Comprehensive Best Practice Guidelines For Brands and Marketers on Medium.com
Medium, launched in 2012, was initially conceived as a platform for individuals wanting to tell their stories online. Since then, brands have begun to experiment with it as a place to amplify their voice.
This Medium guideline will you with a comprehensive overview with over twenty (22) best practices for integrating Medium into audience content outreach, blog, paid, social media, and other digital marketing initiatives.
These strategies can be used by bloggers, start-ups, in-house teams at established brands, marketers, and agencies with great success.
By the end, you'll have a robust framework of how to use Medium.
is a digital publishing platform built to reward writer content, or "stories," for quality, substance, and authenticity -- not for the author's popularity or influencer status.
Medium intends to allow people with interesting points of view to express themselves. Medium's editorial staff, "Recommend" and "Clap" buttons, collections of related content, and algorithms curate what they feel are inspiring perspectives on just about any topic.
Medium doesn't follow the traditional blog's reverse-chronological order convention (the latest post on top). Instead, Medium prioritizes what it views as most relevant, informative, or thought-provoking -- awarding the highest visibility and prominence based on engagement, regardless of its published date.
Medium believes that this method rewards writers for crafting quality content and readers versus frequency and volume of posts.
Collectively, the platform actively seeks to promote this premium content without "giving in to the incentives of
." Medium depends on various user behaviors — like follows and claps — to determine what content to feature and make the site work well for everyone.
Medium's revenue model is subscription-based for writers, publishers, and readers. Medium states this is a key part of their system for building high-quality publishing at scale. After a free number of monthly articles, member readers hit a
This allows brands to get in front of motivated readers interested in fulfilling their desire for quality information by supporting writers contributing to various topics.
How to use Medium: Best Practices
Best practices for brands on Medium have unique principles to follow. However, there are SEO on-page optimization and quality content principles which can, and should be used for improved impact.
Medium's intent and primary audience interests are different from traditional blogs or what is to be expected from a brand's website content. There are some distinctions brands should avoid when publishing on Medium to respect these conventions. We'll consider these subtleties in this guide.
Medium Best Practice #1: Avoid traditional content marketing
Medium isn't a platform that promotes publishing sales and marketing-heavy content. You can include links to promote your own work, goods or services, but don't push your offerings too much.
Medium itself says this is generally frowned upon in their writing community. Directly from
Third-party advertising and sponsorships are not allowed. You may not advertise or promote third-party products, services, or brands through Medium posts, publications, or letters. This includes images that indicate brand sponsorship in a post or letter, or as part of a publication name or logo.
Images functioning as third-party ads are not allowed. Inline images or embeds that link out and function as banner ads for third-party brands are not allowed.
You must disclose affiliate links or payment for a post. Affiliate links, such as links out to Amazon with your code, or any other link out where you will receive a commission or other value, are allowed in posts. But, you must disclose somewhere in the post that it includes affiliate links. If you have received payment, goods or services, or something else of value in exchange for writing a post, you must still disclose this fact in writing within your post (as per
Medium Best Practice #2: Target specific audience personas
Medium wants to get relevant content in front of audiences that will find it interesting and valuable. Similar to how YouTube, Instagram, or Quora attempts to combine similar content, their platform works to that aim.
Creating or curating content based on specific themes or topics of interest will help make it available to those that matter. Having an internal plan to target particular audience personas or readers will benefit a brand's Medium strategy.
Think user journey personas in marketing. The articles posted on these themes become more focused on having targeted audiences, which allows for more significant engagement potential.
Medium Best Practice #3: Create themes related to your business, industry, and audience interest
Once you've targeted your audience, look to create themed collections or topic categories with brand relevance. Use these themes or topics to publish specific content – either original work or through contributing writers.
This will help establish your brand as an expert in your field. Also, this provides signals to Medium's curation process to feature your content in relevant feeds of other readers.
Brands can create branded collections and publish featured articles for them. This approach gives your readers control over whether they want to engage with your content once trust and interest are established.
Medium Best Practice #4: Design a data-driven medium strategy
No doubt, you or your content team are planning or should already have in place a strategy for the company's blog topics, calendar release dates, etc.
Ideally, this strategy is based on measurable objectives, key results, and KPIs that align with your brand's yearly conversion and growth goals. Here, specific strategies and tactics are crafted, implemented, reviewed, and refined to influence positive outcomes.
It would be best to consider a similar methodology for Medium but using a different content strategy that runs parallel. While appropriate blog content can and should be reposted, consider crafting Medium-only content.
One advantage of this strategy is that it allows more editorial freedom to test what resonates with your targeted audience. It also sets the stage for collecting comparative metrics to measure the impact and effectiveness of each channel's content.
A data-driven example for Medium
For a simple example, your company can track emails of those who sign up for the company blog, register for contact follow-ups, downloads, newsletters, etc., and social profiles of site visitors for comparison.
Using this information, brands can see where there's overlap or differences between Medium reader engagement (including "Recommendations," "Follows," and "Claps") with blog content, site page visits/sessions, and even engagement with content on other social channels.
This two-fold strategy could help acknowledge what works for each channel and better inform what content to develop to meet audience interests.
, brands can gain even more valuable audience insights to super-charge content creation.
Medium Best Practice #5: Explore an editorial approach to generating traffic
It's vital to create content that your audience will find interesting and insightful. The impact of posting frequency is highly debated. Is quality or quantity higher ranking signals for Medium?
Regardless of your posting cadence, you don't have to generate all the content yourself or be solely responsible for generating site traffic to your Medium page.
Here are a few practices to follow to ensure your Medium posts will be of value and get in front of your audience.
Provide Interesting Content: Medium readers highly value personal points of view and experiences. It is strongly encouraged to post original insights and perspectives.
Curate Feature Industry Related Content Regularly: You can leverage reader-relevant content by curating posts and topics that others have written. Encourage people to submit their stories in the description on the collection's main page.
You don't have to create all of the content yourself. You can invite others to contribute to your Medium themes to give your audience more reasons to engage with your page.
Submit to relevant Medium collections (now called "publications"): Formerly called Collections, publications collect articles into a curated set of posts. Ask Medium publication owners to add your article to their publication.
Getting your posts featured on other Medium collections/publications can allow you to extend beyond just your followers by getting in front of however many followers that publication has.
Note: You can only include a post in one additional publication.
Medium Best Practice #6: Encourage engagement with your posts
Asking readers to 'clap' if they found your article valuable is a good practice. Claps are considered in Medium's ranking algorithm, and many 'claps' can catapult your article to more readers' eyes.
Medium Best Practice #7: Follow people who engage with your content
Social media conventions have influenced Medium readers' expectations of social etiquette. Following those that follow you has become a common practice on the most major social networks.
Medium's Follow feature allows a similar pattern. Following your audience signals, you appreciated their engagement and encouraged them to return to consume your stories.
SEO Influenced Medium Tips
Is Medium good for SEO? It can be if leveraged synchronously with your company website and blog content correctly.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for "search engine optimization." Simply put, SEO is a set of practices designed to improve the appearance and positioning of web pages in organic search results on search engines (SERPs) such as
Organic search is the best way for people to discover and access online content. Having content that answers their questions will attract prospective and existing customers to your content.
The better visibility your pages have in search engine results, the more likely you'll capture your audience's attention, leading to better engagement and business.
SEO marketers use what's called on-page optimization to better answer questions. They include what are called keywords within page content.
On-page factors are commonly optimized for search engine optimization (SEO) reasons. On-page writing elements refer to individual tweaks made to a piece of content to improve its searchability and user-friendliness.
Medium also has on-page tweaks that you can use to increase visibility. Medium's large site and domain authority give the pages it contains weight to get what's called indexed quickly.
However, fundamentally sound SEO practices bundled with the data-driven strategies mentioned in this article can improve SEO rankings for content posted on your company website, blog, and other digital assets.
And make sure you’re using these SEO tips on your own content pages (home and site pages, blog pages, landing pages, etc.) as well.
9 SEO influenced tips you can use in Medium
Medium SEO Tip #1: Optimize your headlines
Optimize your headlines by making them clear and descriptive for your audience. When a reader sees a post, the first set of questions they are likely to ask about its contents are:
Why should I read this content?
What will I find here?
How is this relevant to me?
If you target a broad and general group, a clear and descriptive headline composition is essential. The goal is to generate topic headlines with mass appeal. (For example, headlines with "the best", "how-to", "your guide.")
While there is liberty for creative, eye-catching headlines, unclear headlines could detract readers and lead to higher bounce rates when going after a broad general group.
However, Medium is best used to get in front of targeted niche segments with relevant content. This is why understanding your intended audience is so influential in headlining copy.
A more creative approach is welcomed when targeting the encouraged niche segments and can improve click-through rates. By making more specific headlines that cater to your audience, a stronger bond can be formed between your brand and readers, as they feel you "get" them.
Both approaches have positive value. Using a headline based on your content team's goals and strategy for the specific post/article would be best. In either case, make sure your audience will "understand" and resonate with the language contained in your headlines.
You want your article's headline/title and subtitles to intrigue the reader into continuing to read, informing them of what is unique about your content.
Here are a few more considerations when crafting your optimized Medium headlines:
Use powerful words and numbers in your titles to grab attention.
Always include at least one or more relevant keywords in the title.
Write headlines assuming users won't read further. Ask yourself, "How can we easily summarize the contents of our article in this headline?" By anticipating benefits, you'll increase the chance of audiences engaging with your content.
Focus on the reader's perspective and not the company/service. Instead of saying "this is what we are," or "this is my offer and CTA," aim to make clear, "this is what you'll get from reading this post," making the benefits more evident to the reader and increase your article’s value perception.
Medium SEO Tip #2: Include powerful images
Medium SEO Tip #3: Use Alt-text on images
Be sure to include alt-text with these images.
What is alt text? Alt text (alternative text), also known as "alt attributes," “alt descriptions," or technically incorrectly as "alt tags,” are used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page.
Alt-text makes visuals more accessible to sight-impaired users and leads to an improved page experience.
Medium SEO Tip #4: Format headers
Using header tags properly in Medium is essential in informing search engines of your content and improving the reader experience. The large T signifies an H1 tag and should contain some variation of your target keyword. The small T denotes an H2 tag and should complement your H1.
Medium doesn't have a meta description area. Instead, use the display title/subtitle feature to customize descriptions relevant to your audience.
Medium SEO Tip #6: Add topic tags
Tagging your content to relevant topics allows you to reach a variety of readers. Add topic tags that are both high volume and pertinent to your story. You can add up to five tags per article.
Medium SEO Tip #7: Use the optimal length for your content’s intent
Your content doesn't need to be all long-form to succeed on Medium. A strategic approach to content length is necessary when posting on Medium.
While there is no designated word count for any story on Medium, actionable short-form content can perform just as well as complete guides on Medium.
Stories of 400 words and under have generally been popular for this type of content.
Content between 1000 and 2000 words is reasonable for longer content with mass appeal. That content length equates to about 6-8 reading minutes. You also have more opportunities to include relevant keyword terms to help rank on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Long-form or in-depth content above 2200 words is generally better when intending to establish authority on a topic. Research suggests readers tend to trust content more when the length is increased. (
In-depth, authoritative content is also generally favored by SERPs because more relevant keywords and contextual information can be included. People tend to share or "Recommend" in-depth topics more frequently.
When brands post to Medium, the overall content strategy should inform the optimal length of each article. It is best practice to use a combination of all three.
Medium SEO Tip #8: Optimize content structure for over 25% improvements
While your audience greatly influences sentence and grammatical structure, some data points signal what increases readership and higher "Recommendations" on Medium. (Source:
Note: Easy qualifies as 75%-85% of the article's sentences are brief and straightforward in structure.
Read time of 6-7 minutes (+20%)
According to Medium: "Read time is based on the average reading speed of an adult (roughly 275 WPM). We take the total word count of a post and translate it into minutes. Then, add 12 seconds for each inline image."
Paragraph lengths of 3 - 4 lines.
Uses sentence case (+20%)
Sentence case is a capitalization style in which only the first word of a sentence and proper nouns are capitalized, with the rest of the words in lowercase.
Medium SEO Tip #9 Create a custom URL
Medium allows content creators to customize their story links before publishing. Doing so makes sense for readers but also has SEO value.
6 Bonus SEO best practice tips that can be use on Medium
Link back to your website so readers can gain insights into your offerings
When reposting a blog article from your website, use either the