Content Inspiration for your company website

If you’re aiming to update the content on your website regularly (say once a week), it can be tiring trying to think up new things to write about. Don’t worry though, there’s an infinite amount of things you can post, these are just a few inspirational ideas to get you started:

TOP TIP: Make it a habit to look at everything you do, see, hear or read and ask yourself ‘would my target audience want to know about it?’ If it’s not worthy for your website, could it be a good fit as a status update or link on your social media platforms?

Inspiration for your website

  • There’s a new event coming up that you believe others would be interested in attending. Feature it. Or, if you’re hosting it, write an article on why people should go.
  • What do people most ask about your company or service? Perhaps write a ‘Top Tips’, ‘Guide To’, ‘Ten of the best’ post inspired by the most frequently asked questions that your customers ask.
  • Respond to a story in the newspapers. By having an opinion, you will stand out from others and be noticed. Establish your organisation as an authority.
  • Do you have a new product or service? Tell people about it.
  • Are you discontinuing a product or service? People will want to know.
  • Do you have any upcoming price changes? It is important that you let people know.
  • Is your office closing due to a special occasion? For example, a Bank Holiday or Christmas? Let your customers know. If you’re staying open, people will need to know too!
  • What’s going on in your company? Did someone at your company get a mention in the newspaper? Did someone review on of your products or services? Write about it.
  • Got something to give-away? Perhaps a short course or a product? This is a great way to increase traffic to your site. You could even use it as a way to get more details from your users by asking for certain information as a condition of entry. In the same way, you can help spread awareness of your website by asking people to share your content across their social media networks.
  • Need more staff? Make sure you’re promoting the fact on your website.
  • Is your industry undecided on a certain topic? Why not write a blog post on it and invite others to comment.
  • Create a regular feature – for example, every week or month consolidate relevant industry news on your website.
  • Write a book review that’s relevant to your industry.
  • Ask someone else to write a guest-post for your website.
  • Add an interview – many people love to be interviewed and you can make this as long or short as you wish. You can do a simple Q&A, or even a video or podcast.
  • Attend an event that’s relevant for your industry and review it. Was it worth going to? Who was there? What were the 5 main points you took from it?
  • Profile a company or individual who’s relevant to your industry. Make sure you send them the link too so they can share it with their contacts. Maybe they could even link to their site to yours?

 

If you’re hard-pressed for content ideas, or don’t have time to find news related to your industry, set up a Google Alerts for a couple of your industry keywords and have stories delivered straight to your inbox. You can use these as inspiration for your next article, respond to them via your website or round them up into a consolidated page.

 

Google Alerts Screenshot

 

Got an idea that you’re keen to write about? Before you start, read this – ‘How to Write Your Blog Post.’ > 

Before you publish content online: The Checklist

Don’t feel daunted by publishing content with this handy checklist. This should help improve the content you write for the web, both for the user and for your website.

A checklist for publishing online

  1. You know who you are writing for and what you’ve written addresses them in a way they can relate to and understand.
  2. You know what your keyword/s are and you have researched these.
  3. Any images you’re using are relevant to the content and you have already sourced these. If permission is required, you should have already sought this.
  4. It is clear what you expect people to do once they finish reading your content.
  5. There are no dead-ends in your content and your user is encouraged to click elsewhere at the end.
  6. If you have included a reference to another company / organization / individual, you have also included a link to their website / LinkedIn page and told them in advance that you are going to reference them.
  7. The title of your content is eye-catching; it is catchy, creates intrigue.
  8. Your keywords have been strategically placed in your article.
  9. Your page looks visually appealing.
  10. There are no spelling mistakes, capital letters are where they should be and it reads well.

 

If you’ve not yet written your content, why not take a look at the series of articles ‘How to Write Your Blog Post’. It’s a very good place to start.

How to Write Your Blog Post Part III – Driving Traffic to your Article

Desert Island

A desert island is a bit like your blog post. Useless if no one knows about it and if there are no easy ways to visit it.

Your blog post is live. Whoop. Time for a break? Not quite, people won’t just flock to read it, regardless of how great you think it is.

This is where the hard part comes in – whereas you can play the game and write for your audience and make sure its search-friendly, you have no control over who decides to visit it. Having already identified your audience in the blog preparation stage, you also need to find where they hang out online.

There’s a fine line with sharing your blog post and spamming people – the best thing to do is try all these ways, then use one or a combination of ways depending on the reception and feedback you get.

Tell people before you post your article

It’s most likely that if you’ve set up a blog or write for one, you’re doing it because you want to, rather than for the money. In which case, you *should* be enthusiastic and passionate about it and are most likely telling people already. You could even ask their opinion on it; for example, for my ‘Guide to Turning 30’ blog post, I asked several friends about what they would include, thereby adding valuable points to my blog and ensuring that I had a ready audience once it was live.

Top Tip: Don’t go around telling everyone about your latest blog post. Pick people who you think would be interested and likely to read it. Otherwise, it’s just verbal spam.

Share on Linked In, Twitter, Facebook and Google+
Sharing on LinkedIn

Status Updates – Share your blog post link via your status. You can also post to Twitter from here.

Post in Related Groups – Join groups with a similar interest to your blog posts and keep your group updated also with a link to your blog post.

Top Tip: Depending on what your blog post is about, it may or may not be the right thing to share on networks such as LinkedIn. Think before you post your blog post everywhere.

Sharing on Twitter

Status Updates – Include a link to your blog post in your status. Make sure you wrap it up with an engaging teaser or introduction so users know what they’re clicking on, especially if you’ve used a shortened link like Bitly.

If you’ve been clever with your blog post, you will have mentioned others who you can refer to in your tweets, including of course, a link to your article. Fingers crossed, they’ll reply or retweet it to their followers, thereby increasing exposure to your blog post.

 

 

Increasing engagement via Twitter posts

Previous tweet including the author of the book reviewed. 

 

 

Targeted sharing – Search for users on Twitter who are talking about topics related to your blog post and share your blog post with them directly. Do this sparingly and it can increase your Twitter followers. Otherwise, it’s just spam.

Top Top: You can also let people know what’s coming up with a few teaser tweets and even include a date and an approximate time for when your blog post will go live.

Sharing on Facebook

Status Updates – Share your blog post in your Facebook status. Invite people to comment and share.

Post on Related Pages – If there are Pages on Facebook that talk about topics related to your article, then include your blog post there. But don’t just interrupt, that’s rude – introduce yourself and also explain why your blog post may be interesting for the members.

Sharing on Google+

Status Updates – As with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can share the link directly to your wall and also choose the different circles to share your post to, for a more targeted approach.

If you use WordPress, there are Plugins like JetPack which can automatically publicise your blog posts and share with your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts – great if you’re short of time.

Also make it easy and encourage others to share using Social Buttons on your blog (see ‘Things to Think about before you write your blog post), so that it’s easy for others to spread the word.

Include a link to your blog in your footer

If you’ve got an email footer and you’ve got a blog post that you’re especially keen to share and drive traffic to, include a link to this in your footer.

Share it on StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon helps people find online content tailored to their interests. The more you use it, the more StumbleUpon ‘learns’ what you prefer and so offers content more suited to you.

As well as browsing sites on StumbleUpon, you can also add websites based on categories.

More about StumbleUpon here >

Include a link to your article in other blog post comments

Search for other blogs that also cover your topic and include a link to your blog post in the comments. Ensure it’s relevant to the blog.

Share on Pinterest

This only works if you have images in your blog post so ensure your image is a great one and helps sum up what the rest of the article is about. If possible, add a caption to your image using Photoshop, or something like PowerPoint if you don’t have anything else.

Target people you know who are likely to share
Word of Mouth Image - Paper Men

Spreading your content.

These are people who you should value greatly. These are the types of people who are generally ‘connectors’ and help because they want to help and are genuinely interested in what you do.

By personally sending such people a link to your blog post, your click-through and share rate will be higher. Yes, it’s more time-consuming, but it’s worth it.

Top Tip: Don’t specifically request people to share. Those who value integrity will feel uncomfortable sharing if they don’t think it’s suitable, so instead include a line like ‘Please feel free to share if you enjoyed reading it’.

Submit your blog post to Reddit

Reddit is a social news and entertainment site where users submit content and users vote it up or down.

There are often specialized groups on Reddit and if your blog post fits within one of these then you should most definitely add it.

 

Done? Well, not quite. Check Google Analytics or whatever other stats you have on your website. If you don’t, you must add it immediately, otherwise you have no way of knowing if what you’re doing is effective or not!

 

 

 

 

How to Write Your Blog Post Part II – Writing your article

 

DO NOT UNLEASH EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE – it can be awkward reading. Do your readers really want to know about all your crap? Can you somehow turn it into something they can take advice from or learn from?

Woman with angry face

Depending on the type of blog post you’re writing, emotional baggage may or may not be acceptable. Use it sparingly, if at all.

Once you feel confident you’ve done the necessary groundwork before you write your blog post, then it’s time to write it. I would advise writing it in Word as opposed to putting it straight into WordPress, Tumblr, Umbraco or whatever you use. There are several reasons for this; firstly, if for some horrific reason you get a horrendous virus on your site and have to take it down and lose all your content (it happened to me), then you have backup. Secondly, you can continue writing even when you’ve not got internet – great for it you’re writing on the go. 

Things to think about when writing your blog post:

A good headline

Like a newspaper where headlines sell, your headline needs to be click-worthy. This means, it has to be intriguing, topical, shocking, useful or have something sexy about it. Often, such blog titles get more interest. It would also help if your headline has your keyword in also – but not if it makes for awkward reading.

Length of your article

Unless you’re writing a thesis, keep blog posts to between 600 – 1000 words. Often, people online are looking for information so will need to find things quickly and easily, which is why a clear layout is so important.

Using keywords sparingly

Once you’ve established your keyword/s, don’t go crazy as it makes it hard to read and search engines will start to think you’re a bit spammy. Add a nice sprinkle of them:

  • In the heading
  • In the first sentence of your blog post
  • In the last sentence of your blog post
  • In the Alt tag of your image
A good layout

I’m sure, like me, your heart sinks when you click on a link and you get a giant scrolling page of nothing but black on white text. Eurgh. Dull.

Make your blog post look visually easy to read. Break up your post into different sections using sub-headings, bullet points and styled text, such as bold words and italics. Links are often in a different colour so add these too where appropriate.

And obviously, add images where you can and where appropriate.

A Picture Is Worth A thousand Words

This image was taken from Linchi Kwok’s Blogspot: http://linchikwok.blogspot.co.uk/

Adding images & links

For accessibility, make sure your links have the relevant descriptions. Most CMS’s such as WordPress, Umbraco etc, have the option for you to add in a short description. This helps the user, the search engine and screen readers understand where the link is going to take them to. Make it relevant and ensure it describes the link so that the visually impaired understands where it is taking them.

It’s the same with images. Don’t upload an image that has the description ‘IMG_1027.jpg’ and no alt tags. Use a description that describes the image.

If you have an image, can you link it anywhere relevant? If so, do, again making sure you add an alt tag description to let users know where this links to.

 DO NOT RANT– it can be funny but swiftly gets tiring.

The final check before your publish your blog post

For every change, preview your article. Sometimes, your CMS can do strange things – WordPress recently did something weird whereby if you made a word italic, the next word would appear on the following line automatically. I didn’t realise this until I’d pushed it live and then felt  like a dick when someone else spotted it. Schoolboy error.

Make sure you’ve checked the following before putting your article live

  • Does it look good to read? Are there interesting images? Is the page set out well?
  • Does it read well?
  • Is it easy for the user to understand why I’ve written it and what I want them to do at the end?
  • Are there any spelling mistakes?
  • Do all my links work?

Written your article? Then it’s time to get it out there! Read how to drive traffic to your blog post >

NB. Writing for the web is different to writing print articles.  Whilst both require you to write with your audience in mind, you also have to think about how search engines trawl websites, how users read online and cutting through all the other competition.

How to Write Your Blog Post Part I – Before you start

Things to think about before writing your blog post

Writing a blog is like cooking - image of ingredients

Writing a blog post is a bit like cooking – you need all the right ingredients before you start to make it a success.

You may be eager to get that blog post you’ve been dying to write for ages up and live, but before you even begin tapping away, there are several essential questions you need to have established the answers for before you start. This is critical if you’re going to engage people with your blog post and keep them reading until the very end.

Who’s your audience?

If your blog post is a mere stream of consciousness then a) no one will read it and b) if they do attempt to, they won’t understand it and most likely, neither will you.

Make sure that whatever the subject of your blogpost, that your audience is getting something of value out of it, whether it’s information, wisdom, humour etc.

What’s your keyword?

There is great debate about the importance of keywords in blog posts – some say you must tailor your content to them and some say they’re not so important. I say, they’re important, just as long as they’re used wisely (more about that later).

But firstly, let’s establish your keyword. Be a bit clever and use the Google Keyword Tool to work out what other people are searching for and how many times its being searched for. If possible, find a keyword tool that is well searched for with a low or medium number of results.

Before you write a blog - Google Keyword Tool screenshot

Search for ‘Google Keyword Tool’, enter your proposed keyword and determine whether it’s the right one to use.

What images are you going to use?
Flickr Logo

Ask people for permission if you want to use a Flickr image in your blog post

Images are ideal for telling your story and making your blogpost more interesting to read. If you have personal photos, use a couple of these to highlight points. If you don’t have any images, see if you can find anything suitable on Flickr (ask for permission first, most people will say yes, especially if you include a link back to their account). If you’ve got the budget, use stock images from places such as Shutterstock.

Shutterstock Logo

You can buy images from as little as £29 for 5 downloads

If an image absolutely won’t be the right thing to use, choose some important text from your post and make a quick and simple image in something like PowerPoint or Word. Colour and visuals really will increase engagement on your post.

 

What do you want people to do at the end of reading it?

Do not lead your reader to a dead-end. Don’t just finish your blogpost with nothing. It’s so depressing and rather disappointing for the reader.

Before you work out what you add at the end, work out what you want people to do after they’ve read your blog post. For example, do you want them to buy something, or click to a related website, or leave a comment, or share it? If so, tell them! If your platform allows for it, use something like Shareaholic that makes it easy to share your post to all the main social media platforms.

Writing your blog is the easy part, getting traffic to it is takes effort.

Sharing using Social Media

An example of just some of the social media sites your readers could share your post to.

Can you include other people or organisations into your blog post that can help spread the word once its written?

Be crafty with your blogpost and see if you can include links to people or companies who can help you spread your blog about. Once you’ve found suitable links, see if they have a Facebook or Twitter page that you can post it to, or include them in a tweet with a link to your post. After all, if you only have a couple of hundred followers on Twitter, but someone with several thousand follwers retweets your tweet that includes them, or better still, tweets their own thing about your post, then your exposure is suddenly a lot greater.

If you’ve done all your preparation for the above, then you’re ready to start writing your blog post!