I get asked 'What is a blog and why should I blog?' quite a lot. Here's what I think... [3 minute read]
In this longer than usual article I’ve pulled together some basics and given some tips to business-strength blogging and why it could be right for you, your business and your customers.
Businesses the country-over are being advised to blog, blog, blog and make sure they have a ‘Content Marketing Strategy’. Well I would say yes to that, but if the shoe fits.
According to The Guardian, a ‘web log*’ is a “log” of the web – a diary-style site, in which the author (a “blogger”) links to other web pages he or she finds interesting”.
Another definition of a blog might be something is more like: ‘A regularly updated website or web page, typically run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style’.
Reasons are many, but for a small businesses, it’s a way of continuing your story and offering helpful information at a particular stage of the customer buying journey. It should be just the right amount of content served at just the right time, and short enough for your audience to be able to read in the time they are willing to give you (about 5 minutes).
A blog’s ‘purpose’ could simply be to inform or qualify what you do. Or, it could be to encourage the reader to find out more or do something next (like read another article, signpost a product page, or attend an event). But it should never, never be salesy.
Blogs are also useful to address buying objections and answer any reoccurring questions that a typical buyer may have. They need an objective and they should be written with a specific persona in mind (customer, influencer, the trade or journalist for example).
‘Content’ could be defined as a landing page on your website, a blog or a news article, an FAQ (frequently asked question), a ‘How To’ guide or checklist, a download, a press release, a magazine article, a brochure, a catalogue and even your stationery for example.
Having a structured content and frequency plan for regular blogging will build a bank of useful information that any reader may come across. It will also serve useful to help your brand be visible to search engines. Your content plan should also include all kinds of content, not just blogs. It should be themed, usually on a quarterly basis around the topics that are of interest to your reader, and that address their needs. It can be themed seasonally around your business and/or the buyer’s buying patterns.
Use these tips for structuring, writing and optimising your blog for search engines. Before you start, ensure you have a detailed customer profile or ‘persona’ in order to focus your article on their wants and needs. Then, subject to your strategy, your article should be in the region of 500 words. Include an introduction, some sub headings, some numbered or bullet points and a strong call to action (CTA).
I’m not a great fan of pre-meditated SEO (search engine optimisation). I believe you can get great engagement and find ways of people to find your brand without big investment in expensive SEO techniques and ‘key word stuffing’. The trick is placing your content where your audience hangs out and be helpful and relevant. Think ratio not volume. A website that gets 10,000 unique views a month can achieve the same results as one that gets 50,000 with the right content strategy.
It’s worth noting that people tend to scan articles first and make a decision on whether they will actually read the article based on the image, headings and bulleted/numbered lists. Write like you, but bear in mind the web is awash with content and yours needs to ‘sound’ like you. Be as unique as possible to engage our audience. Think ‘why would they read it?’ and ‘what insight would they get?’.
Also, readers love practical tips and advice that they can take away and implement today, if you can include some in your article, even better.
If you are sending your article out to guest on someone else’s website or publication don’t forget it’s is already somewhere else and credit the right people.
And finally, I’m working on a whole FAQ section just for blogging, so please look out for that coming soon.
*If you ask Google ‘what is a blog?’ you will probably get a Wikipedia definition that says: ‘The term “weblog” (web log) was coined by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997. The short form, “blog”, was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May 1999.’
Helps small businesses stop wasting money on marketing. Watertight Marketing Certified Practitioner, MCIM Chartered Marketer and mentor.