"As they always have and always will, people seek brands that will help them survive, help them succeed, and help them take care of their own. They want brands that will help them be loved and admired and that will, in some way, enrich or improve their lives." Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide and the advertiser responsible for "Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun?"

Before we can boost your blog marketing, we have to ask ourselves one important question: Are your blogs worth marketing? Is your content helping people survive, succeed, and take care of their families? Is your blog giving people practical ways to enrich their lives? Is what you're writing making people wealthier, healthier, happier, wiser, more fulfilled? Is your blog telling them something they don't already know? If the answer is no, start over.

Review these recent blog writing, editing, and marketing trainings 

Pam Hendrickson, author of The Art of Impact, says "“We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom. “The world will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information, at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.”


Check your current and older blogs against this checklist.

With the upgrade to Drupal 9, some processes have changed which impact the presentation of your content. 

Blog Checklist

  • Ensure every blog article has a Main Article Image sized 730 x 400 pixels with limited or no text on the image. The Banner image is optional. If you choose to use a banner image, be aware the image will be very narrow. 
  • Remove photos from inside text sections, especially at the beginning of blogs so they don’t overlap the Main Article Image. There are several new options for photos.
  • Add the Parent Blog Name (bottom of edit screen) by beginning to type the name of your blog. It will auto-populate the blog. You need to do this for every previous blog and new blog moving forward. This is what links the blog to its archive.
  • Choose keywords specific to the blog content. 
  • Check and correct previous links that may lead to deleted pages or discontinued legacy websites. 
  • Change any naked URLs (https://...) to hyperlinked text. 
  • Add any appropriate H2, H3, or H4 headings.  

Download the checklist.


Try these new blog features

There are several new options that enhance the readers' experience with blogs. 

Image Text Row

To associate specific text with a specific photo:

  • Size your image to 1200 x 880 pixels.
  • Choose Add Image Text Row from the drop down menu beneath the text box.
  • Choose whether the photo appears on the right or left side of the page and the proportion (25%, 33%, 50%).
  • If you add a subtitle, it acts as an H2.
  • Add the text you want associated with the photo.

Image Row

To highlight up to three images with captions:

  • Size each image 1200 x 880 pixels.
  • Choose Add Image Row.
  • Upload the image with alt text. You may wish to add the credit to the image. This is for internal purposes and does not show on the published page. Click Save and Insert.
  • Add an appropriate caption (optional).
  • Repeat up to two times for a maximum of three images.

Image Gallery

To add several images to a blog: 

  • If possible, size images 1200 x 880 pixels.
  • Choose Add Image Gallery.
  • Add a gallery title, subtitle, and description. 
  • Click Add New File to upload each image.
  • Use the Title field under the image for the caption. The caption will only show when the image is clicked.

Buttons Inside Rich Text

Use sparingly. 

  • Create the hyperlink first.
  • Click inside the linked text and select Styles.
  • Choose the color/style of button. 

Scheduling Options

If you wish the blog to remain unpublished until a specific advanced date, use the Scheduling Options. Enter a date you want the blog to be published. This date should match the Posted On field.

Posted On

If you post an advanced date in the Posted On field, the blog will not show up in your list of current blogs, but it will be visible for anyone with the link and will show up in the list of Related Content.


Avoid using tables; summarize instead. If necessary:

  • Click the table icon from the ribbon.
  • Enter the column, row, and header information.
  • Immediately add dummy content to expand the fields so it’s easier to see the fields.
  • Click anywhere inside the table and select Responsive Table from the Styles drop down.
  • Enter your content

To find ideas for your blog content:

  • Use Keywords People Use or Answer the Public to see what keywords people are using when they search for solutions to problems. 
    • Click on search terms on the Answer the Public site to see who Google ranks in the top spots. Compare what your competitors are doing to earn a high search rank.
  • Check the popular search terms that are driving people to our site. This list is updated quarterly on the commit website
  • Check the Extension website data analytics dashboard, coming June 20, to measure your blog's reach. Remember, it takes time for Google to find your content, so don't be disappointed with early results.

Add hyperlinks to related content on our website

  • It is acceptable to have up to eight or so hyperlinks to related Illinois Extension content. The number of links is dependent on the length of your content.
  • Don't place two separate links close together. For example, do not create two links out of University of Illinois Extension by creating a link to University of Illinois and a separate link to Extension. That creates accessibility challenges. 
  • Don't hyperlink an entire long sentence. Link enough words that the reader understands exactly where the link will take them.
  • Although you can link to content on another organization's website, remember that once you send them off our site, it is possible they will not return. When possible, if a good Illinois resource exists, use it instead of another state's content.

Write scannable content

  • Create visual signposts by using H2 and H3 headings that allow readers to jump to the content they're looking for.
  • Use bullets and numbered lists.
  • Only use bold on the left side of the page as paragraph starters.
  • Consider adding a pull quote to highlight important statements.

Make Google love you: Expertise, Authority, Trust 

Your rank in search results is determined by whether Google believes that you (and Extension) are an expert, authoritative, and trustworthy.

  • Add a link to your online bio (and make sure your bio is rich in keywords related to the topic you write about).
  • Add an about the author section.
  • Create internal links to other content on our family of websites.
  • Create a few external links to reputable sites.
  • Define your topic using longtail keywords. If you need a reminder about keywords, watch this SEO training by Liz Smith.
  • Use H2, H3, H4 headings. That shows Google your content is structured.
  • Write solid, short, direct headlines which include active verbs. Score and improve your headline at CoSchedule.
    • Include your topic keywords. A cute headline won't get clicks if people don't know what the topic is. 
    • Include a verb in your headline! No more noun-only headlines, please. For example, use: "Grow bluer rocks with rotation" instead of "Blue Rocks" (and yes, that's a silly, made-up headline, but you get the point). 
    • Keep it short (6 to 8 words).
    • If appropriate, include a number
    • Use sentence case.
    • Invoke positive, happy emotions vs. guilt or fear.

Market your blog effectively

  1. Build an email marketing list using Illinois' Webtools Groups Manager
  2. Only ask for the information you need. If you just need their email address, then don’t ask for more.
  3. Market your subscription group.
  4. Add your subscription link to your unit newsletters.
  5. Ask partner organization to add your subscription link in their newsletters
  6. Add subscription link to your unit website.
  7. Add subscription link to webinar registrations.
  8. Add subscription link to end of webinar presentations.
  9. Add a subscription link to your staff bio.
  10. Add a subscription link to your email signature.
  11. Add a subscription link at the end of each newspaper column.
  12. Include a subscription link at the bottom of each blog you post.
  13. Add a call to join the list at the end of each radio programs.
  14. Offer a gift (PDF of information) for subscribing.
  15. Acknowledge each new subscriber with a gift (another PDF of information).
  16. Send an email notification to your subscription list when a new blog is posted.
  17. Add your blog link to your social media profile bio.
  18. Add a subscription button in your email newsletter; write that call to action button in first person.
  19. Change the color of your call to action button; blue conveys trust.
  20. Buy targeted social media ads aimed at the readers you want to get. 
  21. Ask people to help you be successful by sharing your blog with their friends.
  22. Have iPads/tablets at events for easy sign ups.
  23. Get endorsements from organizations influencers, collaborators, with similar content.
  24. Print bookmarks, business cards, refrigerator magnets, etc.
  25. Turn your blog into a podcast. Many people consume content while they're multitasking (running, cleaning, driving, working, exercising). Same words, different medium. 

This information is supported by expert research from: