Blogging is clearly a powerful tool for every business website. But just as with anything, there is a right way to do so to produce the best results.
I get asked two questions on a regular basis about "blogs." Why should I blog? And, can't I just have a website? Having a blog is part of having a website. The blog format is what allows you to provide all that knowledge, wisdom and experience your customers rely on.
What throws some folks off is the perception that a "blog" is only for personal informal or non-professional commentary. Instead of thinking about labels and definitions, let's think about format. And how this formatting option can help us to target our market and build our business.
Think of Blogging as a Content Format
Forget about the "official" definition of "blog." Open your mind to using the format of blogging as a platform and structure to add all that great content you want to include on your site. Information that you know your customers are looking for and can use. You know what that is! The stuff you get asked about all the time. The questions you get asked regularly.
Your "blog" can have instructional or troubleshooting guides, helpful tips, Q&As or downloads. The sky is literally the limit. There are no restrictions on how you can use this format to serve up the content on your website. And you won't get thrown in the pokey if you are not informal enough.
So, let's not box ourselves in by thinking that having a blog requires that you write about the latest fad, food or fashion. While there are tons of blogs that do that, your blog, your content library, can be the professional product/service resource you need to cater to your current and new customers alike!
Now this is not to say that personality doesn't matter. It does. That is where the "conversational tone" comes into play. You want to talk to your site visitors -- not at them! You want to write like your customers talk. If that is informal -- so be it! Personality can help you to stand out from others in your space.
If you think about it, there is only one you! Using you to your advantage helps your content stand out from all the other possibly generic blah-blah-blah that isn't anything special. Showing your personality in of itself doesn't mandate "informal" either.
Is Blogging Dead?
"I've heard blogging was a fad that's over." I've had several folks looking to improve their online exposure make this statement. Intimating that blogging was a fad and is now outdated. Could it be they are looking to avoid the fact that adding content to build-out their site is hard work? I'm not going to sugar coat it -- writing good stuff takes time and effort. The alternative is to remain a brochureware website. Which is not effective.
So let's not allow semantics to come into play. Maybe you do not need a "blog" on your site, but you'd better darned well be adding content, on a regular basis, and doing it properly! In that case, why not use the blog format to accomplish that?
In WordPress, the ability to have posts that are dated and categorized, is how you organize your content. You don't have to call it a "blog." You can call it whatever you like or nothing at all. You just need to categorize your content in a way that makes sense for site visitors.
Keep in mind that many onliners are used to going to a website's "Blog" area to find the articles and resources they are looking for. And if they like what they see, they subscribe! You have then been given the privilege of being invited into interested party's inbox. Marketing opportunity!
Adding valuable content is never going to be "dead" for credible business websites. "Blogs" are still a great way to organize and categorize all your content above and beyond the pages that rarely change (About, Contact, FAQ, Services, etc.).
Let's Talk About How You Can Use a Blog Format
Having a blog is a great way to publish content directed at your target market. And it's pretty easy too. Start a new post, add headlines, paragraphs, images, bulleted lists -- Preview and Publish. Adding is easy; creating great content to add -- not as much. This is where practice and skill building comes into play.
The fact is that adding new content is the lifeblood of any successful website. Without adding new content, on a regular basis, you just have an online brochure. Nothing special.
Brochures rarely rank well in search engines. Why should they when there are so many other alternatives offering a wealth of information? Nor are they viewed to have expertise, authority and trust. Just think about that for a moment before you decide to nix using a blog format.
Here are a few tips to help you start putting this format to work for you!
- Create your framework. We want to have all our articles organized in such a way that it is super easy for site visitors to find what they are looking for. Sit down and come up with a handful of categories that you know your potential (and current) customers could use information about. Then create five headlines for articles that would fit within each. Boom! You've just created the starting structure for your new "blog"!
- Create category names that are specific and intuitive. Create categories that make sense to site visitors, while allowing you to organize your posts intuitively. Avoid industry jargon or buzzwords your readers may not understand or be able to relate to.
- Create helpful relevant content. Content isn't a daily or weekly sales pitch about how great your business is. You want to provide information that goes to the heart of showing your expertise and why folks should do business with you -- by helping them out. Keep track of what you get asked about your product or service. Better yet, what do you see your customers struggle with most? Help them by writing about it.
SEO, Formatting, Sharing, Frequency and Visuals
- Think about SEO -- from the very start. Before creating your content, come up with a keyword strategy. This way you have your list of terms ready to go as you create new content.
- Format for reading. You land on a site and you scan, you don't read. So we need to write in such a way to encourage reading. Make the effort to keep your posts succinct. We do this with short sentences and no more than a few sentences per paragraph. Uses bulleted lists to make quick scanable points. Throw in a few sub-headlines to break things up. For topics that are more comprehensive, think about breaking them up into a series of more focused posts or offer as an ecourse.
- Offer the ability to share. The reality is onliners do not share articles as much as they used to -- that is unless they are their own, right? Even still, we want to offer the opportunity for site visitors to share if the urge hits them. There are a bunch of WordPress plugins that offer sharing capabilities. Choose the one that offers the look, feel and features that meet your needs.
- Post often enough to keep visitor interest and to encourage a following. Quality posts take time but if you are an expert in your field, you should have no problem typing at least once a week about trends, sites, tutorials or info you want to share. Infrequent posting does not lend to growing an active subscriber list or following.
- Include at least one cool graphic that is representative of the content's theme or meaning. This is a visual medium after all!
"Blog" for the Win and Market Domination!
Okay, market domination may be a bit dramatic but that certainly doesn't preclude you from being able to out perform your competitors by simply adding great content! Using the blog format.
Business "blogs" (or whatever you want to label them) are a powerful marketing, reputation management and customer service tool that no serious business should overlook or underestimate the importance of managing properly.
At your service,