Despite the fact that businesses have welcomed many digital marketing techniques with open arms, blogging remains an oft-neglected avenue for many. While lots of organisations have a blog these days, the vast majority are either neglected or used to infrequently post self-promotional corporate dross.
In this article, we'll take a look at why blogging is so under-utilised and provide some practical advice on nursing your blog back to rude health.
- Getting the buy-in
The most common issue that crops up when starting a business blog is garnering sufficient support and commitment from the rest of the team. While the communications department might be highly enthusiastic about the prospect and it might even gain some vague approval from management, convincing the average team member to devote time they could be spending on "real" work to blogging can be a hurdle many find insurmountable.
As such, it's a good idea to prepare for this eventuality and arm yourself with the facts and figures you'll need to win over the doubters. Some common concerns you might need to address include:
What's the value in having a blog?
Figures show businesses that blog generate more traffic, accrue more inbound links and have exponentially more pages indexed than those that don't. In simple terms, this equates to more visitors to your website and more visibility in relevant search engine results.
But wait, there's more. Nearly 80 per cent of internet users conduct research into products and services online before they purchase and 57 per cent of businesses have acquired a customer directly through their blog.
By answering the questions and addressing the issues of your prospective customers, you can not only direct more people to conversion-oriented landing pages, but establish a degree of authority and trust that will provide the foundation for a beneficial, long-term relationship.
It's OK to put any old stuff up there - after all it'll only be read by search engines, won't it?
Nope. Simply having a blog isn't enough and engaging with prospective customers is the holy grail of inbound marketing. If you take a lacklustre approach to blogging, expect to receive a similarly lukewarm response.
Even if you do derive SEO benefits from having a stock of relevant content, any human visitors you do attract will quickly realise the content isn't up to scratch and their opinion of your organisation will be forever tarnished in their eyes. Furthermore, there's some evidence that having visitors to your site constantly returning to results pages could affect the quality of your site domain in the eyes of Google and company.
SEO has moved on and it's no longer a case of being in it to win it. With inbound links (i.e. having other, relevant sites with links pointing to you site) becoming ever-more important, once you have a handful of on-site elements nailed down - the focus shifts to creating and maintaining content that other sites and users genuinely want to engage with and share.
In the words of Google: "In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share."
Businesses are constrained by resources and as such, want to take the quickest and most efficient route to self promotion. However, there's no way to 'game the system' when it comes to business blogging and the easiest way to succeed is to produce genuinely share-worthy stuff. And it doesn't stop there - even if your content is the bees knees and users will want to use and share it - if they don't know about it, they can't.
This is why promoting your content to relevant target audiences via social media, email newsletters and just about any other means at your disposal is just as important as having the content in the first place.
It takes under 0.2 seconds for a person to form an impression of a website and our interactions with the internet promote skimming - so your content really has to make its value clear very quickly. However, if you do add value for the visitor, you can generate a feeling of trust - encouraging them to come back and keeping your company at the forefront of their mind. This means when the time comes to make a decision on committing their money, they'll be more likely to choose you.
I've not got time to write my blog today/this week/this month/ever …
Make time. Since Google's 2010 Caffeine Update, content that is updated regularly demonstrably performs better in terms of search rankings than that which isn't. It's also a no-brainer from an engagement point of view - as visitors are unlikely to return to a site that offers nothing new (not to mention their chances of finding it in the first place will be drastically reduced). Creating good blog posts is by no means simple, but you won't get any better at it by not doing it.
While it's possible to have a single content producer churning out post after post - this will show in the quality and composure, even if they're supposedly ghost writing for other team members. Blogging simply has to be a collaborative task and it really shines through when an author is knowledgeable and passionate about a particular subject.
So how do you get around this? We'd recommend incentivising blogging by rewarding the top-performing authors and getting your team to agree to an editorial calendar, so that everyone knows what's expected of them and when it's due.
I don't know what to write about
Bloggin' ain't easy. Coming up with usable and, above all interesting, topics that are relevant to your work won't happen instantly and you shouldn't expect it to. It's a good idea to hold a brainstorming session when possible and draft a pre-approved list of topics, rather relying on everyone to come up with their own. However, don't unnecessarily stifle the creativity of others - encourage individual posts that display personality and speak directly to the author's passions and expertise.
If you're stumped - take a look at what industry leaders, your competitors and peers are doing in this regard. Find out what's worked for them, what hasn't and what they're not doing at all and use this intelligence to inform your content strategy.
- Your Turn
What barriers have you overcome, or failed to, in your quests for brilliant business blogs? We always love to hear from you, so don't be shy and give us a shout in the comments.
And as always, if you're feeling bothered about blogging or confused about content in general, get in touch for a chat about the ways in which RDPR can help you out.
We've also put together a fantastic free eBook as an introduction for SMEs that are keen to jump on the content marketing bandwagon. So take a gander and let us know what you think: