Blogging and content creation are hot topics in the online world right now; with good reason. With constant changes in algorithms on search engines; penalties and policy changes running rampant the one thing that has not changed through it all is the fact that quality content is still consistently the one element that can make all the difference.
What is blogging?
Originally blogging (first called Web Logging) was used by website and system administrators solely as a means to document changes to policy, code, or functionality. It was purely informational. With the advent of platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, and others today that definition has changed to define a method of chronologically organizing website content in a fashion that is easy to follow and categorize. It’s still informational but generally the content people blog about is related to the specific topic or market which the website is geared towards. There are food blogs, plumbing blogs, mommy blogs; blogs about just about any topic you can imagine.
Why should you blog?
There are a number of reasons of course, but here are some of the most important reasons why blogging is important to your online presence:
Blogging creates new content.
Duh. New content for your site – which search engines love – as well as new content for you to use in your other online marketing efforts via social media. If you’ve spent any time managing a social media profile for your business you’ve likely already run out of new things to post in order to drive traffic to your site. Yes, you can always simply point a link to your main page, but by blogging your create a source of new and relevant content to greet visitors when they get there.
Blogging drives traffic.
If you are consistently creating new content on your website you are giving yourself something new to say to prospective clients; also new links to use in your other online marketing portals. Point in fact: I’ve seen websites with little or no relevancy to a particular topic out rank websites actually in the related industry simply because they were posting blogs more frequently and consistently.
Blogging makes you an authority.
You don’t have to advertise. That’s right. You heard me correctly. You don’t have to advertise…well..not much anyway. If you are creating content relevant to your industry and your audience you are establishing yourself as a source for information and an authority in your field. People want to trust the businesses they hire; one of the strongest means to do that – especially to customers who have yet to use your business – is to at least look like you know what you are talking about.
If you visit my Hinsel.com fan page there is one thing you will notice: I do not advertise. Over 6 years using social media for business and in all of those thousands of posts you may find one or maybe two instances where I actually say “buy my stuff” or “I am for hire”…and yet this past year I’ve turned down more clients than ever simply because I do not have the time available to take them all on. Why do they seek me out? Because I have established myself as an authority for the services I provide. Now, can I say that’s completely because of the blogging I’ve done? Certainly not! But it has been a large part of it. Can you use social media in place of a blog? In a way, yes, although it is not as effective as using them both together.
In addition blogging creates an archive of knowledge for you and your customers. It’s great to be online, see someone ask a question, and be able to answer:
“Hi Cindy! Good question! Blogging is vitally important to gaining better visibility online, if you’d like to know more about it go check out this post on my site at wwwthesuperarticleyouarereadingrightnowdotcom.”
It will save you time in re-typing up a huge chunk of text you’ve talked to people about a hundred times AND drive traffic to your site. Win win!
Blogging can improve your SEO / SERP
Consistent blogging does a few different things for your website: It increases the frequency of which your website content is updated (a trigger for search engines),and also increases your site foot-print as well as your keyword density (both less relevant than they once were, but still important).
As social media signals gain more importance to search engines having your blog and social media efforts working in concert will only gain in value as a means to make sure the people you want to see your business are able to find you easily.
How do I do it?
First, your website must have the ability to blog. If your site is created by traditional static html methods this may not be possible, however if your site was created on a platform like self-hosted WordPress or Drupal it should be something your designer can provide with little effort.
WordPress and other dynamic content management systems (CMS) are the best and easiest ways to blog but they can be costly – ranging anywhere from $600 to several thousands of dollars – so if your budget is an issue you may want to look into other platforms like Tumblr, the BBG website, or the free version of WordPress at WordPress.com. These alternate platforms can still work great - if you use them consistently – but may still not provide the full effect of having your blog on your own website.
In essence blogging is just writing content – like this article you are reading – and the good news it doesn’t have to be hard. The size of a blog article can range from sprawling multi-page documents to nothing more than a picture and a paragraph. The difference and impact of the posts all comes down to what you put into them.
Here are some best practices for blogging:
How frequently? Well. More is better but in most cases, unless you are in an extremely high competition industry, blogging once a week is good. No less than once a month is recommended at minimum.
Use an image.
Words are what you ultimately need for search engines but images are what stimulate the human eye the most and are also important for better visibility in other places online. So be sure to stick a photo related to the post in each article.
Be the Most Interesting Person Alive.
You want to be relevant to your industry, but really, how interesting can a hundred articles about slip-sealing your drafty windows be? It never hurts to mix up all the information and education with a local interest or personal activity post to put a face to your content.
Above all just make sure you are providing good information and providing it in an interesting way. If your blog reads like an instruction manual for a toaster oven chances are your readers will only visit when they need something to fall asleep to. Be humorous, be personable.
Make sure every post has at least one link in it. Either to another page on your site or to one of your social media pages. Creating this kind of internal/external link structure in your content causes search engines to see your content as a living and valuable thing – they follow those links in many cases and give the connected pages and sites a little kickback along the way.
Keywords are words or phrases relevant to your industry, or topic; can be used as a way to let people and search engines know what it is you’re all about. These might be things like “Boise Idaho Social Media Consulting” or “Idaho Foodie Blog”.
Be sure to use specific words and phrases which you want to appear under when people search inside of your blog posts or it’s tags. This does not mean stuff every sentence with keywords over and over – that’s called stuffing and can get your page ignored by search engines AND real people alike! – but do make sure to include at least a couple of your important words/phrases when you can without making the text awkward to read. Bonus points if you link those keywords to your own content, social portals, or other lead-in points.
There’s no sure fire way better to scare away a visitor than to confront them with a massive wall of text. TL:DR is tech speak for Too Long Didn’t Read. One way to help combat this is to use images, the other way is to break up your text using BOLD and italics fonts to make it a little less daunting for the eye.
Tell people about it!
MOST important! Just like your website, social media, or anything else, chances are if you don’t tell people about it they will never know. Now, sooner or later if you are blogging consistently the search engines – as well as real live humans – will find your blog and maybe even read it, but if you are just posting in one place and expecting floods of traffic you are deceiving yourself.
Leverage email marketing and other networks to let people know about your latest blog post. When you create a new post send out an email to your list to let folks know about it – or release it as a monthly newsletter, which is silently less spammy and annoying. Be sure and post links to your latest post other places as well like Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and LinkedIn.
Hire a professional.
No, I am not trying to sell you something. (you couldn’t afford me anyway)
But fact is, if you can’t – or are unwilling to – do it yourself you’d be better off either not doing it at all or at least hiring someone to do it for you.
I always recommend a professional but fact is if budget is tight you likely can find a pre-college or college level writer who would be willing to at least create rudimentary content for you on a regular basis for a decent price. No matter who you hire make sure firstly that they are a decent writer and then be sure to communicate with them to let them know what sort of things are important to focus on for your business. If your industry is house painting having someone writing a blog every week about the benefits of bass fishing might not serve your best marketing interests.
I hope these tips have helped you to better understand blogging and it’s importance in your digital marketing strategy. With the Great And Powerful Goog changing the rules on us all every few weeks, blogging, leveraging social media, and creating great content continues to be one of the main ways to take back your status and seize your digital presence for greater success. One more bit of help before we close:
What to blog about?
Not Ernest Hemingway? No idea what to even write about? Here are some simple topics to help get you started. Pick One and write a short paragraph – more than two sentences, less than a novella – right now! And hey, if you send me a link to it I will give it a read and may even feature it on one of my social pages!
Why I started by business…
What makes my business different?
What does my business offer that my competition doesn’t?
My favorite type of customer is…
The most odd job I ever did was…
What I love about the work I do…
Most people don’t know my company offers this service…
I’ve got a special deal going on right now for….
The hardest part about my job is…
I went the extra mile for a customer by…
Why I’m not cheap but I am worth the cost…
When you hire me you get _____ extra as a free part of my service.
When I’m not doing my job I enjoy ____ in my free time.
Get to know me / who am I….
My bread and butter type of job is _____ and I love doing it.
When people think about my industry they think _____ and why they’ve got it all wrong…