What can we learn from bad blogs? Here's some key lessons for bloggers
"We don't talk about Bruno" hit upon a cultural zeitgeist early last year. The breakout song from Disney's Encanto beat Adele in the charts, lingered at number one for over a month, and inspired a rush of internet memes.
All pretty ironic. Because this song is about bad luck, failure, and - most pertinently - shame.
So, it got me thinking.
A bit about Bruno
For those who haven't watched the film, Bruno is a black sheep in the Madrigal family. While his family members enjoy success and pursue their many talents, Bruno's psychic gifts often get him in trouble.
"We don't talk about Bruno" depicts Bruno in his harshest light (from the viewpoint of his family). But as the song progresses, and Bruno's "faults" are laid bare, we begin to judge more harshly the valuations of his family. There is an element of scapegoatism, of deflected grievances and misaligned pain. Everything "bad", every failure in the family, is conveniently pinned upon Bruno.
And he's hidden away, out of sight.
Delete, block, move on
Like the Madrigal family, the digital marketing industry pivots tightly around success. Campaigns are anchored around "likes" and "shares", and anything that goes under the radar, or (worst of all) provokes dislike is quickly hidden away. Brands have been known to delete social posts, hide lacklustre content, and pull failed campaigns.
While it's important in this industry to positively represent your brand, a "throw-away" culture of content cuts off opportunities for improvement. It also inhibits important questions like: why doesn't this piece of content have the desired effect? Or how to refresh outdated blog content? Because - and this goes for every piece of content - there will be at least one reason. For every bad blog, there are real, key lessons for bloggers.
It's easy to delete something. Words on a page, social posts, ex boyfriends.
Press that little button, and it/he's gone. (Bye, Chad).
What's harder, much harder, is the work involved to make something better. To make something that's okay to start with and great in the end.
Bad blogs are very often bad because they're written quickly, uploaded quickly, and when they don't perform are taken down. The trouble with this approach (and this applies to many things) is that bloggers are viewing the process as a sprint rather than a marathon. If you've written a blog and uploaded it, that's great, but the gun's just sounded. The race has just begun.
In reality, the blog-writing process is a long one.
It's also more about refinement, and continued improvement, than instant, gold-plated success. You need to refresh outdated blog content. And improve the blogs which flop at first. When a blog doesn't initially perform on your site, that's to be expected. But it doesn't mean failure, and it doesn't mean you should take it down. And even if the content is judged as "bad", it should be used as an opportunity for improvement.
Refresh outdated blog content
Yes, we provide brand-spanking-new B2B tech content. But did you know we also refresh outdated blog content or "bad" content pieces? For you this means:
- A fresh set of keywords
- Guidance on optimization
- A partial/full rewrite of your content pieces
Learn how to improve blog content with Fifty Five and Five. Click here.
How to please Google Analytics
A lot of people are writing blogs. I'm one of them (hello!)
My mum's a fan, in a very mumish way. Occasionally my dad pitches in. You should be very proud, they say. Great stuff. Good work.
Unfortunately, my biggest critic doesn't think so.
No, I'm not talking about my boss (hey, Chris Wright) or even online users, but Google Analytics, a tool which collects user data from your website and provides insights.
When it comes to your content, Google Analytics is a harsh mistress. She cares about traffic. And active users. And engagement rate. And scroll depth. And that's basically it. Because however well-written your blog is - however many star-studded phrases and glittering sub-headers you include - if it isn't pulling in leads and doing a bit-of-brand-building then what's the point of it?
A lot of this struggle comes down to the platform it's on (the world wide web). Your blog isn't a book, with a publishing house to market it. It doesn't sit in a shop, where a steady flow of traffic (book-loving-customers) passes through.
Your blog reaches customers based on 3 key things:
- The match between your keywords and what users are searching for
- How your blog looks on the page
- How you promote it
That's it, really. And although it sounds fairly simple, in reality these three things take a lot of adjustment, refinement and hard work. Building a blog readership isn't a walk in the park. It's a walk through 350-acre Hyde Park in the dark without a phone torch. And it's just started to rain.
Knowing this, the question is: do you want to start walking? (Yes, the answer is always yes.)
3 Key Lessons for bloggers
So, when it comes to a blog that's just bad - where do you start? Is there a straightforward process for how to refresh outdated blog content?
The good news that you're looking for is, yes. The bad news is that the process can involve a bit/lot of work. If you're looking to improve a big chunk of your blog content, a marketing agency is probably best-placed to help. Otherwise here are 3 key lessons for bloggers.
Lesson 1: The key's in the keyword
What's a keyword? The clue (key) is in the name...
Think about what a key does. It opens something otherwise locked. Without it, whatever you're trying to access remains hidden away, out of sight. Keywords to blogs are like fishing lines to fish. You need the right type of line, used at the right time, and - most importantly - you need to make sure fish are actually in the pond.
So, what's the best way to do this? Keyword research.
So many tools exist to accelerate this process, like Semrush, Ahrefs or Jaaxy. Whatever tool you use, here's some key lessons for bloggers to keep in mind:
- Look at your competitors. See what they're already ranking for. You can try and compete with them or try a different route. Either way, knowing who you're up against is a good place to start.
- Use a keyword tool to discover unique keywords you can target. Insert one or several seed keywords (one or two words) and discover more long-tail, relevant suggestions.
- Ensure keywords marry up perfectly with blog content. If a user stumbles onto your blog through a keyword, but you don't solve their problem, it will frustrate them. They certainly won't read any more of your content.
- Don't keyword-stuff. You know this one by now. Shoving loads of keywords into your blog isn't a good approach. You'll get yourself a hefty ranking penalty from Google too.
- Use primary and secondary keywords. Primary keywords will be the parent topic (e.g. how to improve blog content). Secondary keywords will focus on more peripheral topics related to the blog (e.g. we don't talk about Bruno, key lessons for bloggers etc.
"In my direct experience, Microsoft partners are too focused on keywords that have the word 'Microsoft' in them ..."
"In my direct experience, Microsoft partners are too focused on keywords that have the word "Microsoft" in them like "best Microsoft partner in the US" or similar, when these types of keywords are too difficult to rank for. My recommendation is to be focused on what your specific company does, what differentiates you from another Microsoft partner, and have a keyword strategy that addresses your specific value."
Maria, Senior Marketing Executive, Fifty Five and Five
Need some help with keywords? Our performance marketing team can help.
Lesson 2: Looks are everything
A blog's no use if no one can read it.
That might sound obvious, but in fact it's a serious point. A blog has to look and feel right to the user. It has to scroll seamlessly; be easy for users to find the content they need and contain text big enough to read. Let me explain.
When blogs first appeared on the internet, they were more like journal entries, charting people's personal lives and thoughts. They contained big chunks of text and too many personal feelings. Luckily, the biggest modern journal (Twitter) seriously limits people's thoughts.
We know better now. The blog has evolved. Here's how to improve blog content with some formatting tips:
- Embolden specific words to draw attention to what you want your audience to see. When scanning a larger passage or paragraph, an emboldened phrase will stand out to your reader, and guide them to read more.
- Use header tags to divide your writing into sections, and prompt users through their journey.
- Use images where you can. Pictures make your posts more appealing, as well as bolster your TOV and brand identity.
- Draw the eye with bullet points.
- Like this.
- And this.
- Use a range of media. Embed videos, a case study, or a gated eBook. The blog is top-of-the-funnel content, so entice your readers to move further down the funnel. You want to create a rabbit hole of content.
Want to take a look at a great technology blog? Here's one we did earlier.
Lesson 3: Shout about it
It's not enough to write a blog and post it on your website. Unless you write for HuffPost, your blogs probably need a bit of extra support.
When it comes to promoting blog content, there's a few ways to do it. It will depend on your business, and the strength of your other channels, but there are some tried-and-tested, best practices:
- Social media shoutouts - have an audience on LinkedIn or Instagram? Then, advertise your latest articles on there. There's an immediacy about social media, and users are happy to jump from one platform to another.
- Invest in paid promotion - paid gets your content to the top of the queue. It makes your content stand out above the rest and bring in high-quality traffic.
- Hit the mailbox - if you've got a long-running newsletter or email marketing campaign use it. A good number of people read the blogs and articles they receive in emails. They're also more likely to search for your website after.
- Be their guest - guest-blogging can feel a bit like sofa-surfing. You have to reach out to a lot of people and will almost definitely get turned down at some point. But eventually it pays off. And wow, do you get around.
The Fifty Five and Five magic touch
Got a load of ’Bruno’ bad blogs? Got a stale piece of content that needs updating? Fifty Five and Five is best placed to help.
Fifty Five and Five is an end-to-end marketing agency, specialising in content for technology brands. Our specialist teams can write dynamic, punch-to-the-gut content for your brand or polish your poorly performing blogs and make them shine. Either way, we'll get your blogs ranking on every platform.