A lot of popular blogging techniques have died out as Google's search algorithms (and the rise of social media) have changed the content landscape of the Internet.
For startups and small businesses utilizing blogging as part of their content marketing strategy, keeping tabs on industry best practices can be a bit like trying to herd cats.
As a result, unfortunately, many people find themselves swimming upstream as their content fails to capture high rankings in search results, generates little to no buzz, and generally offers little to no return on investment (ROI).
In part this is because companies tend to produce sales and marketing oriented copy that is biased and pushy (no-one is interested in reading that). It's also a result of misconceptions and misaligned expectations of what blogging is and what benefits it offers.
This article will focus on the second part of the equation by providing you with a great list of up-to-date blogging tips designed to build genuine, sustained popularity.
1. Blog about what you do
I advise a number of International organizations on how to get the most out of their online presence. Almost without exception, I end up repeating the following over and over (and over, and over...):
If something you do is news or noteworthy, blog about it.
Time and time I see companies pass up the opportunity to write about successes, new developments, advances, interesting/unusual/cool/humorous stuff, failures, news, and so on.
I suspect that this is generally due to apathy and laziness. After all, it's far easier to share the news directly on social media, without going to the trouble of offering a decent article with more in-depth information.
If you have something, anything, that's relevant to your business or industry, write an article about it.
2. Focus on 'who' your audience is
Another common mistake is to exuberantly generate huge volumes of blog content without really understanding who it's directed at, and what it's real purpose is.
The purpose of a blog (from a business perspective) is to increase visibility and trust amongst potential clients and customers.
It doesn't matter if your business relies on advertising revenue, or whether you sell stuff from an online store, the content you create needs to reach out and engage with the type of people who will ultimately generate revenue for your enterprise.
Don't waste resources creating articles that won't engage the type of people you are looking for.
Of course, this presupposes that you have already researched a target market, and understand exactly who you are trying to reach.
3. Ignore Google
High page rankings in Google search results are great. They drive plenty of valuable, high converting visitors to your site, and can often be the most profitable marketing channel.
But, Google is not reliable. With over 500 algorithmic changes a year (that's more than 1 per day), it is only a matter of time before your site is knocked out of the rankings (regardless of whether you play by the rules or not) for your most valuable keywords.
Relying on Google for revenue is not a sustainable business model - do so at your own peril.
If you are interested in decreasing your reliance on Google as a source of revenue, check out 5 tips to survive without Google.
4. Don't share excessively (create duplicate content)
Are you distributing your content through online press release services or article sharing sites like ezinearticles? If so, you may already have caused irreparable damage to your site.
Up until a few years ago it was common practice to syndicate content to online curators in the hope that the article would generate buzz and backlinks (in an attempt to increase visibility in the search engines).
Unfortunately, there are several major downsides to this technique:
- Google doesn't care who originally wrote an article - they will return whichever version they like, and the more an article is shared, the less likely it will be your original copy
- Content duplication and artificial backlinks can result in penalization - your own content, no matter how good it is, can end up causing an algorithmic or manual penalty if it is widely distributed
If you want to have a presence on larger, high profile sites, write and share original articles. They will always provide an author credit with a link back to your site.
5. Be inclusive
Being a publisher of great content provides a unique opportunity to network with other influencers in your niche market because it gives you a very controlled way to interact with them. By using your blog as a platform to talk about people in a positive way, you can generate a lot of goodwill and valuable new connections.
The more you talk about other people, the faster you will become known within a given industry. And, the more trusted and known you are, the more likely it becomes that other people talk about you.
Be generous about the coverage you provide, but make sure that your blog gets credit for that coverage. For example, when talking about an industry player, drop them a tweet with a link to an article that mentions them:
"Hey John, thought you'd like to know I mentioned your company in this article ..."
People are very likely to share your content on social media if there is something personal and meaningful to them in it.
6. Build authority & trust
Sharing a great article (not necessarily your own) that is relevant to the type of people you want to engage with online is important.
Each time someone reads something they find interesting or useful, you will get some of the kudos for discovering it and passing it to them.
Do this often enough, and other social influencers start seeing you as a valued source of information on that topic.
7. Engage with readers
Sharing a useful article with your fans and followers gives them something to talk about. They are likely to share their thoughts on that content with the person who shared it with them - i.e. you. This gives you an opportunity to engage with them. Discuss the issue, talk about other perspectives, draw more people into the debate.
Every bit of engagement serves to further establish you as a familiar, and trustworthy, player in that niche.
8. Keep pace with the industry
Some industries evolve and change faster than others, but the pace of change has picked up across the board. By actively seeking out great content to read and share on social networks, you continuously keep up to date with what is going on.
Being at the cutting edge of developments, news and information, right down to the more practical, nitty-gritty type aspects of a niche, is what every great business leader has to do anyway.
It makes sense to take all this learning and reading (that is basically mandatory anyway) and kill two birds with one stone, by showing off precisely how much you know to potential partners, clients, and customers.
Social media is a powerful channel for business growth online, but it has to be done right. By promoting the quality content of others, you also stand to benefit greatly.
Like most things, however, it won't happen overnight. Be consistent and persistent in sharing content and building social connections, and eventually, you will prevail.
So that's my list of blogging tips that should help you chase any low Web traffic blues away from your blog. What other tips and techniques do you use to turn blogging into a profitable business exercise?
Share your ideas in the comments.