When blogging first started getting popular around the turn of the millennium, it was largely used by individuals as a means of personal expression. These days, for an increasing number of businesses, the blog is a vital online marketing tool.
According to research by Hubspot small businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors, 102% more Twitter followers, and 126% higher lead growth than those that don’t. Blogging can boost your SEO, spread brand awareness, help you establish yourself as an expert in your field and bolster relationships with your existing customer base.
Company blogs are not written primarily as a means of personal expression, although the best ones have their own personality. They’re written with a specific purpose in mind and many simply aren’t pulling their weight.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to get the most from your blog:
Search engines love fresh content with appropriate keywords, and blogs are a great way to provide it. It’s worth pointing out that the way keywords are evaluated has changed radically from the early days of SEO, when most experts recommended repeating keywords throughout the body of a text.
These days the overall sense of your post is far more important than the strategic placement of specific keywords. Google has been working on synonyms for years and 2013’s Hummingbird update brought in semantic search, which seeks to identify the meaning behind certain words.
It can still be useful to place specific keywords in titles and headings but beyond that it’s generally best to write naturally on your chosen subject. If your keyword research results show ‘car repair’ as the most effective search term, you could use that in the title of your blog post then use synonyms and related terms such as ‘mechanic’, ‘garage’ and ‘vehicle repair’ in the body.
Formatting your blog
One important thing to remember is to avoid big walls of text. People consume information differently online and there’s a tendency to scan posts and web pages. Break your blog into easily digestible paragraphs and use eye-catching headings.
You can also use photos, graphic images and formatting such as bullet points to make your post more visually appealing and dynamic. Articles with images attached get almost twice as many views and research from slate.com suggests that the majority of visitors view visual content even if they don’t read all the accompanying text.
Another consequence of the Hummingbird update is that social media shares are now valued as highly by Google as links.
Megan Totka, Wishpond guest blogger and chief editor for ChamberofCommerce.com, says: “The Hummingbird algorithm values quality content that is relevant, authoritative, and shareable. The more your content has been shared across social media, the higher its perceived quality, and the better you’ll rank on Google.”
Lengthy text-based articles can allow you to present a more in-depth take on your subject, with plenty of opportunities to use keywords and synonyms. On the other hand, content comprised of or containing visual elements such as photos, infographics and video are far more likely to be shared on social media. There’s no magic formula for the perfect blog post so it generally makes sense to vary your approach, with a nice mix of lengths and formats.
When to publish
Frequent blogging is key to maintaining your momentum and traffic. Returning readers will not keep checking back forever if there are no new posts and fresh content is more likely to show up in searches.
According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound Marketing Report businesses that blog multiple times per day have 42% higher customer acquisition than those that blog weekly and 62% more than those that blog monthly.
Frequent blogging requires a constant stream of subject matter. It’s usually best to keep on the same broad theme related to your business. A dog groomer’s analysis of pension reforms is unlikely to be viewed with the same authority as that of a financial advisor and you wouldn’t visit the financial adviser’s blog looking for tips on achieving a glossy coat for your furry friend.
At the same time, think laterally. An overview of the best local parks might not be directly about dog grooming but could certainly be of interest to dog owners in the area.
Blogging is a great way to reach out to existing or potential customers, but business bloggers should think carefully about keeping their message relevant and interesting to their readers.
*Picture credits: Lisa S. / Shutterstock.com