Monday Mornings with Madison

JOINING THE BLOG BANDWAGON

By all accounts, Blogging has become a human-technological phenomena. According to one estimate, there were about 1.2 billion English-speaking Blogs in the Blogosphere as of the beginning of 2010. For anyone thinking about launching a Blog, that number can be intimidating. Here is another Blog statistic even more daunting… perhaps as many as 95% of those Blogs are ‘dead’… meaning they’ve had no activity for three months or more. How do you compete against a billion or so other Blogs for readership (or even 5% of a 1.2 billion Blogs) and how do you ensure your Blog doesn’t become part of the ocean of dead gigabytes cluttering up the Internet superhighway?

Like most worthwhile things in life, a Blog requires thought, planning, time, and perseverance. And, like most worthwhile things in life, a Blog demands a commitment. About a year ago, our MMWM essay focused on Blogging for Business. There, we discussed reasons to Blog and how to get started. Some readers may have taken that advice to heart, launched their own Blog and promptly started sharing their voice and views with the world. If that’s you, congratulations… today’s MMWM is not for you. More likely, you probably read “Blogging for Business” and promptly filed that advice in your “Boy, that’s a great idea I should try some time…” mental file and haven’t touched it since. If that’s you, keep reading.

If the thought of Blogging intimidates you, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you regularly have thoughts and opinions you want to express?
  2. Do you have something to market or promote?
  3. Do you want to help people?
  4. Do you want to establish yourself as an expert?
  5. Do you want to connect with people with similar interests?
  6. Do you want to make a difference?
  7. Do you want to stay active or knowledgeable in a field or topic?
  8. Do you want to stay connected with colleagues?
  9. Do you want a creative outlet?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a good candidate for a Blog and you shouldn’t let the competition, time, or commitment of a Blog stop you. After all, besides exposure and networking, Blogs provide tremendous SEO value to your business website. Google loves content and a good Blog is a wellspring of original content.

So how do you ensure that your Blog does not become part of the 95% dead Blogs? The answer is obvious: keep writing! Create lots of flagship content… information that is compelling, useful and relevant to the focus of your Blog. This content will rank very well with search engines. That will draw readers to your Blog. In turn, knowing that you have a listening audience will spur you to keep Blogging and keep your Blog away from extinction. Here are some strategies that will help you develop Blog content that is search-engine friendly.

1. Provide a user-friendly landing page for your Blog
Make things easy on your readers from a usability standpoint. A Blog landing page should instantly communicate what a visitor can expect and provide ways to navigate your content that increases clarity.

2. Identify keywords for each Blog posting
Choose the most appropriate keyword phrases for your content. What is the relevant question that searchers are asking that your content and business will answer?
Will answering that question aid a visitor to your Blog? Are enough people asking that question to make worthwhile to answer?

3. Create title tags and a headline
No one disputes the importance of using your targeted keyword phrase in your title tag. Search engines want to offer relevant results, so those results should prominently reflect the words the searcher is using in the title of the Blog posting.

The title tag can also serve as a headline. This speaks back to the prospective reader in their own chosen words. Wrap those words in a compelling headline structure that promises to answer the exact question the searcher was asking in the query. As an added bonus, writing the perfect headline increases the chances readers will simply use your title to link back to you. The more link anchor text is a component of a particular search algorithm the better.

4. Write impressive content
If the idea is for your Blog to be read, it needs to be ‘found’ by interested readers. Could a brief Blog posting about a given topic rank well for a competitive search term? Yes, because a lot of what determines how well a page ranks (each Blog posting becomes its own webpage) depends on the overall authority and age of the website on which it appears. However, for a newer site trying to rank for a competitive search term, links from other authoritative sources may be needed. That means the content (what you write in your Blog) must be impressive, in both quality and scope. Examples: Develop an insightful multi-part tutorial. Write an inspirational guide. Answer an important question better and more comprehensively than your competition. Provide a solution to a unique business problem.

5. Offer links to related content or sources
Search engines favor sites (Blogs, websites, etc.) that have a lot of relevant, frequently-updated content. They also like a lot of general link authority. Linking to other content is a good way to reference and provide supporting information for your flagship content. You can also cross-reference links to your own flagship content in future posts. That is good to do when discussing advanced topics that require an understanding of the basics. Never assume everyone is aware of your flagship information or understands the basics.

In sum, the first goal of your Blog is to provide useful and relevant information to the reader, no matter how they find you. The second goal is to make that content so compelling and comprehensive that people are willing—no, make that excited—to link to it. Blogs that accomplish those two goals will do well with search engine rankings. That in turn will bring you more readers, which should encourage you to keep Blogging.

Next week we’ll examine ways to get the word out about your new Blog.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The evidence that things are changing fast can be seen in the dramatic increase in the influence of blogging. We should be collecting emails as we used to collect telephone numbers and using them to better communicate our message to key individuals.” Adam Rickitt

© 2010 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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