Using blogging as a mechanism for attracting clients for your Life Coaching practice is an absolutely necessity unless you have a lot of money to spend on advertising, or a lot of time to spend attending offline meetings and doing public speaking.
On the face of it blogging looks simple and straight forward and to many extents it is, but there are some basics that I see Life Coaches either get wrong or miss entirely.
So today I’m going to share a check list with you of things you want to be aware of when thinking about writing a post and also when editing it and getting ready to hit publish.
1. Length Of Post
If you’re a subscriber to Seth Godins blog (and if not, you should be in my humble opinion) you will notice that many of his posts are little more than 4 or 5 paragraphs in length, sometimes even less.
That’s fine for Seth and I for one like this approach as I’m sure many of his readers do. I can open an e-mail by him and know that I don’t have to block out more than a minute or so.
So you would think if I like it and get value and presumably Seth likes writing short punchy posts it’s a win/win, right?
Yes and no. Updates to Googles algorithm last year with the Panda update meant that posts of less than about 300/350 words were to all intents and purposes going to be ignored.
Sites like ezinearticles.com which had people slapping up 150 word posts that offered little value other than a link back to the author were diluting the SERP’s (search engine results page) and Google didn’t like that.
There’s nothing wrong with writing a short post at all, especially when you’re as established as Seth is.
However, to begin with the purpose of your blog is to help people find you through valuable and interesting content. That won’t happen if Google is pretending you’re not there.
At A Daring Adventure I tend to write longer posts and my average is probably close to 1,300 words. That’s largely because the ideas I have take me that long to write, but to a lesser extent it’s because the more new content I post the more Google likes me and helps promote my posts
2. Regularity Of Posting
Using Seth Godin as an example again, he posts almost daily and sometimes more than once per day and he’s uber successful.
Then again blogging expert and marketing guy Jon Morrow is super-successful (although admittedly not at Seth’s level) and he seems to blog about every two weeks.
And my favorite blogger, Jeremy Dean from Psyblog, is all over the place with 3 posts one week and none the next (or again, that’s how it seems).
I think blogging schedule is vastly overrated and it’s highly unlikely there are people sat there drumming their fingers on their desk and checking their watch every 10 minutes when your Monday post hasn’t dropped in their inbox.
A few months ago I started ignoring my previous twice weekly posting schedule and decided only to post when I had something to share of interest.
A couple of times I went 9 or 10 days in between posts and twice I posted a couple of days apart. The net result is I have seen an increase in traffic.
To begin with I’d advise posting as often as you can to help Google help you, just don’t force it and make sure each post has something to offer.
3. Knowing Who Are You Posting
Always have in mind an avatar of a person who you are posting for and talk directly to that person as you would in a normal conversation.
4. Focus Keyword (Life Coaches)
Presuming you’re using WordPress you should have Yoast installed as this will help you tremendously with your SEO.
Yoast offers the option to enter a focus keyword (or keywords) that you want Google to rank you for.
At A Daring Adventure I often go for ‘life coach’ because I already rank very highly for that term and want to continue to do so. However, I would not recommend you aim for a term so insanely competitive to begin with.
I have well in excess of 1,000 indexed pages on Google and over 18,000 inbound links which have taken me over 7 years to acquire, and it’s still really tough.
Maybe you want to aim for ‘Life Coach your home town” or “NLP Life Coach’ or anything else that is relevant and where the competition is less competitive.
Of course you cannot use the same focus keyword for every post as it has to be relevant to the content, but that allows you to also aim for other long tail keywords, especially in your post titles (more in a moment).
By the way, can you guess what my keyword is for this post? The random addition to this sub-heading may give you a rather large clue.
Note: The latest Google Hummingbird update seems to be leaning away from keywords and towards hashtags. I’m still reading up on this to ascertain how this effects Yoast and blogging in general and shall report back in time.
5. Post Titles And Long Tailed Keywords
I regularly, and I do mean regularly, get inquiries from people who have found me from posts I wrote years ago.
And the reason they found me is because more often than not what they types into Google was an exact match for a post title I used.
There’s a reason I will use a title like ‘How Do I Stop Judging People?’ as opposed to ‘How To Stop Judging People’ and that’s because nobody types the latter into Google and as such it’s less likely to be found in a random search.
Maybe you’re not sure what long tailed keywords to aim for as you have no idea what people are searching for.
No problem, because Google Trends can help you. Although Google doesn’t release the number of searches for each term, you can compare search terms to see which are more popular in relation to one another.
I just ran a quick search comparing ‘Life Coach’ (blue) versus ‘Life Coaching’ (red) and you can see from the screenshot the results.
Note: Considering we are in the fastest growing industry in the country (according to the lame sales tactics of some training organizations) the results below make depressing reading for those coaches who think this stuff is easy.
One of the things that has come through loud and clear on the Google Penguin 2.0 update (yes there really is a Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird working for Google, honest) is the importance of links.
The common belief seems to be that whether the links are inbound or outbound doesn’t matter that much. In other words you can merrily link away to your own content such as home page, other blog posts etc from the body of a new post.
However, you do have to have some outbound links. The Internet lives and breathes on hyperlinks and if Google thinks you’re receiving and not giving all the time it will conclude you’re a greedy bastard and quite rightly refuse to help you.
7. Line Spacing
People do not read on the Internet the way they do from a book. In a book it’s absolutely fine and accepted to have long paragraphs and huge blocks of texts. However, if you adopt that same approach with a blog post you will have people hitting the back button before they have even started to read. People tend to scan a post first and then start to read after if they like the look of what they see. Paragraphs like this one that are long and unsightly and look like hard work to read, so many readers won’t bother. Use plenty of paragraph breaks even if they are not grammatically necessary and people will hang around a lot longer than if your posts look like extract from Ulysses.
A good way to break up blog posts is the use sub-headings. They make posts user friendly and easy to scan.
They also give you the opportunity to highlight words for the benefit of Google. I always always use the H2 tag for sub-headings because Google presumes that these are more important than smaller tags.
You also need your focus keyword* in an H2 sub-heading of you are to get the biggest SEO benefit (at least for now anyway).
*If your focus keyword is ‘Life Coach New York” it has to be exactly the same in your sub-heading as Google will treat ‘Life Coach’ or ‘Life Coaching New York’ differently.
Note: try to avoid using the H1 tag in the body of a post even though Google ascribes this more importance because your title will default to H1 and Google isn’t keen on more than one.
9. Tagging Images
As a rule of thumb you need at least one image in a post to make it pleasing on the eye.
But don’t be tempted to slap one up there and think that’s that, because it isn’t as each image also offers an SEO opportunity.
Google not only searches the title of the image (WordPress will default to the file name you have given the uploaded image unless you manually change it), but it also pays special attention to the alt tag (alternative tag).
Make sure you tag every image with an alt tag because that way you can rank for images too and that gives people the opportunity to click through to your post from the image.
I nearly always try and get my keyword into the alt tag description.
10. Meta Description
If you’re using Yoast (or even All in One SEO) there’s an opportunity to enter a meta description and this is crucial for the success of your posts.
The meta description is what Google pulls into it its search results. It is also what most Social Media sites display when you share the post.
It gives you the opportunity to gain peoples interest and also highlight your keyword.
If you don’t use a meta description Google will take the first few words of the post to use use in the SERP’s and they may very well not give people a sense of the post and thus make them less likely to click through.
If you don’t use an SEO plug in to help you – GOOD LUCK!
You will almost never see me publish a blog post between noon on Friday and mid afternoon on Sunday. From a blogging perspective that is a huge dead spot and my traffic can dip by anything between 30% and 50% during those times.
Whereas newsletter will often get read a long while after you send them out, blog posts tend to have a much shorter shelf life, so think carefully about when you post.
I have touched on some of the basics in this post, but there is more to blogging than this. However, if you implement these strategies you’ll be well on your way.
Any questions or information you’d like to add, please do so in the comments and don’t forget to share 😉
Image” ‘WordPress Pumpkin’ Courtesy of Eric Martin