By Jake Bissaro
The conclusion is one of the more under-appreciated and ignored parts of any kind of writing. A time crunch or a lack of ideas can make it difficult to go any further at the end of your blog, but you should always try to push yourself to write a more meaningful conclusion. You’ve managed to hold the audience’s attention for this long; don’t leave them off with a few lackluster, thrown together sentences. You want to give your audience something that will stick in their mind and keep them coming back to your site.
The basic function of a conclusion is touch on the overall point up the purpose of the entire article, but that doesn’t mean it has to be an exact rehashing of the introduction. Think of your conclusion as a way to try to push your readers to think about the subject in a new way. Without a solid conclusion, all the work you’ve done to hold the reader’s attention could be for naught.
Writing blogs isn’t an exact science, but these are some tips that will help you improve your conclusions:
Ask a question. A simple question can go a long way in a conclusion. Asking something rhetorical like “How can I employ this strategy?” can help your reader see how the topic can be applied to their particular situation.
Insert a call to action or a challenge. Encourage your reader to take action and employ the advice you just gave them. If you’re stating an opinion, challenge the reader to disprove you. It can make the content more interactive and encourage action on their part.
Introduce a new idea. Sometimes a new idea can be refreshing. You don’t want to stray from your main idea entirely, but a new idea can freshen things up. If your blog topic relates to an idea you’ve written about previously, this can be a great way to link out to another post.
Things to Avoid:
Starting with phrases like “in conclusion” or “to sum it up.” These are usually unnecessary, and reader should be able to tell that it’s the end of the post from your tone from your tone
Making it too long. A long, meandering conclusion can bore the reader. Your conclusion shouldn’t go over five sentences; any more, and you run the risk of the reader cutting out early.
Being too obvious about promoting your product. Your blog should serve as a companion to your existing site as something to keep your customers up to date and entertained. Shamelessly promoting what you sell every other sentence will only annoy the reader.
You could’ve written a great blog post, but if you have an uninspired conclusion, it can be the thing that your reader remembers about the article. If you’re having trouble, just remember to try to put yourself in the reader’s shoes, and let that guide your content creation. You don’t want your readers to feel like they’ve wasted their time reading something you wrote, so put in those extra few minutes at the end. Your audience will thank you!
About the Author
Jake Bissaro is the newest Inbound Marketing Specialist at Astonish, and strives to translate the personality of clients into first-rate web pages. He graduated from UMass Amherst last year, and previously worked as a technical writer before joining the team at Astonish. In addition to web writing, he works as a journalist, writing about local arts in Rhode Island.
By Deirdre Weedon
There is some great news for insurance agencies who have been diligently blogging every week. Blogs influence what consumers purchase. According to Technorati’s 2013 Digital Brand Report, consumers rated blogs as the third-most influential digital resource when making purchase decisions. Retail sites were in first place and brand sites came in second. Technorati also found that blogs came in fifth as the most trustworthy source of information on the internet. Impressive, but what does it tell us? It demonstrates that through blogging, agencies have a great opportunity to reach people and turn them into clients. Let’s look at some ways that will help you with this effort.
Share your posts on your social networks
Research by International Data Corp points out that smartphone users check Facebook an average of 14 times a day, so sharing your blogs there makes sense. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ are also excellent networks to share your posts. When sharing your posts, include a photo and a status update. Notice how in the image to the right, there is an interesting image and a status letting people know what the post is about and why they should read it? You want to include that when you share.
Use Long Tail Keywords
Use long tail keywords in your blog. A long tail keyword is a popularly searched phrase that is at least three words long and covers a very specific topic. For example, “long term care insurance for veterans” is an example of a long tail keyword that you could use in a blog post, particularly in your title. See Astonish’s blog post about Long Tail Keywords to learn more about them, including how to find them.
Use title tags on your posts
Title tags define a page by offering a concise and compelling title for your blog posts. The title tag is what will appear in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), as the link above the meta description. The title tag also appears on social media sites when you post a link there. You want your title tag to inform people of the topic and persuade them to click over to read the article. If you can use a long tail keyword in the title naturally, it’s a bonus, since people are more likely to click on a link when it’s title matches the search query they used. Keep in mind that if your title doesn’t match what your post is about, people might leave your site quickly, and that is never a good thing. Google displays 50-60 characters of a title tag so you need to make it short. Check out this title emulator tool by Moz.com to see how your title would appear in a search.
Use meta descriptions on your posts
Just like the title tag, you want to write a meta description for each post. As shown in the image above, the meta description will show up on the SERPs below the title tag. It’s important to be clear and compelling. Using just 156 characters, the challenge is to show your reader why he or she should click over to your site. Make it conversational and not a heavy sales pitch. You want to capture their attention and give them a reason to look at what you posted. It’s a call to action. Use title tags and meta descriptions to give searchers a description of what your post is about and a reason why they should read it. Think of the words “what and why” as you write them.
There are many ways to promote your blog. The most important factor is that you are blogging regularly. However, if you’re not blogging regularly, why not start now? There is no time like the present to take your business to the next level.
By Megan Donaldson
There are many keyword research tools available for purchase and free of purchase online. In this article, we’ll explain how to use two free, easy-to-use tools from Google: Google Trends and Google AutoSuggest. These tools are great for determining terms to include in your landing page content and blog posts. They are not designed to provide you with search numbers, but instead to show you common trends in search.
How To Use Google Trends
To use Google Trends, visit www.google.com/trends. Google Trends’ homepage will show you popular search trends across the web that may provide you with some inspiration for a blog or social post. To do more customized research, visit the “Explore” section. Once on the Explore Trends screen, you can begin to customize your research. At the top of the screen are drop down selections for your geographical focus, time period, category, and type of search function. Keep things basic to start; simply select your geographical focus, then start typing in related search topics or search queries. I’ve provided an example below:
As you can see, the geographical focus is set to California. This means that the results are all going to be based on what people in California are searching. Because of this, we don’t have to include the region in our search. We can start with a head term such as “auto insurance.” A head term is a popularly searched one-or-two word term. The search terms you submit will generate a list of related search queries.
You’ll notice that Google Trends does not provide numbers to the extent that Google AdWords does, but even Google AdWords provides rounded numbers instead of exact. With Google Trends, you are seeing which terms or phrases are trending more commonly in your target region, so you can adjust the language you use. By using the phrases that people are actually searching, you are more likely to answer a visitor’s question, thereby providing a more positive user experience.
How To Use Google AutoSuggest
Google’s AutoSuggest, or AutoComplete, is probably one of the easiest ways to do keyword research. Just go to google.com, start typing in a search query (but don’t complete the phrase), and the box that drops down while you’re typing is Google AutoSuggest. Google is trying to guess what your search query is by making suggestions of other top trending search queries. This is a great, quick way to get some keyword ideas.
Google’s suggestions are based upon your region and language, both of which can be adjusted in your search settings. If you are targeting a specific region (state/city), be sure that your search settings reflect this.
You can also add a geographical reference to your search phrase to further customize your results. By using a geographical reference, you will be given more geo-specific search suggestions that help ensure the queries are related to your focus region.
Google AutoSuggest also offers up additional modifiers, such as “requirements,” “quote,” or “buy” that will help you create long tail keyword phrases. Long tail keyword phrases allow you to better answer search queries that people are using because they are targeting more specific questions. For example, instead of using the generalized phrase “car insurance” which could relate to any number of searches, “California car insurance requirements” is much more focused and is more likely to answer a specific search query.
So the next time you’re prepping to write a piece of content for the web, research your topic in Google Trends and Google AutoSuggest. Doing so will help you better-target your audience and answer the questions they REALLY want answered.
Have questions about keyword research? Post them here so we can discuss.
About the Author
Megan is a Senior Inbound Marketing Specialist at Astonish, spending most of her professional time fine-tuning inbound strategies, evaluating websites, and researching, researching, researching. After studying Marketing Communications in Western Massachusetts she dedicated herself to the online world through online retailing, web usability, and search engine optimization. Megan is a native Rhode Islander who loves baking crazy confections in her spare time. Have you ever tried an 8 layer cookie cake? YUM.