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So you recently decided to start (or restart) blogging for your dealership and have no idea how to get organized and begin. I get you. It’s hard to get your blogging mojo started, especially in such a hectic environment like a dealership.
That’s why I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of 10 blogging hacks to help you build your dealership’s content!
Before we get into some hacks, here’s a checklist of things you should establish pre-blogging:
WHO YOUR AUDIENCE IS
This one seems easy, but a lot of bloggers forget to keep their audience in mind as they type up a blog post. If you’re blogging for your dealership’s customers, make sure you’re not using a lot of automotive jargon and be personable.
WHAT YOUR END GOAL IS
Are you blogging to improve your search rankings? Are you as tired of your “featured inventory” social media posts as your customers are? Your end goal will dictate many of your content decisions such as the blog topics you choose, your calls-to-action, and how frequently you update your blog.
WHERE YOU’RE HOSTING YOUR BLOG
Are you using Blogger, Tumblr, or WordPress? Is your blog directly on your website? Whatever your choice is, we recommend hosting it on your own domain. Otherwise, your blog will not direct traffic to your website -- thus hurting your bottom line.
HOW YOU WILL MARKET YOUR BRAND
What’s your tone? What’s your blog’s mission? These are some of the things that will resonate with your audience and dictate how they perceive your dealership.
WHO WILL WRITE THE CONTENT
Do you have an assigned blogger or team of bloggers? Who will have the final say in what gets posted? I recommend having more than one person review and edit your blog to ensure you put out quality content every time.
Phew -- now that that’s over with, let’s get down to the first 5 blogging hacks:
A blog editorial calendar will be a great asset to your content marketing strategy because it will help keep you organized. You can check out CoSchedule if you like the idea of a one-in-all format that includes scheduling options for both your blog and social media, or opt for a more traditional calendar (i.e. pen and paper, Microsoft Word, Google Calendar, etc).
While the actual layout may vary, here are some essential elements your calendar should have:
Your blogging schedule - Decide how often you want to post in a week or month based on realistic expectations of your team and your end goals.
National and local holidays - Using holidays to generate timely posts will help you build seasonal content and keep you from constantly posting about cars.
Your dealership’s events - You probably already share your dealership’s “biggest sales” on social media. However, you can also talk about these events in your blog content. Remember to keep these posts informative, but conversational.
Around 10 to 15 blog post ideas - Chances are that inspiration has already hit you, and you have a list of possible blog post ideas jotted down. Pick the ones you want to use and place them in your calendar. This will save you the hassle of having to come up with topics later.
The most important thing to remember is that an editorial calendar will only work for you if you review and update it regularly. Set a weekly reminder to ensure you keep up with it and follow through!
Really. Your headline is probably one of the most important elements in your post (other than the quality of your content, of course). It’s the first impression your audience gets of your content, and it’s a factor that search engines will use to rank you.
Here are 3 structural tips for SEO:
Consider what your ideal audience would search for to find your blog content on Google or Bing, as well as which words they would use, and try implementing them into your title.
Also try limiting the character count in your title to 50-70 characters, or place the most important part of your title first. Search engines like Google typically cut off titles after 50 characters.
Normally, you are given the option to tailor your permalink, the text that will appear on your location bar, such as: http://yourdealername.com/blog/How-To-Change-the-Oil-in-Your-Car. If you are able to, remove stop words (such as: the, an, in) and turn it into something like this: http://yourdealername.com/blog/How-To-Oil-Change.
As for writing the headline, I like to take Upworthy’s strategy of writing 25 headlines and choosing the best one almost as seriously as they do. If you consider yourself a lean, mean, headline-writing-machine, feel free to stick with your first choice.
However, if like me, you suffer from the “terrible ten headlines” syndrome (made that up!), write a few variations of your headline first. Then choose the one that most completely encompasses your content while simplifying your audience’s search.
Remember, if you’re writing a how-to post on changing your car’s oil, and the title is “How to Change Your Oil”, chances are you’re going to be competing with websites like WikiHow (along with other dealerships doing the same thing) in the search results. Think outside the box!
There are endless stock images, infographics, charts, graphs, and even screenshots to choose from to illustrate your posts. The images just need to be RELEVANT to your content. While this may take a bit more time, it’s worth it.
Note that copyright laws apply to images retrieved from the Internet. Check out this Social Media Examiner article for more insight on fair use and how it applies to online images.
In terms of SEO, here are a few quick considerations:
Using default images like DSC00076.jpg won’t help your SEO. Use keyword rich descriptions with hyphens as you would in your URL. Let’s say you have a digital photo of a technician holding a tire. You can name it car-technician-holding-tire.jpg instead and increase your keyword signal.
Matt Cutts from Google explains it best, but here’s a quick summary: the alternate tag is the text that appears in place of an image when it takes too long to load. Because most search engines crawl the text on your website, they won’t be able to read your image without alt text -- and this will hurt your SEO. Use short but descriptive alt text and remember to USE RELEVANT IMAGES.
Large images can make your page’s load time slow. If your page takes more than 5 secondsto load, you could be inadvertently sabotaging your blog. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to compress your images online or via plugins. Always double check your loading time and how the image looks.
If you are writing blog posts to help your audience, allow them to share your content with others who may find it useful. Consider a father reading your “How to Change a Tire” post, and deciding this is a great step-by-step tutorial for his 18-year-old daughter. Make it easy on the guy by having sharing buttons for email and social media platforms on your post!
You even use this as a call-to-action on your blog by saying something like, “Do you know someone who could use this guide? Pass the knowledge wealth on!” and include the sharing buttons right after.
For examples of effective calls-to-action, check out HubSpot’s 8 Types of CTA’s You Should Absolutely Try on Your Blog.
So this hack isn’t really the most exciting, but regularly backing up your blog keeps you safe from misfortunes, like your blog getting hacked or your template getting mangled.
Chances are good that you may never have to experience one of those misfortunes (and I hope you don’t). But as the saying goes, it’s better to have something you don’t need, than need something you don’t have!
It goes without saying that you should keep copies of your posts handy on your computer. But, in the case your desktop/laptop should meet an untimely death, consider keeping it in an additional safehaven such as “in the cloud”. Two places you could stash your backup files “in the cloud” are Google Drive and Dropbox.
Does your dealership currently have a blog? What changes have you seen in your online traffic since you started blogging?