We’ve written before about the benefits of business blogs, and why we’re big fans of getting a blog properly integrated into your website.
Previously, the key benefits of blogging were keeping fresh content on your site, and providing informal insights into your organisation’s work and related topics. For most businesses, that was enough, and if they built a regular audience of readers who liked the “newsletter home” type of content, so much the better.
That approach though tended to lead to what I call a “whimsical” posting style. So a typical article might involve giving a personal opinion or commentary on current affairs, often linked (with varying degrees of awkwardness) to the business’s products or services. That’s how you get articles like “Why cupcakes are like the Olympics” or “Have you made anyone’s day this week?“.
Now, there’s nothing terribly wrong with that; it does give some insight into the personality of the writer (and thus the organisation), and if readers are enjoying it, then the “fresh content” and “informal engagement” boxes are definitely ticked. But, to really make your blog deliver, you need to start thinking a lot more out of the box.
There are two things which have changed in the last year or so.
Firstly, Google’s algorithm has had a few changes, all of which favour genuine, original content which is being shared on social media. The days where crude keyword stuffed articles (think those About.com style posts which seem to have been written by robots), and random bulk-bought links from websites which had nothing to do with your industry, pushed you up the search engine results ladder are rapidly disappearing over the horizon.
And of course, there’s a virtuous circle of more links > more traffic > more authority with Google > more visibility in SERPS.
Secondly, the rel=author markup has come along. This is designed to identify an individual as the author of a body of web-based content, even if that content is spread across a number of websites (for example, guest posting). If you’ve got your blog or website set up to use the markup, it further enhances the value of great content and helps that content to stand out in search results.
So, if you can take your articles to the next level and start creating content which your readers want to tell other people about, it will make a big difference to your website’s authority ranking – as well as enhancing your credibility with readers.
Think about the last few articles you personally have bookmarked or shared. What did they have in common? The chances are, they will be doing one of the following:
No matter which sector you’re in, there will be aspects of your own business which lend themselves to these kinds of articles – which will provide real value to others, and which they’ll want to share.
If you’re a printer, you could include a downloadable “cheat sheet” explaining key printing terms and options which your clients will need to understand to get the best from your work.
If you’re canning sardines, you might want to talk about sustainable fishing, but could also include a well-researched survey of the latest stats around global fish stocks.
If you’re helping people get to grips with social media, showing the thousands that get phished each day on Twitter what’s happened and how to fix it might send you hundreds of web hits each week (it does!).
So whether you’re writing about double glazing or ballet slippers, start thinking more widely about your topics. Think about what your target customers would get kudos from sharing with their peer group, and how you can make their lives easier. They, and Google, will thank you for it.