Blogs: How to Supplement your Website with Content
I had a client two weeks ago say “Jason, how many blogs do you read…”
Whoooo-boy! I read a lot, but I took this client’s meaning to be more about what benefits a blog could bring his business website. Many of the business owners I deal with on a regular basis don’t really spend a lot of time blogging or reading other people’s blogs. It makes perfect sense for a business owner to think about how they interact with the internet and assume everyone behaves as they do.
This is dangerous thinking. Stop it. Seriously…stop it.
So now that we’ve cleared our minds, let me tell you a little secret: blogs are pretty cool and if you make a content strategy, you’ll find all sorts of value in running a blog on your business website. First, Google loves fresh content. Adding new blog content on your website helps Google to realize that you’re still active, that your content is up to date, and that your company is still relevant. This is of value to you; because the further down the SERP you fall the less likely you are to build the type of organic traffic that you need in order to climb up the results page.
Now Google is all fine and good, that’s a pretty valuable reason to blog, but there is an even better reason to blog. Blogs will build your audience. A well-written blog with great content, or even a poorly written blog with great content, can really help to establish your authority on any given subject. The only reason not to blog is that you can’t write well and you don’t have great content. Of course, maybe you’re not a great writer, but if you’re in a business, I guarantee you have great content ideas. You may just need inspiration.
How does blogging build an audience?
The entire internet is built on the notion of information exchange. In fact, the driving purpose behind its invention was to speed the sharing of information between scientific researchers working on military defense contracts. ARPANET, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense paved the way for node-to-node communication that soon grew into a web of networks within networks. So when people use the internet, it’s always in the pursuit of something that they need. The currency of the internet is information or access to products. Everything you do on the internet is always built on these two things. It never deviates.
So when you ask the question, “How does blogging build an audience?” what you really need to ask is “How can I use the currency of the internet to drive traffic to my website”.
Of course the answer to the question is pretty simple: “You build traffic to your website by sharing valuable information with your audience.” Anticipation is the key here, as you try and anticipate what opportunities your brand can offer for sharing information.
Does blogging really work?
The good news is that blogging absolutely works, but the bad news is that merely having a blog is probably not enough. A lot of blogs don’t live up to the expectations of their writers straight out of the gate. The internet is a huge place, and there are hundreds of writers in any given niche that are trying to become the “voice of their industry”. A lot of times, I see business owners Google searching for their blog content, and discovering that 15 other writers already occupy the first 2 Google pages. This can be intimidating, and many blogs fail simply because their writers give up and stop creating content.
Rule #1 of blogging is not to give up.
If you get to a place where it feels like your blogging isn’t achieving any of your goals, then you may find it useful to look at your blog posts and try to summarize all that content under one mission statement. If it’s tough to summarize, then you need to find ways to either consolidate your various topics into a set of categories. This will make it easier for users (and Google) to understand your content and how it relates to your website’s subject matter.
When content fails it may be because the content is too generic or it may be badly presented.
Rule # 2 of blogging is to advertise your blog.
When you’ve spent all that time coming up with a blog strategy it doesn’t make sense to leave it in the hands of your website and Google. Instead, build social media content around your content’s topic and then link to your blog content as a post supplement. As social media becomes more focused on building revenue on pushing posts, social media is becoming harder to market through then it used to be. But, harder does not mean impossible and the internet is a huge place full of advertising possibilities. Low cash flow for marketing is only a reason why your business may struggle; it’s not an excuse not to do anything.
What kind of content works to build a blog audience?
All kinds of content will help you build a blog audience, but it’s important that your content follow some general rules. Obviously, your content needs to be relative to your subject matter. You can write a bomb-ass review for that new Ryan Reynolds movie you saw last Saturday night, but you may have to ask yourself how that review is going to help you sell air conditioners. (Don’t laugh…sometimes when you write weird things come out.) If you’re going to write about it, then it needs to make some sort of sense and be relative to your website.
I can feel your skepticism through the screen as you read this, so I want to give you a few content ideas.
How-To’s & Tutorial Blogs
This is the most straightforward example I have. No matter what you sell, there are somethings that users can fix/learn/do on their own with just a little guidance. For example, on the KCX Marketing website, we give our clients access to blog posts that are built around things like updating their platforms, making posts, and editing website content. Sure, we offer services that help the user do these things, but we want our users to feel empowered to handle as many responsibilities as they feel comfortable with. For responsibilities that are more generic, meaning that they will work for people not using our platforms, we may even have them on the front end of our blog soon. The important thing is that even with subscriber locked content, we still get page authority from Google.
One of the most popular blogging trends out there right now is to make a list of items. Who hasn’t been sucked in by a “Top 5 Kittens riding Roombas” post? It happens to the best of us, because human psychology dictates one simple truth: people like information that is easy to digest. There is no subtlety in a “list” blog post; the title tells you exactly what is written inside. In fact, I was tempted to call this post “5 awesome types of blog post”, but I decided that a conversion about the value of a blog might be more interesting and fun to write. I’m sure I’m only a week away from making a “25 styles of blog posts” post….I know who I am, and I’m good with that.
Product reviews are huge. In fact, product reviews can affect conversion by around 270% on the sales page, but independent reviews can affect conversion for specific products by 5-6%. This is why some companies will send blog reviewers free samples to put to the test, and in the case of blogs with significant traffic, they may even offer a monetary exchange for ad placement. Product reviews and ad money are where the biggest profits are in blogging. Affiliate marketing is a large industry that a lot of bloggers have used to make their blogs generate significant revenue.
One way to generate a lot of traffic to your website is to tackle controversial topics in your industry. For example, within the last month, Google released a new version of Google Analytics called “GA4”. One of the issues with GA4 is that it doesn’t import data from the old style of Google analytics. I wrote a very passionate article on a friend’s blog about why complaining about the lack of importing from the old analytics was not only a bad idea, but it would do irreparable harm to what GA4 is attempting to do. (Link to GA4 Blog Post)
This post turned out to be super-controversial, because if there is one thing marketers hate, it’s being told that they have to learn a new way of doing things. Seriously, go ask the movie or music industry why they haven’t adjusted to streaming sooner- it’s because they had to learn how to make revenue all over again.
The important thing is that if you tackle controversial topics you will find traffic…just remember, when you make people mad, they aren’t going to sit in silent anger. Prepare for emails…but that’s OK…they end up in your lead database. You just gotta win them over from here.
Resources and Curated Link Lists
Sometimes, you may find yourself pressed for time and won’t know what to write about. For those weeks (or whatever your writing schedule is) it’s helpful to have a curated list of resources to share with your audience. Maybe you’ve discovered a set of really cool tools that you think your audience will find useful. Write a blog title, section each link with a heading, write a short blurb, share and rate the link…BOOM! It’s internet gold.
The way that business has picked up around my office, don’t be surprised in the next few weeks when you swing by and find a post offering links to my favorite industry authors or the tools I use in my daily work flow.
Are you still on the fence about how to use blogs to supplement your website?
I hope not, because that means this post failed and I’ll have to write it again. But seriously, I hope I have done a fairly decent job of explaining why blogs are far from over. I believe that the problem is that people don’t really know:
- What to expect from their blog
- How to build blog content strategies
- How long it takes to cultivate a winning blog
Blogs are hard work, and in the beginning they are gonna feel like more trouble than they are worth. The trick is to track the analytics, watch the trends, and build content strategies around a central theme. However, in everything I’ve just told you I left one really important factor out…blogging can be a lot of fun. In fact, all of the business factors aside, the responsibilities of your blog should be handed to someone who enjoys building content strategies and executing well-written content.