Today, small talk and short conversation has shifted on the Internet to the social networks. And as Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer, says: “If you’re looking for substantive conversation, you aren’t going to find it on Facebook, or in 140 characters on Twitter”.
So blogs remain the preferred domain for millions where longer form and more in depth content is both created and delivered. And while more bloggers are using several mediums, including social networks, to gain larger amounts of traffic and readers, it has become more important than ever to ensure that the content created for a blog can be easily found.
Here are some best-practices to follow to help you make blogging worth the effort in marketing your value to a target audience.
1. Start with a solid foundation.
The good news is that some blog publishing platforms make this very easy. And as Matt Cutts, search expert and head of the anti-Spam team from Google points out, platforms like WordPress do 80% of the heavy lifting and set you up for success. WordPress is an amazing publishing platform with an integrated Content Management System (CMS) that is used by organizations like the New York Times, Harvard University and the Library of Congress to power their blogs and high traffic web sites.
It’s also the platform that we recommend to our clients. That’s because it’s continually being improved by a global community of developers that are integrating the latest technologies and features that users demand.
2. Be persistent.
The best way to ensure that your blog content will easily get found is to update your blog frequently with new content. A recent study conducted by HubSpot indicates that people who post to their blog at least once a week increase the opportunity for their content to be found online by as much as 350% compared to those who post only once a month.
When creating content for a blog, it’s important to remember to avoid talking about “you, you, you!” Your prospects are much more interested in “what’s in it for them”. That means stepping outside of your needs and framing your content from the perspective of what has value for the people your are trying to influence, inform, or convert.
Unfortunately, writing and posting alone are not enough. Because your work is not really done unless your content can be “found” so that your customers and prospects can realize the value of what you have published.
3. Be seen.
From the perspective of search engines, this has never been more true than now. Search engines give high relevance to images integrated into content on your blog or site and it’s essential that you optimize your images to be found.
Every image that you include in a post should have an Alt Tag and an Image Descriptor that provides important details about your content. These seemingly trivial “on-page” elements of an image within a post are amazing in how they enhance content visibility. In fact, it has become widely understood that search engines give preference to Alt Tags and Image Descriptors. To dismiss them, or fail to incorporate them, may seriously compromise all of the effort you invest in creating a post.
4. Key into keywords.
Many elements influence ranking your content by search engines and there’s no greater example than KEYWORDS. No post should ever be published without a handful of keywords that distill the essence of the content.
And once those keywords are integrated with your content, you can maximize their effectiveness by incorporating a primary keyword in the TITLE of your post. It’s also a good idea to incorporate the keywords into the H1 and H2 html tags as well. When someone makes a query in Google, Yahoo or Buzz, search engines look for these vital elements when crawling content to rate and rank it for delivery to a results page.
5. Don’t dismiss the links.
Use your primary and secondary keywords in the anchor text of links when linking to other blog posts or to other pages of your blog. Keywords in links have much more importance than simple text. So be sure to include links with keywords that help search engines quickly identify the content in your post.
6. Submit to others.
After you publish a post to your blog, it’s a good practice to submit the post to some of the social bookmarking sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon and del.icio.us. These great online resources provide visitors with the ability to rate and rank your content. Anyone can submit content to these sites and they require participants to identify the most relevant category for the content so that others can find it, share it and rank it. Setting up accounts is easy and if others find or rate your content on these sites, it can significantly enhance the visibility for search engines.
7. Broadcast to your community.
Once you have created a piece of valuable content and have posted it to your blog with all of the search engine optimized (SEO) techniques above, you can extend the reach and opportunity for others to find it, comment on it or share it by broadcasting it in a social network. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon are excellent resources for promoting your content within these rapidly growing communities. However you choose to share within these networks, be sure to include a link back to the content on your blog.
Another great way to promote and broadcast your content is to comment on other blogs and reference your post in a link within that comment that furthers or extends the thought and conversation you initiated at another blog.
Marketing with content in the Post Advertising era.
More than ever, it’s become essential to market valuable content to your customers and prospects for lead generation, education, and retention. Because organizations are recognizing that the old paradigms of broadcasting a message with high frequency through paid media to reach a target may no longer be aligned with how people self-select and find what’s important to them.
It’s time to revisit your strategies, methods and tactics. Marketing has changed and companies must now embrace the idea that they need to become continuous publishers of content. By integrating these best practices, your chances of success improve significantly.
What are you doing to help people find your value? What’s working and where are you succeeding. Post a comment and share.