Today, a blog is an essential marketing tool for promoting yourself or your business. A successful blog can drive awareness of — and traffic to — a company’s website by leveraging SEO (search engine optimization), which generates more organic traffic and increases visibility. A compelling blog is integral to positioning your brand, product or services; establishing customer relationships; driving new sales; and retaining existing clients. Combined, these positive results lead to more revenue..
Increasingly, people seek blogs as the go-to source for easy-to-consume information. As a consequence, your audience members are learning more from blogs — and making more decisions based on the information they gather from blogs. You can make your blog into a fantastic vehicle for establishing your niche within your (or your company’s) industry and for solving your readers’ problems.
Imagine the scenario: you have a problem or need a service. The first thing you are likely to do is to punch a few key words into a search engine. Then, you’ll review a handful of results before deciding which product or service to buy. In just that way, your customers and your competitor’s customers are searching the web to find the answers to questions about your product, your competitors and your industry. Your blog thereby gives you a valuable opportunity to be the first one to answer their questions and earn their business.
The pervasiveness of mobility, smartphones and tablets has generated an audience of 24-7 information consumers, or “microlearners.” People now expect to consume a vast amount of information as quickly and efficiently as possible. What does this mean for blogging? It means that the blogger is responsible for providing up-to-the-minute, highly relevant content, which search engines can find and consumers can use.
Savvy entrepreneurs recognize the value of a blog in establishing themselves as industry leaders and reliable sources of information and instruction.
If you aren’t already blogging, it is not too late to start. In 2011, Charlie White and John Biggs detailed the best practices in “Bloggers Boot Camp”, their book about “Learning How to Build, Write, and Run a Successful Blog.” In it you will find more information about our top three tips for creating a successful blog.
Keep it personal
Official web content must always sound professional, but your blog also is your forum for connecting with your consumers on a personal level. Sound like yourself. Create a unique voice and perspective that your readers will respond and relate to; keep your target audience in mind at all times so that you win them over. Never alienate them.
People buy from people, so an individual who feels a personal connection to a company or brand is more likely to make a purchase from it. A blog is the perfect vehicle for making that connection outside of a formal business setting.
However, informality does not mean veering off topic. You will sound both more authoritative and more “real” if you blog about an area in which you are expertly informed so you present knowledgeable opinions and solid information.
“Constantly publishing new posts with your singular spin […] will aid your SEO.”
Keep your blog posts focused, informative and specific. To lend diversity of opinions and voices, invite guest bloggers to take part in your production. This can also engage visitors. Encourage them to comment because that boosts your SEO and virality efforts. However, be warned: maintaining a good stream of comments requires careful curating.
To ensure that your blog retains an personable air, engage with others in your industry’s blogging community and in your vertical markets by taking these steps:
- Unselfishly link the relevant content, appropriately, without spamming. Useful external links help your SEO, but follow the webmaster’s guidelines to avoid incurring a SEO penalty for implementing a link scheme.
- Ask readers to contribute to your blog or invite other industry bloggers to guest post. Offer to write blog posts for other bloggers.
- Encourage feedback.
Keep it relevant and polished:
“A blog that has not been updated for days is a sick blog. A blog that has not been updated for a month is a dead blog.”
When you create a blog, visitors will look to you as an authority on your topic. Frequently posted, high-quality content is essential. Know your audience and what interests them. Provide relevant, regularly updated content. Emphasize consistency and diversity. Decide on the purpose of each blog entry before you begin writing. Do you intend to inform, instruct or entertain your reader? Once you have a point of view, the tone will fall into place.
“In blogging, the crowd acts as your copy editor, your fact checker and the crabby boss upstairs.”
A useful blog post will answer the question posed by its title in an accessible, interesting way that increases engagement and “shares” on other viral and social outlets. Follow accepted style rules and spell correctly. Make careful proofreading an integral part of your blogging protocol. Include SEO-optimized content so anyone seeking answers and information can easily find your entries. Make the content rich enough to expose daily visitors to refreshing, new information.
Keep it visually engaging:
A great blog is also visually engaging. Format your blog post in a stimulating way so readers can scan the content quickly. Use subheads, bulleted or numbered lists, block quotes or captions, line breaks, bold fonts, images and other formatting to break up large blocks of texts. If you have a talent for design, create personalized layouts and formats.
The “headline plays a crucial role in sparking interest and inspiring people to read.”
A catchy, head-turning headline will engage readers. The American Writers & Artists Association refers to the “Four U’s” of successful headlines, the functions headlines, subheads and bullets should fulfill:
- Be USEFUL to the reader
- Provide a sense of URGENCY
- Convey the idea that the main benefit is UNIQUE
- Be ULTRA-SPECIFIC
“Craft your blog posts to be tight and scannable.”
Readers will probably skim your posts quickly to extract the key points. To achieve scannable copy, break up the content with images and an attractive layout.
Inforgaphics and photography break up written copy in a useful way. Use infographics to illustrate a point succinctly and clearly. .The web offers many free or inexpensive photos and images from such sources as Shutterstock, Getty Images and iStock. To attract today’s sophisticated consumers, stay away from cheesy or awkward stock photographs that scream “disingenuous” to the consumer. Increasingly, video is becoming an essential part of a successful blog. Video is a key driver of SEO and quality, as well as an effective way of sharing your message.
According to leadingauthorities.com, “Video is one of the most important drivers of behavior. Emails with video links have click-through rates that are three times higher than those without, prospects are 72% more likely to purchase a product or service when supported by an online video, and internet users are 65% more likely to visit a website after seeing a video.”