Strategy #5: Using Your Blog as the Centerpiece of Your Content Strategy
from Building a Better Business Website is coming a day early because along with it is a 2-day FREE download of the ebook
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We all know that blogging is a great way to share ideas, give customers and readers useful tips, and even offer a little bit of industry insight and/or your own perspective.
When you do these things, you aren’t simply adding more “content” to your website (although that creates a wonderful SEO benefit), you are also demonstrating the fact that you are more than just another vendor – you can be a thought leader who is willing to share information and insights that can improve people’s careers, fortunes and even their lives.
In other words, your blog can help you build credibility and attract readership (in terms of new prospects coming back to your site) with each post.
And of course, the more great blog posts you have, the larger your current, searchable content grows. That means that blogging is good for all aspects of your online marketing efforts, from search engine optimization to prospect attraction.
Remember that getting Google’s attention shouldn’t be your blogging priority. If it is, it won’t take long before your posts end up being a stale mixture of keyword phrases instead of outstanding content that'll form the back-bone of your business website.Keeping Up With Regularly Scheduled Programming
It doesn’t take most companies long to figure out that putting together a blog post is relatively easy, but putting together dozens of them, week after week, can be a challenge.
But, for blogs to be effective, your posts do have to be consistent. That means you can’t simply add new content when you feel like it, or when you think one of your competitors might be gaining on you in search rankings. Instead, you are better off to follow the kind of plan that magazines and TV stations do: an editorial calendar. (Download the marketer's toolkit here http://goo.gl/Z1d2Qh
. It includes a calendar.)
If that sounds complicated, realize that I am just talking about a list of topics, themes, or posts that you can put together ahead of time. While I went into this concept a little more in depth in my Findability
book, what you really have to know at the moment is that you shouldn’t be writing posts off the top of your head; instead, you should have a running list of ideas that you’re constantly adding to and pulling your best concepts from.
Doing so won’t just help you overcome writer’s block and inertia, it will also help you maintain a more focused blog (imaging the boost you could provide to your online campaigns with great blog content). Most of all, an editorial calendar will help keep you on time and on topic, which are key to your blogging success over the long run. Creating Content That Matters to Your Audience
Naturally, you’re going to have things you want to mention on your company blog, like new products, discounts and promotions, and so on. Be careful not to turn your blog into a platform for self-promotion — that’s exactly how you’ll lose readers. As they say, you can attract more bears with honey than with vinegar.
When your blog is doing its best work, you have potential buyers who are coming to your site regularly to read your new posts. Once they get into the habit of doing that (or when they see something so compelling that they want to learn more), they could take the next step: engagement
Before those things can happen, though, you have to offer readers blog content that gets their attention and speaks to the issues or challenges they care about. In other words, you need to add material that matters to them, not necessarily the ones that fit directly in line with your sales and marketing objectives.
Over time, you’ll learn how to combine your goals with their needs to build unforgettable posts. In the beginning, though, err on the side of caution and make sure that the content you’re putting on your blog speaks directly to the buyers you want to interest the most. Well crafted - original - actionable, educational, informational and occasionally even entertaining content scores well.Optimizing Content in the Ways That Matter
I mentioned the search engine optimization benefits of blogging, but won’t get into the technical details here. Mainly because those details change regularly, so anything I put into this book will become outdated pretty quickly. Check out my blog or some of the SEOs ( +David Amerland +Peter Nikolow +Barry Schwartz
to name just a few ) in Google Plus to stay on top of SEO trends.
With that in mind, let me just point out that, after you have finished putting together a strong piece of content, it’s a good idea to take steps to ensure that it’s easy for potential customers to find and access. That might mean making slight changes to the wording, adding sorting tags/categories, or even using plug-ins like that created by +Yoast
to help you maximize the SEO value of your posts.
While most agencies and marketers will stop at that point, realize that you still have the most important job to do: optimize your post for readers and see if you can do more to get them to take that all-important next step: engagement.
This might mean adding a strong call to action at the end of the post (an excellent best practice, as +Mike Allton
points out in this post: http://goo.gl/7yNRcs
), inserting a few statistics or supporting facts (check out this +Moz
post on the benefits of breaking out your visuals assets: http://goo.gl/Gt5YjD
), or doing something else altogether.
The point, though, is getting people to find your content is only half the battle; getting them to stay on the page and further their relationship with you – even in a small way – is the real challenge, because that’s the difference between web traffic and lead generation... and it’s where bottom-line results come from.Calling in a Fresh Set of Eyes and Fingers
As I noted in Findability,
most business people aren’t natural blog content writers, and often don't have the time to put together regular of posts even if they were. Yet, your blog needs fresh content on a regular basis - you need to feed it at least weekly.
There are a couple of reasonable solutions to this problem. One is to set a regular schedule for your own blogging, treating it the same way you would an important appointment. You might just be surprised with what you can accomplish with 30 minutes or an hour once or twice a week.
Another option is to delegate blogging within your team. If you have someone with a bit of literary talent on staff, see if you can make blogging a regular part of their role. Or better yet, share the task among a few team members to cover multiple insights and viewpoints.
And finally, if neither of those is a viable option, you can turn to an outside copywriter (either one that you hire, or one that works through your agency). The advantage here is that you are likely to get top-quality content supplied to you as regularly as you’d like. The only downside, other than having to pay for that great content, is that it can be tempting to simply turn your blog over to someone else. (That would be a bad idea, as not only can your voice easily be lost, you won't be on point when it comes to engagement. Both leading to fewer readers – and opportunities – instead of more.)
As with all the advice you find in my books, please remember that in the end, you are the person responsible for your own online marketing success (or lack of). Your vendors and partners should help, but you need to make a commitment to being involved. Honestly, I can't fathom a world where a business wouldn't benefit from serious involvement in their own marketing and communication efforts.
So, if you have someone else doing the writing for your blog, internally or externally, make sure you’re the one setting the tone, developing topic ideas, approving and editing posts to ensure they maintain your voice. Again, people will thank you for it.Blogging Is REALLY Worth the Effort
If keeping an editorial calendar, tweaking your content to fit the needs of prospects and customers, and working with outside writers seems like a lot of work, know that it can be. But, also remember that your blog can easily pull new opportunities your way, serving as a a powerful magnet, continuously attracting people to your site.
In other words, keep in mind that blogging is simply a matter of priority. If you can keep at it, the return can be significant.
: One a very related side note, +David Amerland
, author of the Google Semantic Search (http://goo.gl/fj06vr
) , posted his year-end roundup of #SMTpowertalk
recordings of which I was fortunate to be a guest panelist. They're a collection of insights from some of the search and marketing industry knowledgeable minds (http://goo.gl/7Rkgn2
). Check them out - very worth it.
----------BONUS Material:Pro Tip
: Regular blogging means that you can throw a wide net with your topics. You don't have to (shouldn't actually) blog about your services - this is your chance to discuss topics that are important to your customers, solving their problems and drawing their interest. Keep it informational, helpful and actionable most of the time - but don't be afraid to be provocative either (one post I did on memes earned 17,000+ links - astounding to say the least). Your readers will thank you for it. Resources
: 15 Business Blogging Mistakes to Avoid (http://goo.gl/hpT8JH
: Creating a Content Machine via HubSpot (http://goo.gl/9U8AVm
)Missed the previous chapters?Strategy 4: Empowering Your Company To Do More on Your Ownhttps://plus.google.com/112138989808817331242/posts/6T9hyFh6d11Strategy 3: Distilling Your Message into Unforgettable Contenthttps://plus.google.com/112138989808817331242/posts/SYKRsNxBzVGStrategy 2: Making the Structure of your Business Website Customer-Friendlyhttps://plus.google.com/112138989808817331242/posts/Fw2uHB487T2Strategy 1: Putting Marketing Insight To Usehttps://plus.google.com/112138989808817331242/posts/Zdbp59fHP4xRemember to SHARE THIS post and let me know if you'd like to be added to my ebook post notification circle.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays all!
=======================A GIFT FOR YOU:
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to +Christine DeGraff
for keeping it real on the Plus. She's been a big part of my success here as I come up on 1 million profile views. A great mentor to many.