Blog Once a Week
I’ll just start off by saying that some of you do not want to hear this. You aren’t writers, you don’t want to be writers, and the idea that you should write is not just irritating, it’s repulsive. I get it. I mean, sort of. The whole reason I got into SEO in the first place is because I had a solid background in writing. Coming from the Humanities and having taught writing courses at UC Riverside, it made sense for me to start online marketing. But I’m not you, you’re not me, and lots of people hate writing.
Why are blogs important for SEO? They can be the top source of Google search traffic on your website. Blogs keep your websites fresh, and Google favors websites that are updated regularly. Also, you can blog about all sorts of things that you wouldn’t necessarily want to have a page for on your website, but those topics may bring people to your website who would actually hire you, buy your product, use your service, donate, sign up to volunteer, or take the kind of action you want people to take. Blogging gives you the opportunity to show a more personal side of your brand, and people like to see that.
But what if you don’t have a background in writing? Well, keep reading because I have ideas for those of you who do like to write as well as those of you who don’t.
If You Like Writing, Read This
Okay, so you like writing. Great. But what should you write about? Happily I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, since I’ve been writing blogs for businesses and nonprofits for longer than I’ve been doing SEO, for at least thirteen years. In fact, I wrote a blog about what to blog about here. The gist of it is this:
1. Write about a problem you solved
2. Write about something or someone that inspired you
3. Write about an event you attended
4. Interview someone over email or video call
Since I’ve already written in detail about what each of these means (reminder: click here to read that whole blog), I’m not going to go into it again. But number three is different right now. During this time of stay at home orders, social isolation, shelter in place, etc. attending an event in person is not safe or even really possible. But there are so many online meetups, free conferences, videos, Facebook groups, and countless other things happening right now. Just because you can’t go out into the world doesn’t mean you can’t attend an event.
If you need help finding online events that make sense for your business or organization, send me an email and I’ll point you in the right direction.
If You Don't Like Writing, Read This
Did you skip ahead to this section, or did you read what I wrote above? If you read what I wrote above, then this is going to sound familiar to you. Wait. That’s not fair! I said I’d have different ideas for people who hate writing, didn’t I? Well, yes, kind of. And there are so many details below that are different from what I wrote above.
The reason that blogs are important is because search engines read them. As far as I know, search engines haven’t gotten terribly savvy yet at reading images or even knowing what a video is about without actual written text accompanying them. So you will need to have words on your blog in order to make the search engines read your site.
What does this mean? How do you write a blog without actually writing a blog? You make a video instead. I know, I know, you probably don’t like being on camera either, but in this case you gotta choose between writing and being on camera.
Put yourself in front of your computer’s camera, set up your smartphone, or pull out that old camcorder from the mid 1980s (actually, don’t do that unless you can turn it into a digital file), and talk about these topics below. If you didn’t read the above section, then you won’t know to read this blog I wrote on what to blog about. Please read it now.
1. Talk about a problem you solved
2. Talk about something or someone that inspired you
3. Talk about an event you attended
4. Interview someone over Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc. (might require paid subscriptions)
So you have these videos. Now what? They don’t need to be slick and edited with audio or even edited at all. People like authentic, spontaneous videos. This is not a promotional video, or a commercial, or an advertisement, or anything like that. We should just be able to see you in your environment, speaking your mind.
Upload Your Video to YouTube
Set up a YouTube account for your business if you haven’t yet, then upload your video by clicking on the little camcorder with a plus on it. After you upload your video and publish it (give it a good title and write a description that matches and includes a link to your website), then you’ll need to do a sort of complicated thing. Bear with me.
What we’re going to do here is:
- Enable subtitles on your video
- Make sure they’re accurate
- Create a transcript.
When you’re back on YouTube’s homepage, click on the icon that shows up for your business in the top right. It could be your logo if you uploaded your logo, or maybe it’s a photo of you. It could also just be a grey icon assigned by Google. Either way, click on it and then select Your Channel. Then select YouTube Studio in the blue box. You’ll be taken to a dashboard that shows your videos (or possibly just your one video). When you hover over the row where your video is, you’ll see pencil icon that shows “Details.” Click on that.
Now, on the left side bar there is an option for Subtitles. Click that. On this next page, if you hover near where it shows “Published” you’ll see three little dots. Click on those then select “Edit on Classic Studio.” Note that Classic Studio is going away really soon, and I don’t know what YouTube’s subtitle feature will look like when that happens. I’ll update this post when I find out. But for now, this will work.
Correct Automatic Subtitles
Click “Edit” on this page, and YouTube will open up its automatic subtitles for you to edit. YouTube is relatively accurate, but there will always be a few things that are wrong, and it’s terrible with punctuation. After you’ve fixed the subtitles (you can play the video while you edit them), click “Publish Edits.” It will take you to a new screen that now has two options for subtitles. English (Automatic) and English. Click on the one that does not have Automatic, and you’ll be taken back to the subtitles you created.
Create A Transcript
There’s a box that shows “Actions” and when you select that you’ll have the option to download your subtitles. Download them as an .sbv file. You’ll be able to open this file with MS Notepad or Mac’s TextEdit.
When you open up this file, it will look messy. There will be time stamps. It won’t be formatted. Copy this and paste it into your blog editor on your website. Make sure to do a Paste Special > Unformatted or Paste and Match Style (Chrome). Now go through it and make it look pretty by deleting the time stamps, creating paragraphs, and removing words that are unnecessary (um, like, etc.).
Now You Have Content for Your Blog!
What I usually do for these transcriptions is embed the video at the top of the blog, and place the transcript of the video right below it. If you go to the live video on YouTube, then click “Share” a box will pop up with an Embed option. Click on that, copy the code, then paste that code into your blog post, but make sure you’re in the Code / Text editor of your blog and not the Visual editor. Also, some WordPress visual builders have a YouTube embed option in them. If they do, then you just need to paste the link of your video into that tool. Not sure what you have? Contact us and we’ll help you figure it out.
Now you have a video at the top of the page, and the transcript for the video underneath. People can watch your video from your website and the search engines will read your content. Give the blog a title that makes sense for the content. At this stage don’t worry too much about optimizing it for SEO. We’ll talk about keyword optimization in a future post, and you can use those skills to go back and edit it.
If YouTube seems too complicated, there are other tools that will allow you to create captions. This company created a pretty comprehensive blog about automated video captioning tools, so take a look and see if those work better for you. The other great thing about using videos for blogs is the video itself will have multiple uses. Upload the video file directly to Facebook, with a link to your blog in the post. Share it on LinkedIn. Tweet it. If relevant, you can even pin the link the Pinterest. I’ll be talking more about video in future posts, so make sure to subscribe to these weekly updates about how to build your business’ visibility during coronavirus isolation.