Google "content marketing". Go ahead, we'll wait. All done? See those 915,000,000 results? This kind of popularity, backed by plenty of evidence, should get you excited for the new era of marketing, which brings you and your customers closer together. The innovative new technique focuses on crafting compelling content instead of convincing copy to create a relationship with customers and facilitate engagement. Pretty cool right?
Here's the catch. There seem to be some folks among us that think that creating a few 300 word posts about the importance of distillation column cleanliness is going to get everyone to start buying ceramic mixing impellers. The flaw with this reasoning lies in the fact that blogging is, in and of itself, an entire field of knowledge that requires additional considerations to be successful. Without knowing a little about how to run your business blog, you can expect some soul-crushing traffic numbers. So what makes the blogosphere tick? Let's take a look.
The Heart and Soul of Blogging
You know how windsurfing is more than just a hobby, it defines you? Well, understanding the importance of this kind of esoteric but integral activity is crucial to constructing a comprehensive and actionable picture. At its heart, blogging operates on one very basic principle: a well-organized, high-quality body of content with appropriate SEO can both generate and sustain organic traffic for years to come. We'll break down each of these components in turn.
The first element of successful blogging is visibility. Even if you write the second Macbeth, no one's going to give a hoot if they can't find the thing. For this reason, your website needs to appear in relevant search results. This is achieved by linking to other websites and having other websites link to you. The more relevant the site mentioning your content, the better you look to search engines.
In addition, the web scanning "spiders" of major search engines will scour your pages for important keywords and "meta data". When writing, be sure to work in essential keywords in the opening paragraph of your page and establish Schema microdata in your HTML to make sure that the spiders get the picture. Any of this make sense? Of course not, that's why we'll elaborate later on. Just know that this web of connections tells Google's search algorithms that your site is special, and gives it a well deserved bump up the search ladder to demonstrate this.
The second element is quality. Let's say that you've done the work, you've established your linkages, and you've built well-indexed pages with relevant keywords. Congratulations! We know it's not easy, but these kinds of "chores" will make a big difference when people are trying to find your stuff. The next thing you need to do is make sure that your content is good! Cite your sources, construct intelligent ideas, make the tone and text engaging and entertaining, and become a lightning rod for conversation. Throw in an eye-catching title and plan on riding your blog posts into some real ad revenue.
That is to say, if you want to settle for only a paltry stream of income and virtually no sales leads. The final over-arching concept in this panoply of blogging prowess is volume. You see, you can optimize your pages into kingdom come, write the greatest blog post man has ever seen, and make your interface as pretty as a picture, but without a decent volume of posts, your victory dance will be short-lived (and awkward). Blogs operate on organic traffic, which means that people searching for relevant information stumble upon your well-crafted resources again and again. Without a collection of information that covers this gamut, your results are far less likely to be deemed "relevant" by the Google overlords.
Setting the Tone
But you're running a business blog, not some namby-pamby Justin Bieber fan site. You need to turn your valuable content into an effective marketing tool, generating sales leads and cash. For this reason, there are a couple other things to keep in mind.
For starters, knowing the role of your blog is important. The essence of content marketing's effectiveness lies in its ability to put a helpful, engaging, human face on an organization. Your blog is an outlet for well-crafted opinion and authoritative instruction. This means that your blog should cater to the whims of your fickle customers and be as human as possible! If people wanted to read soulless, uninteresting, and un-engaging content, then dictionary-makers would own half the Cayman Islands.
Second, your blog is both a marketing tool and a project in its own rite. Its primary functionality is to market, but it can't do so unless it's treated with the care and attention its needy constitution demands. Think of blogging like a high-maintenance high school boyfriend/girlfriend: you have to tell them they're pretty and jump through some pretty clingy hoops in order to have a date to the dance.
So what does this mean for you? Simple!
1. Plan on investing time in your blog
Like we said before, building a blog following takes some time. The key is to not shoot for volume alone or to focus only on SEO. Blogging successfully means paying attention to the whole package, exercising thoughtful effort every step of the way. This means enlisting the help of your employees and working toward delivering consistent, entertaining, optimized content over a sustained period of time.
2. Create quality content based on what your readers
Hire great writers. This cannot be emphasized enough. The backbone of good blogging is good writing and scrimping on a scribe is just stupid. Once you've got Shakespeare lined up, build a body of posts based on what you know about your market. If you're a ball-bearing supply company, your customers want to know about maintenance and developing technologies, because they're businesses. If you sell ice cream makers, your customers want to know how to incorporate ice cream into fun and friendly recipes, because they're consumers with a penchant for creative food. Know your market, craft content based on their needs, and watch which posts rise and fall to guide future efforts.
3. Get Yo’ SEO On
Make sure that people can see your stuff! Look at each post and ask yourself one simple question: what is this about? Drill down your message to keywords. If you write marketing advice for startup companies and publish a post on leveraging social media, use keywords like "engagement", "social", or "sharing". Also, read this. Incorporating microdata into your posts is a sure-fire way to improve their search indexing and make your message come across more clearly on Google and Bing.
4. Keep It Up!
In order to build your reputation as a knowledgeable and friendly source, you're going to need to take a seat. This'll take a while. Building an appropriate volume of posts and garnering the inbound links needed to improve your visibility requires some investment, but each element works in synergy. The better your indexing, the more likely you'll get found. The more you get found, the more likely you'll be linked. The more you're linked, the more likely you'll get found, and so on. Getting there takes time, but at a certain point, your blog will take care of itself.
Let's put it this way: if it were easy, everyone would do it. Blogging is an amazing way to engage customers and understand your market while building your reputation and generating sales, but it takes some know-how and perseverance. With some high-octane fuel in your tanks, your blog and your business can both benefit. Just bring some snacks for the trip.