With recent changes to the Google algorithm and the continuous
growth of social media, using a flexible online platform to
engage customers and generate prospects is essential. That’s
why many online marketers are turning to blogging as a vital
part of their integrated marketing communications strategy.
The expansion of popular blogging platforms
such as WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr, has
made it extremely convenient and easy to start a
blog or to integrate one into an existing website.
Content management features, plugins, and other
tools allow site managers and marketers to continually
add fresh, original content that engages
audiences. As search engines place more of an
emphasis on unique content and user engagement,
companies have focused their efforts on
building and maintaining blogs.
If you are considering the development of your
own blog or would like to do a better job of leveraging
an existing blog, focus your efforts on these
proven optimization strategies to generate organic
traffic and to build a loyal base of followers. Today’s
most effective blogs depend on a loyal base of readers
and advocates who share content willingly. With
the addition of social media sharing and other
ways to “spread the word,” engaging blogs can
grow quickly. If you want to effectively develop
your blog, consider implementing the following
1. Create expert-generated content. One
of the most essential aspects of any blog is creating
sticky content that attracts both existing customers
and generates interest among your target audience.
By leveraging experts at your company or industry,
your blog can become a valuable resource that readers
turn to again and again. Focus on utilizing experts to create content that meets and exceeds
the needs of your target audience. Make sure that
experts provide something to your blog that’s truly
unique as opposed to the same advice they give
over and over. The more unique the information,
the better. When posting, use bullets, italics and
other formatting that make your posts easy to read.
2. Make regular updates. Each year, millions
of blogs are created and quickly abandoned. This is
because blog managers quickly realize that launching
a blog is the easy part. The more challenging
aspect of blogging is producing content updates on
a frequent basis. To be effective you must have a
plan for making content updates. Consider how
frequently content will be updated on your blog,
2-3 times per week at a minimum, and who is responsible
for posting. Having a specific owner that
makes content updates is one of the most important
roles associated with blogging success.
3. Focus on social media engagement.
Everyone knows that social media is a significant
driver of online success. However, not every site,
especially blogs that update content frequently,
makes it easy to share content across social networks.
From a user’s perspective, consider how
quickly and easily they can share your posts, images
and other blog-related assets with their various
networks. From Facebook to Pinterest to
plain old email, remove all obstacles to social
sharing. Most blogging platforms provide builtin
tools that allow for effective social sharing.
Other sites like AddThis.com provide snippets
of code that can be used to implement social
sharing icons into your blog.
4. List building. Another great way to leverage
a blog is through list building and lead capturing.
As readers engage with blog content, it’s important
to offer multiple opportunities for opting in or converting
through some lead-capture device. Something
as simple as a newsletter sign-up or free
download is a great way to build a powerful list that
can be used for marketing, research and referrals.
Consider what type of resources and information
appeal to your audience and consider no-cost offers
designed to build a list. Blog readers tend to be
highly responsive when given offers that are relevant
to their needs.
5. Monitor user-generated content. Encouraging
visitors to leave comments, share articles
and interact with different sections of your blog can
change the dynamic of your blog. The one caveat is that user-generated content must be carefully monitored.
This is easy with moderation tools offered
by blogging platforms, but they must be turned on.
Consider moderation an essential part of blog management.
Although user-generated content shouldn’t
be edited, blog managers can benefit by
considering which content is relevant. A blend of
positive and negative comments can encourage additional
engagement and dialog.
6. Manage promotional activities. Blogs
serve to communicate value-added information
and provide resources that are appropriate for your
market segment. Making offers and running promotions
through a blog can be effective if the delicate
balance between information and promotion
is managed properly. Too often however, once a
blog has built a large or loyal following, bloggers
tend to push promotions in favor of valuable
content. This can turn off your audience and negatively
impact engagement. Before running a promotion,
consider how it may be viewed among
your audience. If there is any doubt as to the value
created by the offer, consider other ways to siphon
prospects into a lead funnel such as utilizing free
offers or auto responders.
Developing an authoritative blog takes time.
Starting with a well through-out strategy that
meets or exceeds the needs of your target audience
is the best place to start. Blogs can only be effective
if proper planning is utilized to leverage
experts for quality content and information is updated
regularly. As individuals engage with your
content, encourage them to share across social
networks and provide feedback. This helps to direct
future content generation and interaction
among your target audience. Blogs are an essential
platform for any business to communicate
with prospects and customers, engage their audiences
and improve site visibility.
About the Author: Michael Fleischner is the author of Blogging Made Simple: Powerful Strategies For Blogging Success! (Volume 1) and other Web-related publications. He is the founder of The Marketing Blog, providing marketing related information, tips and resources to small business owners and marketing professionals. Michael provides marketing related consulting services to leading brands and has appeared on the TODAY Show, ABC World News and other major media outlets. You can follow Michael on Twitter @mfleischner.