At MarCom New Media, we have been blogging since blogging was invented back in the year 1997 when John Barger called his website a weblog. Popular blog sites like Mashable and TechCrunch brought blogging mainstream around 2001. Today social media marketing has made blogging more sharable, therefore more global, prompting the question– what is the right business blogging strategy? Seriously, this question has come up often with our clients, in fact, year after year. Following is our best advice.
Scholars talk about how blogging has profoundly influenced the Internet today, but they also admit its effect on the nature of modern communication globally, despite being a genre invented less than ten years ago. Yes it is that recent… and it was just a year or two before Mike Keesling, MarCom’s search engine optimization (SEO) guru, and I became associates in 2004. How often do we need to post? Should we link to our SEO keywords in our blogs? Should we include images? Do you use SEO tactics in blogs? Each year, the answer has been somewhat different. In fact, one year, blogging was doomed and people were saying that it was not going to be around much longer at all – that was around the year 2006. Back then we said blogging is here to stay, and it has survived, but the key thing is that you do it right. Once again we have been going round and round with multiple MarCom clients to recommend the right answer for this time in space here in 2015. Each company is unique, and some may not even benefit from blogging. MarCom does not sell products on our own site, therefore we made the choice not to post as often. Besides, for us is like the shoemaker with no shoes for his children…we are too busy doing our client’s work to blog twice a week. Our site is a “portfolio” website so our blog is more for educational purposes. However, for many companies, we believe blogging is a road to better SEO and leads, so we strongly advocate blogging. But when doing so, remember that a blog is just like a website that is more active within your own website, and what’s on it is just as important. Blogs can be stand alone as well and serve as an entire website too. Even through each client is unique – from B2B to B2C – we have been continually telling folks for the last year how important it is to blog (quality content) at least two and preferably three times plus per week. It is essential to keep offering your readers new content to keep them coming back and engaged. Google likes it and will reward those who do. Journalistic quality when blogging is essential. This does not mean blog posts can’t be fun – but we encourage our clients to remember that everything you say online – remains online. Quality of Content and Regularity of Blog Posts are Essential A great case history is our client The Plan Collection’s blog. They have a multi-blog topic approach with six sections, and we assist them in ghostwriting one or two sections, leaving them to talk about what they know best – online house plans, architecture and building homes. We try to schedule two posts per week. People follow their blog, it is referred and it helps them sell their product – and we have the stats to prove it. You’ll find all sorts of advice on the Internet on the topic of blogging and some people advocate quality over quantity, stating that if you post to your blog once a week, or even once a month it is enough. Some advisors on this topic even advocate that as long as one puts out high-quality content, and long, well-written posts offering statistics and research plus authoritative links, then you’re good to go. Other advisors stick to the idea that you must update your business blog daily – even by just posting a quick note – such as post that consists of a link a bit of commentary, because (they believe) frequent posting, is what affects search engines results more than quality. “Well … maybe not,” as MarCom’s SEO expert Keesling clarifies. “It is important to have frequency—three or more blog posts per week if possible.” Regardless of frequency it is important to post with regularity. In other words if you’ve determined that you only have the bandwidth to do two high quality posts per week then make sure you post them (on separate days) the same time and day of the week each and every week including the holidays. If your quality is good enough, and you post regularly, you will find that people are visiting your blog in greater and greater numbers on those days and times.” Thank goodness, the stats are now in from various studies to back this up. According to eMarketer, 2014, 81 percent of marketers rated their blogs as useful or better, 8.61% of U.S. online consumers made a purchase based on blog recommendations, says research in The Rise of the Blogger. In fact this blog infographic highlights some other stats on the topic including:
- Bloggers that post daily get five times more traffic than those posting weekly
- Blog traffic goes up 54% more once you have 51 posts
“Think about blogging like a personal relationship which involves commitment,” Keesling continues. “Another way to look at blogging is like when in the old days you used to have a subscription to your local newspaper, it arrived around the same time each morning, and you got really upset if it didn’t!” Like a newspaper, blogs are great for engagement because visitors enjoy looking forward to new articles, resources and information regularly. Blogging is also great for (search engine optimization (SEO) because search engines love websites that provide quality content, and Google in particular, likes it when there is engagement on your website – much of which can come from visitors to your blog. How Often Should You Update Your Blog? The question is, how often should you update your blog in order to keep both the search engines and your visitors happy? Even if you have really excellent, quality blog posts, if you’re not updating at least once a week, you will be losing momentum as the search engines will not visit as often. Some experts believe that if your blog posts and updates are more than a week apart, it is as if you’re not blogging at all. Never set a blog publishing schedule that you cannot keep – as a sudden drop in publishing can damage your efforts. “Where you host your blog is vitally important,” adds Keesling. “If your blog is your website (i.e. you don’t have a website, you just have a blog) then nothing changes. However, if you have a website your blog should be part of your main domain (i.e. yourwebsite.com/blog). It should not be a subdomain.” Blogging is Good for Business When you have a regularly updated and engaging blog, you’re positioned for more website traffic and increased lead generation. According to recent data from marketing company Hubspot:
- Companies that blog three to five times a month, or around once a week, have more than twice the traffic of companies that don’t.
- Company blogs with 15 or more posts per month see more than five times the traffic of non-blogging companies.
- Small businesses have the most significant results and the greatest traffic gains when they update blogs more often.
- Increase your publishing frequency from three to five times per month, to six to eight times per month. It could nearly double your inbound sales leads.
- Set a realistic blog schedule and stick to It. Consistency is the most important aspect of small business blogging. Blog Strategy and Focus is Essential
- Blogs require original ideas, a strategy and focus. You can use keywords used in your SEO, and links if the blog is on your own site as it should be. Link to other pages using anchor text links, and add some links to outside resources or references or sources too. Links can help drive traffic to your site. Post links to your blog on other social media sites that also focus on your blog’s audience. Remember to make it easy to share your blog posts everywhere.
- If you wonder why your blog viewership isn’t growing – take a look at its focus. In order for a blog to appeal to visitors there should be some focus and a consistency in posts that are published. Once you have focus to your content, and a regular schedule, your visitors will know when to expect new content. They’ll come back to look for your latest posts. Search engines also give higher preference to regularly updated websites over those that update infrequently.
No Duplicate Content Google’s search engines are now sophisticated enough to know when people lift copy from another website and put it on their blog. You can be penalized, and in some cases they will take your site off the radar completely. Use a quote, give credit, but never use someone else’s words. Read it and rewrite it into your own words. Also, think before you use slang. In most cases, using slang is just not acceptable. But, write to your audience. Slang may not be appropriate – unless you are selling gold chains to the hip hop crowd, then maybe – but if your audience is more sophisticated then write accordingly. Use good grammar, full sentences, and the correct tense. Promote the Blog Do not forget to promote your blog elsewhere – for instance- via social media sites like Linked In, or in email newsletters. Remember that old expression “six ways to Sunday”? We always tell our clients to write tidbits of their blog and market it “six ways to Sunday” with one version for your newsletter, one for a post with a link on Linked In, one for Facebook, and a 140 character post and link on Twitter. (Use hashtags – # – on Twitter and on Google Plus but not on Facebook or Linked in as they are useless.) You can also look for other blogs to post your content on, with a link to your blog. Most other blogs offer information on their About Us sections, and provide an email to contact them to see if you can be a guest blogger. And also when posting a link remember to erase the url after the story populates. If You Need Help Let’s get real… many small business owners will not have the bandwidth to update their blog more than once or maybe twice per week with really good, well written, content. That all said, it is probably time to get help and seek an independent journalist or a consulting group – like MarCom New Media – who has enough experience to put together the right marketing and blogging strategy together, write good quality content and drive the results for your SEO. But, if you follow these guidelines and make your blog updates a priority, continue to provide quality posts and resources, there is no doubt that you’ll see returns in the form of more traffic and increased sales through your small business website. Good luck! For more information about MarCom New Media (www.MarComNewMedia.com)and our integrated marketing services, contact Kristin@marcomnewmedia.com or call 323-650-2838.