I'm a blogger. Are you? Blogging is one of the coolest things going on with the web, today.
I blog, therefore, I am. At least, it feels that way, when you blog! I recommend blogging to almost every company I'm working with right now. Why? Because you can really improve your interactive marketing through Blogging.
What is a blog? It's kind of a website. People often think of blogs as "online journals" but they really are much more than that. Blogs are a way to interact with people with frequent posts about a wide variety of content.
Several years ago, I had someone ask me if my site, http://www.aspirenow.com/, was a blog. At the time, AspireNow was not a blog. However, it may have been wise to have launched much of the site as a blog - had I known where blogging was going to go. Why?
Because blogs have stronger LABELS (read: keyword optimization) and blogs have stronger BACKLINKS. And BACKLINKS are the key to success, in terms of SEO (search engine optimization), on the web. Want proof? Look up StevePavlina.com and Oprah.com. That's right: a blog started by a guy who was basically a nobody in the world of self-help is not BIGGER than OPRAH in terms of traffic and backlinks. THAT is the power of blogging. Do it right, and you'll get HUGE traffic.
The reason for this is because when you post to your blog you are essential SYNDICATING your information to go out on thousands of RSS feeds (provided you've submitted your blog to feedburners). There are special considerations with that for you to consider.
Blogs are also an additional source of generating traffic.
Last, blogs position you as an EXPERT. It is a chance to inform and share, not sell. Thus, a blog is actually a stronger selling tool than your regular website.
Here are 10 boosts to creating better blogs to interact with your users:
1. Know what you want to say. If you have nothing to say, you won't be interesting. Why do you want to write a blog post? If you don't know what you want to say, you don't have vision. And people without vision are B-O-R-I-N-G. So, get your vision squared away FIRST!
Also, when you're posting, start with a solid introduction paragraph. Use visual elements, such as photos, movies, and other things you have license to use. Just make sure you own the copyright.
2. Titles matter. Structure matters, too. People like titles like: 10 ways, 7 steps, 5 things about... type of titles. They also like FUNNY or QUIRKY titles. TEASERS. Simple titles also work. Make sure you use links and block quotes. I think the most important thing to know about a blog is that you're syndicating to the world, so make sure what you put out is what you want to send... if you don't blog the entire article (include a link back to your website) that is okay, just make sure your TITLE rocks. Start with something engaging. Don't apologize in your TITLE!
3. Blog often. You want to gain exposure. You also want to make it easy for people to track back to you. You don't need to ask for it, just give them PERMISSION to do it, and they will.
4. Blog well. People don't want to read crap. What you write is what you are, to the blog community. And, to the blogging reader, what they read is what is defining their behavior. So, be interesting. Be funny. Be unique. Again, don't apologize (well, unless you royally goofed!) and be REAL. People can tell who you are by the writing voice you use in your blog.
Don't miss the fact that KEYWORDS MATTER. Make your blog KEYWORD RICH to the words that you want to target for your topic. If you want to maximize your SEO, you must maximize your use of keywords. Keywords I love include: how to, I want, what I need, and tags to popular current titles, like Harry Potter, or the Secret.
5. Comment on other blogs. Strange as it may seem, comment on OTHER blogs. Many links back to your blog from these blog sites. Especially HIGHLY rated blogs. An example of how this worked for me recently is Statcounter's Blog. I received an email sharing how the Statcounter CEO received an entrepreneur award. I visited the blog and congratulated him, with a link back to my site. My site received more hits from Statcounter than any other site for the next week.
6. Create With A Simple Initial Design. I think design is important. The best blogs I've found are not littered with widgets. They simply have articles, archives, and a few recommendations that make it easy to interact with them. They may or may not have ads. Simplicity in text also matters - so does HONESTY. Create a special header graphic using image design software (illustrator, Image Composer, or something like that). That way, your blog has your logo posted. Make sure if you run ads on your blogs, you have the ads in key areas and not littered all over your blog. You can have ads run at the top, top left, middle of articles, and bottom as primary ad locations. My feeling is to choose two or three of these locations and run with those.
7. Do not SELL, repeat, do not sell on your blog! Important!! What I'm talking about is the context of your TEXT. If you are selling people in your information you share then people reading your blog may lose trust, so just state your opinion. Stating your opinion, as an EXPERT, IS important, however. So share your opinions. Also, share opinions from other bloggers you like.
8. Burning your blog. Make sure your blog is listed properly. Listing your blog through feeds: RSS Feeds. I'm using Feedburner to burn my blog feed, and considering some other burners to make sure that my blog gets posted. A feed burner essentially cleans the blog post and sends it to other blog sites that post blogs. It basically is a network and methodology of sharing your blog. You definitely want to share your blog, or what would be the point of blogging in the first place, right?
9. You're SYNDICATED. Make sure you realize that everything you publish on your blog MAY be syndicated and published on OTHER blogs. All they have to do is run the RSS feed, and they'll have your content. So, only publish information you don't mind SHARING with others!
10. What Blog Software To Use? What's the best blogging software? I don't have a conclusive answer on this question yet. I am researching this: I find that blog software like Blogger is easy to use. That's why I'm using it. However, I am considering a switch to WordPress or Typepad. Why? Because many of the top blogs are hosted through those software. They offer more features, better statistics, and so on. I'll report more on this later.
Do you have any tips to help people blog better? Why not share them here and create blog back links to your own blog?
Scott Andrews is CEO of ARRiiVE Business Solutions (http://www.ARRiiVE.com). Executives seek out ARRiiVE's wisdom for help in starting a company, launching new products and services, improving sales team performance, creating interactive marketing, and building collaborative teams. Contact at info@ARRiiVE.com or 805-459-6939.