In an earlier blog, we discussed the concept of content marketing, which is a way to drive web traffic to your site by creating engaging content, such as videos, podcasts, eBooks, articles and more. One of the easiest ways to get started in content marketing is by blogging.
Despite the fact that it is fairly easy to set up a blog, or perhaps because of it, most blogs aren’t as effective as they could be. It takes time and effort to create compelling content that will rank high in web searches because you will be competing against lots and lots of other content.
Getting Started in Blogging as a Marketing Tool
Know your customer. One of the first things to do is to get as clear as possible about who your ideal customer is. Brainstorm about what they are most interested in, the types of goods or services they are seeking, the type of language and terms they use, and how you uniquely meet those needs. For more details on branding your company and defining your audience, visit our article, Branding for Small Business.
Answer questions. If you are stumped for blog topic ideas, think of some of the most common questions asked by your customers. Use your blog to answer those questions. You can also use an online tool like AnswerThePublic to generate ideas by seeing what some of the most common internet searches are around a given subject, product or idea. Use your blog to answer the questions people are already seeking online.
Target by location. If your business is local, be sure to mention your location frequently in your text. It doesn’t do you any good as an auto repair shop to attract readers from hundreds of miles away. Look for ways to mention your city and state occasionally to reach the customers nearby. For instance, “Preparing Your Car for a Cleveland Winter,” would reach your target audience better than simply, “Preparing Your Car for Winter.”
Find a new angle. Aside from locality, look for other ways to attract a niche audience or cover a topic in a unique way. You will be competing against so much online content that it’s imperative to find a take on it that hasn’t been covered by a thousand other sites if you want any hope of cutting through the noise. If you have a topic in mind, go to Google and search for it. Has this topic been covered by hundreds of other blogs already? Is there any way you could attack the subject in an original way?
Write with search engine optimization in mind. If you are using a blogging platform like WordPress, you can install a plugin like Yoast that will prompt you with recommendations to make your blog posts more Google-friendly. Some of the recommended search engine optimization (SEO) practices and factors include:
- All images have alt tags.
- The site loads quickly.
- Each post includes one internal link and one link to an external site.
- Relevant keywords are used.
- Meta tags (description and title) are complete.
There are a variety of strategies to get your site to rank higher in search results. Visit this article for more SEO tips.
Include a call-to-action. You can increase your conversions from casual reader to paying customer or subscriber by including a call-to-action on every blog. What is your ultimate aim for your website visitors? To have customers contact you for a quote? To get donations? To get new subscribers? To sell your book? Whatever your goal, be sure that it is included within or at the end of every blog post, directing the user towards next steps. “Register for one of my online webinars,” “Click here to schedule your first session,” “Sign up for the mailing list,” and so on.
Use keywords wisely. Be sure to include keywords in your text (the terms that you expect readers to be searching for), but don’t overdo it. Your text should still read naturally. Google and other search engines will penalize you if they feel you are trying to game the system by “keyword stuffing.”
Watch your traffic. Keep an eye on your site stats to see which articles are drawing in the most traffic. (If you are not already tracking your traffic with a service like Google Analytics, you need to get that set up ASAP.) You will soon begin to notice which articles are drawing in the greatest number of readers and you can tailor your content based on interest.
Be consistent. Determine how often you can realistically publish a blog and then stick to that schedule. Google rewards new, fresh content, so even if you can only blog once a month, be sure to maintain that pace.
Don’t be afraid to outsource. Be honest with yourself. If you and/or your staff don’t have the time to write consistently, or if it is simply not your strong suit, explore the possibility of hiring someone outside the organization to create content for you. Contact us at J&M Business Solutions and let’s set up a plan to incorporate blogging or other forms of content creation into your marketing strategy!