Introduction to Blogging
Terms to Know
Search Engine Optimization refers to the technique of improving the rank of your content and site on search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, thus making your material, sites, services, and offerings more discoverable.
Posts refer to the individual entries made to your blog. Posts can be a short entry, a video, an update, an image, an image gallery, or a full article.
Organic traffic is web traffic acquired without paid efforts.
Keywords are words and phrases that may help your content be more discoverable in search engines.
A uniform resource locator (URL) is a reference to a resource that specifies the location of the resource on a computer network and are most commonly used to reference web pages. An example of a URL would be http://www.digitalbusinesslounge.com/
Starting Your Blog
For some, starting a blog can be a daunting experience to say the least!
When looking at online ventures with successful community engagement, we notice they all use blogging as one of their primary communicate platforms. We hear time and time again that the blog is central to their engagement. Its power for SEO, communication, and strategy is undeniable.
But why? What does my blog actually do? How the heck do I use the darn thing?
I will happily answer these questions for you in this article!
What is a Blog?
We should start at the start.
The word blog is a derivative of the phrase weblog, i.e Web-log.
It started life as a vehicle for people with no web skills to have a voice online and grew from there. At its essence, a blog is an online outlet for an individual’s views, opinions, tales, and experiences. But as we know, it has evolved greatly since those humble yet crucial beginnings.
The blog was actually a major turning point in the world wide web. It took control away from those who had either a lot of money or had studied code that, to most of us, is beyond double dutch and it put power into the hands of everybody. The world wide web got wider and more accessible. It was a huge development in ensuring that the web remained an open platform that can’t be controlled by the few.
So now the blog is an area of your website that allows you to continually add fresh content to your site without changing or effecting the layout. It’s the most dynamic part of your site. It also brings an interactive element to your website, allowing people to comment on your posts and enter into discussions. A bonus to these discussions and interaction is that they’ll help boost your SEO!
The blog is also very flexible. You can use it for quick statuses in the same way you might on Twitter or Facebook. You can toss up a couple of images or you can write full, in-depth articles. Also, when set up correctly, categorizing and tagging your posts will ensure that even old content continues to be discovered. This means, the more good-quality content you add to your blog, the more it will work for you. Indefinitely.
A blog can be the full site or integrated into a wider site. For instance, someone may have a personal blog and, when you visit their URL, all you would see are their blog posts. Whereas, a company or an individual with a wider offering or marketing strategy may have a range of static pages (normal web pages) with a blog as one of the pages.
How Does a Blog Help Me?
A blog helps you in a few ways.
Firstly, as I mentioned earlier, it greatly increases your chances of being discovered organically. When you write a post, especially if the post is well written with a target audience in mind (more on this later), it will contain certain keywords and phrases. Search engines like Google and Bing send out “robots” to crawl your site and content. Then, based on what it finds, these search engines show that content to people that are searching.
Allow me to give you an example:
Let’s say I have a website selling dog collars. My website also includes a blog. My first post is titled “How to Train Your Poodle to Play Basketball“. In that article, I describe how to train your poodle so, naturally, the words poodle and basketball come up a variety of times. But they aren’t just crowbarred in there. They come in naturally, as I discuss the training. The title also contains the keywords poodle and basketball and the phrase “how to train your poodle to play basketball”.
Google searches the site and registers all of this.
John Smith gets fed up of playing basketball all alone in his back garden and – his only companion being a pooch – he crosses the fingers on one hand and with the other enters the phrase “how to train your poodle to play basketball” into Google.
Google then ranks your site as one of the top results based on this content and shares a link to your post.
When John reads your post, before he closes down your site, he notices a shiny new dog collar. He thinks, “that could be a good reward for Rover when he nets his first basket!” When John buys a dog collar, your post has turned from typing to dollars.
The next way it can help you is when John is so happy with your guide to canine basketball that he takes to your site to comment on your posts and, perhaps, even ask for further tips. These interactions further improve your SEO score because they are showing Google that you have provided an effective answer to the search term. This also improves your “author rating”, meaning that you will be ranked more highly based on your quality as an author.
A also allows you to bring some of your personality to the web. Websites have a nature of being quite sterile and un-personal. A blog gives you the opportunity to build rapport with potential and ongoing customers. This can boost your business immensely. You can grow a loyal following who may, in-turn, share and promote your posts and site. This can give your business or service exponential growth!
What Do I Write?
This can prove to be one of the toughest hurdles for people when they sit and stare at their freshly installed blogs. There is no simple answer to this, but there is some guidance I can give you.
Consider Your Audience
Consider the audience you wish to have. Place yourself in their shoes and at their keyboard. Ask yourself, “if I was my target reader, what would I want to read about? What would I be interested in?”
Start with a Title
Think of a title then read up on that title. Build a story around that. Don’t be afraid to write with your true voice! Many people find themselves writing characterless, strictly informative posts that fall stale upon the reader. Don’t feel worried about adding your personal experiences and views into the frame.
You Can Outsource
If you are stuck for time, inspiration, or ideas, you can always purchase well-written targeted content.
Digital Business Lounge (DBL) includes a service called Digital Writers in our membership packages to help you with this.
I would advise, even if you are purchasing almost all of your content, that you still try and chip in from time to time with some of your own. At the very least, read through your purchased content and see if you can inject a little of your own personality.
Spend some time scouring the web and find blogs and bloggers that you think are doing a good job and find what aspects of their blog attract you. Let that inspire the direction you take your blog.
Practice makes perfect. It’s the age-old adage, but it truly applies here. Keep at your blog and don’t get disheartened if there are no fast results. Blogging is a long game, but a game that will give your website longevity and have a massive snowball effect.