A high-quality blog, consistently filled with high-quality, customer-focused articles, video and other content is the cornerstone of many marketing initiatives. But what do you do if you don’t have a blog or enough internal support to launch one within your corporate website?
There are two easy ways you can launch a low-cost blog to test the idea, gather data and build the case for a more extensive content marketing initiative:
Option 1: Set up a blog on Medium.com
The first solution is to launch a blog on Medium.com, a popular, free blogging platform that features a simple, easy-to-use interface that encourages writing and storytelling, and also provides a delightful reading experience.
Like any online tool, Medium has its pros and cons:
- It lets you focus on writing, instead of the technical aspects of managing a blog.
- Setup and formatting options are limited, which means you can get started publishing content quickly, with a short learning curve.
- You can use a Medium blog to hone your writing skills before you launch a dedicated blog on your corporate website.
- Medium can help you build an audience by locating others who have similar interests.
- You don’t own the audience – Medium does.
- You have limited control over customizing the design of your blog.
- You have limited ability to create a unique audience experience.
- Medium owns your blog and can change the rules that govern it at any time.
- Your content is competing with many other authors and their articles – it REALLY needs to stand out!
- Because it’s hosted on a website that’s completely separate from your corporate site, a Medium blog won’t give you any search engine optimization (SEO) benefits.
Option 2: Set up a blog on a separate but related domain
The second option is to set up a blog on a domain name that is closely related to that of your company website. For example, if your company’s website is acmewidgets.com, you could purchase the domain name of acmewidgetsblog.com. If you want to take it a step further, you could set up a redirect for the URL acmewidgets.com/blog so it automatically displays the blog that resides at acmewidgetsblog.com.
Here are the pros and cons of an external WordPress blog:
- WordPress blogs are fairly easy and inexpensive to set up.
- You own the domain name and the blog. You’re not at the mercy of a third party pushing a series of monetization schemes on you and limiting your audience’s ability to find and read your content.
- There’s a large global community of WordPress experts who can help you solve any technical and customization challenges you may run into.
- WordPress gives you more freedom to customize the content and appearance of your blog. Thousands of themes and plug-ins are available that can make a WordPress blog do just about anything you can imagine.
- If you want extensive or complex customizations, your development costs could rise quickly. That’s why you should start out with basic functionality and expand it as you become more comfortable with the WordPress blogging platform.
- Search engine benefits are slightly better for your blog posts than if they were hosted on Medium, but still not as good as if the blog was hosted on your corporate website.
No matter what direction you take, now is the time to start self-publishing your own blog so you can be known as the subject matter expert in your field.
Way back in 1996, Bill Gates declared, “Content is King.” In his essay, Gates predicted that content would be where “much of the real money will be made on the Internet.” In 2010, when blogging really started to gain traction, content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) professionals took that phrase to heart.
At first, we saw an uptick in plain ol’ content—mostly words tossed together in a fashion that appealed to search engine bots, but not people. Meh. As Google’s algorithms became smarter and the masses flocked to the Internet, marketers came to understand that only quality content (content that appeals to BOTH bots AND people) is the only content that will do.
Today, high quality website content has become a major force powering SEO. Why? Because Google LOVES quality content—and if you care about getting found online: when Google talks, you LISTEN!
How an Active Blog Helps SEO
So what about blogs? Blogs have become a turn-key content solution used to capitalize on today’s top SEO tactics. When you create a blog and update it regularly with content that attracts your target market, you’ll be edging your way to the number 1 spot on page 1 of Google.
Blogs have only become more and more powerful over the years. They’re simply a must for any business these days, as a great blog has proven to be a major sales-generating tool.
Before we go any further, it’s important to understand the meaning of SEO. Search Engine Land defines SEO as, “the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial, or natural search results on search engines.” Put simply: search engine optimization is what you do to your website to bring in more web traffic.
Why bring in more web traffic?
Because your customer’s purchase starts with search.
When you add a blog to your website (following current content marketing and SEO best practices), you’re giving the search engines what they want, which can really pay off.
#1. Fresh Blog Content Can Influence Search Engine Rankings
You may be asking, “Why do I need to update my blog?” Fair enough. There’s a great answer for that, and it’s the key to propelling your content up the search ladder.
Each time you update your blog, the search engines send out a little crawler that reads, then indexes your webpages. When this happens, the chance your content will achieve a higher search rank increases. When creating fresh, new content, keep in mind: Quality Beats Quantity. So “refreshing” an existing blog post won’t always cut it—instead, start new often and tell stories whenever you can. Stories sell.
#2. Blog Posts = More Backlink Opportunities = Higher DA
Every website has something called Domain Authority (DA). Developed by Moz, this is a score (on a 100-point scale) that predicts how well your website will rank on search engines. While DA is determined by a lot of different factors, authoritative backlinks pointing to your website can help boost your rankings.
To get those high quality backlinks, you need to give people a reason to want to link to your content. Typically backlinks happen when:
- Your content is unique and engaging.
- You have fans (not necessarily customers) who are passionate about your brand.
- People feel some type of emotional connection to your company and/or your products and services.
- Your content is quote-worthy and people see a reason to cite you.
#3. More Opportunities for Keywords
Keywords are an important part of a complete SEO strategy. With every new blog post you create, you have the opportunity to use new or existing keywords, all of which…you guessed it…get that great content of yours FOUND.
There are two types of keywords: long-tail keyword and short-tail keywords.
- Longer (include 3 or more words)
- More specific
- Include phrases
- Target a specific audience
- Find an SEO Agency in Wisconsin
- Hire a Content Marketer in Waukesha County
- Shorter (1 to 2 words)
- Less specific
- Include single words
- Target a broader audience
- SEO Agency
- Content Marketer
Before getting started with blogging for SEO, do understand: it can be a large undertaking. But when it’s done right, an active blog can generate loads more leads and tons more sales. When done wrong, it can end up being a big waste of time and money.
We recommend hiring professionals, so give us a shout at Cultivate Communications!
A recent study showed that more than 75% of B2B marketers use blogging as part of their marketing strategy, and best in class marketers rank it as “most effective.” While other tactics continue to work their way into successful marketing strategies, blogging remains a vital piece of the content puzzle.
Here are 4 key ways your blog boosts your content marketing strategy…
#1: Your Blog Helps You Improve Your Search Engine Ranking
Blog content provides a consistent source of new information for search engines to find when your website is crawled. Regularly updated sites tend to appear higher in search engine rankings because they have more current and relevant information, compared to those that are rarely updated. Search engines consider content “freshness” when ranking websites.
Blogs@Intel focuses on a variety of content, but the majority of it centers on conferences and events. Since customers need to find event posts while they’re timely and relevant, posting events is an effective tactic to keep up a steady drip of content and ensure your website stays fresh.
#2: Your Blog Helps You Drive More Traffic
In 2014, for the third year in a row, B2B marketers cited web traffic as one of their top content marketing metrics. Companies that blog at least 15 times per month can see up to five times more traffic compared to those that don’t. With more content out there working to improve your search ranking, you’ll drive more organic traffic to your website. With more traffic, you’ll get increased exposure to your audience. Increased audience exposure means you’ll have a better chance of converting website visitors into paying customers.
#3: Your Blog Helps You Become an Authority in Your Industry
When you fill your company blog with useful and credible content, you position your business as an industry leader. In other words, your blog becomes the trusted source of information on your products and services. You can pull a great deal of content simply by answering customer FAQs: How to Kick-Start Your Business Blog.
Cisco has more than 12 blogs geared toward each of their customer segments. Content is produced by company employees and covers everything from marketing tips to industry trade news. By addressing key topics in each industry segment, Cisco has positioned itself as an industry leader across multiple channels. The valuable information they share is available to anyone who wants to learn more, providing Cisco with a way to connect to potential new customers, along with their established customer base.
#4: Your Blog Helps You Engage Customers to Build Community and Strengthen Relationships
Blogs provide an avenue for you to connect and deepen your connections with your customers. Connecting with customers directly on your website allows your clients to get you know you and your business. When a customer comments on your blog post, take time to respond to what they have to say. It shows you value their input and want to know what they think. Unlike most social media interactions, the comments on your blog remain visible for other potential customers to see, long after the conversation takes place.
American Express OPEN Forum is a great example of a blog and social forum. It’s designed to educate small business owners on all issues they face, but also provides a place for readers to come together and share their thoughts with one another.
Your blog is the epicenter of your content marketing strategy. Discover the insights you need to engage your prospects and customers in the content marketing guide Side Door Thinking.
Learn how to:
- Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource
- Earn Your Customers’ Loyalty & Business
- Increase Your Referral Rate
Download our FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover the insights you need to take a kindler, gentler — yet more effective — approach to your marketing. Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open.
So you already know WHY your business needs content marketing. Now you need to know HOW to do actually do it. The first step in kick-starting your content marketing initiative is simple:
Start a blog.
I can already see you squirming in your seat.
Can’t we do this “content marketing thing”
WITHOUT a blog?
The simple answer is: YES. You can do content marketing without a blog. But first ask yourself, “What is it about starting a business blog that makes you squirm?” Is it that you think:
- Blogs are only for big businesses with huge marketing budgets?
- Blogs are just online diaries used to voice your political views or share stories and pictures of your children?
- You don’t have enough material to keep a blog going for your small business?
Maybe you just need to re-think what a blog could BE and DO for you.
The owner of a Montessori school sat across from me. I rambled on and on about how using a blog would be a great tool for her school. I received smiles and polite nods as I spoke. Halfway through I paused and asked, “Do you have any idea what I am talking about?” She laughed and said, “Not really.” Then I suggested:
Let’s ditch the term blog. Who needs it?
I tried again, but this time I replaced the word blog with the phrase “Parent Resource Center.” Her eyes lit up. Suddenly the same explanation for this proposed section of her website and what it would include made perfect sense.
So if the word blog makes you twitch, consider using a different, more applicable title for that section of your website.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Latest Updates
- News & Tips
- Learning Center
- Resource Center
The label makes no difference. These navigation titles all take your readers to a place on your website full of useful and engaging content. Sometimes the hang-ups to starting a new marketing approach vanish with a simple change in terminology.
So, now that you realize you can tap into the power of content marketing without a “blog” — you simply need to GET STARTED!
Got other roadblocks stopping you from implementing content marketing? Let me know. Let’s chat in the Comments below.
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