Despite different social media networks coming and going, one thing that always remains constant are blogs. The reasons are simple, they live on your own site, you control the content and they show up in search results. A good business blog is a place to communicate the latest news from your brand, drive business leads and to create content that gets shared far beyond your own blog.
As you will see from the list below, there are a wide number of tools that can be used to blog, no matter what standard you are at and you can customize the look and feel of your blog to fit in with your business as you see fit.
While blogging might seem daunting at first, you'll find that the more you get into it, the easier it gets and the more you can pick up and apply to your own blog. Just follow these tips and you will have a killer business blog.
All blogging platforms provide their own built-in comments section as interaction is part and parcel of any blog. Blogger doesn't have a commenting system, instead relying on safe buttons, but Wordpress has its own that function perfectly fine and usually integrate into the overall design cleanly. However, you may want to deviate from it and use something a little more robust to handle the influx of comments your site will get. There are a number to choose from, but it tends to boil down to two main options
The first option would be Disqus as it's versatile and has a relatively good spam filter. It also allows users to connect via a number of different social media accounts and up vote/downvote comments. Perhaps the flaw behind it is that it allows anyone to set up an account and use a pseudonym which may be an issue if you have problems with potentially fake accounts leaving comments.
The second option is Facebook Comments, which as the name suggests, only allows users to comment if they're connected to their Facebook account. It's more restrictive and not everyone will want to link to what they could perceive as a more private social network. However, as the site manager, it means that there's far less chance of spam comments and the need for moderation as those interacting would be more mindful of what they say due to their real identity being used.
Social Media Plugins
One of the quickest ways of driving traffic to your blog is by using social media plugins to drive sharing of your content. The first thing that you need to do before adding these is make sure that your content is actually good enough to make people want to share it, which is a much harder battle. Once you have great content we would suggest the following sharing buttons.
Facebook has a wide number of social buttons, widgets and plugins to install onto your site. Starting off with the simple like button, you can add a Subscribe button, comments, recommendations, login and activity feed among other things. Facebook offers a number of options to embed your code such as HTML5, XFBML and iFrame, the latter requiring the least amount of HTML knowledge to implement so consider the one you want.
Twitter's range of buttons isn't as diverse, but the simplicity of the platform means it doesn't have to. Alongside the traditional retweet button, you have one that will let people follow you, one that will tweet a hashtag and one that will mention a specific Twitter handle.
Considering it's a company platform, LinkedIn has a lot of different buttons and functions including the share button, recommend button, follow company button, member profiles, company profiles and an 'Apply with LinkedIn' button.
Google+ has only one social sharing button - the humble +1. However, considering that this one button can be found almost anywhere, it's probably not a bad idea to have a universal button. Google +1 can help with SEO as a high +1 referral rate will mean Google will look more favourably on your site.
Installing a plugin onto your site may be very easy or will take a little bit of time depending on what you're doing. If you're just looking for it to be included on your site and nothing else, then Wordpress has its own sharing section where this can be done.
However, if you want some of the above buttons to be included and you have a custom site, you will need to embed their codes in your site. Simply go to the button you want included, choose the dimensions you want and you will be given an embed code. You need to add this code to your page CSS Editor before you see it appear.
It can be difficult to get away from, but having a good SEO strategy is part and parcel of promoting your site and ensuring that more people can find it on Google and other search engines. As always, SEO can be broken down into three main sections: Content, Keywords and Links. The first is obvious as you need good content if you want people to visit your site, the second is how search engines find your site and the third tells these search engines whether your site is worth prioritising over others.
It is easy to get bogged down by the details, but take a little bit of time to learn and it will benefit you in the long-run. Here are the main things to keep in mind.
Know Your Site Keywords
In this instance, think of keywords as relating to the theme of your blog. Is your blog about social media, technology, sports, fashion, cars, etc.? What words would people use if they wanted to find your site? Knowing this makes it far easier to put keywords together and will improve your SEO efforts.
Do Keyword Research
If you want to know what keywords to use, you should do some research. A good place to start is Keyword Discovery, which will provide you with the most common terms relating to your search so you can identify useful keywords.
Avoid General Terms
If you're writing a post on social media, using 'social media' as a tag is pointless as it will mean your post will get lost among the millions of other posts that use the same search term. Therefore, use more specific search terms to help improve your chances, in this example using 'social media marketing tips 2012' would provide you with a better chance of your content being discovered.
Download an SEO Plugin
Chances are you're using a blogging site like Wordpress or Blogger so downloading a plugin will help you when you're putting together keywords and descriptions. Plugins like Yoast will help you optimise your pages and posts before you publish them. However, only use one plugin when you're doing this as two or more could confuse Google and could even see your site downgraded as a result.
Use Unique Titles And Descriptions
When it searches through your site, Google will always look at your titles first, then the post's description or the meta description. Google will use the latter to give users a preview of your page content when it appears in search so don't neglect it. Also, don't forget about the title in your URL. That too will be considered by Google when it's trawling your site.
As important as it is to optimise your site, another thing that's important is getting links from other sites. The bigger the site is linking to your content, the more favourably Google will look upon your site. This is a long-term strategy as there's no quick or fast way to move up the rankings (otherwise we'd all be doing it) so focus on creating great content, create internal links in your own site and share your content online through social media.
Getting a blog set up is easier than ever and you don't need any technological knowledge to create one. Creating one will take a matter of seconds, but before you do, it's worth considering the type of blog you want to create.
The most popular blogging platform would be Wordpress, which offers a diverse range of themes, customisable options and should you wish to expand your site and create a custom layout, you have the option to do so. The only drawbacks are to create a blog that stands out from the pack costs money and for others, having so many customisable options might be considered a drawback.
Another alternative is the Google owned Blogger which offers a clean minimalist layout for posts and presents them all as image thumbnails, meaning easier navigation and everything is clear to see. The drawbacks behind this is that there is nowhere to comment, and the level of customisation you can undergo is very limited.
The final blogging tool, despite its reputation, is Tumblr. While it's more famous for posting JPEGs and GIFs, you can create a customised blog from it. Tumblr tends to be very useful for posting quick and snappy content although you need to decide whether having a Tumblr blog fits in with the general theme of your company as it is perceived as a platform for young adults.
10 Of The Best Business Blogs
ZapposThe shoe brand has built its brand around providing great customer service and social media and because of that, it has a number of blogs to choose from. The main blog tends to focus on fashion and style, but also leaves room for a few company related posts.ComScoreAn online company that seems to be ever-present, its content and research is always intriguing and as a result, it usually finds itself covered in a number of online publications whenever it releases a new report.
Disappointedly, Starbucks hasn't updated its blog since late-July, having stopped abruptly for no real reason, but it's still worth visiting just to see just how a company should blog. With a mixture of personal and company content, Starbucks' blog content is worth reading when it's on form. Now if only they just get back to blogging again. Dell
Dell's main strength is that it has a vast number of blogs that it brings together at the one landing page. The many subjects it deals with include enterprise, consumer tips, IT, education and customer service and there are always new articles regularly posted. Southwest Airlines
The blog focuses solely on aviation, but Southwest Airlines' blog is lighthearted and easy to read. Its content is more diverse than you would expect (where else would you get a two-part series on roller coasters?) and will cover any area that's related to travel.Marriot On The Move
Bill Marriot founded and grew this hotel group into one of the largest in the world and his company blog is a reflection of this. Sometimes, he goes off the beaten track and talks about different locations, history and branding instead of hotels, but his content is always interesting and dynamic.Whole Foods
It helps that ones of the best health food brands has a fantastic blog that is both well-designed and full of interesting content. The blog itself provides a lot of tips and recipes as well as company news and it's this fusion that makes it so popular.GE Reports
Because it's one of the biggest corporations in the world, General Electric's involvement in a number of different sectors means it's hard to market itself in one particular area. However, its blog is fantastic as it focuses on innovation and how its products are impacting the world.Delta Airlines
One of the biggest airlines in the world is a regular on the corporate blogging scene and it does this by sharing a lot of information as well as content that could come in handy for any traveller.BMW
Another brand that has been blogging for quite a while, BMW's blog is very much focused on cars so the blog places a particular emphasis on imagery and showing off its latest vehicles.
People spend a lot of time sharing their secrets about blogging and openly talking about what has worked for them. If you are only just starting out on the road to creating your own blog, or even if you have been at it for a couple of years, we would suggest that you follow some of these simple tips that the guys have been good enough to share in these videos. You will be inspired after watching these.
Blogs To Learn From
Believe it or not, there are tons of blogs out there that are actually dedicated to the subject of blogging itself. Everything there is to learn about blogging can be found within posts like this one here, or you can follow some of the following blogs to stay on top of the latest tips, trends and tricks that the professional bloggers are doing.
Featuring tips, tricks and guides for beginners and pros, Problogger leaves no stone unturned as it educates its readers about the finer points of blogging. There tends to be a number of different guest writers on the site as well, which gives it that extra layer of diversity.
Catchy headings, clean design and great content means that readers will always come back for more. It also has a unique way of writing some of its blog posts, and presents what's can sometimes be well-worn information in a fresh and interesting way.
Daily Blog Tips
It's not the fanciest blog around, but Daily Blog Tips isn't focused on aesthetics. Instead, it concentrates on content, pure and simple. It can go into detailed subjects and can be a little overwhelming, but you're always guaranteed quality content no matter what you read.
The marketing blog is always focused on providing useful content, but makes sure that its bright, colourful and provides many links within its articles to back up or flesh out its post.
Seth Godwin mightn't be a business or corporate brand, but what his blog offers is something that most blogs can only hope to emulate: personality. Every post from him is thoughtful and he always relate the subject matter to the reader and the individual.
Blogging With Amy
With both an impressive blog and active community, Amy Lynn Andrews blogs on a number of topics regularly, but also provides an in-depth tutorial for those who are starting to get to grip with blogging as a whole. For those who already know the lay of the land, they can just jump into the regular posts which both marketers and small businesses will find very useful.