From the inception of the IOT, websites have been using blogs to gain audience, traffic rating and improve brand exposure and sales. It wasn’t hard in the early days to rank a website, as Google simply registered all new content as valuable; this was before search engines learned how to rate the quality and usefulness of the content.
by Lori Wagoner
Start-up businesses rely on digital marketing because it is affordable, and many organic methods of promotion and brand messaging can be done in-house, to reduce costs during the incubation and launch phase. The most underestimated digital marketing collateral is blog content, which has been shown to rapidly increase brand awareness and website traffic, while growing social media followers to expand your audience.
Set up the kind of blog that will work to grow your business or brand from the get-go, with some valuable tips and tools recommended by leading marketers.
Analyzing Blog Performance with Analytical Tools
The use of Google Analytics is key to designing, implementing and sustaining a successful business blog. Contrary to what many business owners have read, you don’t need to be an SEO professional to be able to set up the analytics, and glean helpful tips and insights from them.
- Visit the Google Analytics sign up page.
- Select the tracking method “Website”.
- Choose a unique account name.
- Enter in the formal name of the website.
- Enter in the URL of the website you intend to track.
- Select the business category from the drop-down menu.
- Click “Get Tracking ID” and accept Terms of Service.
- Enter the tracking ID code into each page on the blog that you wish to track (including landing pages if using a WordPress theme).
To view your Google Analytics for the website you set up, click on “All Website Data” and select the website. You can view traffic data including number of visits, geographic and other demographic information about your website visits and more.
To learn how to view insights from your audience data (to help you review blog content and create a content strategy that converts into more traffic), watch the “Audience Reports” video from Google Analytics. And remember to recycle content that is relevant and high-performing regularly.
Familiarize yourself with some organic SEO tactics that will help your blog perform, including keyword and search terms for improved traffic, how to use categories, hashtags and other identifiers on each blog post to help it receive a favorable nod from search engines like Google and Bing. Authority bloggers at SEOBook.com published an excellent resource called “The Blogger’s Guide to SEO” which provides essential start-up tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Why Mobile Friendly Designs Matter
Blog content and articles are the fastest, most effective way to drive traffic to your website. If the blog articles are useful and interesting, they are valuable content pieces that can be shared through social media networks, attracting new customers, and strengthening the relationship with existing clients. Mobile friendly blog design matters because the majority of social media users are accessing content on their smartphone. If the posts and the navigation to your blog do not look good on mobile, consider it as a priority to apply a new theme or blog design that will help you harness mobile traffic more effectively.
How should blog content flow on a mobile device? Take a look at brands like Coca Cola, who invested heavily in a blog redesign in 2013. The ‘Unbottled’ blog looks as good on mobile as it does on a standard laptop or desktop device. It should be colorful, easy to navigate (think big menu and buttons that are easy to press on a smartphone), and full of interesting writing that people want to read.
Providing Opportunities for Readers to Interact and Engage
There are several plug-in and widgets that can be added to the margins of a standard business blog, that will encourage consumers to click and engage.
Some of the essential features of a successful business blog include:
- A subscription page to allow for e-mail enrollment and push-notification of new blog posts as they are published. One of the most effective designs for a subscriber app is to allow the picture of the subscriber to appear in a gallery of readers. It’s a personal touch that fans of your product or service will enjoy, as they are featured on the site.
- Social media sharing buttons. Allow your readers to share your favorite posts.
- Instagram photo gallery (if your brand is active on the photo sharing community). There are many paid subscription apps that can be used, but a popular new app (and it’s free) is SnapWidget, which allows embedding on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds on a blog.
- Pinterest gallery (it remains a high traffic and web referral source for many brands).
A comment facility that allows readers to leave their comments on your blog articles is also important. It creates an opportunity to collect real feedback about your product or service, and an opportunity to engage directly with prospective customers. Don’t forget to respond to comments, and be prepared to moderate them to remove spam and inappropriate content.
Creating Useful and Interesting Content
Did we mention that content must be meaningful and useful to readers? Today, businesses are facing a growing problem with engagement, simply because consumers are inundated with excessive amounts of advertising, branding and content writing daily. How much advertising and promotion does the average consumer see? Roughly 5,000 pieces of advertorial on a daily basis, and that includes brands that blog actively and share on social media.
It is no surprise that when it comes to blogging, readers have an intolerance for overt advertising. They know when an entrepreneur or small business is leveraging content to improve sales, but the blog articles shared should never feel like they are being blatantly sold. The best business blogs talk about the industry, or the broader topics that their brand serves, including health and wellness tips, environmental impacts (for eco-friendly brands), corporate culture, charitable giving and other “feel good” events that demonstrate the human side of your business. Websites like Arivify provide innovative content for home buyers and sellers, including staging and renovation tips that readers can use, while the website offers a national residential property value search engine for consumers.
Don’t forget to invest resources to encourage user generated content, including contests and promotions that allow your current (and prospective) customers the opportunity to share their personal use of, or affection for, your brand.
Lori Wagoner is an independent content strategist who gives online marketing advice to small businesses. Lori has blogged at Tweak Your Biz, The Social Media Hat and many other business and tech blogs. You can reach her @LoriDWagoner on Twitter.