Blogging for Businesses - Making the Best Use of Your Company Blog
Please read the below questions and see for yourself if you can answer yes to all of the questions.
- Does your company have a blog on the website?
- Do you regularly update it with great fresh content?
- Do you see the company blog as a key element to your SEO strategy?
If you can answer yes to these then you're already on the right track of making great use of your blog. To those who cannot answer yes to all of these questions, I'd advise you to read this post as it will take you through the different steps that ultimately help to increase your sites authority and rankings in search engines.
Do Your Research
What's important to remember before you start writing a new post is that you need to do your research in order to find out if the content idea you have in mind will be thought of as interesting, useful, or fun by your readers. You want your content to be fresh and to provide added value as this will increase the likelihood of not only receiving comments and social interaction, but also other people linking to your content as a valuable resource. You can start your research by checking whos already talking about the topic you've got in mind.
- Do a normal Google search to identify popular content that fits in with your topic
- Set up Google Alerts to find out what people are saying about your topic idea
- Use search operators (find our search operator cheat sheet here) to find out who has been talking about your topic
- Use the keyword research tool to find out which phrases have the highest search volume
- Use Twitter and other social tools to identify trending topics
- Use Open Site Explorer to find out if that specific piece of content received any natural links
At this point you should have a few ideas that you think may work. If theres similar content out there, and youve seen that this piece of content has attracted lots of attention in terms of comments, social interaction and even natural links, your main goal should focus on making your content better by adding value to it. You can do this in a variety of ways, for example you could write about the topic from a different perspective or by obtaining opinions from influencers who are experts in the topic area.
Compile a List of Influencers
Your next step should focus on compiling a list of influencers who are experts in the topic you want to write about. During the research stage, you should have already found out who is currently talking about your topic and its important that you keep track of these influencers by for example noting these down in an excel spread sheet. Besides adding people who are currently talking about this topic, you can also:
- Add people who have previously linked to similar content
- Add people who have spoken about this topic in the past
- Add people who you feel would be interested in this topic
- Add people who are considered to be experts in this topic and are influential
You can find these influential people by using social tools like Followerwonk that allow you to search for Twitter bios. You can even filter these influencers by how old their Twitter accounts are, their Social Authority, number of tweets and followers.
Engage With Your Influencers
I consider this to be the most important stage as this is the beginning of where you build up relationships with these influencers and ask them for valuable feedback on the topic you want to write about. Its important to bear in mind when youre reaching out to these influencers though, that you "give value as well as asking for it" (Rand Fishkin, 2012; What separates a "Good" Outreach E-mail from a "Great" One)
With this I'm referring to not just using their knowledge for your own benefits, but to also give credit to these influencers in the content you're writing. You can incorporate their knowledge into your content by:
- Generally asking them what their opinion is about the topic
- Asking them if they would like to contribute to the content youre writing (by means of asking for quotes or interviews)
Create the content
Once you have gathered all the necessary information that will provide that added value to your content, it's time to start creating it. When you create your content, always make sure it looks visually appealing. There are many tools you can use in order to make your content look great, I've listed a few free tools below that are worth having a look at:
- http://infogr.am/ Infogr.am is a free, web-based tool with some really nice themes and a great interface for creating simple infographics.
- http://piktochart.com/ Piktochart is a web-based tool that has six decent free themes for creating simple visualizations.
- http://www.polyvore.com/ Polyvore is a fashion college maker tool which is easy to use as you can grab images from a vast database taken from a website by entering a certain term or brand name.
- http://www.gimp.org/ Gimp is a free image manipulation tool which does photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. You can create new images from scratch but also import your own images.
- http://www.timetoast.com/ Time toast allows you to create and share timelines, for example, you can create historical timelines of important events that have taken place in your company.
Let People Know About It
Once you've published the content on the blog, go back to the influencers you spoke to and let them know the content has been published and thank them for their contribution to the post. You can ask them if they'd like to share it with their readers and who knows, they may decide to tweet or like your post or possibly link to it! Considering these influencers have a large audience themselves, the chance for the content to be picked up is much greater as opposed to not having engaged with them at all. This means other people may decide to link to your content, these links will in turn help boost your sites authority and thereby may also help increase your sites ranking for the terms you want to be optimising for.
I asked my colleges what they feel is important to keep in mind as a company, when putting content on their blog. Here's what they said:
James McCann, Head of SEO says:
To put it in short – do your homework and find the hook! Find out what has gone before and try to distill exactly what made a great piece of content great – what was it about the content that made people link? Use the same formula for your content without mimicking it.
Freia Muehlenbein, Head of Content & Online PR says:
I think it's important to remember that content shouldn't be created just for the sake of it. It should be something that people want to link to because it is useful to them and it should capture whats hot in the industry so you can get the highest amount of traffic to your website.
Rob Marsden, Senior SEO Account Manager says:
The blog should ideally sit on a sub-directory of the site to ensure authority is passed between the blog and site pages as efficiently as possible. If a sub-directory isn't possible then a sub-domain could be used but a sub-folder would always be preferable.
With regards to content, companies should ask themselves the following questions when creating content for a blog:
- What is the purpose of this content?
- What are we hoping to achieve with this content?
- Will it benefit our existing and potential customers?
- It is genuinely resourceful?
- Are people likely to link to it and share it socially?
- How are we going to promote this content?