Have you ever clicked ‘publish’ on what you believe to be a brilliantly crafted genealogy blog post, sat back and waited for the tidal wave of comments, likes and shares, only to witness nothing more than a ripple of interest?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. But there are steps you can take to increase your chances of blogging success. Follow these 7 marketing secrets every genealogy blogger should know to light a fire under your next post!
1. Write killer headlines
Without doubt the headline is the most important part of your blog post. It doesn’t matter if you spend three days crafting the most brilliant article, if you then spend only three minutes composing a shoddy headline.
The headline is what will get your post read – if the headline doesn’t pique interest then few people will bother reading further. This is especially true when you’re sharing your post on Twitter or Facebook.
In the sea of genealogy content being shared on social media, a lousy headline is not going to stand out. You want a headline that will excite readers to the point where it’s impossible for them not to click through.
2. Include images
As humans, we are naturally drawn to anything visually appealing – country views, cute babies, a delicious ice cream, – so adding compelling images to your blog posts will be a powerful lure for readers.
Blog posts with good quality images get more views than those without and social media posts that include images achieve greater engagement than those that don’t, so it makes sense to share your blog post on social media along with an enticing image.
It can be hard to find appropriate genealogy images as very often we don’t have photographs or original documents to illustrate our posts, which means we need to get creative! Can you find a photograph of a church mentioned in your post or a modern photo of a relevant place? If no photos are available, look for illustrations or vector images.
3. Keep it simple, but not short
You’ve attracted your readers with a great headline and a stunning image, don’t put them off now with long paragraphs and wordy sentences.
We are bombarded with content every time we go online and our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. If you want readers to stick with your post to the end, keep it simple to read and digest, even when writing about advanced genealogy topics, such as hearth tax or apprenticeship indentures.
Make sure there is plenty of white space to prevent overwhelm and use bullet points and sub-headings to break up text and help make your point.
Keeping it simple doesn’t mean keeping it short. Search engines like long content and readers want something valuable and engaging.
You’re unlikely to be able to write something genuinely useful in less than 300 words and many content experts recommend writing more than 1,000 words.
4. Provide value
So, you know that longer posts are something to aim for, but that doesn’t mean padding out your writing with unnecessary fluff or waffle.
Even in a 2,000-word epic post, every single word must be relevant.
Concentrate on the reason for your post – are you trying to teach a genealogy skill, to tell a story about your ancestors or provide answers to a common brick wall dilemma? Make sure by the end of the post you have achieved that goal and that your readers go away having learned something or been moved in some way.
Think about who you are writing your post for. What do they want to know? What relevant genealogical knowledge can you share with them?
When readers find your content useful, they will feel compelled to share it.
5. Link to other blogs
Yes, linking to high quality content elsewhere on the web is a good thing to do. If you’re running an engaging, valuable family history blog, it will be almost expected that you link to other excellent sources of genealogy information.
Right on cue, for more detail on this topic, check out Rand Fishkin’s Moz post, it’s an oldie but still a goody!
6. Blog consistently
There is absolutely no point in following these tips to create an awesome blog post once every six months.
Blogging consistently not only establishes you as a reliable source of genealogy information among your readers, but search engines will crawl your site more frequently too.
When search engines notice that your blog is frequently updated with fresh content, your search engine ranking will improve.
7. Include a call to action
Your loyal readers have stuck with your post from killer headline all the way to the end.
So, what do you want them to do now?
A great way to grow your genealogy blog is to engage with your blog readers and one of the easiest ways to do this is in the comments at the end of your posts. Invite readers to share their thoughts by asking a simple question at the end of your blog posts, just as I’m about to do here!
What do you think? Are these secrets useful, and can you add any more? Let us know in the comments!
Belinda Griffin is a digital marketing fanatic on a mission to help more genealogists be seen and heard online. Having spent a decade working on family history magazines and six years in digital marketing, Belinda is in the unique position to offer digital marketing education and insight that is perfectly aligned to the needs of genealogists. Download your free checklist ‘7 Steps to Promoting Your Family History Business or Blog’ at thesmartgenealogist.com/free-checklist.