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Block 81 is a design studio producing beautifully crafted websites and brands for independent businesses and startups.
February 7, 2012
Blogging is good for business. It just is. And the facts are there to back it up. Yet, even those who've been blogging on their company blog for a while sometimes get it wrong. It's easy enough to fall into common mistakes business bloggers make, especially when you're unsure about the best way to go about it. So here are some tips to help keep you on the right path.
For some businesses, their blogs are hosted on some free third-party site somewhere, such as WordPress.com, Blogger.com or even Tumblr. The logic for some boils down to money – they aren't willing to pay their web developer to add a blog to their site. Sound logic from a purely financial perspective, at least in the short term. And damaging in the long term when it comes to 1) a company's brand and 2) a company's SEO efforts.
Not integrating your blog into your existing site (and thus its design) waters down whatever brand equity you have to begin with. Your branding should always – ALWAYS – be as consistent as possible. Just throwing your logo up on a page isn't enough. Having a different look and feel to your blog from your main site can easily cause confusion and make people wonder whether the blog is legit or not.
With a separate domain for your blog you now have two sites. That's two web properties that you now have to optimize for search engines. That's double the effort, double the costs, and you have the added "bonus" of having to compete against yourself. Not good.
If your blog has been sitting there without a new post in some time, you're killing its effectiveness. Blogs need new posts (content) on a regular basis to be effective for search engines and useful for people. Ideally, the more frequent, the better, but that's not always possible of course. So even if it's once or twice a month, set a schedule for writing new blog posts and stick with it. You'll reap the rewards in the long-run.
Everyone likes to talk about themselves – it's normal. Highlighting your successes and products is also normal (and required to some degree) in the business world. But for a blog, it can quickly become a major turn-off for your readers, especially if every other blog post is nothing more than a sales pitch for your product or service.
Instead of writing an obvious sales pitch for your blog, consider writing more thought-provoking or data-driven posts that relate to your product, industry and/or customers' needs. Content like that is much more likely to garner attention and will continue to build up your expertise in your industry.
As you may have noticed by now, blogging can be powerful when it comes to search engines. But if you're not optimizing your posts for search then you're not taking advantage of one of the easiest ways to rank for a variety of keywords that your main site can't. Blog posts give you hundreds of pages to focus on a keyword or two, so it's not a huge leap to understand that more indexed pages (blog posts) means more opportunities for keywords. Just be smart and don't stuff your posts with keywords or you may end up with bad search engine joo-joo.
One of the key ingredients in any marketing campaign is a call-to-action (CTA) – something that gets the viewer to make contact with you, your site or your business somehow. And since your blog is part of your marketing strategy, having clear calls-to-action within each blog post is important.
Some marketing folks will tell you that every single blog post should have a CTA. I don't fully agree with this as it can start to lead toward a point previously mentioned about being too much of a sales pitch. That said, having a couple of CTAs in your blog's sidebar (for example) is a good idea. Or you might consider linking to another page on your site right within your blog post somewhere that contains more information about a product or service. The key is to not overdo it.
Looking at and analyzing your blog's stats or analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/) on a regular basis is important to make sure you know how your blog is performing. Doing provides incredibly valuable data on what does and doesn't work on your blog, including helping you determine which types of blog posts work best and/or their topics.
What specific metrics you should be paying attention to is going to somewhat depend on your blog's goals, but a few key ones will help get your started: monthly visitors, keywords, comments, social media shares and incoming links.
Hopefully you've read through this and have already implemented these six things. If not, take one at a time and see what you can do to apply it to your blog on a regular basis.