In today’s business world, the company that is easiest to find on the web is the one that stays in business, and that means producing fresh content for your site.
Even as the world becomes more focused on images, blogs are important because search engines are always looking for fresh content. The more and better you produce, the better your SEO rankings.
That’s why you see the vast majority of business websites with some kind of blog. Even the massive brands with decades of customer loyalty behind them, such as Coca-Cola, Walmart, Allstate, Caterpillar and General Electric, have blogs, and they invest major time and money into producing relevant content. A ton of data that backs up the importance of blogging. Here are a few tidbits from blogging.org’s State of the Blogging World 2016:
- Websites with a blog have 434% more indexed pages.
- Small businesses with blogs have 126% increases in lead generations.
- The average company that blogs gets 97% more inbound links.
- Business owners who utilize blogs within their marketing strategy get 67% more views and leads than those who do not.
Of course, not every company has a professional writer on staff or can invest in hiring someone to produce a quality blog for them. There are lots of options for low-cost bloggers, but this is truly an area where you get what you pay for. It’s better to have no blog than one with content that makes you question whether the person running the business graduated high school.
Stand Out Social, a firm that works with companies to create compelling content, published a white paper with 21 tips from professional blogs on how to do a blog that does more than takes up digital space but becomes something people visit to learn something or be entertained:
- Know your audience. Going after a narrower audience is better. If you are a plastics company, blogging about finance does little good unless it’s the finance of plastics.
- Block time to write. If you think time will magically appear to write … time rarely magically appears. It needs to be a task or chunk of time set aside with no distractions allowed.
- Create a template. Original thought can sometimes be hard to come by. Set up a standard blog post that you can follow on those days where you are struggling to come up with something new. It can be as easy as 1) opening, 2) what is the problem, 3) what is a solution, 4) bulleted list of suggestions, 5) conclusion, 6) call to action.
- Show off your best. Don’t just slap something together to meet a deadline. These should be your best ideas, research and theories. Add value to people’s lives and they’ll come back.
- Write great headlines. You have to catch the eye of a reader being inundated by messages. The headline is more important than your opening.
- Have an occasional ultimate post. WordPress calls this cornerstone content. Pick a topic and go big — comparisons, charts, images. Your readers will see that it means something to you.
- Mix it up. Your posts shouldn’t all be how-to or case studies. Work in checklists or “did you know” content.
- Double up on pictures. Most of us know that posts with pictures draw more clicks. But did you know that posts with multiple images receive double the shares on social media?
- Go viral with video. The medium that goes viral most often is video. You don’t have to hire a professional company, although you should look at your budget to try it at some point. Just make sure the lighting and sound are good.
- Include yourself. Share some personal experiences. If you’re writing about the sales process, include your best and worst moments.
- Use round-up posts. There is a ton of information out there and no one can read everything. Collect a series of links to important information for your industry. You will position yourself as an expert.
- Check your analytics. If certain posts resonate, do more of those.
- Write the way you speak. It is pretty easy to spot someone who doesn’t: The words just don’t flow. You don’t overcomplicate the message. Be authentic.
- Pick your spots. There are lots of ways to publicize your blog. Don’t try all of them. Pick two or three channels, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and focus on those to build your followers.
- Make it easy to read. Big blocks of text are intimidating. Keep the sentences and paragraphs short. Use bullets. Use images.
- Build your email list. A blog should be used to gather emails so you can make occasional appeals to people who have shown an interest in what you do.
- Promote, promote, promote. Promote every post on your preferred channels and answer every comment, share and retweet.
- Make your readers experts. Write something good enough that a reader wants to show off his or her smarts by sharing it with someone else.
- Be consistent. People rarely follow something that doesn’t happen regularly. Schedule times for posting something. It forces you to sit down and do the work.
- Be patient on traffic. Unless you are a pro athlete or actor, it will take time to build an audience. Don’t get discouraged. Keep posting.
- Experiment. The web is a great place to try new things. Try different types of posts. Try video. Do longer posts. Do quick-hitters. Promote at different times of the day. Then check to see what works — and do more of that.