Blogging for Business: What's Important in 2014
It’s 2014. Is your business’ blog older and wiser? Did you learn from your mistakes in 2013? What are you going to focus on in 2014 to make your business’ blog as effective and awesome as it can be?
This article will give you the four lessons that I took from 2013, and I feel are the most important for a new start to the new year.
- Setting your Blog Apart from the Rest
- How to Get the Most out of your Content
- The Fall of SEO and Rise of SMO
- The New, Best Way to Promote your Blog
So let’s get started.
1. Setting your Blog Apart from the Rest
Is your blog different? Do you offer new or exciting information in a new or exciting way? Why not? Blogging is, at its heart, a creative pursuit (even when blogging for business), so get creative!
In 2014, take your blog persona to the next level. Put your own personality - or the personality of your business - into your blog.
A blog persona is something that makes you different from your competitors. This can be a tone that runs throughout your posts, an informality (or formality) that people recognize as distinctly yours. Test a recurring theme in your blog titles, subject-matter, or the way you present your opinions, facts, or ideas.
Another tip which I’ve yet to test is the blog mascot - something I’m tempted by for the New Year. A blog mascot is another great way to increase readership, as people will remember your business’ blog more than another’s. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, check out Andrea Vahl’s Grandma Mary, SocialMediaExaminer’s little cartoon explorer, Moz’s robot guy, etc. Get creative with your own mascot, and test if this would work for your business.
If you’ve ever created or read about a Facebook Ad or a business landing page you’ll know the term USP - Unique Selling Proposition. This is what your business or campaign offers that sets you apart from your competitors, whether it’s a discount or offer, a new technology, or a special way of doing business.
Your blog needs its own USP.
Are you right on the cusp of current events in your sector? Are you your reader’s go-to source for information and developments they’ll get from you before anyone else? Embrace this in the new year. Start a #HumpdayHeadlines theme that runs each Wednesday, keeping your readers engaged and checking back in for the newest updates.
Oh, and remember to create an awesome niche hashtag to spread the word and increase virality on social media and (now) Google search.
2. How to Get the Most out of your Content
Think of your blog article as Thanksgiving dinner. From it you can get so many delicious leftovers you’ll wonder if they’ll all fit in the fridge.
The research you do for a great blog article is valuable, so don’t just use it once. Think about the stats you’ve compiled as a great source for an infographic. Your article’s main points can be made into an Slideshare presentation.
- Write five articles on the same broad subject and create an ebook
- Use your favorite findings or statistics to comment on other people’s blogs (link-building, in more way than one!)
- Re-use your research in later articles
- Use your most catchy or intriguing findings for posts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+
- Use your most interesting findings and make them into an image to post on a stats-based Pinterest board
Balancing your content intelligently is the best use of your time and energy. Your readership will also increase, as you’ll be producing a bunch of varied, interesting information in bite-size, appealing pieces. Think about it, if you put a couple hours into researching for your blog article, do you really want to use that hard-earned research only once?
How much, and how often, to write:
The age-old question returns in 2014. How much should you write, and how often should you publish?
Because of the rise of visual content which we’ll see in 2014, we’ll see a fall in long-form, fact-heavy blog articles. Internet users and blog readers want information fast, easy-to-consume, bite-sized. Your business’ blog needs to reflect this. Focus on balancing your content. Offer comprehensive articles occasionally but also short, visually-appealing infographics or Slideshare presentations.
You should still be publishing on a daily basis. Embrace guest posting in 2014, both accepting articles from the many freelance writers out there, and offering your own content to other sites. These mutually-beneficial relationships are great for bloggers as they take the strain off when you get a guest post, and spread your business’ reach when you write for someone else.
3. The Rise of SMO
Social Media Optimization is changing the way we think about SEO. Since Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm arrived in August of 2013, we’ve been focusing more on social networking and less on the link-building which made up such a huge part of SEO for bloggers.
As Wishpond’s guest blogger and chief editor for ChamberofCommerce.com Megan Totka says, ‘The Hummingbird algorithm values quality content that is relevant, authoritative, and shareable. The more your content has been shared across social media, the higher its perceived quality, and the better you’ll rank on Google.’
The original Google search algorithm considered links to your pages or content like votes. The more links you could garner (link-building) around the web, the more visible your brand profile would be online. Now, however, Google has started to value social shares as much as (and, in the case of Google +1’s, more) than links.
How can you optimize your blog for social shares?
- Ensure your blog header images are appealing and grab the eye, so they’ll look good in a social media post.
- Make all your shareable links are in Bitly format to make your content social media friendly.
- Join Google+ communities to target active members of your market (just be sure you’re not spamming, as the friendly Google+ moderators have no problem with kicking you out!)
- If you’re not already, you need to include a social share toolbar within your business’ blog pages. This can increase the virality of your content by up to 700%.
4. The Best Way to Promote your Blog
Influencer marketing will become mainstream marketing practice this year. If you’re wondering what, exactly, that is, well, I’ll tell you:
Influencer marketing is the strategy of creating a relationship with an influential thought-leader in your sector - and through them increasing your own business’ influence.
Here’s a concrete example. In July of 2013, social-media influencer Mari Smith tweeted a link to one of my articles. To really understand this example, you have to know that Mari Smith has around 260,000 Twitter Followers. Between the 25th of July and the 27th (Mari’s Tweet went out on the 26th), this happened:
The quality of our blog did the rest, and our readership hasn’t since dropped anywhere close to the numbers we were seeing on the 25th.
For example, let’s say you’ve developed a Wordpress plugin that’s awesome but your reach is struggling. With influence marketing you can make contact with one of the powerful individuals who make it their life’s work to find the next big wordpress plugin.
How affected do you think your little plugin’s success would be, for instance, if you’d made it onto Jeff Bullas’ 10 Must-Have Wordpress Plugins of 2013 Every Blogger Should Know About list? Keep in mind that Jeff Bullas has 210,00 Twitter Followers and 25,000 Facebook Fans. Sold yet?
You need to be reaching out to your sector’s most influential people.
Finding your influencers:
- Check your possible influencers on the top 3 social influence metric sites, Klout, Kred and PeerIndex. These sites determine the reach of an individual’s online presence.
- Take a look at a possible Influencer’s Followers (and not just the numbers). How many mutual Followers do you share? Are your competitors following them?
- Do they share other people’s content? Or just their own? Do they seem open to working or promoting others?
How to interact/start a relationship:
- Write a monthly “best of” blog article with them included. Remember to @mention them when you post the link on Twitter.
- Compile a list of awesome resources for your sector, with an influencer’s site or tool included.
- Comment on an influencer’s blog. Be insightful and intelligent, not just flattering.
- Use Google Hangouts to do a video interview of an influencer - ask insightful questions and cross-promote the final product.
- Make a blog article summarizing an influencer’s article, study, or findings, and be sure to credit your article’s source.
Hopefully this article has given you a better idea of what to focus on as this new year kicks off. Remember to focus on social shares in your blog articles, and research the changes that Hummingbird has made to SEO. Get creative with your blog formats, and test a weekly theme-article (and let me know how it goes!).
Have you focused on any of these in your marketing strategy for the new year? Start the conversation below!
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