In our last post we asked some critical questions to help you determine whether or not your business would benefit from starting a blog. If you are sold on blogging and are ready to get started, read on, as today we will walk through some best practices for you to follow as you begin your blog.
Best Practices for New Bloggers
1. Good design/functionality – Before you write the first word, you need to have a well-designed blog that is easy to read and navigate. Your blog is not replacing your website, so resist the temptation to put everything about your business on your blog, but be sure to have a link to your blog in a prominent place on your website’s homepage. Reserve your blog for editorial content only. Wordpres.com and Blogger.com are the two top free blogs, but we recommend a custom designed blog that matches with your company’s identity/brand. Email us to learn more about how we can help you create a custom blog.
2. Editorial Strategy and Schedule – Work with your team to come up with a list of topics to feature on your blog and assign the topics to writers. The topics should be relevant to your industry and ultimately help you sell your services/products to your readers. You can have as many authors as you like posting to your blog, especially if you have several team members with a specific expertise. Variety will further your readers’ interest and keep them coming back for more. Once you establish and assign topics, decide on a posting frequency and set deadlines. We recommend at least 2 posts a week.
3. Write for the Web – There is a great deal of information already out there on how to effectively write for the web to achieve optimal search engine optimization. We wont rehash that here, but recommend you review the links included here and make sure your writing team is up to speed on the fundamentals of writing for web.
4. Links – One of the most important aspects of blogging is cross-linking with other websites and blogs. The more links you have on your blog, the higher rating you are likely to receive from search engines. What’s even better is having other websites and blogs linking back to your blog. A good way to do this is by offering other bloggers (who fit into your editorial strategy) opportunities to “guest blog” on your blog.
5. Engage with Your Readers – Don’t be afraid to ask questions in your blog! And be ready to respond when people leave comments. This kind of interaction is critical to increasing your blog’s readership and building trust with your audience. If they think you are not listening they will not keep reading.
6. Avoid Posting Press Releases – Its not a bad idea to tout your accomplishments and issue statements via your blog, but be sure that is not the primary source of content for your blog. Companies/organizations that only copy and paste press statements to their blog are missing the boat. We recommend that you take the content of your press release and rewrite it into a more conversational style and avoid being too formal. A good idea is to use your blog as a place to store additional information that you can link to from a press release. We will talk more about that in a future series on media relations.
7. Read and Comment on Other Blogs – The blog world is very social (hence “social” media) and your fellow bloggers will appreciate receiving your comments and almost always return the favor by checking out your blog and leaving comments of their own. If you want to start conversations online, don’t wait for people to come to you! Be the first to initiate the conversation.
8. Stay within your Niche – A big mistake new bloggers make is veering off point and talking about too many topics on their blogs. This is especially important for business: keep a narrow focus and stick to the topics in which you have expertise. Leverage your expertise to make a name for your business online and ultimately gain new clients.
9. Use Social Media to Promote Your Posts – Your blog will gain even further reach when you use Twitter and Facebook to publicize your posts. If you have a Twitter account, you should sync your blog with your Twitter so that new blog posts are tweeted automatically. You can do the same with Facebook; you may be surprised that you get more comments through Facebook posts than from your stand-alone blog. We will talk more about this in our upcoming series on Facebook. Email us if you need help understanding how to sync these tools.
10. Review Analytics Regularly – If you go with a free blog on WordPress or Blogger, your blog will have some analytics built in; however, we recommend that you use Google Analytics on your blog whether its a free blog or a custom design. Google Analytics will help you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your blog, from content to functionality. We will have a later post on how to use Google Analytics to improve your content and increase your site traffic.
We hope these best practices help you on your way to blogging success! As always, if you have specific questions relative to creating and setting-up a blog, or need help with designing an editorial or social media strategy, please contact us today so we can help you get started.