There are one of three responses to the idea of construction blogging:
“We already have a blog.”
“Blogs are a waste of time.”
“It sounds like a smart idea but we’re not sure what’s involved?”
This blog is for those of you in the third category. The following are brief answers to 13 common questions that will lay the basic groundwork for a new company blog.
What’s My Construction Blogging Objective?
It sounds obvious, but you need to identify a clear objective(s). Do you want leads? Do you want to attract employees? Do you want to rank for a certain keyword? Do you want to position your firm as a leader in a certain category of work? Your answer should guide your approach to construction blogging.
What Should I Write About?
Finding strong topics is arguably the biggest hurdle to construction companies venturing into blogging. One of the most effective strategies is to answer common customer questions (or in this case, 13 of them). You might also search social media, Google, and relevant trade magazines to see what others are talking about. Better yet, pick up the phone and ask some customers and prospects what’s been keeping them up at night.
How Often Should I Blog?
Adhering to a consistent blogging schedule is ideal, but it’s not always realistic for construction firms, especially during busy times. Posting bi-monthly or monthly is a solid frequency, but quite frankly, blogging every two months is better than no blog at all. High quality, infrequent blogging trumps low quality, frequent blogging every time.
How Long Should it Be?
The word count is critical. You need to find a magic number between what your readers will tolerate and what the internet search engines are looking for to rank your blog. Always lead with what’s best for your readers.
Generally speaking, shorter is better in a busy industry like construction. That means 1,200 words or less. Finding a word count that will work best for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is another issue altogether. Understand that this is a moving target that constantly changes and no one knows the exact number Google wants. Somewhere between 700 and 1,200 words is a safe target.
Should I Focus on Content Quality or SEO?
You should focus on content quality and SEO, but lead with content quality. Your number one priority should always be to write something that’s useful to your readers. If it’s not reader-friendly and helpful, earning the coveted spot on page one of Google is useless. Even Google recognizes this. Much to the chagrin of SEO firms, Google is now placing a greater emphasis on whether a web page is mobile-friendly, relevant to the searcher, up to date, and of good quality.
How Can I Make Sure it’s Search Friendly?
Unless you’re among the five people that don’t care about being found online, you’re also wondering how to make sure your blog post ranks for SEO. Generally speaking, you need to identify and incorporate the right key words and phrases in all the right places. That means headlines, copy, snippets, and even image labels. WordPress plug-ins like Yoast SEO can guide you through the process.
How Can I Connect with the Audience?
Knowing who you’re writing to is critical if you want the blog to resonate with your audience. You want to consider things like the type of company, position, gender, and age. Also, make sure you’re speaking their language. One of my favorite approaches is to think of a specific person that you know well and would like to work with and write to them. This can forge a deeper connection with your readers.
What Writing Tone Works Best?
All writing inherently has a tone. In marketing we call this a brand voice. There is no right tone, although writing in a conversational style is wise. Your tone should sound the same across all materials including your blog, website, brochures, etc. Assign writing to the same person for consistency. If that’s not possible, at least make sure the writer has a chance to edit the copy before it gets posted.
How Do I Lay Out the Text?
The key to laying out a blog is readability. And that starts with understanding that readability means something different on the internet versus print. Your paragraphs should be shorter. Instead of 4 to 5 sentences, use 1 to 3. If your blog is more than 500 words, use subheads to break up the text. Calling attention to key words or sentences with bold, italics, or pull quotes is a matter of personal preference.
Do I Need Photos or Graphics?
Graphics and photos are a good idea if you can find images that fit your topic and help to convey the message. Images work because they break up the text and can add a visual component to support the text. Don’t force a square peg into a round hole by forcing in inappropriate images. And make sure to add photo credits to attribute any images that are not your own.
Where Should I Promote It?
Make sure you have a plan for distribution before you invest time in blogging. Most construction websites are ghost towns unless steps are being taken to attract traffic so your blog won’t get seen if you post it and forget it. Make sure to distribute the blog on social media. If you have an email marketing program include it there as well. You can promote individual blog posts as they’re published, and also the blog itself.
How Do I Get People to Share It?
The obvious benefit of getting others to share your blog is that it will be seen by more eyeballs. Why people choose to share a piece of content is complex; books have been written on the topic. Considering our limited space let’s summarize it: people share content that’s well written, helpful, informative, or makes them look good. They also share content when they like the brand or individual that produced it.
How Will I Know if It’s Working?
Writing and publishing a blog takes time, and time is money. How do you now if your blog is getting results? Are you getting leads? Are people sharing it? Are people commenting? Do people mention it?
You can turn to Google Analytics to see what kind of traffic a specific blog post is getting. Social media platforms and email marketing platforms also make that kind of data available. The numbers can tell you what your readers want. Pay attention.
Remember that positive results mean something different in a tight vertical market like construction. Don’t look at results from general industry because you’ll be sorely disappointed. In fact, there are no set standards when it comes to results. Are you getting out more than you’re putting in? If so, you can safely call it a success.
What other questions do you have about construction blogging? Are there any other ideas that are working on your blog?
Are you looking to start up a construction blog, but not sure where to start? Click here to start a discussion.