How I Do It: Creating a Quality Landscape Blog - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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How I Do It: Creating a Quality Landscape Blog

To blog or not to blog, that is the question. Adding a blog to your lawn or landscape company’s website can help establish your business’s authority as an expert, attract new customers and educate existing clients.

However, a landscape blog requires work, focus and commitment before you can reap these benefits. Both Borst Landscape & Design in Allendale, New Jersey, and Level Green Landscaping, based in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, have had their blogs for 10 years.

“I think both our customers and employees are looking for relevant issues,” says Doug Delano, LIC, co-owner of Level Green. “We also see the blog as a recruiting tool. Showing potential employees another side of the company.”

Determine the Purpose

Blogs are a dime a dozen, so you must establish a purpose for yours, so you have a driving force behind it when determining article topics. Chad Diller, vice president of Landscape Leadership, a sales and marketing agency for lawn and landscape companies, says there’s a lot of thoughtless content out there where you don’t learn anything and other pieces that are ‘thought-ish’ where you might learn only one or two takeaways.

He encourages conducting keyword research to know what customers are searching for and answering those questions better than the existing content. Diller suggests sitting down as a leadership team and brainstorming topics that apply to the different phases of the buyer’s journey.

A quality landscape blog can help with lead generation and becoming a domain authority on landscaping topics. Diller says you need to have a solid website as a whole to ensure the lead takes the next step and engages with your site further.

“There’s this long-term value of every piece of blog content that supports your overall strategy of a lawn care or landscaping website because it’s driving traffic to the website that’s answering the question, not all of it turns into a lead, but there’s a lot of traffic on the website,” Diller says.

Nicole Marsiglia, marketing director for Borst, says the main purpose of their blog is SEO and each post is saturated with keywords their potential clients are searching for.

“They’re all informative,” she says. “That’s definitely equally important because you don’t want to throw up anything. The blog adds value to whatever that person is searching.”

Marsiglia says they also make sure the topics are timely.

“We actually map out a whole year of topics,” Marsiglia says. “We do four per month and they line up with what we’re trying to sell that month or the month that we’re leading up to. It’s almost good to be a little bit ahead of the game because maybe people aren’t searching for those terms yet, but they will be. You’d rather have those blog posts up there already.”

Delano says their blog has two purposes – educating clients and recognizing and recruiting employees. They work with their management team to select seasonally relevant article topics.

Aspects of Good Blog Posts

The optimum word count for blog posts depends on your goal for the blog. Diller says if your goal is to rank in search, you need to write at least 800 words. He says this is because it is harder to rank against a more authoritative piece with more content on a specific topic.

Marsiglia says they don’t want their pieces to be too long or too short. Their blog articles are typically five to seven paragraphs long, so it’s digestible for the reader.  

“If it goes on too long, then you lose their attention, but if it’s too short, then there’s definitely not enough information in there for whatever they’re looking for,” Marsiglia says.

Diller stresses you need to be able to hook a reader and actually allow them to have a good reading experience, as people’s attention spans are so short nowadays.

“A lot of companies in our industry, they do a good job getting information out, but there’s not a lot of personality with the content,” Diller says. “You can take the same article and stick it on another person’s website and you would have no idea which brand it came from.”

Diller argues that you’re more likely to captivate a reader if you have a distinctive voice.

“The goal is to captivate the person and to make them take more and more action, go to other pages, complete a form on your website,” Diller says.

Striking a balance between serving the reader and making content SEO friendly is important. You don’t want to be on the far end of either side of the spectrum.

“Prioritize SEO,” Marsiglia says. “Don’t write to write. SEO helps so many other avenues of your marketing.”

Diller suggests writing articles 2/3rds focused on the reader and 1/3rd focused on SEO by choosing three or four keyword phrases to concentrate on.

Each article should contain specific calls to action based on the topic and stage of the buyer’s journey. Be aware of what category your content falls in and include a prompt that leads them to the next course of action, such as asking for a consultation. Marsiglia says they include several calls to action throughout their blog posts.

“The other thing with a call to action, too, is don’t wait for the bottom of the article to do that,” Diller says. “That was kind of the old play, and we’ve learned the lesson the hard way that people’s attention spans are shorter. Make sure you have two or three points throughout the article that call them to some next step in different ways. You could have a link on text. You could have a graphic they click on. It could be a straight call to action request but have different places that if someone doesn’t feel like absorbing the whole article, they can jump to that next step.”

Diller encourages using an outline before writing a story. Think about what’s going on in the mind of the reader, and then pick five points that connect well.

“Before you sit down to write, make sure you have a good outline of how that story goes,” Diller says. “Lead with the good content and at the end of the article, you bring the reader back to a call to action so that they’re compelled to actually do something with the information.”

Marsiglia notes you need to write blog posts so your readers can understand them. They should be a good mix of your expertise and comprehensible information the readers can use themselves.

“Don’t underestimate the value of good writing skills and also knowing the industry,” Diller says. “It’s a really hard combination to find both of those things in a writer.”

As for the frequency of blog posts, Level Green has two blog posts a month. Borst opts for four posts a month.

“If you’re serious about a content strategy, and you haven’t really done it before, I would aim for four to six posts a month,” Diller says. “If you’ve been doing that consistently over a three to four-year span, maybe you can start to crank that down a little bit, maybe that you can go for three times a month.”

Advice for Others

If you are contemplating adding a blog to your website, seriously consider your ability to take on this additional task.

“Follow through is the biggest thing, so know your limitations,” Diller says. “You might have all these great intentions to do it, but it just might not happen.”

Failing to post consistently can make your company seem out of date. If you’re opting to handle your posts internally and can’t produce as many articles as you’d like, removing publish dates can help content not appear so stale.

“I think for business owners, if they can’t find time, there’s plenty of people you can hire part-time so you don’t get caught in the weeds with this,” says Mark Borst, owner of Borst Landscape & Design.

Both Borst and Level Green work with marketing firms to help them with their blogs. While the landscape companies pick the topics, the marketing companies have writers who handle the blog content. Marsiglia says she reviews the content and ensures it is accurate and consistent with their brand.

“Unless you are a small company, we really would encourage you to subcontract the writing and management of the blog,” Delano says. “We would also urge people to start a vlog instead of a written blog.”

Diller adds you shouldn’t forget to go back and optimize past content. He compares it to how every time a baseball player swings at the plate, they’re not going to get a home run. For instance, you can do everything right with a blog article, but it still didn’t rank well. Yet three years later, you can return to those pieces and make small updates to the title and such to improve its search traffic. Level Green monitors their topics and refreshes those that have gotten stale to help with SEO.

Diller says before starting a blog, you must ensure the rest of your website is interesting and engaging.

“Who cares if you get good traffic to your website if it’s really not impressive?” Diller says. “If it’s just a bunch of words, there are no pictures, there are no videos of your team. If you took the logo off, changed the colors, it could be anybody’s website. If you’re spending all this time and energy to drive traffic to your website, it better be a really, really good website.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.