Blogging really took off about a decade ago since Google bought Blogger.com. Since then blogs have been used to educate audiences, source business news, act as a tool for reputation management, and even document personal vendettas. The reason why businesses should have a blog is all the above AND the fact that it adds a bit of personality to your brand online. A casual post every couple of weeks not only encourages interactivity with your audience through the blog, it also accounts for increasing the awareness of your brand. Not to forget, Google also gives you brownie points for blogging.
These days businesses realize that customers out there are doing their research. A world of information is literally accessibly through their pockets (referring to mobile phones) and because of this, customers are now more informed than ever. Hence, we are making smarter decisions on who we want to do business with.
Often, we get asked the question “What to write?”
You see, blogs are all about your target market and you should write about how you can help them. Following are some questions that might get the Shakespeare out of you:
- What is your UVP?
- How do you solve problems?
- What are the trends in your industry?
If you are having trouble finding content, use Google Reader to gather content that is relevant to your industry; utilize guest blogging (yes, have others write for you) or if that doesn’t work, perhaps give a university student in your field a case of beer to generate some copy for you (just make sure they don’t drink before they write!).
Now that we have come to an agreement that “blogging” is one of the pillars of doing business, we must understand how we can use this powerful tool to communicate your personal or commercial brand. There are extensive variety of tools out there that you can use to enhance the functionality and the sociability of your blog. To get started however, you need an action plan to be effective, so here it is:
- Customize Your Blog. If you are building a commercial brand or already have a website, DO NOT get a free blog on a 3rd party domain and use one of those cheesy templates. What you want to do is get the blogging script installed on your website domain in a sub-directory and create a customized template that follows the branding of your website. Not only does this keep the traffic on your domain, but it also builds search engine value on your website creating many opportunities for in-bound links and a source of targeted traffic. Besides, it looks a lot more professional.
- Generate compelling titles that inflict curiosity but are also keyword rich.
- Keep the search engines in mind, so adding relevant key-phrases related to your industry topic in the beginning and bottom of the article is good practice.
- Add dynamic content. Text alone is boring, add complimentary visuals and videos if you can (tip: use www.istockphoto.com for nice imagery).
- Always keep content fresh. Blogs are not like wine, they don’t age well, so ensure that you are active and consistent on whatever time periods you do decide to blog.
- Be a little controversial at times to generate a dialogue.
- Add social sharing tools to allow users to post on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Have the blog auto-archive content and ensure that it is searchable.
- Respond to genuine comments.
- You will get a lot of SPAM as your blog becomes popular, so use a spam-blocker tool like akismet.com
- Use a Feed Manager (contact us and we will tell you what this is).
- Incorporate RSS Feeds to allow syndication.
- Categorize effectively.
- Have Trackbacks and Ping-Backs that act like a blog radar.
The above key aspects should give you a starting point on developing an effective blog. Have a look at some of the blog websites that we have developed at 2WebDesign.com!
This article was originally published in the October/November 2012 edition of Business View.