It’s no secret that blogs are awesome for generating web traffic and ultimately real money-making business. If executed correctly, a blog can be the difference between a failed business and a wildly successful one. I’d be willing to bet that you know at least one person who has generated a significant amount of revenue for their business using a blog if not more. I’d run out of fingers before my count ended, but do you exactly know how those people do it?
There’s A LOT that goes into blogging strategy design. A lot of business owners just start blogging without truly understanding what is involved in the success of a blog. Maybe because they’ve seen someone have success with it, or maybe because a peer recommended it to them. That’s all well and good, but that kind of plan only lasts so long.
For a blog to truly work as a business asset, you not only need a long-term strategy to use it to generate real activity and leads for your business, but you also need to ensure it’s set up successfully from the start to best do that.
The few tips below will help you identify a few key areas where you might be making mistakes, and courses of action to fix them.
You’re Blogging for the Wrong Reasons
Why did you start blogging in the first place? Is it because your competitors are doing it? Is it because you had a friend who recommended it to you? Is it because you want to get your name out there?
Blogging for your business is a great idea, but you have to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. You have to make sure you’re doing it strategically, with reasons that align with the goals of your business. You can’t just blindly write articles with no strategy and hope they stick. That’s a recipe for quick failure.
First, analyze the business result you want from your blog. Then build your blogging strategy around that.
This blog for example, isn’t built to generate a ton of incoming traffic. I do freelance work on top of a full-time job, so I sometimes have to turn projects down if I have too much going on. It doesn’t make business sense for me to build a traffic generating powerhouse of a blog at this point in time.
Right now, this blog exists to establish authority on the website, enhance freshness for the domain, help educate people about the ways of online marketing, and inform people about the services I offer (I also just really like to write). The articles are linked on the homepage, they cross link to one another, and they also link to many of my services. The architecture of the site completely supports that goal.
However, the strategy for becoming a local authority in your area of expertise would be quite different. With this strategy you’d need to do things like:
- Create a content generation strategy that reinforces that goal
- Build in ways to increase user engagement and retention on your site
- Find ways to spread your content around in the community and be visible
- Make sure your site is optimized to gain local web traffic
You’re Living Inside Your Blog
The web has changed a lot in the past year. It used to be the case that you could start a blog, write posts for a few months, get a few easy links back to your website, and all of the sudden you’d have a boatload of traffic coming into your website without ever venturing outside of the protected walls of your blog.
Since Google Panda and Penguin hit, the quality revolution has hit the web hard. The definition of quality incoming links has changed, and the ranking factors in search engines that put articles at the top of the results for given keywords have as well.
Things are much more organic now.
To get noticed now, you have to not only create quality content for your own site, but you also have to get outside your blog and utilize your relationships to get some high quality organically generated links back to it.
Guest posting is a great start. It’s one of the best ways to generate traffic initially for your blog. Social media is also a good way to build a following that reads your blog regularly, especially for a local business. The more you can get outside your blog and expose your content to new audiences, the more people you are going to have coming to your blog and reading every day.
Keep it freshly populated with quality content, but also try to focus just as much if not more on gaining exposure on other closely related sites as well.
Your Blog is Not Integrated With Your Website
This is a pretty big technical mistake that a lot of new bloggers make, and you might be making it too. You run out to WordPress.com or Blogger and start posting there because its easy, then expect it to flood your website with visitors. Or you may even start a standalone blog on your own domain or a subdomain.
Here’s the problem with that.
If your blog isn’t completely integrated with your website, meaning it’s not built into your navigational structure, you’re not putting links to it on your homepage, it’s difficult for users to get to, you’re burying it three levels deep in your hierarchy, etc – it’s going to cause separation issues. Yes it sounds stupid, but this is a real thing.
For your users, it will be a disconnected feeling that results in your blog and your website being two separate entities in their eyes. This means neither your site or your blog benefits much at all from the added traffic each produces. They each stand alone.
This also results in that same perception for search engine crawlers. They’re pretty smart nowadays. They see this separation as your blog not being very important, so they won’t rank the content as high in search engine results, or at all. You also won’t get the benefit that the link authority of the rest of your site can pass to your blog. This also contributes to lower rankings and will kill any chances you have at generating organic search traffic.
I won’t get any further into the technical about how website architecture affects SEO, but you see my point anyway. The more integrated your blog is with the rest of your website, the higher the likelihood is that your content will rank high and be able to pull in your traffic for the rest of your site.
My advice to you is this. Make sure if you do have a blog, it’s on the same domain as your website, and it’s completely integrated with your website in every way possible. If you can, use a CMS platform with blogging capabilities like WordPress, Joomla, or Hubspot to build your website. This is exactly what these platforms were made for, and they work extremely well.
A great example of these principles in practice is UserVoice.com. See how the transition between their blog and their website is completely seamless? It’s integrated into their website completely. It’s super easy to hop back and forth. They link to it everywhere. It links back to the rest of the site, and they use it to genuinely help their user base.
That’s the way to do things, and they’ve done pretty well with it.
Your Content is Lame
This one is pretty basic. If you’re producing unhelpful content, pitching right and left, or producing stuffy that isn’t relevant to your audience, then it’s not going to do very well. One of the huge powers of blogging is that it has a massive sharing potential. If people don’t like your stuff, they won’t share it, and they probably won’t come back either.
People love to learn, and people love to smile. You can’t succeed with half-assed dry and weak content that doesn’t provide a lot of help to your audience and expect to do well. This will neither make people smarter nor happier. And if all you’re doing is posting your press releases and pitches for your wares, that’ll send people packing in a hurry. You’ll fall flat on your face.
Always focus on the two Es of blogging with the content you produce – Entertain and Educate. ALWAYS provide some sort of value to your readers in your posts. ALWAYS.
If you can do both of those basic things with your articles (I may have missed the entertain part with this post :)), then you’ll be in really good shape. At the very least, provide amazing educational value – and you’ll do well enough.
You Don’t Give it Enough Time
Let’s say you have everything else right on the list. You have a solid strategy, you have a following, you’re even doing some promotion, and your content is pretty sweet.
Well, you’ve still got to give it some time chief.
You can jump start things by developing a solid email marketing and social strategy to get existing users to help you spread the word, but you’ve still got to give it time to get noticed.
A typical blog in today’s world, if executed completely correctly from the start and given consistent attention, will still take around 6 months to start to catch on and generate a significant amount of new traffic for your website.
This is simply due to the period of time it takes to build up a nice repertoire of content that gets a lot of links back to your site, and a lot of attention in the social space. Just like a brick and mortar business has to develop a solid infrastructure of assets and resources before it really takes off, your blog is the same way.
You’ll have some spikes in there when you get good PR from places, but until you’ve established yourself as a serious player in the game, you’ll get little love from search engines. Once they realize you’re serious, you’ll see a significant burst in activity and you’ll really start to reap the benefits of blogging.
Blogging isn’t something to take lightly. It’s a serious piece of a marketing strategy. It’s something that has to be considered as a long-term venture, and it needs to be allocated proper resources if it’s going to succeed.
- Make sure you develop a solid blogging strategy before even posting that first article
- Make sure you have strategic partners lined up, or you know where to find them to promote outside of your blog
- Make sure you understand the proper technical setup behind a blog to integrate it with the rest of your site
- Make sure you have at least one serious writer whose job it is to produce awesome content for your blog, that your readers will love
- Make sure you’re willing to give your blog enough time to succeed before your embark on your journey