Rocketspark Design Partner Sarah Pooley says trying to convince people that there’s value in blogging can be challenging. She’s tested blogs on her own website for a while now, proving their value for herself.
Sarah is the founder of The Digital Doctor, a UK based digital agency. Her background is in digital marketing and was an account director for an agency for around 13 years before going out on her own in 2016.
Squared Online - a digital marketing leadership qualification
Back in late 2014, Sarah completed the Google-developed Squared Online strategic digital marketing course and absolutely loved it.
“There was so much discussion and debate about a holistic approach. It wasn’t just about building a website. I was talking to clients at the agency I worked at and their frustrations were coming from building a website, and then doing nothing with it.
“I decided at that point that I wanted to help small businesses attain the same exposure and reach as, perhaps, larger firms with bigger marketing budgets. Having graduated from Squared Online, it proved to be the kick up the backside I needed to go it alone. If I didn’t plan to do it soon, I was never going to.”
Making websites fun again with Rocketspark
Not long after, Sarah’s husband, Phil, was at Xerocon (then one of Xero’s senior account managers) and got chatting to Grant Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Rocketspark. Grant introduced Phil to Rocketspark with a quick demo. Impressed, Phil kept telling Sarah she needed to look at the platform.
“Once I’d set up the Digital Doctor in January 2016, I had a client that came to me who was having a nightmare experience with someone who was building a website for his new business. He asked if I could build a site for him so I immediately thought of Rocketspark.
“I’m not a coder, I’m not a designer, but Rocketspark turned out to be so easy to use it ticked all the boxes. In my first year I got another 5 clients.”
From website audits to website creation
Sarah originally intended to build her business around website audits and helping people solve issues with their existing websites, not thinking for one second that she’d actually be building websites herself.
“I had so much support from Rocketspark that I felt I had my own designated support team to help me create whatever my clients needed,” she says.
It wasn’t until 2018 that Sarah discovered using the blog feature gave her a massive leg up in getting found in Google.
“I love scuba diving. My husband Phil and I scuba dive, together with our kids and we decided that we were going to build a website devoted to scuba diving called Dive Bunnies.”
As Dive Bunnies evolved and grew, Sarah and Phil decided to start writing blogs on subjects they knew other divers would enjoy and benefit from.
“That’s when we realised the benefits of writing blogs and discovered how well they were appearing in Google for certain search terms. One blog, ‘How can you get your diving mojo back?’ got to number one in Google in 2018 and still holds that position today.
“Dive Bunnies, for me, was sort of a prototype and I kept thinking blogs were a great way of keeping a website fresh and relevant as well as potentially raising a company profile. I put the idea to a few clients and whilst initially unsure, they could see how blogs could fit into a marketing strategy. Plus, once I showed them real stats and how effective the blogs were, they were keen to take us on.”
Back to business after COVID-19
Unfortunately, COVID-19 stopped Sarah in her tracks for a while but last September, she realised that if new enquiries for regular marketing activity were to pick up as businesses in the UK came out of lockdown, she might struggle with meeting demand. She invited her twin sister, Gina Orchard, to join Digital Doctor and now between them, they research and create blog content.
“Now I have five retainers for writing blogs, collaborating with clients on their marketing strategies and providing regular social media activity."
A few pointers for writing blogs
“When you write a blog you have to be so aware of SEO and how Google wants you to write. Experimenting with Dive Bunnies and doing my own research, we very much focus on best practice and follow a specific methodology. The Rocketspark blog tool provides the platform and we then populate it with researched key phrases underpinned by good, solid copy.
“Understanding search intent is key - what answer is your visitor looking for and can they find it via your website?”
Sarah advises to think about key phrases that you want to include, make sure you’re putting in sentences that could form the basis of a long tail search and be really conscious when it comes to planning imagery.
“You have to give the eyes rest areas; the brain can process an image far quicker than words so make sure you place imagery between the copy - you want to avoid losing a visitor’s interest simply because they’re suffering from paragraph fatigue.
“We plan and structure blogs. There’s a process we follow: what message do we want to get across in the introduction? How will the ‘story’ of the blog develop? What solution are we offering the reader? How many CTAs should we include? Would this content look better as a bulleted list?”
And yes, bulleted lists should be included as this example below shows:
- Think of a reverse pyramid - the introduction now becomes your summary in case people haven’t read that far
- What sub-headings will help a reader scan as they progress through the blog’s story?
- What solution to a problem/issue are we offering the reader?
- What do we ultimately want the reader to do having read the blog?
- What’s the best way to present the material you’re creating?
Why writing blogs is good for your clients
Sarah says some of her clients like to write their own blogs yet ask her to tweak them for SEO.
“Other clients will say they’re not wordsmiths and want us to write them from scratch. We request 3 URLs from good, credible sources which enables us to write original content of around 1200 words - a word count that Google prefers.”
Sarah says the feedback she’s had from her clients has been really good.
“One of my clients is a CEO of a company and wanted to raise her profile. We’ve been helping her do that via LinkedIn. The blogs are gaining good traction on LinkedIn’s Pulse news platform and her followers are appreciating them. She’s highly respected and the blogs are certainly solidifying her authority. She happy and says the feedback she’s getting is amazing.
“I’ve got another client who writes her own blogs and we tweak them for SEO purposes. We push them out regularly on both LinkedIn and Facebook and one of her earlier blogs this year resulted in a lucrative contract for her firm’s services.
“For an accountancy firm we work with, it’s been helping them raise their profile within their locality. We’re very much part of their marketing team and push out regular and planned content - all of which is promoted on social media and within a monthly newsletter.
“It’s great to feel you’re adding real value to a client.”
Blogs should be an intrinsic part of a marketing strategy
Sarah says she always pushes the importance of including blogs in an overall marketing strategy.
“It’s about creating regular website content, promoting it across the appropriate marketing channels and adapting the website at the same time, as and when it’s required. So I guess Digital Doctor is both curator and creator of content. We get immersed in both the content and the overall development of clients’ websites, which is pretty amazing.”
“Let the stats speak for themselves. If I can prove that my own Digital Doctor blogs reach a high position in Google - why can’t I do it for clients too? If you follow a protocol and keep focused on providing well-written and engaging content, you can’t go wrong.”