Today I'm going to explain why blogging should be your automatic choice of marketing channel and how you use it to gain valuable search engine traffic.
We live in a Google world. The search engine behemoth determines what the best search results are. There are alternatives for search but who uses them? More to the point if they were a better tool for finding the information you need, then they would be Google.
Employing the brightest mathematical minds on the planet, building an algorithm that filters out the weak from the strong, the wheat from the chaff, the results are not perfect but they are the best we have to work with.
In update after update of the Google algorithm, there have been casualties who have fallen by the wayside. Hurricanes, Penguins and Panda's have all exacted their toll. The most recent, "Mobilegeddon" displays the best search results depending on the device you are searching from. Search evolves and will continue to evolve.
Businesses have been destroyed after being excluded from the results, some of the biggest websites have had their traffic reduced to a trickle overnight. If you don't rank on Google then you may as well not exist.
Some people will tell you that you shouldn't base your business model on search engine traffic alone, which I totally agree with. It's clearly wrong to rely on just one form of traffic to your site. But if Google didn't exist then whatever replaced it would surely come to the same conclusion as the existing algorithm engineers?
It Would Just Take Them Longer To Get There
Search exists to find the best results. Whatever technology is the most proficient at finding those results will prevail. Making your website visible in those results is the holy grail of organic search.
We don't know how the algorithm works. I often see jobs advertised for SEO experts who know the Google algorithm. You can't know it. It's like the secret recipe for Coca-Cola. Why would anyone share the secret sauce to let you game them?
But what we do have to work with are the Webmaster Guidelines. Under "Design and Content considerations" is the following bullet point:
Create A Useful, Information-Rich Site
Images and Videos can not be spidered, at least not yet in any meaningful way. Other search technologies cater for those media.
Creating an information-rich site is your goal. Whatever your target market the written word makes up a large percentage of the way your site is ranked in search results.
Clearly, the easiest way to curry favour is to give the search engine more of what it wants.
It Is That Simple.
Blogging is the way to feed the search engine more information. The more you feed it the more it likes your site. Keep writing more about your core subject and eventually, you will be recognised for being an authority on it. Adding content on closely related topics expands your keyword reach.
Building a body of work that you are known for not only gives you valuable search engine traffic, it also gives you a good reason to promote on social media.
I see a lot of social media "experts" all clamouring for your business on Twitter but most of them are missing the point. Being present on Twitter does not mean that you are going to suddenly be famous. What are you going to be famous for? Your blog and your content is the surfboard on which you ride the social media wave. Without it you will flounder in the water and drown.
Social media shares content that deserves sharing. There is no point in wasting time trying to promote your business on social media channels without a depth of content to tap into.
Building a blog worthy of the name is hard work. There are no shortcuts. There is no growth hacking your way to the top. It is the meat and potatoes of promoting your company on the internet.
It will take six months of consistent effort to produce any results from a blogging campaign. Is that fair?
It certainly precludes anyone who isn't prepared to put in the effort. Those people have to look at alternative advertising methods. Essentially paying for traffic.
But for those who persist the rewards eventually far outweigh the effort involved in producing the content in the first place. Evergreen content, the kind that is always useful and doesn't become dated pays for itself over and over and over again.
Imagine what you could produce from two years of consistent blogging. That is the scale of the job ahead of you, but by doing the work you are giving yourself the best possible chance of being found in search for years to come.
Get Into A Blogging Routine
After eighteen years of living in the same place, I upped and moved across town so that I could release the capital built up by selling my property and I moved into rented accommodation.
Realising my dream of being able to work full time on building a sustainable internet business.
I moved on May 11th, 2015 but the shock waves of the move were still being felt until last week and it's only the last couple of days that I've properly come to terms with the enormity of the task ahead and regained clarity of thought.
Moving house is stressful. Made worse if you haven't done it for a long time.
When I was in my early twenties I used to move around from branch to branch of the superstore I worked for as I slowly climbed the promotion ladder and think nothing of it. But having been settled for such a long time this move has been a major upheaval.
Added to that is the fear of failure. Self-doubts surface regularly. You wouldn't have blood circulating in your veins if that didn't happen.
The main reason for the lack of blogging though has not been fear or being scared; it is the mental draining of the brain battery by all of the issues that suddenly clamour for your attention.
Finding your way around in a new part of town. The endless visits to IKEA. Charging up your screwdriver for the next round of deciphering the wardrobe instruction leaflet picture code.
Cats that go missing and have to be retrieved. Butter that has to be reapplied to paws. Dogs that need to have new walks found.
Explaining to friends and family why you've supposedly sacrificed the security of owning your own home for a pipe dream.
Changing addresses and redirecting mail. Being without broadband. Getting broadband installed and then finding the room you've chosen as your office is a Wi-Fi black spot.
Dealing with Virgin Media. That last one deserves a blog post all of its own.
Messed Up Thinking
All of these and more. Every new issue is a drain on your thinking time. When a major event like this happens, your thinking gets messed up.
This was when I realised that being in a settled environment and having a routine are essential ingredients for making your thing.
A settled environment gives your brain and your subconscious the ability to be able to concentrate on the tasks you set it. If you have a million and one things going on in the background then you are never going to produce your best work.
This is why artists, painters and writers treat their workspace as a shrine to their work. They are pouring out their best ideas or being at their most creative when they are in their most comfortable work environment.
A regular routine is another expression for a habit. Forming a habit of publishing on a regular basis is far stronger than writing great content once in a blue moon.
You are not always going to produce stellar content. Belting a home run with every swing of the bat is just not going to happen. But being consistent. Showing up, is what will make the difference between a blog that is updated haphazardly or one that is thoughtfully constructed around a regular publishing schedule.
Remove all the unnecessary distractions in your life. Find a place to work that is conducive to thinking and commit to a regular publishing schedule.
These actions will ramp up your blogging to a level that will create a memorable impression on your site visitors. It will leave a lasting and profound imprint on their mind that will work in your favour when the time comes for them to take action and buy.
Everyone has a book in them, or so they say. The trouble is books, as in the actual touchy feely hardbacks and paperbacks that we pored over late at night in exam days are rapidly becoming obsolete.
The number of people who read books on their Kindle, tablet or even their mobile phone is fast overtaking the traditionalists. Any commuter will tell you that.
War Of Art
Recently I spent a good deal of time waiting in the fracture clinic waiting for my son to have his ankle strapped up and plastered, I was so glad I had my smartphone with me because I could immerse myself in the fantastic War of Art by Steven Pressfield and pass the time away without glaring miserably at the floor.
“Blogging” was a term coined initially for all those people who started keeping diaries and journals on the internet in the late nineties but the term is now redundant. We don’t want to know that someone has a blog. We want to hear what they have to say – and does it matter.
We want to be entertained, educated and shown the light.
Those that embrace using their website as a platform to expand on their knowledge know that not only are they helping to add credence to their “brand” by showing their passion for the subject matter but also, through genuinely helping others they build a loyal following who may well likely become future customers.
People browse the Internet for topics that they may never previously have shown an interest in, certainly not in book form anyway, because it is easy to do. But months or even years later they may return to that saved bookmark to see what all the fuss was being made about.
What Is Your Pastime?
Perhaps they wondered if metal detecting was a rewardable past time or just something people did to get away from the missus – like fishing!
Maybe they wanted to check out a low carbohydrate or paleo diet. How to get fat, how to get thin, the chances are the person who has been self-publishing is going to be the first site these people visit.
And don’t think that these types of bookmarks are just a temporary placeholder either. As a society, in general, becomes more tech savvy, syncing across devices becomes more and more of a common occurrence and if a consumer device gets replaced it automatically gets updated with the standard settings.
Ultimately this means that having a lot to say – and saying it, by self-publishing is the way to get yourself and your website discovered.
When I hear people asking for another 500-word article that is SEO friendly I inwardly groan inside.
It makes me sad to see people trying to grow blogs by regurgitating and rehashing old themes in an attempt to “add more content”.
If you were going to publish a book, you wouldn’t just copy what some other “expert” in your field had written because you know it wouldn’t pass the script stage.
The same goes for self-publishing – give it your best shot and create something original and inventive. Don’t settle for getting the office junior to copy and paste some trash. Put some real effort into it and you will be handsomely rewarded.
About five years ago I started a blog in an area of expertise I wasn’t very familiar with and guess what? Yep, after about four months I could see it was never going to work no matter how often I published my “stuff.”
Why Do You Think That Was?
Because I was a fake. People could see through my shallow writing, and they quickly came to the impression (rightly) that I was a charlatan and a fraud who was just trying to make a quick buck.
You can fool some people some of the time.
When I started providing eCommerce website builder reviews, it came naturally because it was already an area of my expertise and it showed in my writing.
Those who you want as customers want to see that you can walk the walk and talk the talk. If you do that they will buy from you, it’s that simple.
People want real life stories and characters. When you combine what you know or more succinctly what you are passionate about, it pushes buttons. It turns people on to what you have to say.
Next time you think about asking your website promotion company for “another 500 words to cover XYZ keyword” consider how your customers will view the piece.
It's Time To Bite The Bullet And Get Started.
"Blogging" seems such an easy way to add value to your website, just make a new blog post every three or four days, and you are all set. Let the traffic roll in.
But there's a stumbling block. You've read that "content marketing" is a "free" way to attract more traffic via natural search but who is going to write the content? If it's not you then who else?
Find freelancers on websites like peopleperhour.com to write your content at a fraction of what it would cost a regular employee to do the same job. You can always rewrite anything you don't like after you get the finished article. There are thousands of freelancers who will write 500-word articles for $10 and perhaps you'll strike lucky and get "quality" for $20 or $30.
Why This Approach Fails On Several Levels
If you think that getting complete strangers to write your copy is going to result in a flood of new business then that's not how it works. You are paying for a number of words on a page, not for the concept or originality of the article.
You can specify what the article is going to be about or give the writer some bullet points to work with but without knowing anything about your subject matter beforehand how are they expected to find time to do any research at that price?
If you think you can take the $10 turd and fashion it up into something with more value, then you are mistaken.
Any good programmer will tell you it is easier to start from scratch than try to decipher someone else's undocumented code. Wading through line after line to figure out how it all works is slower than just starting again.
The Same is True For A Writer.
An author goes through a train of thought as they commit their ideas to type. Trying to unravel another writer's thinking is a slower process than writing the article from scratch with your own original ideas.
Remember the days of "spun" content? Commission a 500-word article and then rewrite it for several different blogs to get the maximum value from the investment?
In an attempt to spin the article you need to add filler words and expand or alter the descriptive verbs so that you radically to change the content, without saying anything different or adding to the value of the conversation.
You are adding more content to your site, but you are also detracting from the overall quality. Instead of gaining trust and goodwill you are losing it by being a fake and a charlatan.
You may get more search engine traffic, but if the reader sees through your charade, as indeed they will, you won't convert any of them into new customers.
A good blog post takes three or four hours to create. That includes writing the first draft, deleting all the unnecessary fluff, proofreading and preparing a second draft. Depending on the subject matter you can add at least an hour for research.
Practised writers can knock out excellent blog posts in a couple of hours if they know their subject matter well while a high-quality blog post that is well researched could take as much as a day or more to write.
The Missing Authentic Voice
When you read a blog post or an article you get a sense for the author's style. You can immediately tell how well they know their stuff by the tone and authority with which they speak. In writing circles, this is called the authentic voice.
If something lacks authenticity it is far less readable than the authentic counterpart. We know when we are reading something that is genuine because we resonate with it. It is that emotion that keeps bringing us back to engage with the author.
Instead of paying for meaningless words on a page try these blogging tips to up your game and increase reader engagement:
Write Down Blogging Ideas
Ideas can come at the strangest times, and you always need to write them down before forgetting them.
Evernote will help you build a nice list that you can use to promote the more likely subjects to the top. When it comes time to sit down and write you won't have to stare into space hoping an idea will pop into your head. In my experience that never happens.
Schedule Blogging Time With No Distractions.
I like to write my stuff early in the morning before I start dealing with emails and other distractions. Start with just an hour a day and build up slowly to a couple of hours. As you improve, you'll find you can get an increasing amount done in this "sacred" time.
Make sure you shut out all distractions. Close those Facebook pages, turn off the email alerts and close your browser. Shut down the music and focus purely on your writing.
Rise Earlier And Get More Done
The most common complaint about not starting a blog is "I don't have time."
Try getting up an hour earlier and go straight to work on your blog post. It's amazing how much you can get done in the quiet morning hours without the phone ringing and other distractions.
Make Blogging Your Priority
Many people pay for cheap articles because they don't give their website the respect it deserves.
If you went into business with the cheapest accountant, you could find paying your staff the smallest amount you could get away with how long would it last?
Taking your blog seriously is a required step to making it a success.
Producing content for the minimum price possible that lacks any hint of authenticity or character will destroy your online reputation. You may not notice it today, but you will tomorrow when a more authentic voice steps into the void.
If you are going to write a blog write it with heart and soul. Research your subject and make your posts something that your audience will enjoy reading.