The idea of a brand ‘blog’ may feel very early 2010s, and sure they aren’t always called blogs anymore; they may be called ‘hub’ or ‘learning centre’, or something fun (KatKin’s is called ‘The Scratching Post’, which is obviously brilliant).
But cut past the trendy names, and what you will find is a blog. Partly because most SEO experts still agree they’re a useful way to improve your site’s SEO, but also because they let you connect with your existing customers over a longer format, and generally delve deeper into a topic.
In this post, we’re going to explain why having a blog is a good signal to Google and how to find the right topics to write about, as well as giving you some tried-and-tested tips for writing blog posts that read (and rank) well.
Blogs needn't be called blogs to be useful; The Scratching Post is a fun and on-brand alternative for cat food brand, KatKin
Why is having a blog on my site good for SEO?
By regularly posting about topics related to your product niche, not only can you potentially start getting organic traffic to those posts specifically, but you raise what’s called the ‘topical authority’ of your site as a whole.
So, what is topical authority?
‘Topical authority’ is basically a measure of your site’s expertise on a particular topic. Sites which are perceived to have a higher authority on a topic will find it easier to rank for keywords relating to that topic. Which makes sense, when you think about it.
Here at CREOATE, for example, we’ve written a lot of posts with tips for building window displays, and sharing ideas for displays throughout the year (including using our own images to demonstrate this, and getting in expert opinions from real life shop owners). Now, when we write a new post about window displays, we know there’s a good chance of it ranking well for its relevant keyword, and quite quickly. We’ve become something of an authority on window displays.
And we can bring this back to a particular product type, too.
Let’s say you sell a lot of essential oil products. To build your topical authority, it would be smart to create some informational blog content around the essential oil-related questions people are asking.
An example could be ‘7 Essential oils that are safe for pregnant women to use’ or ‘Top 8 essential oils for relaxation’.
And not only does this give you valuable content to put out in newsletters and on social media, it also means Google starts to see that you really know your essential oils. So when it comes to the decision of which essential oil product page to rank towards the top, yours is going to be in with a much better shot.
How to find topical post ideas
🥇Best for: Finding questions related to your brand, product, or topic area
AnswerThePublic spits out a whole wheel of relevant content ideas based on the topic, brand or product you enter. The ideas are grouped by the questioning word (‘can’, ‘why’, etc), with the most popular ones marked with a 10. You get three free searches per day.
We entered ‘lavender essential oil’, and this was the result:
As you can see, questions relating to whether or not lavender oil is suitable to use on pets are popular, as well as how to use lavender oil generally. So you could either write a complete guide to using lavender oil (covering the key questions above), or a post specific to lavender oil and pets.
2. Google Keyword Planner
🥇Best for: Checking whether your existing content idea is a good one
Google Keyword Planner is a great place to sense check a content idea you already have. It will show you the search volume for your topic or question, i.e. how many people search for information on this each month. If the search volume is very low, you may want to reconsider whether it’s worth writing about.
3. Customer comments & queries
🥇Best for: Easily finding ideas that connect with your existing customers, and work in tandem with your products
There are plenty of tools out there to help you find content ideas. But you may actually find that some of the best ideas are hiding in plain sight; in comments or dms on your social channels, or messages to your customer support.
If you notice a lot of people asking how best to use lavender oil to encourage sleep, chances are a lot of other people, who aren’t already your customers, are also looking for this info.
When writing this guide, you can also drop in the fact you’ve written it in response to getting questions from the community, and you know it’s likely to go down well with your social following, too. It’s an easy way to better connect with your existing customers, while also strengthening your chances of finding new ones.
Tips for writing blog posts that read (and rank) well
So you’ve found your topic area. How do you go about planning and writing a great post? Here are four key rules to follow:
1. Do your research and show your authority
If you’re lucky, your chosen blog topic will be on something you already know inside out, which puts you in a great position to write about it. But that won’t always be the case.
If a topic area is new to you, don’t rush into the writing part after skimming a few posts. It’s easier to write a great post when you start with too much to say, rather than too little.
You might not be an expert, but is someone else in your network? Or could you put out your own #JournoRequest on X or LinkedIn? Could you carry out your own first-hand research?
Always aim to write the best post on a topic, rather than just a mishmash of other high-ranking posts. And shout about your research and experience, too! Give readers a reason to trust your advice.
Before even scrolling to the main body of this Food52 post, we trust it to give us the best method for frying an egg. Why? The writer has tested 42 methods themselves, and included a picture of each outcome
2. Think about search intent, and match it
Before you start writing your blog post, consider what the person reading it is in the mood for.
Let’s say your topic keyword is ‘How to make lavender oil’. You’re going to need a pretty thorough guide here, with plenty of pictures and clearly broken down steps. A video would be a great addition, too.
But if your topic keyword is ‘Where to apply lavender oil’, it’s likely you can wrap this up successfully in a few hundred words; the searcher is probably looking to skim for a quick answer, rather than settle in for a long read.
If in doubt, it’s always a good idea to look at the posts which are already coming up towards the top of the search results for your topic keyword, and use these as a guide for word count and style.
This HomeServe guide ranks number one for ‘how to change a light bulb’. Knowing its readers want a quick answer, it gets straight into a how-to video, and easy-to-skim steps
3. Use simple, informal language
When we start writing longer form content, it can be tempting to revert to the kind of writing we’re taught in school; wordy, academic, and complex.
But the reality is that, no matter whether you’re writing B2C or B2B, for 19 year olds or 79 year olds, your audience wants something that’s easy to read. And hopefully also fun. But definitely easy.
In fact, you should be aiming to write with language that an eight year old could understand. So avoid overly wordy sentences, and overly complex words; opt for simple, always. The free Hemmingway Editor helps you spot where things could be simpler, or more concisely written.
Dropshipping is a confusing concept. Shopify cuts right to the chase, using simple language and a straightforward explanation to help its readers get it
4. Make your post easy to skim and scan
Have you read every word of this blog post so far? Chances are you haven’t; you’ve jumped about, skimmed a few paragraphs, and scanned the subheadings. Which is totally normal, by the way — it’s how most people read content on desktop or phone screens.
So help people get the most out of your content by breaking it up into manageable and scannable chunks, with images, subheadings, bullet points, short paragraphs — even a well-placed emoji. Nobody wants to be faced with a huge wall of text.
Tax Scouts does this really well, with well-spaced, well-signposted blog posts, clever emoji usage, and lots of modules designed to help key need-to-knows and worked examples jump off the page
If you’ve made it this far, hopefully you’re raring and ready to go with publishing your own informational blog posts.
If you don’t have a blog set up already, this is generally easy to do in just a few clicks from your ecommerce platform. If you have a custom website, you might need some help from a developer.
Our last piece of advice is: don’t let the information we’ve shared above put you off from starting. Yes, in an ideal world, every blog post we’d write would be the best one to exist on that topic — but this time commitment isn’t always practical for a small business owner.
So just start. It doesn’t have to be thousands of words long, or award-worthy. You can always come back and tinker with a blog post after it’s published, but until it’s published you aren’t getting any of the benefits of it.