Sunday, 22 May 2016

What is the Purpose of a Blog

A recent post in a business forum asked the question "How can I make my blog popular?". This got me thinking about creating something that answers the seemingly simple question, what is the purpose of a blog and how to blog effectively.

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The stats around the subject of blogging are pretty compelling. According to Hubspot, marketers who blog receive 67% more leads and receive 97% more links to their websites; and just like Pets Win Prizes, links mean search engine rankings. However, many businesses get blogging spectacularly wrong because they miss some of the most basic principles.

There Are Two Types of Blogging

In my opinion, there are two types of blogging. The first involves people who blog for a living. They set out to become thought leaders in a particular niche, building a large and loyal following of readers who hang on their every word. They make money from their traffic, i.e. advertising, and from companies who are prepared to pay for their products to be reviewed and put in front of their large readership. To be honest, I don't really get it...

The second type of blogging is what businesses do. Now it's possible these blogs can also build a large following and be seen as thought leaders but to be honest that's pretty rare. The chances of blogging for your business and building something huge are slim, but you can use it to generate interest in your company and generate valuable leads. As a lead generation agency, it's what we do for our clients and it works.

How Most Businesses Get Blogging Spectacularly Wrong

Most businesses get blogging spectacularly and embarrassingly wrong because they fail to understand their blog's purpose. They create blogs in the mistaken belief that people give a hoot, they don't. Most people reading your company's blog are not doing it for pleasure, they're not hanging on your every word, they're simply trying to solve a problem.

If I had a euro for every business who tell me they want to create a blog "that people will keep coming back to" I'd be much richer. For most businesses this is an impossible dream and it's not even important or problematic! The chances of creating a blog that secures a large and regular readership is at best, slim. But don't sweat it, it really doesn't matter. Build a bridge over it and read on.

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How To Use A Blog (that virtually nobody reads) Effectively

Most businesses website pages communicate what they offer. "No shit Sherlock!" I can hear you say. The problem is, ranking for the search phrases related to those services can be hard and if you can't rank in the top 20, what's the point. For example, let's assume you're a new business who offer car insurance. You create a web page that says "We offer car insurance etc.". The chances of that page appearing on page one of Google when someone searches car insurance is zero, it's never gonna happen. Enter your blog.

Writing a blog gives you a vehicle for chasing less competitive search phrases. Head's up, this post is chasing the phrase, what is the purpose of a blog, and if you'reading this a couple of months after I published it following a search in Google, I nailed it...

You see, chasing very competitive search phrases is a fool's errand. Sure if you secure a top position the payback can be huge, but it's a high-risk approach, search engine optimisation or SEO is a frustrating exercise.

3 Steps To Blogging Success

By following these three steps your blog will generate leads. Notice I didn't say three simple steps, that was intentional because it's not simple, it's actually quite hard and don't let anyone tell you it isn't.

  1. Do keyword research to find less competitive search phrases to rank for.
  2. Satisfy yourself you can rank for them or keep looking.
  3. Create a well optimised highly targeted blog post.
Now, you should notice that this is quite different from your current approach, which I'd bet money on, is something like this.
  1. Decide you need to rank for a highly competitive search phrase.
  2. Create a poorly optimised blog post.
  3. Check your rankings every 2 hours for the next 6 months to see if it worked.

It's about picking your fights, and just like most things in life, there's a smart way of blogging and a not so smart way. Read on if this is making sense and you want to stop blogging the not so smart way.

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Blogging, The Swiss Army Knife of Content

Hopefully, I've managed to help you understand the right way to blog. Keyword research to find phrases you can rank for etc. But there's more goodness you can get from blogs, something that once again many businesses get completely wrong. I'm talking about linking from your blog posts to relevant pages on your website. 

As you may know, Google is a link based system. That is it uses links to figure out which web pages are important. There's tons more detail on links here. The thing is, links within your own website are also important; it's not just about the links you can get from other websites although a great blog post has more chance of securing one of those links than a page about your products and services.

This means it makes sense to weave links into your blog post to other blog posts and content pages on your website, making sure of course that they make sense for the person reading the post. In short, internal linking helps your search engine rankings.

And One More Thing

Finally, never create a blog post and leave it at that. If after time your blogging hard work of keyword research, content creation and internal linking starts to get you some traffic from Google, make the most of it. Offer your readers the opportunity of getting more great content emailed to them or offer them an e-book, free trial or half an hour of free consultancy. After all, they found your blog because they had a problem and it's possible they're looking for some help. Don't make them think, make them an offer!

If this is all making sense, put it into action. As I said in a previous post if you do nothing you're always six to nine months away from success. Trust me when I say, doing this stuff right generates traffic and enquiries and if your website isn't all about generating enquiries, what's it for?

For an informal chat about blogging or any aspect of your online marketing efforts feel free to book a no obligation 30-minute consultation.

 

More in this category: SEO, blogging, Lead Generation