A business blog for your company is a really useful tool in a profitable online marketing campaign. It is the perfect platform to publish your ideas, create networking opportunities and also boost your SEO and search rankings, all on your own terms.
In addition it shows visitors to your website that your business is alive and kicking, as well as showing them what you stand for and why your business is different.
Getting started with blogging
It is often said that the hardest part of blogging is getting started. People get too hung up on the ideal time to launch a blog. They decide to wait until they have a new product launch, or the New Year or any other number of events. The fact is, there is no perfect time to start. When it comes to starting, there is no time like the present.
It is worth keeping in mind that your blog audience is going to take time to grow and you will need time to get in your stride with posting, so start today.
What to write?
Many business owners worry that won’t have enough to talk about for their blog to be interesting. What they forget is that for most people outside your company or industry, a lot of the insights that you take for granted and think are common knowledge, might be completely new and very interesting.
If you have information that can move your audience closer to their goals, what may seem mundane and obvious to you, could be the most interesting and informative thing that they have read all week.
Regarding the actual content, try to cover the sort of topics that your potential customers are already thinking and talking about as well as trying to solve their problems or giving them new angles on issues relevant to them.
A useful feature about blogs is that they use ‘categories’ to sort their content and you can plan these categories in advance, using them to guide your content creation and make sure that the topics your cover with your posts are all useful to your audience.
For example if you had a photography blog your content categories could be:
- Digital photography
- Black and white photography
You can see how the categories would be useful to your visitors and help them to get the information and content that they needed.
It is worth remembering that you don’t have to write all of the content yourself. Some of it could be outsourced or if you have a member of staff who specializes in specific areas of the businesses you could get them to add useful content.
The ongoing content is where most blogs begin to slide. Many business owners start off enthusiastically and post regularly. But gradually their post become more and more infrequent until their blog readers can spot the virtual tumbleweed of a ghost site with little or no activity.
The dates of the ‘latest posts’ give the game away and give the game away by showing that the once eager blogger has given up.
The best way to prevent your blog from falling into the same trap is by creating and sticking to a schedule in order to force yourself to come up with daily blog posts.
Whether you want to blog daily, weekly or monthly, committing yourself to sitting down and coming up with a new blog post will be the key to keeping the blog alive. If you leave it until you have ‘some spare time’, it simply won’t get done.
Use lots of visual contact
If you include pictures and videos in your blog posts, this can help to attract clicks when the posts are shared on social media site. In addition, they will boost engagement with the posts themselves and help your readers to identify with you.
Posts with pictures get shared more often on Facebook than those without. They help to capture and hold your audiences interest when they see the post on your site.
The kind of pictures you use on your blog are important too. Try not to use too many ‘stock’ photographs as they will look too generic. Where possible, use original photography, artwork or infographics wherever possible.
That said, just how much time and energy you have to put into sourcing the images for your blog depends heavily on your business or market. A local painter and decorator will find that iPhone pictures of recent decorating jobs give him or her a lot of more credibility amongst their audience, whereas a large corporate training company would be expected to use professionally taken photos for example.
Small businesses often worry about what sort of visual content they should be using on their blog posts, but whatever your product or service, there is generally something that you can show your audience that illustrates to them the benefit of what you are offering or shows them the end results or reminds them of a pain they are experiencing and want resolved.
Blogging and the search engines
Search engines can be a fantastic (and free) source of traffic to your blog, which ultimately lead to more leads and customers for your business.
In order to increase your blogs visibility in search results, it helps to have a basic understanding of SEO (search engine optimization) and how to use keywords.
Keywords are the words and phrases your audience uses to search for your product or service. For example, a women’s shop might sell a range of sandals for weddings. After talking to their customers and doing some research online, the owner identifies that the phrase “white wedding sandals” is very popular and matches with their most popular shoes in this category.
They might decide to target the phrase “white wedding sandals” by writing a blog post called “The Perfect White Wedding Sandals”. This post could talk about recent trends in wedding footwear, the different white wedding sandals the shop sells, the benefits of each type and considerations when choosing a pair.
The words “white”, “wedding” and “sandals”, the phrase “white wedding sandals” and related phrases such as “white wedding shoes” would appear throughout the article giving Google and the other search engines a very clear idea that the subject of this blog post was…you’ve guessed it…white wedding sandals.
Here are some other quick keyword tips for your blog posts:
- Use just one or two keywords in each blog post:
By focusing on a narrowly targeted set of keywords (compare “White Wedding Sandals” to the term “Wedding shoes”. The latter is a lot less specific), you make it much more likely that your posts will rank highly in search engines. This will encourage more buyers to your site. People searching for white wedding sandals are much more ready to buy than those searching for wedding shoes, who are probably still in the research phase because they haven’t yet identified the type of shoes they are looking for.
- Use your keywords in the post title:
Titles have huge importance in SEO, so including your keywords in your title (and early on in the blog post) will really help boost your rankings as well as show your audience clearly what your post is about.
- Use the keywords in the blog post:
Obviously it is important to use the keywords in your blog post, but it is also a good idea to include variations and related phrases as these give the search engines a broader understanding of the subject of your post.
- Be aware of keyword density and post length:
One of the most common mistakes made by those new to SEO is overusing their keywords under the assumption the more times they use the keywords the better it is. That is not the case at all. It is important to keep in mind that the main audience for your site is the readers, not the search engines, and nothing should be done to the blog which jeopardizes your reader’s experience. “Keyword stuffing”, as the overuse of keywords is commonly known, not only makes text difficult to read but is also looked down upon by Google. In order to be seen as high quality content, your posts should be a minimum of 300 words.
- Image alt tags:
Don’t forget to use keywords in your featured image’s alt tags within your blog. Image alt tags are used to tell search engines what a picture is about, but they also come in handy for SEO.
Growing your blog audience
Over time, the goal is to attract new readers, build familiarity with them and eventually turn many of these readers into customers.
We will now take a look at some ways to promote the content on your blog to make it more visible.
Encouraging social media sharing:
A social media strategy that relies in any way on your audience taking the initiative or going out of their way to help you doomed to failure. You have to make it easy for them. One of the ways that you can do this is to make it easy for them to share your blog posts on social media with just one click by including social media sharing buttons right in the blog posts themselves. If you want to collect the email addresses of your readers, you can offer a subscription option that allows people to automatically receive your new blog posts. Again, make it as simple as possible. The more you force people to work for it, the fewer will bother.
Marketing your blog posts in your own social channels:
Once you have created your keyword – optimized blog post, included pictures, written a great headline and made it easy for people to share, it’s time to get promoting it on your own channels. Linking to your new post from your company Facebook, Twitter. Google+ and LinkedIn accounts can all bring your valuable traffic. If your content is very
visual, posting pictures from your blog post on Pinterest can be another great source of visitors as the pictures will automatically link back to your blog.
Getting the most exposure from your blog
To get the most potential and exposure from your blogs you must:
Post regularly: Aim to become the ‘go to’ site for your niche. You don’t always have to post original articles, you can repost extracts from other sources too, so long as you credit the original source and link back to it.
Plan your posts: Plan in advance with an editorial calendar. Write a batch of posts and schedule them to post on future dates.
Invite others: You can invite others to contribute, such as your co-workers, employees and peers. You can even invite guest posts from your community.
Integrate your social media: Use your blog as a ‘networking hub’ to pull in your latest tweets, Flickr photos and other social media. Don’t forget to include links outward to the social networks you use to build up followers and fans.
Encourage sharing: You can do this with bookmarking buttons such as ‘tweet this’ ‘like’ and ‘pin it’ underneath every post. You can also install the Facebook ‘like’ button.
Market your blog: Automatically post your blog posts to Twitter and Facebook as you publish them using social media managers.
The Next Step
Most small businesses simply don’t have the time to run their own online marketing campaigns. That is where we can help.
We use our expert knowledge in a range of internet marketing services to help bring our clients' websites to unprecedented levels of success. Through effective online marketing strategies and our expert SEO services, we can help turn your website in to your business' most powerful lead generator. Why not give us a call to see what we can do for your business.