Writing a blog is crucial to your online marketing strategy. If you are not blogging, yet, now is a GREAT time to start. In order to write a successful blog, there are 8 simple steps that you need to check-off to ensure your blog has all the right pieces to be successful.
1. Finding a Topic
It can sometimes be difficult to find a topic to write about. You want to make sure that your topic is something that people will WANT to read and that other people may not necessarily be writing about. Here are a few tips to help you find a topic to write about:
One of the best tools to utilize is a Facebook Group. Create a group on Facebook for locals in your community. For example, Ballen Vegas has a group called “We Live In Summerlin” (Summerlin is a community in Las Vegas).
In this group, we have over 1,000 members of the community. They are regularly asking questions like, “I need a reliable repair person, who knows of one?” or “I need a good doctor in the area, who has recommendations?” Take these questions and write a blog about them! Give them somewhere to go that has that information that they can utilize. Not only will you be providing them with value, but you will be providing everyone in your area looking for the same information value. When they land on your post and click around, Google will notice that your post is valuable and will raise it on the rankings.
Be sure to keep an eye on the comments to those questions, as well. Take the responses and recommendations that people are putting on the original question post and add those to your blog. Title it something like, “Most Reliable Repair Technicians in Summerlin | As Picked by the Locals.” People tend to rely more on what locals in the area are saying about the businesses from experience, rather than just go by the business information itself.
Once you write these blogs, share them in your FB Group. You never know how many other members of your group may have been thinking of the same question.
Clicky is a fantastic tool not only for tracking your website, but for finding a blog topic, as well! In Clicky, there is a section where you can find “unique searches” for your site. This shows you specific searches that people are typing into search engines and they clicked to your site from their search.
For example, here is one of our searches for Ballen Seattle:
You can see that people are typing in specific addresses, as well as “valentine adventure seattle.” You can take that information and write a blog about Things to Do in Seattle for Valentine’s Day | Activities for Daredevils — or something to that effect. This is a very important tool to utilize, because if they searched for something, found your website, but you don’t have any information on that topic, they are going to leave your website and Google will deem your website invaluable pertaining to that search. If you CAN write a blog about it and it isn’t entirely irrelevant, definitely write about it. YOU are supposed to be the local expert in your area, so anything to do with your city or area you serve is relevant to your website and blog.
Utilizing Google Top Searches
When you visit Google and begin typing something into the search bar, a menu pops up and gives you suggestions based on related searches. Here is an example when I typed in “Things” into Google:
- Things to Do in Las Vegas | Movie Theaters
- Things to Do in Las Vegas | Sports Parks
You will also see Things to Do in Santa Monica (not relevant to Ballen Vegas), Things Remembered (a company — not relevant), and Things to Give up for Lent.
Holidays and Seasonal blog posts are beneficial. Things to Give up for Lent would be a great blog post about 1 month prior to Lent’s start date. If you don’t know what to put on the blog, go to your Facebook group and ask your members, “I’m trying to decide what to give up for lent. Any Ideas? What are you giving up for lent?” and see what comments appear.
Utilizing Google Alerts
Google alerts is a tool that Google offers that will notify you when articles appear that match a specific search criteria that you want to be notified on. You can tell Google that you want articles that are relevant to:
- Holidays in Las Vegas
- Real Estate Market Statistics
- Concerts and Events in Las Vegas
You can have it alert you based on whatever search you want it to. Really use this tool to your advantage to have blog topics come to you regularly.
2. Keyword Research
You have your topic, now you need to make sure that people can find your blog when they are searching for it online. You can research specific keywords to use in your blog post that are based on what is searched the most on search engines.
We use a tool called the Google Keyword Planner. This tool allows you to search for a specific keyword string and see how many people are searching for it a month and how many other websites are using that keyword. The goal is to find a keyword that is searched frequently, but has a low competition, meaning that not many websites are utilizing it, so the chances of the person performing the search finding your website is higher.
You want to be as specific as possible with your keyword. If you just use “Best Public Pools,” then someone searching for Best Public Pools in New York may find your post, but if you are in Las Vegas, that won’t do them any good and they will leave.
You may have to type in different variations of your keyword in order to find the right one, but once you do find the right one, you’ve struck gold. Be sure to test out using “house” instead of “home” and vice versa. You’d be surprised at how much changing a small word can make a difference in the keyword results.
Be sure to apply these keywords in the following areas:
- First Paragraph of Blog
- A couple times throughout the blog (in places where they flow and are not awkward — DO NOT Keyword Stuff!)
- In the MetaDescription
You don’t have to be a professional writer to write a blog. In fact, you don’t have to write the blog at all if you don’t want to! There are many additional resources you can utilize for writing a blog.
Ghost writers are writers that you can find to write your content. There are many ghost writing tools to utilize. The one that our team uses is Crowd Content. You can choose the number of words you want in the blog, the star rating (quality of writing), topic, keywords for them to utilize, and more. You tell them what you want them to write about and if you would like them to do any additional research on the topic.
Once the content is complete, it will be marked as ready to review, in which you have a few days to review the information before it becomes marked as ready and completed. You can request a revision in this time, if you would like. The average cost for an article is out $20, which may vary depending on word count and star rating.
If you are someone who prefers to talk about a topic, there are services available that will take the audio of you talking about a subject, and transcribe it into text. You can then place this text on your website as a blog.
Be careful with transcriptions, though. At times, they may add an “um” in there if you say it — as they take the transcription literally. There also may be some parts where they type “inaudible” meaning that word or phrase wasn’t loud enough, too fast for them to understand, or wasn’t clear enough for them to understand what you were saying. So be sure to speak clearly when recording.
4. Item of Value
Every blog post you write should include an item of value of some sort. These can include, but are not limited to:
- PDF Documents
- Downloadable Map
- Webinar Playbacks
These items of value should be shown in the form of a button that takes the user to a form to complete to have the item of value displayed on the “Thank You” page or emailed to them following the form’s completion.
The importance of having this item of value is that it provides another opportunity for you to gain a lead (someone interested in your business) or a prospect (someone interested in your valuable item — not pertaining to your business). Either way, the contact has made its way into your system, proving you with the opportunity to give them more valuable, relevant information, as well as being a point of contact for them, should they decide to partake in your business.
Be sure that your item of value isn’t your standard “get your home valuation,” as that is something they can get on ANY real estate site that they visit. Make this item unique to you and make sure that it is branded with your information (logo, phone number, name, etc.) so that when they have that item, they can refer back to you later on.
5. Images & Video
Images and Videos are important to a blog post, as they are pleasing to the eye, provide a break in the text for the user when they are reading through a lot of content, and it provides a personal touch.
Where appropriate, add a video at the top of your blog post. This video should be valuable and informational to the visitor. They don’t want to watch a commercial or ad, so if it is not informational or valuable to the customer, don’t include it. Here are a few examples of informational videos:
Branding Your Image
Be sure to brand your image with your logo or name so that when it shows up on Google, your brand is recognized right away. Don’t make the branding the main focus on the photo. If you can, place it somewhere discrete, yet still noticeable. Here are some examples:
Name Your Images
When adding your images to your website, make sure you name it to match the blog topic or make it relevant to the image itself. This way, it appears on the Google Search results for images and is shown as relevant to what the blog topic is about. For example: If you write about best public pools, you don’t want to use an image of a house with a pool. . . it’s not relevant to the blog topic. The blog is about pools, but it’s about PUBLIC pools, so if someone searches for that on Google Images and they see a photo of a house with a pool, that’s not going to be valuable to what they were searching.
Use Unique Images
Be sure that your images are unique and stand out. If your image pops up on a Google Image search, will it stand out? or is it going to get lost in the sea of other images that appear?
Here are some examples of unique photos that we have utilized that have gotten our posts noticed:
6. IDX Widget
On every blog post, you should be including an IDX widget that displays properties relevant to the location being discussed in the blog post. If the blog post is about “Pools in Summerlin,” be sure to include a widget at the bottom of your page that displays properties in Summerlin.
If you are talking about a new mall that opened in your town, include properties that are in the nearby zip codes.
Widgets are pulled from your IDX Provider (IDX Broker, Wolfnet 3.0, etc.) and they display your search results in a visually pleasing way. There are different widget styles you can choose from depending on what you want it to look like on your page.
IDX Widgets on your blog posts provide your visitor an opportunity to browse homes in the are if they happen to be interested in buying a home in that area, increasing your chance of getting a lead.
7. Blog Speed & Responsiveness
Blog speed can make or break the results of your blog post. If your blog takes a few seconds to load, chances are higher that the user is going to leave before they even see your blog post, causing Google to see it as invaluable, which will lower your rankings on search results.
Here are a few tips to help your blog speed:
- Compress your images and videos (lowering the file size)
- Don’t Embed (If you can host it on your website, it will improve the speed)
- Keep Everything Up-To-Date
- Keep Widgets at the Bottom to Improve Top of Page Loading
Check your blog post on a mobile device to ensure that it functions properly and looks good on both computer and mobile. Many people use mobile devices, so you want to make sure that it works on mobile, as well as provides an easy-to-use experience for the visitor. If they have to scroll for 30 seconds before getting to the item of value or valuable content, they are going to leave. Also, if the videos, images, etc. don’t load properly or look strange, it’s not going to make for a good user experience, and they are going to leave.
When your blog is complete, images and videos are added, speed is good, and it looks great on mobile, It’s time to share your blog. Be sure to share your blog across all social media platforms (If you don’t have them all — be sure to create them — you don’t want to miss out on potential leads from platforms you don’t have). You also want to share your blog across all of your blogging platforms (such as ActiveRain). ActiveRain is a great one to utilize, as it is already deemed a reliable source by Google and will increase the possibility of your blog post appearing on page 1 of Google. Here’s a list of social media platforms that you should utilize for blasting your blog post:
- Your Facebook Page
- Your Facebook Group (keep posts in this group about holiday events, things to do in the community, etc.)
- Google Plus
- and any others you may have.
You can use one of the following tools to blast your post without having to copy and paste to each one manually:
There are other programs that have this same functionality, these are just the ones that we have been utilizing, testing, and have found to be successful for our blasting and sharing.
There is an entire training course on this topic. Get this training and over 14 others with The Ballen Method Curriculum!