Whether you’re a small business owner or a cookbook author, you’ve probably heard it’s a good idea to have a blog to encourage customer interaction and easily disseminate information about your business.
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These days, setting up a blog is easy; the hard part is figuring out what and how often to write and how to get people to actually care about what you have to say.
We checked in with experts who identified six ways you can make your blog pop.
Know what Google Adwords really provides
Unlike organic search engine optimization--better known as SEO--purchasing Google AdWords can boost a blog’s traffic immediately, according to Jason Hennessey, director and SEO specialists at Everspark Interactive, an SEO agency. However, if not managed correctly, buying AdWords can burn through your marketing budget very quickly, with little impact.
“For instance, a lawyer in Los Angeles looking to top rank for a keyword like ‘accident lawyer Los Angeles’ is going to have to spend as high as $52.00 per click in order to outbid their competition and benefit from the targeted traffic,” says Hennessey. “While this may be looked at as a nominal expense to a law firm that attracts multimillion-dollar lawsuits for their marketing initiatives, to most small businesses this can start to eat at your profit rather quickly.”
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Hennessey advises a small business owner or a personal blogger to use Google AdWords first as a test to measure results, and then execute an organic SEO strategy to benefit from that traffic indefinitely without having to pay Google for every click.
Understand how much you can spend on traffic and who you want to attract
“It is important to separate your short and long-term needs for traffic right off the bat,” says Christian Olsen, vice president of Levick Strategic Communications, a marketing and branding agency. “Short-term spikes in traffic are very hard to come by without paying for them.”
Olsen says that successful search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns take time if you don’t have the funds for Google AdWords. To start a campaign, it’s best to think like your intended audience and how they might conduct online searches and buy a wide swath of terms that make sense and then track them to measure results. Once you can determine a pattern, move money to the terms that are bringing in traffic and ditch the ones that are underperforming, he says, adding that because it takes a while to get exact results, persistence and patience are key.
“Keep in mind that really successful blogs and websites get that way by building dedicated and engaged audiences, it’s important that you are marketing to people who will want to be there and come back. Buying keywords that draw huge numbers only really helps to draw general audiences – not ones that will keep returning to your site,” says Olsen.
Author your own content
It may sound simple, but writing quality blog entries on a frequent basis will boost your profile and results, says Lorrie Thomas Ross CEO of WebMarketingTherapy.com.
“When we author content that is relevant, entertaining and/or useful to our target market, it elevates a business up to an authority status, building credibility,” says Thomas. “Authoring content also helps to boost visibility, as this content can be published on your blog, website, on third-party article marketing sites or via online press releases, giving it more eyeball exposure.”
Writing your own content also ensures that you can use keywords and phrases specific to your products or services. As a result, the search engines are more likely to index your content, making your credible content also search visible, according to Ross.
“When you publish content that serves and supports your prospective target market, it brands, builds and boosts business.”
Look for experts and see what they’re covering
Check out other experts in your industry and their blogs to see what and how they are blogging.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger, author of Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed, suggests using Technorati.com, to help identify the leading experts and top bloggers in a field.
“Once identified, bloggers can subscribe to these top influencers through a reader like Google Reader and check out the experts’ latest posts,” says Schwerdtfeger. “Aspiring bloggers can get inspiration for their own posts by checking out what topics industry experts are covering.”
Scout for reputable sources to link out to
“Outbound links represent the single fastest way to get interwoven in today's blogosphere,” says Schwerdtfeger. “Linking out to other industry experts positions the blogger as a peer rather than an adoring fan, and it raises their own profile."
Over time, the industry experts you link back will take notice of your endorsement and become aware of you and your products. That awareness, according to Schwerdtfeger, is critical.
“If the blogger is posting good, quality content, the industry experts will eventually start linking back ... and that's where the fun starts. The key is to maintain an abundance mentality rather than a scarcity mentality. Be liberal with links. Be quick to endorse others. Be generous with information. In today's blogosphere, it all comes back in spades,” says Schwerdtfeger.
Also, don’t be afraid to consider using “linkbaiting” strategies that make people want to link back to you or your posts, says Alan Rabinowitz, CEO of SEO Image and author of Front Page Addiction.
“This includes being controversial or even finding controversial topics and put an ad there or becoming part of it. That can have positive and negative effects so linkbaiting strategies are not always for the faint of heart."
Utilize Social Media
Social media offers very valuable (and free) opportunities to promote your site and your writing by “getting into the discussion.” It also gives you the opportunity to promote your writing directly to your intended audience, says Olsen.
“Not only will participation help with your credibility and recognition in the space, but it will surely provide you with new ideas and discussion points to write about. All of those results will improve the quality of your site and help boost traffic,” says Olsen.
If you are trying to establish your presence, stake your claim on all of the social networks. If someone wants to find you, you need to be on all of the social networks, says Tris Hussey, author of Create Your Own Blog: 6 Easy Projects to Start Blogging Like a Pro.
“It doesn’t mean that you have to spend all of your time on Twitter and Foursquare or adding people on Google Plus, but you need to establish a voice. It all comes back to having a digital home where people can find you no matter where they look,” says Hussey.