Tag Archives: blogging

To Blog or Not to Blog…

BlogThat is the Question

With time and attention being seriously limited for those of us entrepreneurs (not that other people have more time and attention, but perhaps more support in their allocation), we have to be strategic about resource management. Some of you may be wondering if blogging would be a good use of your time. Here are some of the benefits to creating your own content.

Let’s start with an understanding of this thing called “blog”. The word “blog” is a contraction of the two words “web” and “log”. Web logs started as online communities in the 1990’s with the emergence of internet platforms for the average person.  This technology leveled the playing field such that anyone can be an author and create  community around any topic imaginable. Most professional blogs are between 300-600 words and should include keywords naturally. WordPress, the most popular platform for websites currently, started as a blog site and has that integrated into every website. It is not advisable to create a blog off of your website, even if it links to your site. You want to keep all that good content and traffic directly on your website.

Google’s algorithms are set to look for website updates as a way to determine’s the site’s value. Simply having new content on your website can be good for your search results.  Because search ranking, or search engine optimization (SEO), has become an important way to drive traffic to sites, businesses are realizing that anything they do to help this process has a positive impact on their ability to be found online. Generating original content fulfills that objective. Be sure not to copy other website’s content onto your site, not only for the obvious concern of plagiarism. Google will punish (decrease rankings) sites that have too much content deriving from other sources.

Here are some benefits to investing in regular quality content creation:

1. Frequent Change – Every time a blog with appropriate keywords is posted on a website, it increases the potential for search engines to find the website.  Weekly blogs posted on the website create frequent updates which signals to the Google-bots that your site is relevantwhen someone searches using one of your keywords.

2. Something of Value – The more you create and share content that your target audience can benefit from, the more value you bring to your offering, and consequently to your client relationships.

3. Original Content for Social Media – Your blog can be posted on social media sites as original content directly from you. Though there is no shortage of quality, industry-specific content for sharing on social media sites, posting regular content of your own makes your sites totally unique and more interesting.

4. Industry Leader – When you write, or have someone else write on behalf of your company, it signals to others that you/your business is an industry expert and thought leader. This is very affirming when establishing and maintaining credibility with prospects and referral partners.

5. Content for your next Book – You never know when you may be compelled to share your knowledge and experience with others on a grander scale. Regular blogging organizes your material in a way that makes it easier to pull together when your ready.

Some people are concerned that they don’t have enough content to do a weekly blog. You may be surprised how much expertise you have to share once you start putting it out there.  If you need help with your blog, or if you would like to get started but don’t know how, please feel free to let me know.

 

How to Write a Blog to Increase Website Traffic

Boost Web Traffic

Start Regular Blogging

Learn the secret ingredients of a really good blog

There are many good reasons to blog, as discussed in last week’s article “Blogging About Blogs“. Now we look at what makes a blog great. Like most other subjects on digital marketing, there is an abundance of resources to help you navigate these unchartered waters. One such resource is the Loudoun SBDC (Small Business Development Center), which I highly recommend all existing and aspiring business owners to check out. They sponsored a seminar where the presenter, Ray Sidney-Smith, with W3 Consulting, encouraged businesses to become more proficient at creating an effective Social, Mobile, and Local presence for their brand. Ray’s book, titled SoLoMoSuccess,  reinforces what those of us who work in the industry advocate to our networks – the need to expand our digital footprint if we intend to thrive and survive within the framework of an ever-growing digital age of consumerism.

Local SEO and Blogging

This blog addresses the one of the best ways to enhance the Local SEO – blogging on your website. A great blog is more than an industry-specific article or musings about your opinions (though that can be viable content).  Done properly, a blog signals to search engines like Google that you exist and have something of value to offer people searching for the topics you write about. Have you ever typed something in a search bar like “how to write a blog to increase website traffic ” and notice the results are mostly blogs and articles written by industry experts (like you). The ones that show up at the top of the organic search have value with the search engine and consistently follow good blogging principles.

Elements of a Great Business Blog

We are all works in progress, and if you are blogging or thinking about starting a blog, following these tips will help your continued development:

1. Content –  Your blog should offer something of value to your audience.  Employing elements such as humor, industry updates, storytelling, and skill enhancement offers a benefit to your readers.  Many of my peers suggest using an editorial calendar to keep your topics organized and timely. I’ve tried that and it made me crazy. I discovered that one of the things of value I offer my audience is a resource to help them with what’s happening now. It works for me that each topic shows up as an answer to a question or response to a need I encounter some time that week. Regardless of how you go about creating content, remember that it should enhances your presence and adds to your audience’s experience.

2. Keywords – This can be tricky, but it is incredibly important. Keywords are the mechanism used by the search engine to determine the relevance of your content related to how people search for information. Positioning keywords in your headline, titles, paragraph headers, and throughout the article is great for linking your content to the way people search for your products and services. There is a bit of an art to this. Don’t just throw keyword/phrases into your text for rankings. It has to make sense and still be good writing.

3. Get Local – The reason Local is so critical to search engine optimization of your content is that people tend to search for and do business within their local community. For example, looking for a dentist, accountant, realtor, social media help, etc., most people type in something like “social media, sterling, va” because they have learned if they just type “social media help” or “social media manager”, the results are too broad. With all of the information and resources online, narrowing a search to a local area is an efficient way to take the results down to a manageable number. Even if you are or plan to offer service in other locations, creating local SEO is important for each location. Include local keyword/phrases in your article in an organic way, as you are writing about your topic, as demonstrated here.

4. Catchy Headlines – admittedly, this does not come easy to me. I don’t want to come off too salesy or grandiose. The truth is, people click on titles that grab their attention. This is not the time to be reserved and understated. You have a bold message…declare it! Some ideas to frame your headline:

* How to…

* Tips for…

* Never let this happen…

* Do you know?…

5. Sub-headings – The way to introduce a subject within a blog is to write a heading, using a keyword/phrase and optimizing it with the format tool as “Heading 1” as your sub-title under the article title, and “Heading 2” for each paragraph title. This is not just a style suggestion; using this format signals to Google that the subject line is important and tied to your keywords, it is easier for Google to connect your content with a search.

6. Images Optimized –  People respond to images more than text. Make sure your blog has a good image representing what you are communicating. You also want to optimize the image with a description and alt text. The option to do this is part of the image uploading process on your blog platform, so just follow the instructions.

7. Optimize on the Platform – Select your categories, tags, and keywords, and add a description on the platform you are using. This is another way to identify your blog with the content you want google to pick up.  The major blogging platforms have these features right on the surface so you just need to fill in the blanks.

8. Length and style – We used to say 300 – 600 words was a good length for a blog. I’m sorry to say that the number of words is increasing if you want your content shared. 700 is the minimum word count and 1,500 words max. To put it in perspective, this blog is 1,277 words.  Make sure your spelling and grammar are good. This isn’t an English essay, but I’m shocked at how many blogs I see with really poor grammar throughout the article, not just the occasional typo. Reread and edit your writing before you publish. Blog writing can be a bit more casual than other forms of communication, but if you are blogging for business, remember to remain professional.

9. Links – Add links to internal and external resources for greater substance. This not only makes your blog more relevant, legitimate, and robust, it gives a shout-out to your linking partners. When I link to someone in my existing network to share their service as part of my article, I let them know so they can share it with their audience. People like being recognized and when another professional mentions our business in their blog and shares it to a larger audience, it is very reinforcing for our business relationship as well as beneficial to both businesses.

10. Social Share Enabled – Most blogging platforms, such as WordPress, have widgets that allow for easy sharing of your content. You want to make your article imminently sharable.  Notice the bottom of this blog post has social share buttons to make it easy for my audience to post it on their social media sites.

Don’t forget about a Call to Action on your Blog

It is great that you are giving your audience valuable content and you want them to turn into clients and referral partners. The best way to do that from the blog is to invite them to take another step closer to conversion. This could be as simple as “contact us” or more substantial like “download our latest white paper“. Invite the connections to continue.

I hope these suggestions were helpful; please get in touch and please share with your network.

Blogging About Blogging

Put your Knowledge into WordsWhy Put Your Knowledge into Words

I’ve been writing my blog consistently for over a year now and I’ve developed a level of comfort with this role as a blogger. I have been surprised by some of the positive outcomes I had not considered when I started.  For example, every week I compel myself to put some aspect of my growing fund of knowledge into writing. I would not be routinely documenting what I learn about this industry otherwise. The other surprising outcome is that I know more than I thought I did and I get to learn even more as I research topics to write about. Sharing knowledge is a great way to reinforce it.

Benefits of regular blogging in your industry:

Original Content – Many business owners struggle with what to post on social media sites. They don’t know what to say, how to deliver their message, or even what their message actually is, until they start to write about it. Writing something related to your industry every week provides your website and social media platforms with something unique and valuable from you.

Industry Expertise – When you write your own blog, rather than only sharing content written by others, you set yourself apart as a professional with expertise in your field.  Everyone has facts, ideas, and perceptions about their field and for the most part, there are individuals who are interested in reading about it.  Though writing is a universal expression, it is particularly valuable in industries where knowledge is the industry, such as it is for attorneys, financial advisors, mortgage specialists, etc.

Reinforcing and Building Connections – I post my blog in my Linkedin groups each week and every time I  build connections with people in the group who read my article.  Some people I’m already connected to and they like or comment on my post. Other times the connection request comes from someone I do not know, but they invite me to join their network based on my activity. My Linkedin network has doubled with regular blogging.

Resources to Share –  When you have your own content, you can use it as a resource to help others. If someone asks me about digital networking or  Facebook groupsI point them to my blog. Again, this reinforces my position as an expert while also helping others.

Content for a Book – If you write enough blogs, eventually you have material for a book. This is an attractive benefit for business owners who self-publish and promote their book as another income stream, marketing tool, and opening for speaking engagements. A blog is a great way to start on the path to becoming an author and speaker.

Great for SEO – Typically for business, a blog sits as a page in a website, rather than as a separate blog site. Every time you add/change content on your website, that registers with search engines like Google, as a positive indicator of value for your website. This is good for your placement in the race to get to the top of search engines. A weekly blog is no guarantee that your website will rank high with Google, but it is one of the several contributing factors that shouldn’t be ignored.

Those are some of the benefits of blogging.  Next week I will go over tips for creating a really good blog, such as keywords, editorial calendars, blog style, and what’s current. I encourage professionals to give it a try, you may be surprised how easy it is to share your knowledge once you get started. Sometimes I start kind of slow with a topic, not sure I have much to say, but then I get on a roll and I have to stop myself. Most importantly…have fun with it!

As always, if you have any questions, please contact us and I’ll be happy to help.