Do you want to attract more potential customers to your website? Do you want more of your website visitors to buy your products or hire you for your services? Do you want existing customers to spend more money on your products and/or services?
A blog can do all that and so much more.
In this post, I’m going to focus on how you can write SEO-friendly blog posts that attract potential customers (prospects) to your website; in other words, how you can use blog posts in your online lead generation efforts. In future posts, I’ll show you how to write blog posts that accomplish some of your other business goals.
What can SEO-friendly blog posts do for your business or brand?
Your blog can be a fantastic resource when it comes to attracting potential customers to your website. And coupled with social media, email and other means of distributing and promoting content, it can drive heaps of traffic to your website. Together, these kinds of inbound marketing are often referred to as ‘content marketing’.
Perhaps the biggest benefits of content marketing are its effectiveness and low cost. Data has shown that content marketing can generate three times the leads created by traditional marketing strategies yet it costs 62% less.
But your blog can only be a valuable and effective part of your marketing strategy — it can only attract lots of prospects and convert them into paying customers — if it consists of high-quality, carefully crafted blog posts. Producing SEO-friendly blog posts is ideal as search engine optimisation will improve the discoverability of your blog posts and other website content. This makes SEO-friendly blog posts ideal for online lead generation.
How to write an SEO-friendly, lead-generating blog post in 6 steps
There are lots of different kinds of blog posts and lots of ways to construct them. But the basics of how to write an effective blog post are the same across the board.
My recommended prerequisite for this process is that you know who your ideal customers are.
Much of the conventional advice out there will tell you that you need a detailed customer persona. This is a great thing to have and it certainly makes it easier to practice content marketing effectively. It’s usually big businesses that have the resources required to produce sufficiently detailed personas, however.
If you’re a smaller business, you absolutely need to know as much as you can about your ideal customers but you can probably get away without producing detailed personas. Hubspot has produced a handy guide to developing customer personas, which I think can be useful for guiding customer research but may not be detailed enough for a full customer persona. If you haven’t yet got a good picture of who your ideal customers are, I recommend you check out that guide as a starting point.
If you’re a sole trader or only have a handful of employees, your primary sources of customer information, at least initially, might be things like social media followers and competitor analysis. So don’t be put off if you don’t have a sales team to consult etc.
With that in mind, here are the six steps to follow when you want to write an SEO-friendly blog post that will attract prospects to and generate leads for your website.
Step 1. Choose a topic that resonates with your ideal customer
The first step towards creating an awesome blog post that will generate lots of leads is to choose a topic. You can write the most amazing, flawlessly worded blog post but it’s not going to attract many people, or many of the right kind of people (people who will want to buy your product/service), if you don’t choose a topic and resonates with those ideal prospects.
Too many business owners either choose topics solely because they’re interested in them or they want to sell their product or service directly from the blog post. If you want to attract more visitors to your website though, you need to choose topics that will grab the attention of your ideal customers and then build a relationship with them through additional pieces of content.
The idea is to choose topics that you can use to produce really valuable content for your ideal customers. The more value you provide to them, the more likely they’ll be to make a purchase and recommend you to their friends.
If you only write blog posts about your products/services, people will only read them if they’ve already decided they’re interested in buying your product/service. But you want to attract new people who don’t know you or your offering so you can expand your customer base and be discovered by more and more people.
If you only write blog posts about random topics that interest you, you might attract lots of people to your website but you’ll only attract a significant number of your ideal customers and actually generate leads by accident. I doubt you want to spend hours, days or weeks writing blog posts only to attract people who will never even hand over a cent. You want to generate leads who, by the time you’ve funneled them through your content series, are eager to get their hands on your product or service.
Here are some examples of the kind of blog post topics that could be effective for attracting the right kinds of readers and generating quality leads:
- if you sell baby bottles designed to ease the transition from breast to bottle, you might write a blog post about how to:
- breastfeed when returning to work
- safely make and store formula
- how to express breastmilk
- if you sell B2B financial services you might write a blog post about:
- how to get a better tax return
- cash flow solutions
- business news that affects your ideal customers
- if you’re an author you might write a blog post about:
- a book that’s similar to yours
- the top 10 books in the same genre as yours
- challenges you (and your ideal readers) face that relate to the theme of your book
- if you’re a plant wholesaler you might write a blog post about:
- challenges in the retail plant sector
- how to beat a specific pest or disease
- seasonal weather outlooks
Step 2. Choose an SEO keyword
Once you’ve chosen a topic you can then select an SEO ‘keyword’. (Note an SEO keyword can consist of multiple words. Such a phrase is called a keyword by convention.) Perhaps the most basic way to do this is to use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner Tool.
Start by entering your topic into the ‘find new keywords’ box. The tool will generate a series of related keywords. You can then use these suggestions to generate a list of good candidates.
Perform a Google search for your list of candidates. The phrases in the ‘people also ask’ section of the search results (search engine results page – SERP) can also go on your list of SEO keywords candidates.
Once you’ve got a list, go back to the Google Adwords Keyword Planner and enter them into the ‘get search volume and forecasts’ box and narrow down your list by looking for keywords that have a higher search volume and lower amount of competition. Why?
- It will be easier to get your blog post onto the first page of the SERPs if there isn’t much competition for the phrase as there will be fewer pages actively trying to rank for that phrase.
- You’ll attract more traffic to your website and generate more leads if there’s a higher volume of people searching for the phrase. If you attract 100% of the people searching for phrase X but there are only 1-10 people searching for that phrase each month you’ll only attract an average of 1-10 people to that blog post each month. If you only manage to attract 10% of the people that search phrase Y but up to 1000 people search that term each month then you could attract up to 100 people to your blog post each month.
If this process leaves you with a single phrase, use that as your keyword. If you still have multiple phrases on your list, select whichever one you would rather write a blog post about. You can always use the others for additional blog posts later on if you want.
Step 3. Research and outline your blog post
The best blog posts are backed by research, data or other references as these give readers the confidence to trust the information provided. As a result, researching the topic you’re going to write about is one of the most important parts of writing a great blog post. Even if you’re writing an opinion piece, try to source data or other references that support your opinions.
Outlining your blog post is optional but most people find they produce a more logical and cohesive article if they sketch an outline first.
Step 4. Write your SEO-friendly blog post
Most writers will tell you that the ideas are the easy part and writing is the hard part. I don’t say this to discourage you, merely to warn you that you will need to set aside plenty of time to write your blog post. And if you’re not a ‘natural’ you may need to write a great many blog posts before you get the hang of it. Consider having a friend or experienced writer review your blog posts before you publish them. This kind of advice can be invaluable.
Thankfully there is also a set format that all blog posts need to follow. This means there’s a framework you can work off when you write your blog post. And I’m sure you know how much easier it is to do something when you’ve got a framework to start with.
Here’s a basic outline of what you need to write when you produce any SEO-friendly blog post:
- An SEO title
- A meta description
- An SEO-friendly URL
- A blog post title (this might be the same as the SEO title or it could be a longer, more expansive version)
- A blog post body that contains:
- The main text with your SEO keyword peppered throughout
- Visuals such as photos and videos
- Other multimedia such as audio and downloadable content (optional)
- A call to action that gets your readers moving towards a purchase (often this is a link to another relevant blog post or a lead-magnet opt-in)
- Content to post on your blog’s homepage, most often a description of the blog post (optional)
- Social cards so you can control what your blog post looks like when it’s shared on social media (optional)
If you want a detailed guide that lays out what each of these things involve and the parameters you need to work within, fill out the form at the end of this blog post to subscribe to my mailing list and I’ll send you my free guide. It’s nearly 5000 words of gold and includes details like:
- how many characters your SEO title needs to be
- how to structure your meta description
- how frequently you should include your SEO keyword in the body of your blog post
Step 5. Edit and preview your blog post before you publish it
It probably goes without saying but once you’ve drafted your blog post, read and edit it. Try viewing it in a different layout so you’re more likely to catch typos and other minors errors.
If you hate editing or have difficulty picking up on your own typos, consider hiring a professional editor or proofreader to give your blog posts a once over. If you don’t have the budget for that initially, you might get some benefit from running your blog posts through one or more of the many editing programs out there. They won’t replace an editor but they can help you pick up typos and make basic improvements. Examples you might consider include:
- Grammarly — finds typos and grammatical errors; if you use a mobile device for your writing, you might enjoy using their keyboard app
- ProWritingAid — finds typos and grammatical errors and suggests stylistic improvements
- Hemingway App — highlights areas for improvement (primarily based on how complex the writing is)
Once you’re happy with each element of your blog post, upload it to your blog platform but don’t publish it yet. I strongly recommend you first preview the final post. Make sure everything displays properly, that all your links are working and that all your visuals and other media display/work as they should. Be especially careful to check that all your SEO particulars are correct as this will have a big impact on your blog traffic.
Once you’re sure everything is as it should be, then you can publish your blog post or schedule it to be published at a later date.
I cannot emphasise enough how crucial this step is.
Step 6. Distribute and promote your blog post to start generating quality leads
Once your blog post is live (or you’ve scheduled it to be published at a later date) don’t forget to distribute and promote your blog post. SEO will get you a long way but you’ll get much better results and generate more leads, especially if your blog is new, if you also put in the effort to share your post in a purposeful manner.
Some of the ways you can do this include:
- share your blog post on social media
- send your blog post, snippets of it or a link to it in email newsletters
- create paid ads that point to your blog post
- repurpose your blog post’s content
Use social media to distribute and promote your blog post
Social media is a popular and effective means of distributing and promoting blog posts with followers. By sharing your blog post multiple times you’ll have a good chance of getting your blog post in front of your existing followers. I recommend sharing each blog posts at least once per month during the first year; and more often in the first month (at least once a week). If you have the time and resources, and it suits your target audience, you can share each blog post even more frequently than that.
If your followers like your content they’ll also share it with their networks. This will get your blog posts in front of more people. By strategically using hashtags on platforms that support them, you can get your blog posts in front of even more people. Including your SEO keywords in social media posts will also help new readers find your content on all social platforms but particularly on platforms that either don’t support hashtags or where hashtags aren’t widely used (e.g. Facebook supports hashtags but there’s some evidence to suggest that adding hashtags to Facebook posts is counterproductive).
You’ll probably find it useful to use a social media management tool to schedule shares in advance. If you prepare a year’s worth of social posts for your blog post when you write it, you can schedule those posts when you publish/schedule your blog post.
When you create social media posts to distribute and promote your blog post, don’t just share a link to the article. Include meaningful information about your article. Examples of ways you could do this include:
- summarise short sections
- pull out quotes and stats
- share headings
- paraphrase key points
You’ll get the best results if you tailor your social media posts to each platform and to your target audience on each platform.
Share your blog post with your email mailing list
If you’ve got an email mailing list, share your blog post with subscribers. There are three main ways to do this:
- send the full article
- send a summary of or snippet from the article and include a link to the full blog post
- send a link to the blog post
I recommend experimenting with each option to see what works best for your audience and for different types of blog posts.
If you want to quickly boost traffic to your blog post you could consider creating paid ads that point to it. You could create social media ads, search engine ads or a mix of the two.
Before you create an ad for a blog post, make sure you’ve set up a series of content pieces that contribute to a business goal. For instance, if you want more people to buy a particular product, set up a content series (or sales funnel if you prefer that terminology) that ends with a call to action to buy that product before you create a paid ad for a blog post in that sequence. Otherwise, you’ll be spending money to generate traffic to your blog but relying on those readers re-visiting your website when you’ve set the funnel up. If your content and organic (unpaid) promotion and distribution systems are good enough this will work but it’s more efficient and safer to set up the content series first.
Repurpose your blog post content
Once you’ve written a great blog post (one where your data shows your target audience find it valuable) you can repurpose the content so you can reach more potential customers or another target market and it won’t take as much effort, time and resources as are required to create new content from scratch Plus you have the benefit of knowing that your audience values the content.
How can you repurpose blog post content? Here are some ideas:
- create a slide show of the key points
- create an infographic with the data
- read it out and publish the audio as a podcast
- include it in a book
- turn it into a brochure or flyer
Use your imagination and experiment to see what works best for your business.
Once you’ve created your first SEO-friendly blog post check to see whether it’s attracting visitors to your website. The traffic generated by your blog posts will increase over time as you distribute and promote them more and as your website’s authority grows, but it’s good to see how your post performs from the beginning.
You can use a variety of tools to see who’s viewing your blog post. Google Analytics is a free tool that will give you all the basic information you need to get started. If you’re hosting your blog on WordPress, Jetpack is a great plugin that will give you some basic visitor information and it requires less configuration than Google Analytics does (although the latter is fairly easy to set up if you follow Google’s directions).
If you’re not getting any viewers you’ll need to investigate why. Do your social media posts or emails need to be more engaging? Are your prospective customers definitely interested in the topic? Take some time to figure out what went wrong.
If you’re getting viewers then it’s time to produce your next piece of content! And to make that next piece of content even better than your first one, keep reading and learning about how to produce great content so you’re constantly improving. I’m producing resources to help with this all the time so if you want to know as soon as I publish something else that’s helpful, or if you want extra tips that aren’t publicly available, subscribe to my email list by filling out the form below.