In short, the answer is yes, but it’s not as easy as it used to be. A major spoke in the wheel of content marketing, blogs provide potential customers a valid, trusted source of information that they will return to again and again. But, they require continuous updates depending on your sales and/or product cycles, salient topics and fact-gathering to be worthwhile for both you and your potential customers. If you can get it off the ground, the rewards are worth the effort. Even better, doing in-depth research on a topic will allow you a variety of ways to repurpose the information after you complete your blog such as including pieces of your research in straight email marketing pieces, videos, twitter updates, infographics and more.
Let’s get down to basics… You’ve heard the word blog for years, but you may not know what it is and/or have had any experience with one. It’s ok if you are unfamiliar with it, I’ll educate you now. A blog, as defined by Wikipedia is “a discussion or informational website …consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (“posts”). Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears first, at the top of the web page. Until 2009, blogs were usually the work of a single individual, occasionally of a small group, and often covered a single subject or topic.”
Since their inception in the late 90’s, blogs have gone through many iterations. At the beginning, many people used blogs as a place to discuss their passions or as a diary of sorts to share their thoughts with the world. Today, blogging has evolved to the point that it is now considered a legitimate profession, where successful bloggers (also referred to as “influencers”) create a wide-reaching social network with whom they share heavily-researched articles of sorts on a variety of topics from trends in pop culture to business advice. In fact, the term “influencer” may replace “blogger” in coming years.
Where only a few years ago, blogs were short, opinionated pieces rarely reaching more than 600 words, today blogs are not only growing in length, but are also incorporating more hard facts, infographics and images than conjecture. “In 2016, you can expect to see this trend towards longer posts and more substantive articles continue. For companies and even individuals that are looking to bring in qualified traffic this coming year, there will be a greater emphasis on the length of the article being published as well as its value.”
So, what would be an “ideal” length for a post and does it all need to be text or can you incorporate videos and images? According to Orbit Media, the ideal length of a search optimized post would be about 1,500 words. “Think about it this way: Google is a research tool. Longer pages have more opportunities to indicate their relevance.”Essentially, search engines are built to assume that a consumer’s question will be answered more effectively within the confines of a longer article. Additionally, longer posts get linked more often than shorter posts which would also boost a page rank. While increasing the word count could trick a search engine into boosting a page rank, if you’re boosting your count with unimportant and/or irrelevant words, you’re not going to keep a reader interested very long. The truth is that Orbit Media found that nearly 82% of top bloggers wrote articles under 1000 words. Consider your audience. Incorporating videos and/or images into your posts could potentially make the piece more engaging for a wider variety of consumers. Consumers are drawn to a wide variety of colors, graphs and images and will retain the information you provide more easily when associated with your graphics.
At any given time, there are nearly 3.5 million new posts being created around the world. So how do you get your blog to stand out? There are three main ideas you need to focus on in order to succeed: content, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media. You’ve heard the phrase, “content is key” and that is the name of the game here. Consumers are looking for value in the articles and blogs they read – what information can you provide that they can’t find elsewhere? Creating tutorials, guides and offering practical resources to your consumers may boost search engine ranking. Brainstorming a list of topics you can discuss with authority along with a calendar of when you intend to post them will keep you on target and ensure you have a wide variety of information to share. Secondly, incorporating a variety of SEO tactics such as linking to other bloggers, creating keywords and site optimization are all popular ways to ensure that search engines find you and put your site toward the top of the search list for key terms. Finally, Social Media holds a huge part in ensuring a blog is successful. Utilizing sites like Twitter and Facebook to “advertise” and share your posts can also lift your site in the rankings.
Email marketing can also play a very important role in alerting consumers to your content. Teasing them with a catchy subject line and the first paragraph of your blog with a link back to your site is the perfect way to alert them to new content. From there, you can ask readers to share it on social media sites through links on the bottom of your blog so that it gains traction.
So, now you have you have an arsenal of topics, an email list to blast and a couple of friends willing to post your link to their social media sites to help you get the word out. How often should you be posting? Research by HubSpot indicates that blog post frequency and customer acquisition are intrinsically linked. In fact, their research revealed that bloggers posting 2-3 times per week had the best return on their time and investment. The problem is, that strategy may not work with your product and/or service cycles. Only you know when you will be coming out with new products and services. It’s best to load your best blogs in the week or two leading up to those launches. Ensure you raise your page rank by putting your link out there wherever you can. This way, people are already coming to look at your site and then – bam! They’re introduced to a product or service they didn’t realize they already wanted. Blogging to convert consumers into your company’s personal customers is not an overnight process. Use your blog to build trust and ensure you are regarded as a leading expert in your field so that when they are ready to purchase a product or service, they do not need to look elsewhere to find it.
When you sit down to create a marketing strategy for the next quarter, consider adding a blog to your plan. “Blogging isn’t going anywhere and will continue to evolve in its role as one of the most important content creation, publication, and distribution strategies for businesses and individuals online.”¹
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