So, you’ve just finished the prototypes for your exclusive line of customizable puppy apparel, and you can’t figure out why your site isn’t gaining any traction . . . or maybe you’re a lacrosse coach who wants to start pulling in some additional income by offering private lessons, but you have no idea how to get the word out there beyond the handful of kids who are already on your team. More likely than not, you’re an entrepreneur or startup founder who is looking for ways to boost SEO and increase your click-through ratio.
Good news for all! The solution to your problem is one simple (and potentially fun) step away: start a blog. While some may assert that blogging is a dying trend, it’s far from passé when it comes to providing a perfect medium for displaying your expertise on a subject, driving organic traffic, and snowballing interaction with potential customers. With results like that, who cares if it’s what the cool kids are doing?
1. Isn’t the content I already have on my website enough?
Short answer: no. Blogging is an ideal way to help you get noticed in a saturated market. It can inform potential customers about who you are and what you stand for as a brand while also giving people a way to interact with your site and share content on social media—because who out there doesn’t love a high click-through ratio? As if that weren’t enough, it also helps you add loads of additional content that can be optimized for SEO while offering you a place to insert internal or external links to related sites and quality content (even more SEO fodder).
If you’re a serious business owner with a website, there really is no excuse not to be taking advantage of this easy-to-implement content marketing strategy. Before you start typing away on your first topic willy-nilly, however, there are a couple of additional things you’ll want to know about blogging, such as how and where to do it:
2. What’s the difference between hosted and self-hosted, and why does it matter to me?
In the world of blog publishing platforms, you have two basic options from which all other decisions will stem: hosted or self-hosted. Simply put, the difference between the two is that hosted publishing platforms offer pre-existing templates and do all of the work of generating a site for you—no need to write any code, set up a server, or think creatively beyond the brainstorming you’re going to have to do to generate your blog content.
If you don’t know anything about programming and you just want to help promote your site (or create a space in which the world can finally take in your brilliant thoughts on the endangerment of etiquette in the digital age), you want to stick with a hosted platform.
Self-hosted sites are for those who aren’t afraid to tackle some moderate-to-heavy programming challenges. The benefit here is that you aren’t held back by any of the theme, design, or layout restrictions that you’ll run into when dealing with a hosted publishing platform. In other words, there are no (or few) rules to follow. With these sites, you’ll usually download the software and set up the blog site on your own. You’ll also, however, have to set up a domain and database and maintain the site through updates, bug fixes and the like . . . so you only want to venture into this arena if you really know what you’re doing. Or, are willing to pay someone who does.
3. Where should I publish to get the most out of my posts?
When considering where to publish your blog content, quality does matter. While you may be tempted to try quick and dirty platforms that will publish your content for free, be wary—some of these sites may disappear within a year or two or simply choose to kick you off for no reason, leaving you to clean up the mess. What’s more is that standard features you’ll find on quality sites (mobile-friendly interfaces, for example) are not available on many bargain basement platforms. Our advice: stick with the pros and find a quality name you can trust—even if it costs you a few extra dollars per month.
Your current website builder – Unless you created your main website through an in-house IT department, chances are that the website builder you used to create your site already has built-in blog publishing capabilities plus support tools, such as promotion, social media sharing, SEO and additional plug-ins. Squarespace and Shopify, our two favorites, are just a few examples of great all-in-ones in this regard. Each offers hundreds of templates to choose from while making it easy for you to link to your pre-existing site, all with the convenience of streamlining your content development and maintenance. If you’re happy with your web host, start by finding out whether it offers this capability, and research its effectiveness before shopping around.
StumbleUpon & Content Discovery Platforms – These are great tools for anyone who wants to increase traffic to a blog post. With StumbleUpon, free subscribers have the opportunity to find and share their favorite content on social media, while paid subscribers have the opportunity to promote their related content to exactly the people who most want to see it. In the case of content discovery platforms, such as Outbrain, you have the capability of promoting your content through trusted premium sites (think CNN, People, TIME, etc.). With Outbrain, for example, you choose the amount you want to pay, and their algorithms will link it to similar content on these sites, thereby displaying your content to people who will be most interested in reading it. Best of all, you pay only when someone clicks on your link.
LinkedIn Publisher – This is a relatively new option for current subscribers who are interested in increasing their visibility to other people in their fields while driving site visits and allowing followers to view your work. The true bonus with LinkedIn Publisher is that you have a chance to get picked up by LinkedIn’s newsletter and be shared via weekly emails, which can exponentially drive your views, comments, and shares. Yes, you’ll need to apply for the right to publish via LinkedIn, but that step seems to be a mere formality.
Need help with integrating a blog into your website or creating consistent, quality content that is strategic in terms of your target customer and keyword research? Contact us today to discuss your specific business needs.
NOTE: While you may be used to utilizing a domain such as .org or .edu—or you may be publishing from a country outside of the US (.co, .uk, etc.)—we recommend sticking to a .com address for your blog. This is the truly global domain, after all, and will help drive your visibility in search engines like Google and Bing.