PR consultant Mike Nolan shares his advice on creating engaging content for your blo
Blogging is brilliant for business, or so everyone keeps telling us, but if blogs are so great why isn’t everyone doing it? Like most forms of marketing, writing a blog requires an investment of time. Then there’s the learning curve – and in the modern world of instant results, that might put people off. However, if you have the patience to do the groundwork, then blogging can certainly put your business on the road to success. Writing effective blog posts, and ensuring that you do them often, could propel your site right to the top of search engine rankings – potentially putting you ahead of your competitors. Think of your blog as part of a journey, starting with a prospective patient searching for you on the internet, then reading your blog, looking more at your website and then booking an appointment. It is a journey where you are building trust and demonstrating your expertise. Done well, the reader will feel like they know you before you’ve even met and trust your competency in administering aesthetic treatments.
Before you start tapping away on your keyboard, I can’t stress this strongly enough – do your homework first – take the time to research topics and really think ‘who’ you want to target. Are they male or female? What age group do most of them fall into? What kind of lifestyle do they have? What is their income bracket? Are they current patients or are you trying to attract new ones? The clearer the picture is of your target audience before you start, the sooner your posts will have an impact.
It is important to think about the keywords that are going to be necessary to make your blog a success before you begin. Keywords, used intelligently throughout your blog, is what Google and other search engines use when ranking all web content, and you have to remember that a blog is, in effect, adding a new page of content to your website. To understand how search engines work we should look at Google, which is the biggest search engine provider, with 64% of all searches on the net.1 Google has developed automatic algorithms that rank a website and check it for more than 100 indicators that work out whether your site is valuable or not. This information is useful to know about when considering search engine optimisation (SEO), which is the skill of structuring your content so that your website performs well in searches. These indicators include things like backlinks, which are links from other sites to your pages, domain age, traffic, and new content.
In terms of topics and content, put yourself in the position of a patient and think of the terms and keywords you would expect patients to look for. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to freely search and play around with popular keywords and phrases in the industry to give you an indication of the amount of monthly searches that are undertaken.2 This isn’t rocket science, but can take a little time to get used to. These could be keywords such as botulinum toxin, dermal fillers, cosmeceuticals, or anything that you think is relevant and of interest to your patients. Really spend the time to optimise this tool and play with different combinations of words and phrases on the Google Keyword Planner to find what you think will work for you. Some words may be more popular than others, but if you hit on a niche saying you could do well. If you need help understanding this function, there are lots of great tutorials on YouTube that demonstrate how to use the planner effectively and teach you how to optimise keywords to increase SEO for blogs.
So if I’ve convinced you to put in the groundwork first, then you must appreciate that the process of writing a blog post takes time, even if your writing skills are sharp. From the lightbulb moment of an idea to finally hitting the ‘publish’ button, you might spend a good few hours planning and writing a single blog post – but this is time well spent. As a former journalist, I cannot stress enough how important it is to make every word count. Many people think they can write, but there’s a world of difference between being able to write an email or letter and writing in a way that will captivate an audience. If you can’t write a blog that reads well, has flow, and is interesting, then you need to find someone who can – don’t hesitate to delegate. Look amongst your team, or, if necessary, call in professional help. At the very least, ask someone you trust to proof read and give you feedback on your post prior to publication. If you do feel you’re up for the job, make sure you have time set aside in which you won’t be disturbed and can completely focus on creating your post.
Creativity starts when you are deciding upon your article concept. Always have a plan or a rough idea of the point you want to get across before you start. As a society, we are incredibly interested in our appearance and what’s happening with celebrities, so it is a good idea to keep up with industry trends, news and current affairs. Linking your blog to something happening in the media is a great way of looking switched on and aware, and can also provide you with great blog ideas and content. When you begin to write your blog, it is important to understand the structure of the blog itself. A good blog post should have an appropriate title, an introduction, a middle and an end. It will also consider aesthetic appearance and visual aspects such as images and white space.
The title of your blog plays a huge role in the effectiveness of the content and will keep you on track when you are forming the main body of the blog. I would recommend starting with the title as it will give you the direction needed, however many people choose to do this last because it enables you to adapt the title to your content, which can often change as you write. If your title is too long or too vague then you’ve lost your chance to capture attention, so keep it short, and, most importantly, relevant to the content of the article. Maybe ask a question – this can be both compelling and intriguing for the reader who may be looking for answers to questions they have about a procedure or treatment. Once you’ve got their attention with your title, then it’s time to keep them interested.
People are short on time and are bombarded with messages every day, so they often tend to scan the first few paragraphs to decide whether they are going to carry on reading. As such, it is important to capture them straight away with a captivating introduction.
Ensure that the whole content of your blog is entertaining, relevant and, most importantly, factually correct. I would advise trying not to get bogged down in jargon and use simple language. You should consider referencing facts, figures and statistics that you use to maintain your credibility. Ways to keep your reader interested and entertained could be, as mentioned above, to ask and answer questions. Think of queries that patients are always asking you or provide solutions to common dilemmas. Think of content that provides solutions, useful information or creative angles on existing information. What you say has to be presented in an easy manner for your readers to read and absorb. Reading it has to be effortless – you can consider using analogies or metaphors to help put medical information into a perspective that is easier for the reader to understand.
When it comes to the conclusion, it should be either thought provoking and/or helpful and should summarises the main points mentioned in the introduction and body of the text. Finally, get someone who isn’t in your industry to read the blog post afterwards to see if it makes sense to them and if they found it interesting. People often ask how long blogs should be. To enable a high search optimisation, you would generally be looking at a post of around 700 words, but this can be less if you structure your content well. Personally, I don’t like using too many words and try to keep it to under 1,000 words, as any longer demands more of the reader’s time and attention. Always bear in mind that maintaining the reader’s attention is paramount.
Ensure that the whole content of your blog is entertaining, relevant and, most importantly, factually correct
As well as the content itself, it is also important to be aware of the visual considerations of blog writing. It is a good idea to use images and videos of perhaps before and after treatments, which require explicit consent and identity protection where necessary, as well as charts and infographics, to break-up huge blocks of text. Do be aware of copyright infringements and accredit any work to the relevant owner. To avoid this, you can use an image providing website for generic images such as Shutterstock, which costs a small fee. A blog should be pleasing on the eye, with white space used well to separate your text. You can also achieve this by using headings or pull-quotes, which are significant or interesting points in your blog that can be highlighted by making the text bigger, bolder, and/or a different colour if your system allows it.
For publication, blog posts can be published on your clinic or personal website, which will require a blogging facility that might require extra fees and costs involved with the setting up of this feature. The benefits of having your blog posts on your website is that you are able to share them to increase footfall to your website and provide patients with further information about
Once you start writing blog posts, I would suggest you maintain a consistent publication of posts to further establish yourself as a newsworthy and, more importantly, trustworthy blogger. Some experienced bloggers say to blog as often as you can, but this may be excessive and difficult to fit in to your schedule. Remember that it’s better to produce good quality blogs weekly than not so great ones more often. Think quality over quantity. When each blog post is published, always share it on your social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and make sure you have sharing tools at the bottom of each blog, so it’s easy for readers to share on their own platforms.
Of course you can enable comments on there too, which can encourage engagement and debate. However, be aware that spammers can target this and there are also ‘blog trolls’ who are people who just like to be rude for the sake of it. Should this happen, my advice is not to take the comment to heart and ignore it – do not respond. You can also choose to block, hide or delete the post or consider reporting it if it is on a third party blog site. Alternatively there are often website settings that allow you to approve comments before they are published, which is a good option to consider.
Blogging is like all forms of marketing in that, if done well, it will reap rewards. However, blogs done badly won’t add any value to your brand and business and may do more harm than good. If you are serious about becoming an expert in your field and being valued by your patients and potential patients for great content, then take the time – do your homework, optimise your site and keep blogging regularly. I wish you well on your blogging journey.