This month We ran an online marketing seminar at the Ludgate Hub, Skibbereen about blogging – the most effective, least costly, yet least practiced of the promotion tools for your online outreach or marketing. The group who attended got to grips with the subject with enthusiasm – expect a variety of brilliant blog posts in the West Cork ether soon!
So what is a blog post?
The term was coined to describe an online diary or ‘weblog’ but nowadays a blog post is used interchangeably to mean either a type of website or a single online post or article on any given topic. ‘To blog’ is to write any kind of informational, discussion or news item for publication on a website. So it can be said that bloggers blog on a blog or website. Websites often incorporate a blog page specifically for sharing news, ideas or instructions, for example.
Most types will be familiar to you.
How-to guides, product reviews, histories, explainers, the top ten best places to visit/eat/shop, health and eating advice, recipes, celebrity gossip, local and national news, personal stories and more. A good blog post will be between 500 and 1200 words long, and will often be a mini reference guide to the subject covered. The topics my seminar group are planning to write about include the best way to put on a duvet cover, a review of swimming goggles, fashion blunders for wedding guests to avoid and the contents of a mysterious tunnel in Spain.
The facts speak for themselves. Hubspot have surveyed thousands of businesses worldwide and report that those who blog have three and a half times more traffic to their website than those who don’t. Which of course means much greater brand/service/product awareness and far more potential engagement or custom.
Why is that?
Google accounts for 96% of all searches at the moment, and Google loves promoting up to date, fresh and interesting content. Blog posts account for nearly 50% of all the web pages delivered in search results. Our interest in up to date, useful information results in over 3.5 billion searches per day worldwide, translating into 20,000 blog posts per second being delivered and read.
Conversely, Google will lose interest in websites which have no new content so a site without a a blog will slowly but surely flatline in the rankings and search results.
Will any old blog post do?
No. It is worth putting a little effort into your blog posts. Of all the blog posts in the world, 10% are responsible for most of the traffic. Or to turn that on its head, 90% of blog posts are not that great. A lack lustre, short, plagiarised, poorly written or researched piece will not make it. Google monitors traffic and time spent on every page delivered, and rewards posts that people stay to read, link to and share. The top 1,000,000 posts in the world feature good content and good images, and act as a handy potted guide to the subject tackled. Write clearly and with enthusiasm about something you know about, give it a catchy topic-relevant title, and you will be writing good blog posts.
What are the best subjects to write about?
Write about topics and share information that will be of interest to your potential customers or supporters. It doesn’t always need to be exactly about your product or service, but a relevant topic is good. For example fashion advice for a clothes shop, exercise tips for a fitness centre or tourism pieces for a hotel or B and B. To get things going, think about the questions frequently asked by your customers/members and write some useful articles answering those. If possible avoid writing blog posts that will quickly become out-of-date – a piece that is still useful and current in a few years time will continue to be read and shared.
How often should I blog?
A minimum of 6 good blog posts per year will do your web traffic a power of good, more if you can manage it, and there really is no maximum if you have the time. But remember that it is more about quality than quantity. Better to promote a good blog post to a fresh audience over and over again than to force yourself to write something that few people will really want to read.
Is there anything else I should do?
Yes – promoting and sharing the blog is the vital next step. If you don’t do this your brilliant blog posts will go unseen. Look out for this column next month for advice on what to do next. Or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.