Does your blog have a style guide? If not, you could be missing a chance to ensure consistency, quality and production efficiency for your content team. A style guide for your blog and content is something every enterprise content team should document in their content strategy.
In this post, we’ll define what a style guide for blogs is, the benefits of using one, and how to create one of your own.
What Is a Content Style Guide?
One of the hallmarks of a content strategy is defining the attributes of blog posts. That would include syntax and grammatical preferences, voice and tone, and other parameters.
A blog style guide is a living document. You should revisit it at least annually to make updates. If any major events occur, such as an acquisition or rebranding, you should update it.
Additionally, as you learn things from your content analytics, good or bad, you’ll want to determine how performance and metrics should influence your style guide.
Why Use a Content Style Guide?
The first tenet of content marketing is to publish relevant content consistently. A big part of this effort for content-first organization is regularly publishing blog posts. If you’re wondering how many, check out our post on blog frequency.
Content creation can be a bottleneck, and you likely have multiple people doing this, possibly internally and through outsourcing. So how do you achieve throughput, consistency, and quality?
A style guide for your content helps you do that. It’s the framework of what to include in a blog and other stylistic information. It’s a blueprint for replicating what you believe to be best practices for your organization. As a result, you should expect:
- An even tone throughout your content
- Formatting and structuring that aligns with your style guide
- A higher production rate among creators
- Less editing in review
- Consistent use of SEO best practices
- Visuals, design, and imagery that reflect cohesive branding
When your blog posts have these things in common, you should be able to meet your content goals, from increasing traffic to gaining organic search positions.
Creating a Style Guide for Your Blog: 5 Easy Steps
Now, it’s time to start the process of creating your blog style guide. Follow these steps to complete this worthwhile exercise.
Step One: Audit and Assess Your Current Content
The first thing is to look at what you have. Regardless of if you have any guidelines in place, you’re already publishing content. You need to decide if the tone, visuals, and flow of your content are things to keep or improve upon.
Also, evaluate content performance, looking at why some content has more engagement and if that corresponds with anything style-wise.
Step Two: Define Your Goals
What is your blog’s purpose and what business objectives do you expect to achieve? In most cases, companies want:
- More traffic to their website
- Improved organic search rankings
- More brand awareness
- Thought leader recognition
- Better informed customers and prospects
Whatever your specific goals are, you should define them here so that what comes next helps you meet them.
Step Three: Create Brand Voice Attributes
Every blog style guide should include at least three voice attributes. These are overarching positions that your voice should always embody. They should come with an explanation as to how they impact language, positioning, and structure.
For example, one voice attribute could be conversational. That designation means that language is informal and sounds like a conversation. It’s an inclusive characteristic, so another parameter could be using “you” or second person.
Developing these will help all your content creators translate those qualities into high-quality content your audience will appreciate.
Step Four: Determine Syntax and Grammar Rules
In this step, it’s about syntax, grammar, and word choice. For editorial style, you may follow AP style but might have exceptions like using the serial comma. So, does being that granular matter? Yes, because it’s about consistency, and consumers of content can pick up on these things.
Syntax is really about how you put sentences together. One of the most critical aspects of syntax is using active voice over passive. Active voice is better for readability. It’s something many brands don’t emphasize enough!
Other elements in syntax include sentence flow. It’s better for SEO for sentences and paragraphs to be short. Keeping things at an eighth-grade reading level is, too. However, that’s not always possible if you have to use big words.
But when you don’t have to include big words, go with simpler ones. An example is to write use instead of utilize.
The third component is word choice. This is where you include words to use and those to avoid. You’ll also want to define the words you use to describe your audience. For instance, you may opt to say salesperson versus sales rep.
Step Five: Develop Your Parameters for Blog Posts
Next, it’s time to construct the parameters of your blog posts that take into consideration SEO best practices and layout. What should every post have when it goes to production? When answering that question, you should also consider how to include those in content workflows.
Here are some examples:
- Interlinking: It’s a good SEO practice to interlink in blog posts.
- Source citation: What sources are considered reputable? Will you only use current sources?
- Formatting: Inclusion of things like bulleted lists, spacing between paragraphs, callouts, and anything else that contributes to the page being user-friendly.
- Imagery: What are the rules here? Do you have custom images? What types of stock photos will you use? What kind of videos might you include?
- CTAs: Create a list of options for every blog post ending.
Alongside your blog style guide, you may take some of the information we’ve discussed and incorporate it into a blog post template, that can be an even more granular framework for your blog writers. If you’d like to see ours, you can download (and use) it now!
Putting Your Blog Style Guide into Action
After completing these five steps, you’re ready to deploy. To ensure that all content creators adopt it, make sure it’s accessible. You can store it and your content strategy and execute them within a content marketing platform like DivvyHQ. It has all these features and more to drive production and quality. See how it works by starting a free trial.