Having a blog is a great way to connect with your audience, an audience is usually made up of the following:
- Prospective customers
- Existing customers
- People doing research
All of these people are interested in what is happening with your business and a blog is a good way to communicate to everyone in an engaging way. You can encourage people to make comments about each of your posts but you have to be prepared to take the criticism alongside the more positive stuff. But often the way you deal with the criticism can actually turn something not so great into something good so don’t be afraid, people will be talking about you online whether you like it or not so better that you can control it yourself.
Not only can a blog be viewed as a communication tool but it is also a useful SEO tool, you see one of the things that search engines love is good quality content, but more than that they love fresh content. Writing a blog is an easy way to add fresh content to your website, you can write about a wide range of subjects. Here are some ideas:
- Company news
- Industry news
- Information about a product/service
- A puff piece about a member of staff, it’s great to show a personal edge to your posts
Another way that a blog can benefit your business from an SEO point of view is that it increases the scale of your site. So search engines take more notice of a website with lots of pages with content on them. This gives an indication that you are a serious business and have a lot of valuable information to share.
If you want to know more about how an integrated blog can help your business then please get in touch on 01279 647003.
Guest blogging is basically when you write for someone else’s blog on an issue that is relevant to their business and yours. So for example if I am a Kitchen Designer then writing a blog post to appear on the site of a worktop manufacturer will benefit both sides.
Boost Your Reach
Guest blogging can open up a whole new audience for you it can help you utilise the readers of other peoples blogs and generate more awareness of your business and more importantly of your expertise. People are far more likely to buy from someone they trust and you can help gain this trust by presenting a professional and helpful approach online. This is easy to do via a blog because you are providing useful information for free.
Allow people to guest blog for you and you will help increase the scale of your website. This obviously only applies where your blog is integrated into your website in the first place. Google loves new and fresh content and blog posts are a great way to do this but to get the volume you need takes a lot of work so by letting someone else write posts for you can create those all important new pages but also add a little diversity for your readers.
Anyone involved in online marketing understands the importance of links, by guest blogging you are creating links back to your website and if you are able to blog on a high ranking and highly thought of blog then this link becomes valuable.
Spreading the Word
We talked about increasing your online presence from a readership point of view but by guest blogging you are also creating a network for the search engines to see. If you ensure you are including links into your blogs then over time you can create a network of links for your business by syndicating these guest posts across the web using social networking sites.
There are lots of places that accept guest blogs and so it is relatively easy to get started but why not ask some of your suppliers and customers if you can guest blog for them, it can be really valuable and help you grow your relationships as well as aid your online marketing activities. Click here if you want some more blogging tips
I blogged recently about creating quality content. Once you’ve gone to the trouble of creating great content, that people actually want to read, it makes sense to get the most out of it, so here are some suggestions for how to do that.
Syndicate your content
It seems obvious, but it’s surprising how often it gets forgotten in the rush to move onto the next item on your to do list. Whether it’s a blog post or a new page on your website make sure you share it with as many different people as possible. Tools like Networked Blogs make this easier by automatically sending your blog posts out to your Twitter and Facebook feeds and save you having to remember.
Social bookmarking is another good way to get your content out there. Sites like Delicious, Digg and StumbleUpon are all useful, as well as niche bookmarking sites that relate to your industry. Just make sure you follow the guidelines and don’t only bookmark your own content.
If you write an email newsletter then you can also use this to point subscribers towards content that they might find useful too.
Make it easy for others to share
Getting others to share your content is even more effective than doing it yourself as it will then be read by people out of your network too. Hopefully you’ve already got social media buttons added to each of your web pages and blog posts to make it easy for others to share them on their favourite social networking sites. An occasional little nudge or reminder asking people to share a particular article if they find it useful won’t do any harm either.
If you’re referring to a topic already covered in a previous blog post or on another website page then link directly to it to make it easy for people to find other relevant content. Internal linking is important within your website and blog and helps both search engines and readers to find more of your content.
If you’ve written a good article or blog post it won’t take you long to rewrite it (to avoid duplicate content which the search engines frown on) so that it’s suitable for use on another website or blog. Writing guest posts on another blog or articles for another website is a great way to get more exposure for your own website as well as a link back. Using existing content and rewriting it saves you from having to come up with another idea or having do any additional research for a brand new article.
Do you know of any other great ways to get the most out of your content? Please add a comment to share your suggestions.
There was a time when creating plenty of content was enough to get you noticed, but this is no longer the case. Too many sites have been filled up with content that is low quality and the majority of articles submitted to article directories are even worse. Most of us have come across pages that make no sense and while they may give us a laugh or two, they usually just irritate us and we move on as quickly as we can.
The search engines have caught on to this and are developing algorithms to help weed out the rubbish. Google launched their “Farmer Update” early last year, which was an algorithm that focused on rewarding high quality content sites while low quality sites started to be devalued, and there have several more updates since.
If you’re still outsourcing your content to cheap article writing sites you probably need to rethink your strategy, and quickly. Your content should show that you are an expert in your field, so just think what churning out rubbish says to readers about you and your business!
Here are some tips for creating good quality content:
- Write about what you know but ensure it’s also something your visitors will be interested in reading about (and hopefully share with others).
- Think about writing content that solves a problem for customers, gives them useful advice or shows them how to do something and avoid just blowing your own trumpet.
- Spice up your content with images, video, etc and avoid overly lengthy pages of solid text.
- Encourage interaction by asking questions, creating polls or holding contests.
- Show that there is a human face behind your business by letting a bit of your personality show through.
- If you outsource any of your writing make sure that the writer understands your business and give them ideas of the sort of content your potential customers would be interested in. Don’t expect quality writing if you’re paying peanuts.
At the end of the day writing content takes time regardless, so you may as well spend that time productively by creating content worth reading!
Do you have any other tips for creating good quality content? I’d love it if you’d share them with us in the comments below.
There can sometimes be a bit of confusion around the differences between a blog and a website, particularly since you can have a website that is derived from a blog. In face many of the websites we build now are done using WordPress which is traditionally known as a blogging platform. The first thing is to understand what each of these different things are for:
Designing your Website
A business website will usually have one or a combination of these functions:
- To provide information to existing and potential customers (a brochure site)
- To generate new leads
- To create online sales
This is it in it’s simplest form, so the whole aim of a website when you look at these objectives is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to your site to be able to take the relevant action that leads to these outcomes. So a website design is really a balance between the look and feel of a site against what we call Conversion Architecture – structuring the site that encourages people to take certain actions.
Designing a Blog
A blog is a a type of website that is there to engage with it’s audience, it should be a kind of diary that keeps it’s readers informed about a particular person, company or subject. It is not a platform for selling and to try and do so will ultimately end up with you turning your readers off and disappearing off somewhere else. It should be interactive and so have the ability for readers to leave comments.
If it’s a business blog then of course it should have a consistent look and feel but the structure of the pages is slightly different. There should be an area with different categories listed so that people can find blog posts about a specific area they are interested. There is often what we call a tag cloud too, which shows those subjects that are written about the most.
So if you are thinking about your new website design or blog design then just take into consideration the purpose of each of these things so that visitors to your sites know where they are and what the function of each actually is.
Networked Blogs is a blog directory in effect. It links together those who love to write and those who love to read blogs, it’s user generated which means that you can easily upload your own blog to the directory as well as easily finding relevant blogs to share and promote through your own networks. It has become one of the most popular apps on Facebook as it easily allows you to syndicate your posts straight through to your fan page where your ‘likers’ can like the individual post and share this content further.
The blogs are organised by both geography and topic which makes searching easier for users and trying to reach the right audience easier for those publishing. Once you are added to the database people can easily read and share your blog to their network, they can also find out a bit about your interests, which kinds of subjects you follow and any individual blogs. In principle it sounds great.
My own experience has been mixed, syndication is not always immediate and I have had some issues with posts not appearing on my Facebook business page at all. Beware that if you change any of your security settings with Facebook you will likely need to re-authenticate your blog which can be a bit of a pain, particularly for those that are security conscious and like to change their passwords more regularly.
But in summary, when it works it works really well, the posts can be viewed easily on your business page so I would recommend giving it a go but maybe prepare yourself for a few niggles, hopefully Networked Blogs will fix these minor errors to ensure the app is better in the future.
Blogging is there to help you engage with your audience, it is not about telling people how fantastic your business is. When we look at internet marketing and how we develop a site it’s construction is all about creating an environment where visitors to the site will want to take action, whether that be buying a product, picking up the phone and calling or filling in a form. When you develop a blog you need to take a completely different approach.
Blogging is part of the social media revolution, it’s a new way of promoting your business and brand in a much more subtle way. By engaging with your audience and promoting conversation you will help your business to gain credibility, build trust and stamp a personality online which can be a fairly cold experience.
People who read your blog are often researching something, they are seeking information about a certain subject. By writing about what you know you are fulfilling that need for information. By consistently blogging about interesting subjects you can build a network of readers who will share your posts with their network, thus helping it grow. Building up a readership will help you to promote your brand and improve your company reputation.
One of the common questions I have from companies that are thinking about blogging is what should they write about. My answer is always the same, you know more about your business than anyone and you have a good knowledge of the industry you are in, so write about that. Even if you think you have the most boring subject, if it forms a business then there will be people out there interested in what you have to say and if you don’t have anything to say i.e if your business doesn’t have a message to share, then you probably shouldn’t be in business in the first place!
But it’s not all about social, if you integrate your blog into your website you are also creating new and fresh content on a regular basis which the search engines love. By combining the social side of blogging with content creation you are helping your Search Engine Optimisation efforts too.
It’s one of those phrases that each generation utters at some point or another, but it was just a few days ago on our way to Wales that it really hit home. You see when I was a child every summer we would pile into my parents car and head down to Pembrokeshire for our annual holidays, we would pack some toys and sweets and the car journey which then took 8 hours would be filled with ‘are we there yet’ questions and countless games of I-Spy. This year as the children piled into the car, we had packed 2 IPhones, 2 IPads, a portable CD player, 2 x Nintendo DS, a Leapster, 2 laptops and pretty much every kind of charger you can think of.
It amazes me how much we have come to rely on technology for our entertainment; it wasn’t that long ago that a skipping rope would give me and my friends hours of play time. Part of me thinks that the skills my children are learning in using technology will help prepare them for later life, but another part worries that this reliance on outside ‘stuff’ to entertain them will impact on their ability to use their imaginations, not to mention the expectations of material things as they grow up.
My 10 year old is constantly asking for a mobile phone, she has done so for the last year. I have told her no and that she can have one when she gets to senior school. She protests that all of her friends already have one; I don’t imagine this is completely true but I also find it bizarre that she persists considering she hardly ever phones anyone, yet it has become so important to her. She and her younger sister also spend a lot of time on the internet chatting to friends on Moshi Monsters, a kind of Facebook for children. I do worry that as our children grow up they will lose some of their ability to communicate face to face as so much is now done via technology. I am guilty of this too, I will often choose to text or email someone rather than pick up the phone.
Anyway, I just thought I should check in, but I am on holiday with my family so I should really turn my laptop off, text my friend and make sure that my IPad is on charge.