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Blog Configuration Best Practices

INTRODUCTION


A company blog, when done correctly, has the power to drive organic traffic to your site, increase your search rankings, position you as a thought leader in your industry, and, ultimately, boost your lead conversions.


However, great results are dependent on whether your blog follows some key company blog best practices. If not, you may just be wasting your time with those occasional posts you write. To help you out, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to company blog best practices. It’s long, but your bottom line will thank you in the end.

BLOG SETUP AND CONFIGURATION

Blog Location


When first setting up your company blog, you have two choices for where to build it on your main site. The first option is a subdomain, which is a way of organizing part of your existing website into a separate site. Blog subdomain URLs often look something like blog.thephoenix.org. Search engines will treat content in your subdomain as essentially a separate site.


Your second option is to build your blog in a subdirectory. A subdirectory is a part of the site that stores a particular subset of content. Blog subdirectory URLs generally look like thephoenix.org/blog. Search engines will view this as part of your main site.


With the current site configuration, there are a couple of options including:

  • Use the existing “News” section of the site with a category structure to differentiate between organization news and blog/article content.

  • Add a new Custom Post Type within the site to serve as a new blog/article section.

  • Install a new WordPress Installation for a “Child Blog” on a new subdomain/subfolder. (Less Optimal)


Blog URL Structure


When setting up the URL structure of your blog posts, make sure that your subdirectory /blog/ or /articles/ section is included in the URL of all your posts. For example, your post URL could be thephoenix.org/blog/sample-post.


Including /blog/ in your blog posts’ URLs serves two purposes:


  1. It is an easy way for users to know what part of the site they are on if they land on your blog post from outside the site.

  2. It is an easy way to view metrics about only your blog posts in Google Analytics. Simply filter any section to only show pages including “/blog/” for accurate data.


Many Content Management Systems (CMS), including WordPress, will automatically insert the whole title or generate random numbers into the slug. Changing your slug to an easy-to-remember phrase will help improve the user experience, and the URL will look cleaner when shared on social media platforms or promotional materials.


Blog Organization

Categories


Categories are an easy way to tell your reader what the general, overarching focus of your blog post is - essentially, this is the table of contents for your blog. We recommend that you start by setting up 5-7 categories for your blog posts - these should be broad buckets that describe many of your blog posts. Many businesses find that their categories end up being their main business focuses. For example, on the Volume Nine Insights Blog, we have categories for SEO, content marketing, social media, and digital marketing.


Every post in your company blog should be filed under one category, and one category only, and each category should have at least three posts filed under it.


This same organizational tool can be used to differentiate “Organization Updates” from other blogs/articles.




These categories should be visible on the page. WordPress has this as a built-in feature to include categories in the sidebar as a secondary navigation element. This allows users to drill down into topics they are interested in when visiting the blog/article section.



Tags


Another built-in functionality to help sort content is “Tags”. These can be used to drill down to content beyond the category level and can also be used in this case to create “sub-categories” for the News vs. Article content.


These are usually user-based implementations as they are often not included in the search index.


If categories are used to differentiate blogs from news articles:

  • Add 5-7 tags specific to “News”

  • These will serve as sub-categories, so the same rules apply when naming these Tags

  • Examples:

    • Events

    • The Phoenix in the News

    • Scott Strode Interviews

    • Updates


If a new “Custom Post Type” or Blog is created:

  • Multiple tags can be added to the blog to help sort content

  • These can follow any format but should have a NOINDEX tag



Custom Post Type

Likely the cleanest and best solution, creating a new custom post type is a simple way to add multiple sections to the site that have the built-in blog functionality inherent in WordPress.




These custom post types allow each section to have its own categories/tags and can be a simple way to keep the articles in a sub-directory and utilize the same SSL certificate, keeping URLs as HTTPS.








BLOG CONTENT


Posting Frequency


We recommend post high-quality, relevant, optimized blog posts at least 1-2 times per month outside of News updates. Initially post content on different days/times to see what works best. Once a pattern starts to emerge regarding when users are more engaged, posts can be scheduled on more regular days or the week/times.


Remember…

Something is better than nothing. If you can’t keep up with the frequency, it’s okay. Just work to get net high-quality content on the site as soon as possible. Focus on quality over quantity, even if that means you have to sacrifice frequency.


Blog Topics


Best practices suggest publishing 80% informational posts and 20% (or less) promotional posts. Informational posts that are relevant to your target audience and provide your readers with valuable information to help them solve a problem will be the primary drivers of organic traffic to your site.


Plan out your content by creating a monthly content calendar that includes a due date, your post title, a description, focus keyword, and featured internal link. Content calendars ensure that you stick to a regular posting schedule and are adhering to the 80/20 guidelines.


Calls-to-Action


While you should be writing your blog with the primary purpose of providing benefit to your reader, your blog should also be beneficial to your company. Calls to action (CTAs) direct your reader to continue engaging with your brand, whether it’s through a link to another page, an email signup form, or a contact form.


Every blog post you write should include at least one CTA. Many people choose to put their CTA at the end of the article and tie it in with the topic discussed in the piece:


Calls to action are also effective when placed in the sidebar of your blog homepage and individual blog pages. Use this space to encourage the audience to take another step on the site and learn more about the services offered.


Grammar


We live in a world of spell check and grammar editing tools. There should be no reason that your post is published with typos, grammatical errors, or misused words. Proofreading your blog drafts several times before publishing will save you from any embarrassing mistakes that may detract from the power of your content.


There are several tools available online that offer a more comprehensive grammatical review of your text. Grammarly is our personal favorite. This is a consideration for the ranking of pages, so be sure to review content before posting.


Blog Images


Including images in your blog is an excellent way to break up the text, catch your reader’s eye, and back up points you make in the article. However, it’s best not to just cram photos in the blog and hope for the best. There are a few image best practice guidelines to follow to ensure that your pictures add tangible benefit to your blog:


  • Choose a featured image for every blog that fits with the context of the article. If your blog template has a set featured image size, use a tool like Canva to resize it to the proper size.

  • Use 2-3 internal images throughout the post.

  • Compress all images before uploading them to your content management system to minimize page loading times. Online tools like TinyPNG or plugins like WPSmush are great, free options.

  • Name your image something clear, like “featured-image-for-blog.jpg”. Include your focus keyword in the title only if appropriate, and use dashes ( - ), not underscores ( _ ).

  • Include alt text for your image for “functional images”. The text helps visually impaired readers and allows search engines to index your image properly. The alt text should describe the photo as precisely as possible.

  • Choose relevant photos that align with or further the main point of your article. Everyone likes funny cat pictures, but they may not be appropriate to use on your company blog post.

Search Engine Optimization


There are a few main things every blog should contain to best optimize it for SEO:

  • A long-tail focus keyword that is used naturally throughout your blog and describes your content. For blogs/articles, this can be easier to think of as a “Topic”. Once a topic is selected, it should be easy to incorporate into the content. If you find yourself looking for ways to add the topic to the blog, the topic should likely just be changed.

  • A title tag, which is what is shown in search engine results and carries significant SEO weight. Ideally, your title tag should be 55-65 characters and include the post title and your blog or company page. Example: How to Write a Good Sample Headline | Volume Nine Blog

  • An optimized title/header (<h1>) containing the focus keyword/topic.

  • A meta description, which summarizes what the article is about to people searching on Google. This does not directly impact rankings, so focus on the user when creating this.

  • Internal headers, or <h2> in HTML that break up your content and improve the reading experience for users and should be relevant to the topic of the article. This also helps users skim longer pieces of content.

  • Internal and external linking. Every blog post should contain an internal anchor link directing readers to an evergreen/static page or contact form. If relevant, including external links to relevant, high-quality sites can help to reinforce the intent of the article.

Other Important Notes

Creative Infringement


Make sure every blog you post is your own, or you’ve gotten recorded permission from the original author to reuse their content on your site (Especially true for imagery). If you’re writing a new article using an old article as a reference, include an external link to the original article as a source, and use a tool like Copyscape to test if your post is too similar to the original.


You need to be equally cautious when using photos on your website or blog. All photos on your blog should either be taken by your company or downloaded from a paid stock photo website like DepositPhotos or Shutterstock. If you’re looking for a free source, check out Wikimedia Commons. You are free to use photos available on the site, as long as you properly cite the photographer on your blog.


Social Sharing


Every blog post that you publish should be shared across your company’s relevant social media channels. If you have a particularly excellent post, you can boost or promote it to particular audiences to drive even more traffic to your site. However, don’t just paste the link and click share - make sure that the link preview contains relevant, engaging information to encourage your followers to click. Facebook Open Graph and Yoast SEO are plugins that allow you to customize what title, description, and image people see in the link preview:


To facilitate the sharing of your posts by engaged users, each blog you publish should be equipped with a social share bar at the top of the page. These buttons allow users to share your article to their preferred social media with one click.



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