Everyone you know probably has one, and everyone you know is probably talking about one in particular. Even you will have one you like to peruse from day to day. But what makes a successful Blog? And how do you apply this success to your company’s online presence?
There are many do’s and don’ts on the subject in the internet community, so we’ve put together a few for you to really help you get started on track, and give you a headstart in the world of blogging to make your company the most talked about thing in the webisphere:
First, lets face facts. There are over 9 million blogs on the internet today, with 40,000 new ones popping up each day. The subjects and fields vary from blog to blog, from the technical and expert guidance, poetry, music, film, to the day to day happenings of a teen’s life in New York City meandering the weather that day. So what does this mean to you? Well, even if we assume 99% of these are off topic and out of your remit, that means there are 40 new ones every day that could be relevant, that could be interesting, that could be discussing your business, to your potential customers, and ultimately, losing your business potential revenue.
Put Together A Strategy.
Like everything in business, and as the old saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Blogging is no exception. Put together a strategy and what you want to achieve from setting up a blog.
For example, who is your intended reader? Figuring out who you want to read your blog is key to what content you provide. Is the blog aimed at customers? Or at industry leaders and experts? Are you looking to increase sales? Chances are the content for both will be extremely different, and without clear direction of who you are targeting, your content will fail to reach your readers, and will be a wasted effort.
How do you want to be perceived? As an expert? Approachable? Quirky? Again, without clear direction you will end up writing in circles. The key to successful blogging is to gain AND maintain an audience. Make people want to come back to see what your next installment is. Make people want to subscribe to your RSS feed. Correctly thought out content with a plan of action is step one in achieving this.
It is safe to say, we can’t write about Blogging without WordPress coming up in the conversation. In our opinion, this is the best blogging platform on the market, and a great place to go for your blog. You may or may not already use WordPress for your website, and if not is easily integrated with your existing site design, and easy to use, with the option of a HTML window for the more tech-savvy among us, and a more Word-based screen with the usual text tools and icons.
Always keep your blog on site, keep your domain name as “www.yourbusiness.com/blog” etc. Without your content and readers staying onsite, it will do very little (if nothing) to growing your website and increasing traffic. Free sites (such as Tumblr) are great for personal use, but best avoided for the more professional looking blog.
WordPress is very SEO friendly and will integrate fully with your website design, and building content and structuring your blog on-site with great content will give a great kick to your marketing strategy. Make use of the free tools and plug ins available to give your online presence an added boost.
What Should I Write About?
As mentioned above, your content is key to your success. So what do you write about? Well, the world is your oyster.
As with all content – you must do your research. See what is already being said, see what is being asked. Communicate with your team, check out industry newsletters. Speak to your customers and clients and get feedback on what they would like to read about.
Don’t make it a platform as a one way advertising medium. The essence of a blog is to allow people to view the human side of the business, to get an insight to the cogs within the well oiled business machine. If you post repeated promotional material and become self-centered in your approach, you will take away the insight into your brands personality, which is sometimes the key to swaying otherwise way-ward customers. Personality does not equal un-professionalism. Write as the person, as a human, and write about what you know – let your business shine.
Remember, this is a platform to engage with your audience. Take a step back, and remember what your readers want to see. Is it advice? Industry news? Updates on products? When you find out what is valuable to them, your blog will become invaluable in return.
Like other areas of your marketing strategy, time is of the essence. To build a blog readership organically, it won’t happen overnight. The first few months may feel like no-one is reading, but keep at it, keep investing your time. Focus on your topics and subject matter. After this point – if you are still not making any headway, change your tactics, adopt a new strategy or target audience.
Incorporate Your Marketing Strategy.
All too often blogs are created for the sole purpose of wanting them to exist, as its the ‘done’ thing. Avoid this approach. Whilst it is true that Google reward the use of a blog, as it is regular updated content and implies you as a source are more relevant, this only happens as a result of exactly that; regularly updated relevant content. A well written, informative blog post once a week is more beneficial than once a day with poorly thought out content. Invest time into what you are doing and what you are writing.
When writing content much like writing copy for website, remember your SEO basics. What key words and phrases are you trying to rank for? What are trying to appear relevant to? Of course, don’t ‘keyword stuff’ your content; repeatedly mentioning a certain phrase will not only be shunned (and punished ranking-wise) by Google, but will also read terribly. Anything repeated excessively will seem exactly that.
Don’t forget your Analytics too. How else will you know who is hitting your page, and where from? Like everything, if you don’t track you can’t adapt. Which channels are most effective? Where should you invest most of your time and energy? Which subjects and posting times worked best for you? Knowledge is key to your ongoing success.
As for any part of marketing, linking and link building is critical to your blog.
Firstly, don’t forget to link to yourself from your social media channels and any site you use where you can add links. Use existing pages and information to convey a more in-depth point, or direct customers to a particular service or offer that might be relevant to what you are writing. If you coin your content, the traffic to your blog should be high – therefore the potential for link use-age is also high. Well thought out and placed links should increase traffic and hits to the chosen landing page.
Don’t be afraid to link to outside your website but don’t overdo it either. Give an impression that you understand that there is a world outside your company, and you know exactly what is going on in it. Use your common sense of course, don’t link to competitors. Look to forums, local news stories, sites with collective knowledge and widely used in your industry.
Citing your sources is not only ethical, but it is a great way of building relationships with other blogs. Give credit where credit is due. Again, remember to track where hits are coming from, and work closely with those that are proving effective.
Spread the Word.
Your company blog has the potential to be the centrepiece for your social media, driving customers and visitors from your various channels (Linked In, Facebook, Twitter et al) back to your blog via calls-to-action and landing pages. It is a flexible and easy way of producing content, attracting – and most importantly – maintaining – interest in your product and company.
When you write a new article, or post something new – discuss it on Twitter and Facebook. Make sure all social profiles contain a link to your blog in your bio. Don’t forget to interact – if someone comments on a blog, or contacts you via a social forum, respond accordingly. Remember that the biggest benefit of the social circles is building relations with (existing and potential) customers and clients. Make an effort to engage in a timely manner and make them feel a valued part of your brand’s community.
There are great plug ins available, especially so on WordPress as we mentioned above, enabling you to integrate your blog directly to your social media. First ensure you have ‘share’/’like’/’tweet’ buttons for your readers to do some of the work for you (providing you have great content, this should be the easy part). Make sure that you have a view of your social activity on your blog, a twitter stream for example. (You can see ours at the top of the page!) Second, use plug ins such as to automatically post new articles and pieces to your social sites in the blink of an eye. Making use of these tools will save you time in the long run, and make the maintenance of your blog a little more pain free. Do your research and see what works best for you. On the WordPress site, everything is rated by user experience on a 1-5 star basis, making it easy to chose exactly what you are looking for.
[image via lifeinclarity.blogspot.com]