Blogging is a great way to help your SEO efforts. It adds content to your site which can help increase your rankings, provides fresh information that can engage visitors and get them to visit again, and it can provide a forum for content that maybe doesn’t quite fit on your website. Beyond SEO though, Blogs can be a great way to help with brand exposure, gain customer insights from comments or feedback, and build brand loyalty. If your clients or company is expanding into social media (if not already, put it in the plan for 2011), it is also a great way to help with social efforts.
While a blog sounds like a great idea, before you get started there are a couple key things to consider.
- Why do you want a blog? This is the most important piece, and shouldn’t be taken lightly if you want to see success. Do you have an important message you want to get out? Are you looking to attract more visitors to your website? Looking to enhance your SEO efforts? It is important that you establish the ultimate reason the blog should exist before you start, as that will help set your path.
- What metrics will determine success? If the reason you are creating a blog is to attract more visitors to your website, then your main goal should be traffic – but don’t just stop there. What about time on site, page views, links, rankings, etc. It is also important to go beyond standard website metrics. What about customer engagement? Count how many comments or questions you get. New business or client leads? Use these to determine if you blog is helping build your reputation and get you noticed.
- Will you (and your team) be able to post information on a regular basis? Whether that is twice a week or once a month, it doesn’t matter, as long as you are consistent.
- Finally, do you have something to say that is of value to others? Defining value is the tough part, but truly think about if you are giving information, opinions, or entertainment that is worth reading. We have all read the few blogs out there where you scratch your head and go why, so be sure what you put out there is worth people’s time.
So, you thought about a blog, set your goals and decided that yes, you are in fact ready to commit to a blog. Now what? Take a gander through these best practices to make sure you put your best foot forward from the start. Already have a blog? Use this as a checklist to make sure you are on the right path.
- Don’t forget about SEO basic principles when putting together your blog. You have keywords defined – now use them! Choose one or two keywords and center your post on those terms. Beyond this, every single post should be optimized with relevant keywords, page titles and meta descriptions. If you include video or images, don’t forget to optimize those as well to make sure people find you.
- Internal linking is important too. Make it easier for readers to hop between articles by including internal links within your blog that reference either other posts previously written or pages within your actual website. This can help improve page views as well as time on site.
- Consider sharing responsibility among a team of bloggers to add personality and share the involvement. If you determined you want to post once a week, that might be a lot to take on for one person, especially if you are just starting out. Share it, and allow members of your team to get involved.
- If you decide to share responsibility for blogging, be sure you are organized. Put together a calendar of when posts are due and who is responsible. Maybe even determine the content or keywords to focus on for each post. If people know ahead of time when they need to have their post ready, it might help them prep in advance.
- Each post should truly be from you and have some element of your character in it. Take things from everyday life and weave your personality into your writing style. While a blog should have a benefit to the reader (information, entertainment, etc.) it also shouldn’t sound like it is coming from your college history professor either. ZZZzzzzz
- Spell check and a quick read-through for grammar and punctuation is wise. No one wants to read something that is filled with errors. Be sure you take care of the basics taught back in elementary school.
- There is no rule of how long or short posts should be. It just needs to be long enough that you answer all the questions that a reader might have. Maybe that means your post is 200 words or maybe it is 1,500. Building on this, you should also vary your posts. If you tend to write short blubs, make it a goal that at least once a quarter you write on an in-depth, researched topic.
- In order to help gain exposure as well as help build links, submit your blog to prominent blog directories and RSS feeds. Also, use your business cards and email signatures to help spread the word.
- Use the blog as a way to better understand your customers. Try a FAQ post and ask people to submit questions they have. Request questions or comments within every post to try and get a conversation started. Thinking about expanding or changing your business in some way? Ask your readers what they think; you might be surprised how easily people offer up their thoughts.
Keep in mind that a blog is a communication tool. You still have to provide interesting content that is well organized, includes images or videos once in a while and that is written in a thoughtful manner meant for the audience targeting. While blogging can be time consuming, if you make it part of your overall strategy and carve out time for it – it can be rewarding.
Erin is an Account Supervisor at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.