Remember the good old days of the internet? You know, the times when you could just stuff a ton of keywords into a blog post and sit back smirking, knowing that you’d kill the SERP almost immediately?
Those days are long gone, and we can thank creatures like pandas and hummingbirds for that.
But that doesn’t mean blogging, as a whole, is dead. In fact, it’s a vital part of a reputation management strategy. Each post you write has the potential to bump something nasty that’s written about you or your company.
But you will need to amend your strategies if you’ve been leaning on the techniques that worked during the Ye Olde Internet days. So here’s my plan.
Let’s consider a fictional company that’s been writing blog posts in order to combat an attack about customer service. How should this company blog? We’ll take it step by step.
Step 1: Pick the Right Topic
Reputation management blogs tend to be keyword driven. You look for the terms that attackers use, and you try to make those terms your own. Writing like this is a lot like working on a puzzle. You have something to cram in there, and cram it you will.
But as Quicksprout so eloquently puts it, successful web content isn’t about smashing in one specific term. It’s about substance. What is the underlying message you’re trying to convey? How are you trying to help or persuade or win over your readers?
Writing like this means thinking about people, not numbers. You’ll put yourself in the seat of the person who will read your blog, not the computer system that will serve up your blog.
How to Do It
Our fictional blogger needs to serve up posts that contain keywords about customer service. But those posts need to inform or entertain or educate. The blogger could consider:
- An entry about the concept of customer service through the ages
- A listicle about companies that assist with customer service complaints
- An introduction and infographic based on a customer service survey conducted by the company
- A research-driven analysis of how customers define good service
These aren’t your run-of-the-mill blog entries about great customer service at XYZ company. They’re in-depth ideas, spurred on by a keyword, and taken to the next level.
Step 2: Cover That Topic Completely
There are tons of articles out there about how long blog posts should be. The team at Buffer suggests, for example, that the ideal post length is about 1,600 words. While Medium says the best posts can be consumed in about seven minutes (which might be a handy little figure for people working up posts that include videos and infographics with few words).
These benchmarks can be helpful to consider, as they make it clear that short entries just won’t get the job done. But it’s important to remember we’re not striving for length. We’re looking for engagement.
I could easily make this post climb to the 3,000-word mark if I crammed in a ton of extraneous information about other blogs I’ve written or places I’ve gone in order to learn about blogging or the computer setup I’m using right now in order to write this blog entry. In theory, all of these little add-ons relate to the topic I’m writing about. But how much would they tell you about writing for reputation management purposes? Nothing at all.
An ideal blog will be just long enough to cover the topic completely, leaving a reader with no unanswered questions about that topic. And it won’t contain extra information that adds nothing to the knowledge profile.
How to Do It
Our fictional blogger will need to:
- Fully research the topic. What are the underlying metrics? What do others say about the issue? What do readers say in the comments section of other published blogs on that topic?
- Outline the topic. What are the key points? What’s a must-know takeaway?
- Write to the outline.
- Edit for consistency.
- Reread 24 hours later, before publishing, in order to determine that the above steps are complete.
Note that there are no steps in here about word count or reading time. Instead, the emphasis is on good writing, done well.
Step 3: Aspire to Engage and Connect
The easy, slacker way to fill up a blog with content is to scrape it from another place or create gateway pages that contain duplicate content with just one or two keywords of difference. As Google makes clear, this content is considered thin. It doesn’t add value for a reader, and it doesn’t make for interesting or compelling consumption. It’s blogging for an algorithm, not a person.
A truly compelling post contains an opinion or research or analysis or all three of these things. It’s different from any other content floating around out there. It really does provide value.
How to Do It
Our fictional blogger will be on the lookout for extensive copy/paste techniques. If those writing fingers start to itch to steal content from somewhere else, or if the writer’s brain can’t come up with something new to say, there’s no reason to keep on blogging. Taking a walk, chatting with a friend, or nap can break the block and return the writer to productivity.
Tools like Copyscape can also be a vital part of the editing process. If the writer finds the content is almost entirely present in another place on the web, it’s time to head back in for revisions.
Step 4: Repeat ONLY When You Can Recreate
How often should you blog? An in-depth analysis from Hubspot suggests businesses should blog early and often. Companies that publish more than 11 posts per month get a lot more traffic than those that publish less frequently.
But here’s the thing: With thin Google penalties very much in play, it makes sense to blog only when you can do so in a robust and comprehensive manner. You’ll need to make sure your blogs are spot on, every time, in order to reach and convince your potential readers. In my opinion, writing well once in a while is much better than writing poorly every day.
Moz backs me up on this. The company is emphasizing what Rand Fishkin calls 10x content, or content that is so amazing that it’s worth the wait, and that means Moz may not publish every day. If the content isn’t quite up to par, it doesn’t go out the door. And in an experiment to test traffic, there was no huge dip on days in which there was no new content.
If Moz can do it, so can you.
How to Do It
Our fictional blogger might set a calendar in which the blog is updated once per week, with data that’s truly epic and amazing and written over the course of an entire week. If that schedule works and the writer has more to say, an additional day could be added.
If you’ve been blogging every day, filling up your pages with thin content inspired by reputation management keywords, just stop. Use this plan instead. You’ll probably spend the same amount of time, but you’ll get much better results in return. And isn’t that what we all want?