Blogging has become an essential part of every business that has an online presence and it’s set to become even more so, thanks to Google and the changes they’re introduced this year.
Content is no longer just king, it’s emperor. Firstly we had the Penguin and Panda updates, which penalise sites for using SEO shortcuts such as link farms and content mills. Not only that, but a new study has shown that keywords are becoming less and less available for SEO.
This makes the job of a company’s SEO specialist that much harder, as they have to concentrate on the quality of posts, the quantity and be careful that they’re not too repetitive.
This is achieved through content marketing, rather than keywords and search terms, which of course includes blogs. It also includes white papers, articles, videos and so on, but for the moment, we’ll concentrate on what makes a good blog.
To begin with, creating content with no technical knowledge is a simple affair these days. Content management systems are much more functional than they were in the past and as such, people with writing skills should be the ones to produce your blog, rather than the IT department. Some CMS have in-line editors and take care of the on-page SEO for you too, although it is often getting input from an expert as well.
What should a company blog about?
A general corporate blog would rarely be product or service driven. You may have the best product in the world but people don’t generally like overly self-promotional blogs. It should be industry driven, meaning it should talk about things which are interesting to readers and relevant to your industry. However, where appropriate, product releases and new features are fine to mention. If the majority of posts are product related then it may be better to have a dedicated product blog, separate from the general company blog.
There are bound to be a plethora of subjects and industry news that you can discuss, as well as ‘how-to’ blogs and useful information that your audience will find valuable. For example, a real estate agency might blog about home maintenance or local interest, depending on where they’re based.
When it comes to who should blog for the company, it should be a mix, ideally. There’s nothing wrong with outsourcing your blog, if your employees have better things to do or are not natural writers, so bear that in mind. It’s better to have a well written blog that gets attention and costs that little bit more than one that contains poor grammar, no structure and spelling mistakes.
Saying that, if you can get the boss to blog once a week, even if it goes to the writer to be cleaned up, then you can gain more interest and it will bring visibility to your key thought leaders. Then your company really has a chance to become an online influencer, something that is almost guaranteed to get you noticed.
Plan content if necessary – list posts are very popular – ‘5 uses for CMS’ for example will get attention from those in the industry and those interested in buying a CMS.
- Write the unexpected occasionally and don’t be afraid to let an opinion shine though when it’s a subject you’re passionate about. Passion is infectious and genuine, so people tend to respond, one way or another.
- Keep your eyes on current affairs and write a blog which relates to this. Topical blogs can be all the more eye-catching and also give an up-to-the-minute feel to your blog. Be warned though, if you only blog occasionally, this may do you more harm than good, as it flags up the fact that it’s a while since you added it.
- Use a call to action, such as requesting comments or offering a downloadable white paper to go along with the piece; this helps you to measure your success. Should someone leave a comment, ensure that you reply within 24 hours.
- Use statistics – there’s no reason why you can’t incorporate a survey into a blog and then create another off the back of the results. This means people who have taken part are likely to come back to find out if their participation made a difference.
- Try to find an emotional slant to gain a response. It’s been found that people are more likely to share a piece that elicits some kind of emotional response. This can be positive or negative, but positive is better – so think laughter, warm feelings and usefulness when considering your next post.
- Ensure that content is 100% unique, if you use quotes, then make sure they have speech marks. Content that’s seen to be copied will have your site tumbling down the rankings very quickly.
It’s also a good idea to learn about how to write for web and how this differs from other kinds of publishing. A blog, or indeed article, should be broken up into bite-sized chunks with short paragraphs and sentences. If it’s not, people get bored very quickly and will go elsewhere.
Most importantly, know your audience. If you’re B2B only, then it’s very likely that your readership will be very different than that just made up of consumers. If you’re addressing a general audience, then language should be kept simple and jargon left out completely. However, if you’re addressing industry-only, then you have a little more leeway in the terms you can use.
If you’re targeting a more general market then mix it up as much as possible; you want to ensure that you’re reaching people at every level of the buying cycle, wherever possible.
A blog these days is a vital part of succeeding online, a static company website which never changes just doesn’t look valuable to Google. In fact, it’s likely to be a loser as far as SERP goes, unique and varied content is the winner right now.
Whatever your industry, it’s possible to have a very successful blog that can be a real asset to your business. Coupled with social media, articles and whitepapers, a decent blog will get you noticed as experts in your field with something useful to say.