Written by one party with a knowledge and an enthusiasm for a subject. And so it should remain. A blog should never be written by a professional copywriter with his eye on the main chance and his pen bent towards consumer persuasion, should it? Or should it?

Look out for the ‘some’ word

Now that small business owners, manufacturers, retailers, service providers, public and third sector organisations have cottoned on to the idea that a blog – in the right hands – can be used as a marketing tool, they’re all having a go. More power to them. The result is, of course, blogs that contain some really witty views, some real insight and some fascinating glimpses into the minds and behaviours of business leaders. Well, some do. Unfortunately, most don’t.

It’s like making candy floss out of bran fibre

What most amateur company blog writers have forgotten – or maybe never realised to start with – is that blogs are voluntary reads. Unlike commercials levered forcibly between programmes, people elect to open and read blogs of their own volition; and they expect to be amused, entertained and inspired, as well as informed. Company doggerel, corporate speak, lecturing from on high and windbag self-puffery just spoil the treat. If there’s no candy floss, no will be bothered to read your guff.

So, to answer the early question. Too right, old bean, you should definitely get a professional copywriter to fizz up your blogs. Because if no-one reads them, there’s no point in writing the damn things in the first place.

To be continued. Look out for the Blogger’s Blog part II – Reverse Tourette’s.

 

For more information regarding our copy writing service or blogging workshops in January 2013 contact Michelle on 0330 088 9277 or use the contact form here

PS – part 3 of this blogging special can be found here.

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