If you are a small business, nonprofit or just a person that has something to promote, your website is your virtual store or megaphone. The greatest challenge all organizations have is attracting visitors to their websites to promote their products or services. While Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important aspect of a good website structure, nothing beats the content of a blog post to make your website get listed on page one of an internet search query.
Blogging boosts website traffic by answering questions
People turn to the Internet for two reasons – entertainment or information. Websites that are filled with information will get noticed by the search engines. I speak from experience. My YouTube videos of me dancing and singing topped out with twelve views. On the other hand, my blog posts about health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (certainly a topic that will put most people to sleep, I thought) received hundreds of page views per day. The entertainment value of my singing sucked, but my health insurance blogs obviously had a good information value to me website visitors.
Search engines review content and phrases
The common thread to most all my blog posts is that I try to answer questions that people may be looking for. The internet search engines have become much more sophisticated in judging the content of a website with not just key words but phrases within the blog post. This is a sampling of phrases for the month of July 2015 entered into a search engine that ultimately led to the person clicking the link to my website.
Bonnie Osborn of WriteAway nails blogs
Notice that people are asking questions with their queries. They clicked on a website whose main purpose is to sell health insurance. They didn’t click on a blog that was a sales pitch for a product. Bonnie Osborn of WriteAway Communications, a public relations and marketing company in Sacramento, says she has to caution some of her clients from posting a blog that is a thinly veiled pitch. “From my experience,” Bonnie noted, “a sales pitch is not a blog. It does nothing to establish the organization as an expert in the field or to build authenticity.” Bonnie started her career as a business journalist and transitioned to public relations and marketing when she moved to Sacramento. She has written and edited thousands of blogs for a variety of clients.
Fresh content gets ranked higher
For a variety of reasons, search engines may rank blogs posts higher than static website pages. Part of the better ranking is the date of the published content. My webpage on Medicare was originally published in 2012, but a blog post with much of the same content posted in 2014 gets more views. It’s a reasonable assumption that the more recent the publish date the fresher the content. However, a good blog post can get views for years if it answers questions. Of course it helps to update the post with new information occasionally and allow people to make comments to the blog.
Boring blogs get panned
Blogging takes time. Time you as a manager or owner don’t necessarily have. There is no shortage of people willing to blog for you. The problem is the quality of the blog post. It’s not that the outsourced blog isn’t grammatically correct; it’s just that they can be boring and bland. If no one in the office has the skill set to write the organization’s blog posts every week, turn to a profession public relations firm.
PR and Marketing firms take the time to learn your voice
One of the first things Bonnie Osborn of WriteAway Communications does is to have one or more meetings with the staff and owners that will be responsible for content ideas and background. “I need to find out who their audience is, what message they are trying to deliver, and the goals they have for online content. Blogging is only one element of an overall public relations and marketing strategy. The blog posts must be compelling and authentic,” Bonnie offered. She also said a good PR company that is creating content as intimate as a blog needs to be able to channel the voice of the owner or tone of the organization. Blog posts that are too informal or whimsical when the organization is trying to project a professional demeanor will send mixed signals to the reader, Bonnie said.
Answer questions and they will come
I would never hold up my website as a good example of blogging. Even though my traffic is decent for a guy that works out of his house, my blog topics are all over the place. But in a weird sense, the variety of blogs gives me unique data on how different topics perform. You would think that blogs on health insurance would get the most views because the website clearly indicates that it focuses on insurance. But my top two most viewed blogs have nothing to do with insurance and everything to do with answering questions.