It is a difficult thing running an online business.
The number and variety of companies offering comparable products and services can make it difficult to stand out in a crowd. Your site has to look the part and match the expectations of your target audience.
Your offering has to be priced on a par with your competitors, or the premium justified by quality, environmental friendliness, scarcity, or some other characteristic that matters to your customer.
And then on top of all that, the customer has got to trust you enough to hand over their hard earned cash.
How is a blog going to help?
Within most B2B and B2C websites, there are only so many opportunities to talk about your organisation. You have the product/services pages, the FAQs, press releases and so on, but there comes a point where it looks like you are creating pages just for the sake of it
Blogs have become mainstream due to their personal feel, and writing without a corporate angle means that the content will not appear awkward or contrived.
Yes they require effort and time to maintain. Agreed – you have to think of interesting things to say. OK maybe your competitors don’t blog and they seem to do all right without it.
Here’s why we blog
- it adds extra unique pages to the website
- our blog posts allow us to explore topics at length that don’t necessarily “fit” within the core pages
- well written content attracts links to the site which improves rankings in search results
There are a number of choices out there when it comes to blogging, and your web developer may even have their own bespoke software.
We use WordPress for our blog – the software is free (a perfectly sound reason in itself), it can be configured to behave exactly as you want, and WordPress posts get picked up very very quickly by search engines.
Plan your first posts
List some topics that you are knowledgeable about and feel confident enough to write on. You may even find that some areas need a separate piece in their own right.
Don’t force a style
After you have written a couple of pieces, the articles develop a rhythm of their own. The content will influence the tone and certain topics will lend themselves to humour, sarcasm and so on.
Set a schedule you are comfortable with
You don’t need to publish a new post with clockwork like regularity, and inevitably there will be other things during the working week that require your attention. The more frequently you post the better of course, but keep an eye of the quality of the article. Ask yourself “Is this interesting / useful / important information that my customers should know?”
Have a point of view
You are not the only operator in your market, but your (well presented) opinion is valid. Stay on top of goings on within the industry and have an eye on events at the periphery. In doing so you’ll start to garner the trust and respect of your audience, and they will have confidence in what you say.
Your blog is not a direct sales tool
It is all to easy to list your latest product, special offer and so on in the blog. Don’t. Your blog is an indirect marketing channel and you are writing content that is supposed to get them interested in you, and your ideas. Keep it interesting, resist the urge to sell directly, and your audience will engage with you over time.
If you use the above ideas as a springboard you’ll have the beginnings of a great blog.
Now isn’t there something you want to say to your potential customers?
One of the main obstacles to overcome when trying to convince a client of the merits of corporate blogging is the view that it’s a niche medium and it’s really read by visitors.
Recent figures released by ComScore indicate otherwise. A huge 41% of the total internet audience visited at least one blog in August 2008.
â€œBlogs have become part of the essential fabric of the Internet today,â€ said Herve Le Jouan, Managing Director, comScore Europe. â€œThey live and breathe in real-time, helping quench media consumersâ€™ thirst for the most up-to-date breaking news, information, and analysis. It should not, therefore, be particularly surprising that theyâ€™re increasingly displacing traditional media usage and carving out an ever-increasing slice of the online advertising pie.â€
October 13th, 2008.
The benefits of a blog on your companyâ€™s website can be phenomenal. If you havenâ€™t already got a blog on your company site, Mattâ€™s post on corporate blogging is a vital read.Â If you do have a WordPress blog set up, great!
Not only is a WordPress blog great for engaging with visitors and sharing information, itâ€™s also a great traffic stream to your company website. However, there are a few tweaks that can be made to ensure you get the most out of your blog in terms of search engine optimisation.
Out of the box, WordPress is pretty search engine friendly- it has an excellent internal linking structure through its use of categories, archives and tags, along with its ability for easy content creation, which are a couple of reasons why search engines like them so much. But to maximise the efficiency of your WordPress blog from a search engine optimisation perspective, there are a few additional steps we recommend taking to ensure your blog is as efficiently optimised as possible.
By default, WordPress uses URLs which arenâ€™t so efficient in terms of SEO. Permalinks allow more efficient URLs to be used making links more efficient, improving the structure of posts and not to mention the ability to include keywords in the posts URL.
Permalinks can be activated under â€˜Settings>Permalinksâ€™. We recommend using the â€˜Day and nameâ€™ option- the URL shows the age of the post through the date as well as the post name (and if youâ€™re using post names correctly youâ€™ll have important keywords in the post name, thereby including them in the post URL if using this method).
Post titles represent the title tag for the posts page- one of the most important aspects of on-page search engine optimisation- their importance has already been covered in the Top Five Tips For Optimising Your Businessâ€™ Meta Tags post. By default, WordPress uses the format “Blog title Â» Blog Archive Â» Post Title” which ideally should be â€œPost Title Â» Blog Titleâ€. Search engines pay more attention to keywords at the beginning of the title tag; therefore placing the post title (which should contain those important keywords) at the beginning of the title is more efficient. This also helps the readability of the pages result in the search engine results, therefore increasing the click through rate (CTR) in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
To change the post title structure, additional plugins are required. There are a few good WordPress plugins available, we recommend using the All in One SEO Pack plugin and changing the post and page titles found under â€˜Settings>All in One SEOâ€™.
To optimise the titles, click the â€˜Rewrite Titlesâ€™ checkbox and change the title formats for each option. We recommend:
â€˜%post_title% | %blog_title%â€™ for post titles
â€˜%page_title% | %blog_title%â€™ for page titles
â€˜%category_title% | %blog_title%â€™ for category titles
â€˜%date% | %blog_title%â€™ for archive titles
â€˜%tag% | %blog_title%â€™ for tage titles
â€˜%description%â€™ for description format
â€˜Nothing found for %request_words%â€™ for the 404 title
â€˜- Part %page%â€™ for page format.
It is also wise to check the â€˜Use noindex for Categoriesâ€™ and â€˜Use noindex for Archivesâ€™ checkboxes to disable indexing of these pages.
Optimising Posts and Pages
Now that the basic general optimisation for the blog has been set up, you can optimise your posts, starting with the post title.
Remember to keep the title relevant to the post topic and to include your important keywords in the post title. Also remember the post title will show up in search results, so make the title interesting and have a call to action inÂ the title where needed.
Tags are incredibly useful for internal linking- if a visitor is on your site and likes the content for a specific topic, they may click on one of the tags. You should therefore add tags to all posts and pages, making sure the tags are relevant to the post. Tags are comma separated, just click the â€˜Addâ€™ button after youâ€™ve entered the tags and the post will be recognised under these tags once the post is saved or published.
As with tags, categories are also efficient in terms of internal linking. Categories can also improve the time a visitor is on your site- if they can see you have more relevant information on a topic under a category, they will probably want to see what other posts are in that category if they enjoyed the contentÂ of your post.
Make sure categories are well structured and specific. Check the boxes which your post is most relevant to.
All in One SEO Pack Tag Optimisation
If youâ€™re using the All in One SEO Pack recommended earlier, you will also have an All in One SEO Pack tab when writing/modifying a post or page. Here you can override the defaults already configured. To do this, enter a title tag, description tag and keywords tag to override the default settings already entered.
There is also a â€˜Disable on this page/postâ€™ checkbox- this will disable all SEO modifications and revert back to the WordPress defaults (which is unlikely you would want to do so) so do not check this box unless there is a specific reason.
Once each post/page has been optimised, save the changes. This covers the basics for WordPress Search Engine Optimisation- there are more advanced changes which can be made but by implementing these recommended changes you will notice an improvement in your search rankings, your listing in the search engine results and an improvement in the indexing of your blog.