Unless you’ve been on Planet Mars for the last 18 or so months you’ve no doubt heard of blogging. Whilst they’ve been around for a number of years their popularity has grown enormously in recent times and have become popular with individuals and businesses alike.
For businesses blogging can offer many benefits:
- It’s a great way to communicate with your clients, customers and prospects. Whether it be talking about new products or services, company news or resolving an issue, you can communicate on a level not seen before.
- It allows your customers and prospects to have a conversation with you.
- A blog give you a voice, which in turn gives readers an idea of who you and your business are. Your goal is to then engage them enough to want to do business with you.
- Blogging can help position you as an expert in your industry.
- Blogs attracts links and can help you in your search engine rankings.
Done right a blog can bring your business enormous success. Done wrong and you risk your credibility. The following guide will help you set up and manage a successful online blog.
What is a Blog?
A blog, short for “web log”, is a website arranged in chronological order with the most recent information posted at the top of the main page. A blog is made up of “posts” which can include text and images. Blogs can be written by one person or a group. They tend to be focused on a particular topic be that politics, fashion or something business related.
Blogs are built using blog software – which users can download and install on their own systems. Some blog applications are open-source software which means it can be used, modified and distributed freely. There are also proprietary software applications which are available to licence. Blogs can be stand alone websites or they can be integrated into your existing business website. There are many blog templates you can choose, both free and paid, or you can customise the look and feel of your blog to suit your requirements.
Bogs can be set-up to allow readers to make comments or provide feedback. By doing this you are allowing the readers of your blog have a conversation with you, as opposed to you providing a monologue.
You can learn more about blogs by checking out the resources at the end of this article.
Integrate Your Blog into your Website Design
When considering adding a blog to your business website you need to decide whether you will integrate it into your existing website or offer it as a separate site with it’s own unique web address. In 99% of occasions I would suggest making it a part of your website. Integrating your blog into your existing website design ensures that it provides a consistency of your brand and identity. It also enables readers who enjoy your blog to wander into other parts of your website such as your services and how to contact you. ;)
Place Your Blog on Your Business Domain
Once you’ve decided to integrate your blog into your website you need to consider how it will be placed under your domain name. You have two options:
I recommend the second option: yourwebsite.com.au/blog. As well as providing a consistency in website structure it will help your website rank well in the search engines. Search engines love links and the more links to your website the more likely you are to rank well in those search engines. Blogs are a great way to attract links to your site. Done well your blog should attract attention and you’ll find other blogs and websites link to you. So when writing posts think of creating content that attracts attention and is “link worthy” and you’ll get those links.
Blogs can be set-up to allow people to comment on what you write. It is optional and not all blogs choose to do this. Comments allow your readers to interact with your blog which in my opinion is a good thing. It shows that your business is open and honest in it’s communication. If you are concerned about what this means or what sort of comments you’ll receive you can set comments to be moderated. This means you approve the comments before they are posted publicly to your blog.
Comments are a way of showing readers, or potential readers, how popular your blog is. The more comments you receive the more popular you can be deemed to be. Here are some tips to help you encourage readers to make comments on your blog:
- Ask for comments. Sometimes people don’t realise you welcome comments on your blog.
- Ask questions. Specific questions encourages your readers to respond.
- Respond to comments. If people realise you’re reading and responding to their comments they’ll be more likely to make a comment.
- Make it easy for people to leave comments. It’ best to get people to register before commenting but make the registration process simple.
Comments are a great way to communicate with your clients, prospective clients, suppliers and the public. Open them up and start a conversation.
Speak With An Authentic Voice
On the whole business communications seem to be written in some kind of “corporate speak” blandly tossing out big words without ever really saying anything. And certainly not giving you much of an idea about the person and company behind the words. One revolution that has happened online is the rise of the authentic voice. An authentic voice is a human voice, it’s a voice that speaks to you in language you can understand and relate to. An authentic voice cannot be faked and if you try it online don’t be surprised to find you are called out on it.
So how do you write in au authentic voice? An authentic voice is one that sounds like it’s coming from you. It incorporates your personality, insights and opinions. Consider writing in a more conversational and personal manner. Of course being a business you still need to be professional, just work on making it more natural and engaging. You may also want to try reading what you write out loud to check that it sounds conversational. For more information on authentic voice and how to achieve it please check out the resources section at the end of this article.
Promote Your Blog
Ok so you’ve created a blog but no one knows about it. It’s now time to start promoting it. Here’s a list of ideas to help get you started:
- Make your blog visible to the search engines. You can submit your blog address to the main search engines, or simply get some links to it and let the search engines find it naturally.
- Link to other blogs you like in the hope they will return the favour.
- Swap links with other bloggers.
- Create an RSS feed. (More info on this in the resources section.)
- Let your clients and customers know about your blog.
- Submit your blog to blog directories. Try Googling “blog directory” to find relevant sites.
Again for more promotion ideas see the Resources section at the end of the article.
Like most things in life there’s no magic bullet but if you take the time to set your blog up properly, create interesting and engaging posts and actively promote it you’ll find a steady increase in people reading and engaging with your blog, people linking to your blog and an increase in enquiries and sales.