When someone searches for your company name on Google, is your website listed first? If not, you might have to do a little SEO work to ensure that you're controlling your reputation. This post is a great place to start if you're looking for some simple SEO tips, but I wanted to expand upon one of these tips today: starting a blog.
Adding a blog to your website is one of the best ways to solidify yourself as an expert in your field, because it allows you to showcase your knowledge and address customer concerns. Google loves to see websites that are updated regularly, so having a blog can also bring in search engine traffic, and often, blog posts are more shareable than press releases or pages on your site, so it helps you on the social media front as well.
Don't worry; starting a blog is much easier than most people think it is!
Step One: Choose a blogging platform.
You don't need a blogging platform to start a blog, but coding it by hand is clunky and time consuming. Luckily, there are several free options for your blog. My personal favorite is WordPress, but you can also add a blog using Blogger, Tumblr, Typepad, SquareSpace, Drupal, and more. This is a really great list of the blogging platforms out there.
Most blogging platforms allow you to customize your blog using themes, which control the colors, layout, fonts, and more. Many platforms also have plugins, which allow you to further customize your blog. If you aren't a designer, don't worry - most of the popular blogging platforms make it very easy to get started for free.
Step Two: Brainstorm post ideas.
Don't make the mistake of only updating your blog with company news. This is your chance to build your reputation as an expert, so people trust your company. Posting information about your company works well in some cases (for example, if you own a bar, you might post weekly drink specials), but if that's all you post on your blog, you're not using it to its potential.
Here are some questions to help you get started brainstorming ideas, along with examples for different businesses:
- Why is you service/product important? Example: If you're a mechanic, you might write "Why Regular Oil Changes are Important"
- How can people save money? Example: If you're a contractor, you might write "10 Tips to Save Money on Your Bathroom Remodel"
- What are some secrets about your industry? Example: If you're a lawn care company, you might write "5 Secrets to Greener Grass in the Summer"
- What pricing information to people commonly want to know? Example: if you're a wedding planner, you might write "How Much Does a Wedding Cake Cost?"
You can also write about your company in interesting ways that promote your products/services without being just promotional. Tell feel-good stories about your customers or staff. Describe what makes your products better. Answer questions that are commonly asked. Remember, the more interesting your posts, the more they'll shared on social media.
Step Three: Write, write, write!
The more you write, the more traffic you'll attract to your blog. Do not sacrifice quality for quantity, but make sure the perfectionist in you doesn't take over. If the information is good, most people will look over a typo or two.
Remember, blog posts need to be easy to skim. People are busy, so they want to quickly look at your post to see if they're worth reading. Use headers, bullet posts, numbered lists, and short paragraphs. Big walls of text are intimidating for most Internet readers.
If you're really stuck, you can hire a write to help you develop your ideas or to expand upon blog posts you've written. You can also consider starting a podcast to "speak" your posts if you aren't a strong writer.
Step Four: Promote your posts.
Share your posts on social media so you can reach your followers, send an email to your list, and otherwise promote what you write. The "if you write it, they will come" mentality doesn't work well, since there is so much content out there.
Another important aspect of post promotion is internal linking. This means that every blog post should link to other posts you've written so people can find more information. At first, this is hard, since you won't have many posts on your new blog, but over time, it becomes easier to find posts to promote through internal links.
External links are, of course, even better. These are links on other websites that lead back to your posts. The best way to get external links is to write really amazing stuff, because people will naturally want to promote your work. Build relationships with other bloggers in your industry so they are aware of your posts and link back to them occasionally.
Step Five: Monitor your blog readers.
At first, you might get little to no traffic to your blog, but keep up with it! If you update regularly and promote your posts, you should see your traffic grow. Monitor your traffic by asking yourself the following questions:
- Where is the traffic coming from?
- Where is the most quality traffic coming from? (i.e. traffic that leads to sales)
- Which posts are most popular? What sets these posts apart?
- Are people reading several posts or leaving after reading one post?
- Which posts received the most social attention?
- What keywords are people typing into search engines to find my posts?
- What is the conversion rate? (i.e. how many readers take action by signing up for an email list, downloading a coupon, purchasing something at my online store, etc.)
All of these questions - and more - can be answered using Google Analytics, which is free to use with your blog.
Make sure to also monitor comments on your blog. Respond to questions and concerns to let your blog readers - current and potential customers - know that you are listening to them and care what they have to say. Comments are also great for generating ideas for new blog posts.
Remember, manage your expectations when it comes to your blog. In some industries, blogs are just not as popular as they are in other industries. However, even if you only update once a week, your blog can be a very powerful tool for not only generating leads (i.e finding customers), but also helping you to manage your online reputation. You can't control what people say about your online, but you can control what is on your blog.
About the Author: Allison Boyer is a content marketer who blogs regularly about blogging, email, social media, and more at AllisonBoyer.com.