Decide on why you are writing a Blog and write a clear set of goals and keep to them! Reasons why you should start a blog include;
- Sharing – sharing knowledge that’s useful to others is a great way to demonstrate your expertise in your business area and promote your product/service at the same time.
- To test ideas and get comments from your customers
- Thought leadership – this goes beyond demonstrating expertise to developing expertise in your field.
- Search Engine Optimisation – blogs create indexable content for your website and also act as link bait.
- Everyone else is doing it
Actually, if your answer is the last one you might need to rethink this whole blogging thing!
Decide on who will be updating the Blog and the frequency
- It doesn’t have to be one person. In fact sometimes it is better that a few people contribute, and make sure they are not all senior management!
- Offer incentives for contributors within your company. This is important – if blogging becomes a chore for your contributors then you will end up with low quality postings which could reflect badly on your company.
- Ensure profiles of the contributors are on the blog, including pictures if appropriate
- Keep the style informal!
Plan an editorial calendar, and start writing before you “go live”.
- Decide on when entries will be added – daily, weekly or fortnightly. Be realistic! You need to make sure you and other contributors can keep to the timeline but that the quality of your postings is maintained. Before you invest in a WordPress account or get your developer to integrate a blog into your website, I suggest you write a few test entries and see how you get on. The other advantage of this is that when you go live you will have a library of articles rather than a blank blog!
Choose a blogging platform that works for your technical ability and the goals you have written
- Your blog should look and feel the same as your website. This can be done by integrating WordPress, Blogger or other platforms into your website. If you don’t want to do this then simply sign up for a free blog and link the blog through to your website. From an SEO perspective your blog should be in a subdirectory, for example www.surefiresearch.com/blog. If your blog is in a subdomain, e.g., blog.surefiresearch.com then the SEO benefits of the blog are greatly reduced because search engines see this as a different site.
Ensure you are analysing performance and traffic. After six months ask if it is working.
- Blogging is a long term strategy and like anything in this world the more effort you put in the more rewarding it will be in the long run. Ensure you have a web analytics package installed on the blog and check every month to see how many people are reading the blog, how many people have subscribed to your RSS feed, and what postings they are reading.
Promote your blog (social media, email footers, email newsletters, submit to directories, etc.)
- Ensure your site is listed in the blog directories, that you advertise it on your site and in emails to clients and that your entries are being indexed by Google. Also look at StumbleUpon and Digg as sources of traffic (more on this, another day!)
Use images, links and Search Engine Friendly keywords and phrases.
- If you are using an SEO firm then ask them to suggest keywords and topics to blog on, and also get them to optimise entries prior to submission for the search engines. If you don’t use an SEO agency then ask yourself what words and phrases your site is not currently ranking for, but you want it to rank for and blog articles around those topics.
Integrate any other online activity you do with your blog – facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, MySpace, Flickr, You Tube, etc.
- This is a bit more of an advanced strategy but fundamentally if you have any other online presence, such as a YouTube channel, a corporate Flickr account, a LinkedIn profile or if you Twitter on a regular basis then ensure you mention and link through to all of these from your blog, and vice versa. This not only helps build traffic but will also help build links.
Only allow comments if you’re happy with public criticism
- My advice is to moderate comments from visitors to your blog to begin with and see what they post on your blog. Then, after a few months, make a decision on whether you want to allow these to be posted unmoderated, stay moderating, or remove the facility for others to post comments altogether.
Persevere! Remember you’re in this for the long run!
- Blogging in the long run will help bring traffic to your site and help its search rankings but you will need to be in it for the long run! Good luck!