Blogging as a marketing activity
“The influence of blogging is overall a very positive force in the media.” – Garrett Graff
Blogging is widely accepted as a fairly ‘standard’ requirement for a modern business who intends to improve their search engine authority, consolidate their ‘expertise’ and communicate this with their contacts. But blogging can be time consuming, challenging and difficult work so we’ve created this guide to provide you with some helpful hints and tips.
Planning your blogging activity
As with all aspects of marketing activity, the most successful bloggers have a clear strategic plan for their blogging which should tie in with the overall marketing plan for the business and that should reflect the needs of their customer. Areas to consider within your plans include:
How often: Generally, weekly or fortnightly is desirable – monthly means you’re just not memorable enough in the general noise of everyone else’s marketing activity and more frequently than weekly means you’ve either got too much time on your hands or you’ve got a genuine team of engaged contributors – lucky you!
When: The day of the week and the timing for publishing the blog matter – but it’s not actually your decision – this should really be determined by your client and having a true understanding of their engagement potential. Tools like Google Analytics allow you to map the day and time when your client is looking so use this information to influence your timing. Remember that modern websites like WordPress allow you to schedule blogs for future publication.
Download our marketing plan template
How much: The guide here is ‘enough’. Google likes to see a minimum of 300 words but this is normally easy to achieve (for instance, up to this point we’re already at around 280 words). However, you should write your blog articles for your reader, not Google and you need to consider how much time THEY are willing to put into reading a blog and, again, this comes down to understanding your customer. We’d recommend that if you’ve gone beyond 1000 words you should probably start thinking of making it a two-part blog!
Why: A log of business owners are aware that they ‘should’ be blogging but they don’t actually know why! The ‘why’ should be based on a wider plan of communication, education, client engagement, prospect identification, etc.
Keeping notes and ideas
Sitting down to write a blog can be quite taxing so the technique we would recommend is to adopt a more long term commitment to blogging – if you know you will be writing a blog every week for the coming 6 months then it makes sense to actually prepare an overall plan with rough headlines and content ideas.
Once you’ve got this long term plan in place, a useful next step is to simply keep that plan close to hand and then note down observations and ideas into the plan as and when ideas strike you. Technology can help here – consider using an online note-making apps (such as Evernote or even Google Docs) so that you can then access these notes even when you’re not at the office.
You’ll find that adopting this structured long term approach means that you are developing and strengthening your thinking and therefore deepening the value of the article by the time you come to actually write it. It also becomes easier to write too as you’ve already sketched out ideas and content elements so the article itself should just flow.
Committing to blogging
It’s already been mentioned above but blogging is a long term commitment and not something to be undertaken lightly.
Clearly, once you have a considerable library of archived blog articles behind you, you can then look to republish older blogs on a regular basis meaning you can reduce the need for such a high level of time devoted to blogging but in the early days you have to accept and commit to the process.
Obviously, for any business who has more people involved than a sole trader, the responsibility can be shared … but this can also come with risk too – you need to achieve a fairly consistent ‘voice’ across your blogs in terms of written style, length, approach, etc.
One option to ensure you manage to achieve a regular blog is to consider outsourcing the writing of the blog itself. Copywriters are skilled at taking a few bullet points and references and turning this into a written article. Of course, they will charge a fee for this but they are saving your the time and heartache and many believe that this is money well spent. If you are going to utilise a copywriter then consider their industry knowledge and their approach … work out how you’re going to work together because you will still need to be involved.
One approach that is worth looking into is ‘guest blogging’ where you invite other, external people to contribute articles too. This isn’t necessarily ‘easy’ as these articles will often still need additional editing and formatting to tie in with your own style but it is a method of driving up additional content.
One further benefit is that the guest blogger will often also link to their guest blog from their own website, thereby adding to the backlinks pointing at your own site – as long as there is some keyword relevance then this is always a good thing and to be encouraged.
If you are going to invite guest blogs then take control and set up your terms of submission to ensure that the blogs meet certain criteria – for instance, here at Yorkshire Powerhouse, we ask that guest blogs are:
- Longer than 300 words.
- Offer genuine, impartial and practical advice.
- Are not a sales pitch and do not promote a specific service or product.
- Are blunt, straight talking and simple in approach.
- Are genuinely unique articles, not published elsewhere on the internet.
If you are clear with these terms up front, it becomes very easy to then reject blogs that fall foul of them later on without it being a ‘personal rejection’
If you are blogging, remember that the primary purpose should be to improve sales with clients – rather than improve SEO rankings. Obviously the two can go hand-in-hand but the cynical use of blogging for SEO improvement is normally fairly clear to see and simply turns real customers off!
There are search engine authority benefits achieved from blogging … simply the act of publishing new, high quality articles on a regular basis is considered a good thing by most SEO experts as it keeps your visibility with Google high. BUT … they do have to be high quality content based articles and not just ‘copies’ of articles that can be found elsewhere on the internet – here, Google takes a fairly dim view and will not provide the rewards.
However, if you are going to the trouble and effort of blogging then you might as well also ensure that the article is well presented for SEO. Deciding from the outset on the primary purpose and ‘message’ of the blog should usually then determine what keyword or keyphrase you should then be targeting for SEO – utilising this keyword within the blog URL, page title, meta description, text headings, body text, image names, alt text tags and more allows you to influence Google to clearly understand what your intended purpose and angle of the blog is. If you use WordPress for your blog then we’d always recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin as this then gives you feedback for free on all the main aspects of SEO targeting
We fully endorse blogging as a positive marketing activity but you must approach it with a plan in mind or your resolve and determination will be tested – blogging is too easy to give up on!
Blunt advice on blogging from Yorkshire Powerhouse
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