Blogs get made fun of, overlooked, misused and misunderstood. While blogs may have had humble beginnings as digital soapboxes for disgruntled people in their basements, blogs have turned into serious business tools that can have a huge impact on your bottom line.
Having a solid content strategy is becoming more of a necessity for any business regardless of industry or size. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to boost your SEO, make an impact on social media or increase traffic to your website; having access to high quality content is one of the best starting points of any lead-generation strategy, hands down.
Here are some best practices that will take your blog from abandoned, nonexistent or underutilized to read, shared and indexed:
Host it yourself
Without doing any promotion, blogs have inherent value when they are hosted under your business’s domain name. When you publish an article under your business’s blog, for example, “10 cybersecurity threats to watch in 2015,” the search engines can see that blog post and index it for the relevant keywords in the article. When someone searches for the phrase “cybersecurity threats in 2015” your blog post may appear for that search query. When that user clicks the link to read the article that user should going to your website, not some random blog page elsewhere.
Hosting your own blog makes your business look more professional and trustworthy. Blogs showcase your expertise and knowledge, and build credibility. Don’t undermine those efforts with a blog that looks unprofessional and detached from your business
Curate, don’t steal
Having original content on your blog is the best way to get indexed by the search engines and to create authority online. However, content curation is a tool that every blog owner should be utilizing.There are endless websites with high quality content that you can use to add value to your blog quickly and easily. While content curation should be used as one part of a larger content creation strategy, understanding how to do it properly is important.
You have to curate other people’s content, not steal it. When you curate an article, you have to make it clear that you did not write the content. There has to be a prominently displayed link to the original source; it is common to take only a portion of the article and lead the reader to the original source for the full content. Although there is a precedent for taking the full article, you will need to use your own discretion and decide whether or not it’s appropriate to do so.
Content curation is one of the most widely used strategies for filling any blog with professional, viral, high-quality content. As long as you follow the rules and give the original source their due, most websites will have no issue with you curating their articles.
Post regularly or not at all
You don’t have to blog every day to stay relevant. Posting two or three times per week will be enough to fill up your blog and keep your content fresh without getting overwhelmed. The more blog posts you have, the more chances you have of someone finding a post and becoming a lead. Think of your blog as a long-term part of your business plan and not as a quick way to get exposure in a pinch.
A blog is a responsibility and a commitment.You have to be honest with how often you’ll be able to post and adhere to your posting schedule. The only thing that can hurt your business more than not having a blog and is having a poorly maintained blog.
Good blogs boost credibility and trust; bad blogs will erode it. You want your blog to look fresh and up to date, or you run the risk of appearing unprofessional and out of business.
Personalize your posts
What makes your blog distinctive, unique and effective is you. People want to read things from other people, not autonomous logos or corporations. Keep your posts professional but make sure they show your human side.
Your blog is a way for your customers and prospects to learn about your team, your personality and your passions, as much as your expertise. Don’t be afraid to make a real connection with your readers. Even if you’ve curated a piece of content from another website, write a quick intro explaining why you thought it was worth reposting; write a funny intro or a note that’s from you and you alone. Your readers will appreciate it and they’ll be more likely to share or comment.
Be aware of SEO, not a slave to it
SEO is what makes the Internet go ’round. Without it, no one would have a prayer of finding anything worthwhile on the search engines and the Internet would be an endless stream of random content. When businesses use SEO well, it can boost their exposure and get them much-needed organic traffic.
However, SEO strategies can quickly get overwhelming. For the purposes of your blog, you need to have a basic understanding of how SEO works, but don’t let it get in your head and don’t overthink it. If your blog posts are being dictated by SEO instead of what your readers and customers want, you’ve lost.
Search engines want to see original content, that other websites and blogs are citing your content, and that readers are sharing and commenting on your content. As long as you’re putting out blog posts that people in your industry will find valuable, interesting, useful, funny or fresh, the search engines will look favorably upon your blog and index you accordingly.
Share, share, share
Once your blog is full of amazing content, it’s all about getting as many eyeballs on it as possible. While this is not an exhaustive list of how to get exposure to your blog, it’s a good starting point.
Blogging and social media go hand in hand. You don’t have to share every blog post on your social networks, but make sure that your fans and followers are aware of your blog and interacting with your posts. Social media can be used to find people who are already talking about the the topic of your post and then lead them to your blog as an additional reference. Are there groups on Facebook in your industry that you could join and add value to? Are there relevant hashtags that you could use to boost exposure on Twitter? Make sure you’re fully utilizing your social media accounts.
Another great way to get exposure to your blog is to contact other relevant content websites in your industry and offer a link swap. You post some of their content and link back to their blog or website, and they do the same for you. Leverage the work that other people have done to grow their audiences. The website or blog that you reach out to will appreciate the exposure and should be happy to partner with you, as long as you’re not in direct competition with them.
Your blog readership will grow and you’ll see the benefits of the work you do now for years to come. It’s important to keep that in mind while you’re just starting out with your blog. It’s easy to get discouraged and give up if you don’t see immediate jumps in traffic. The key is to just keep posting, sharing and giving value. Over time you’ll see your results grow and your blog will become the backbone of your content, social media and lead-generation strategies.