This blog deals with the instructions for writing blogs for Finnish Business Review. The same instructions apply to writing any blog. With these instructions, you can write a blog in accordance with search engine guidelines. It is important to follow the search engine guidelines, because they are the key to the visibility of the blog and the website.
Starting points of the blog
Anyone can learn to write a blog, just as anything else. Blogs are written in a specified form, which makes the writing easy. The challenges usually come from finding a topic. Writing a successful blog requires paying attention to the following aspects:
- the reader
- search engine visibility.
Defining the reader persona (blog’s target group)
A blog needs to have readers. Readers are acquired by making sure the contents of the blog serve the needs of the reader and offer solutions to their daily problems and challenges. The topics of Finnish Business Review (FBR) are connected to the theme chosen by the blog’s editorial staff. Each blog defines its own theme, within which the blog posts are produced. The blog’s author chooses their own audience or target group. This blog’s themes have been defined by the founders of Finnish Business Review, Jorma Kananen and Murat Akpinar: (see: http://verkkolehdet.jamk.fi/finnish-business-review/tietoa-verkkolehdesta). Focusing the blog’s target group, i.e. the reader or customer persona, is explained in Finnish Business Review’s blog ‘Blogin onnistuminen: missä asiakkaat?’ (‘Writing a successful blog: where are the customers?’): (see: https://verkkolehdet.jamk.fi/finnish-business-review/2017/11/03/blogin-onnistuminen-missa-asiakkaat/)
Structure of the blog
A good blog supporting search engine optimisation consists of the following parts:
- title (name)
- lead paragraph or meta description
- subheadings (text headings)
- visualisation, links.
The title is always important, because a well-thought-out title attracts readers. Even though the blogs of Finnish Business Review are scientific, the title should still be compelling. A compelling title could be something like the following (Kananen 2018a; Neidlinger 2014; Coins n.d X):
- using numbers indicating profit gained by the reader
- problem solving with emotive adjectives
- an interesting, bewildering fact
- stating the outcome first
- asking a question (what, why, when, how)
- stating a contradiction.
After the title, you create a lead paragraph, which is equivalent to the meta description. See more on the lead paragraph in the attached URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_paragraph
The title is the title of an individual search result on the search result page. The meta description is the concise advertising slogan of the website behind the link and the search result. At best, they function as excellent promoters of the website. (Johansson, 2010.) This blog is also led by a lead paragraph.
The subheadings organise the contents into topics. The subheadings are equivalent to traditional text headings, and by glancing through them, the reader can get a quick overview of the contents. The lead paragraph has the same function.
Under the subheadings are the contents, which are grouped into paragraphs consisting of a few sentences. It is not recommended to write the text as one large mass without breaks, because this makes it more difficult to read. A good length for a paragraph is three or four sentences. Similarly, it is recommended to have a maximum of three or four paragraphs under each heading. There are two paragraphs under this heading.
Contents and scope
The same rules apply to the themes of the contents in the blog as the title (above). The contents must be of use to the reader. According to research, an ideal length for a blog is 2,000 words (Hollingsworth, 2018). The length affects search engine visibility. The scope of this blog is approximately 2,000 words. A blog can also be shorter.
A good blog includes the following parts: title (name), lead paragraph, contents with subheadings, images/figures and summary.
Without keywords, the potential reader will not find the blog. Keywords are essential to finding the blog. The keywords should be words that the readers use when looking for online contents or solutions for their problems.
The keywords used by the readers and the keywords on the web pages combine the search into a search result. Without the correct keywords in the blog, the web pages will not be found, because the search engines have not indexed the contents of the pages for this part. The keywords describe the topics or themes of the contents. The keywords function as ‘guideposts’ for the searcher and search engines.
Placement and number of keywords in a blog
The keywords are placed in the title and description, as well as the text itself. The keywords should not appear too often in the text, i.e. the contents. Search engines count the number of keywords, and the visibility is reduced if the number is too large. An optimal proportion of keywords is 4–7% of the words (Safko, 2012).
For example, this blog’s keyword is ‘blog’.
All kinds of trickery with keywords usually leads to bad results. This includes for example minimising the font size of the keywords, using colourless font and hiding words in the borders of the website or the so-called terms and conditions. Unethical means decrease the reliability of the company’s website in the eyes of the search engines. See the blog at https://cognitiveseo.com/blog/12169/44-black-hat-seo-techniques/.
Visualisation of the blog
Using images is important for search engine visibility and the readers. Visualisation has two functions:
- search engines
Search engine visibility requires the blog or website to be visual. The same requirement applies to social media platforms. Without visual elements a blog’s visibility is always weak, because search engines crave visuality. Visual elements in the text can include the following (Kananen, 2018a):
- figures, diagrams
Readers pay attention to the visual elements in the contents first, because these are ‘seen’. The visual elements stop the reader, or grab their attention, which is the first step, along with the title, to bring the reader to the next phase – reading the contents. This blog starts with a figure, as well, with the intention of capturing the reader’s eye.
Pages with text only no longer receive search engine visibility, because their time is in the past both on websites and social media. Search engines no longer put much value on contents with no images, figures, photos or videos. On the other hand, website visitors are also used to visualised pages and demand visuality. The following factors support visualisation (Singh, 2015):
- Brain activity: the brain processes images faster than text.
- Attention value: articles with images receive more attention.
- Sharing: images increase the willingness to share the article.
- Trust: images increase trust and credibility.
The human brain processes images faster than text. According to research, visualised contents receive 94% more readers. Visualisation also affects the readers’ willingness to share the contents forward to their friends.
Visualised contents are shared forward twice as often as contents with text only. Sharing, in turn, has a positive effect on search engine visibility. Visualisation is even believed to have an effect on the readers’ view of the credibility and reliability of the contents, because in 67% of the cases, contents with images are considered more credible than contents with text only. (Singh, 2015.)
The recommended number of images is at least two images per blog.
Acquiring and producing images: image databases
Producing figures and diagrams is easy. Anyone can create figures and diagrams with only a word processor. Producing actual images or photographs is more challenging. You can take photographs of your own activity or use free or paid image databases.
Free images are available online in the following image databases:
Links have two functions:
- search engines
Blogs should have links for search engine visibility. Links can be either of the following (Kananen 2018b, 260):
- internal links
- external links.
External links are no longer all that significant for search engine visibility. External links show the reader that additional information or something else with a related topic is available somewhere. With an external link, the author points out the importance and significance of the other page, which increases the ‘authority’ of the target site, positively affecting the search results of the target site. For the user, external links often provide additional information, which improves the site’s usability and credibility. Links can be used to regulate the amount and depth of contents provided for the reader.
In a blog, links are equivalent to references. In Finnish Business Review, you should use links as references to other people’s articles and books. Regarding references, the general reference technique is used, the instructions for which can be found in the writing instructions of the FBR article page (see: https://verkkolehdet.jamk.fi/finnish-business-review/instructions-for-authors/; https://verkkolehdet.jamk.fi/finnish-business-review/julkaisuohjeet-2/).
Internal links create structure for websites. The basics and core message of the contents are presented on the front page, followed by links to different parts of the contents. The links can be used to offer the users useful additional information, which they can choose themselves. The links can be used to monitor the visitor’s path on the website. This requires installing analysis software on the website. Links are conversion points, and by clicking them, the visitor leaves a print of their path as a user. The clicks can be used to determine what the visitors find to be interesting and lengthen the user’s visit, because they can choose their own path according to their interests. The length of the visit has a positive effect on search engine visibility, because the longer the user stays on the website, the more relevant the contents are likely to be (according to Google).
For search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing), the links must be text links. Image links function well for the visitor, but search engines do not understand image links unless a separate text caption is attached to them.
The direction of the link is important. Linking your own website to another site also points out the significance of the linked website. It can be said that every link from a (respected) website is a recommendation for the website and increases Google’s score for the website’s search engine visibility.
Not all links are equally valuable. Links from websites with high authority to the blog’s website are more valuable than some others. With links, quality is more important than quantity. Artificial and false links almost always lead to bad results, because search engines often detect them, which results in punitive measures. Mutual ‘trade’ of links is not advisable, although some do practice it.
At the end: summary
The blog always ends with a summary, which is a sort of an abstract. This blog ends with a summary under the next text heading.
Instructions were given above on writing a blog. The instructions principally apply for the FBR blogs, as well. However, the contents must correspond with FBR’s business idea, or its contents and target group. The contents should be somewhat scientific and academic and include references. Pure opinion blogs are not part of FBR’s focus. This instruction blog, for example, is aimed to be written in accordance with the general blog instructions.
Jorma Kananen, JAMK University of Applied Sciences, School of Business, principal lecturer in research & development, jorma.kananen (at) jamk.fi. The author acts as the chief editor of the Finnish section of Finnish Business Review. The author is an expert on digital marketing, social media marketing, content marketing and blog writing. The author has published multiple textbooks and guides on these subjects: see: https://www.booky.fi/search.php?search=Kananen+jorma&sortmode=ID#!product_id=9789518304725L%20X.
Coins, J. N. d. 5 Easy Tricks to Help You Write Catchy Headlines. Blogikirjoitus Goins, Writer -blogissa. Viitattu 2.6.2018. https://goinswriter.com/catchy-headlines/.
Hollingsworth, S. 2018. What’s the Ideal Blog Post Length for SEO? Blogiteksti Search Engine Journal:n blogissa 6.6.2018. Viitattu 6.6.2018. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/ideal-blog-post-length-for-seo/255633/.
Johansson, S. 2010. Hyödynnä sivustosi sisäänheittäjät: title ja meta description. Blogiteksti Tuloksen blogissa 20.5.2010. https://www.tulos.fi/artikkelit/hyodynna-sivustosi-sisaanheittajat-title-ja-meta-description/.
Kananen, J. 2018a. Digimarkkinointi ja sosiaalisen median markkinointi. Jyväskylä: Jyväskylän ammattikorkeakoulun julkaisuja. https://www.booky.fi/search.php?search=Kananen+jorma&sortmode=ID#!product_id=9789518304725L
Kananen, J. 2018b. Yrittäjän sosiaalisen median strategiaopas. Jyväskylä: Jyväskylän ammattikorkeakoulun julkaisuja. https://www.booky.fi/search.php?search=Kananen+jorma&sortmode=ID#!product_id=9789518304763
Neidlinger, J. 2014. How To Write Irresistible Blog Post Introductions That’ll Keep Your Readers Reading. Blogikirjoitus 26.11.2014 CoSchedule:n blogissa. Viitattu 20.3.2017. https://coschedule.com/blog/blog-post-introductions/.
Safko, L. 2012. The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools & Strategies for Business Success. New Jersey: Wiley.
Singh, P. 2015. How to Make the Best Blog Graphics (For Non-Designers). Blogikirjoitus CoSchedule:n blogissa 18.3.2015. Viitattu 23.3.2017. https://coschedule.com/blog/non-designers-blog-graphics-guide/.