I’m carrying on from my previous post about the importance of business blogging. Today, I’ll be going through aspects of marketing a business blog online. I would be covering:
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO),
- Social Media Marketing and
- Online communications
I think these three aspects are the pillars of marketing a blog online. Remember that editorial aspects of blogging were covered in the first part of this series. The Golden Rule – To keep content flowing and consistent, always have a well thought & planned editorial schedule for you blog.
The key question I attempt to answer in this post is -
If I just started a blog for my business, what should be the first line of action for creating awareness & marketing it?
From a non-technical viewpoint, start with publicising your blog both through online & offline communications. Launching a Press Release (PR) would be the obvious starting point. If you have a PR agency handling your PR, be sure to let them know about the launch of your new blog and include Online PR as part of the release channels. If you however handle you PR internally, then there are a plethora of Online PR websites that your announcement can be published to; top on my list would be
- PRLog (which is free),
- PR Web (a paid service with very decent coverage) &
- PR Newswire ( a paid service and one of the most expensive but highly extensive coverage)
Here is an extensive list of free PR websites – my advice would be to submit your release to no more than two good online PR sites.
Getting to announce your new blog is important for generating an audience at the early stages of publishing. It is indeed quite a refreshing feeling having a readership at the early stages of publishing; especially when you have a well planned schedule in place.
Other means of announcing your blog online are:
- Emailing your subscribers or customers
- Featuring your blog on your main website (be sure to make it prominent on your main site – I would advice including is as part of your website’s navigational structure) and
- Add your blog to your email signature and all marketing communication media you use both off and online
There might be other methods you can employ – think out of the box. Even employ some Guerrilla Marketing to reach your target market cheaply.
Social Media Marketing
Most blogs (if not all blogs) are setup to reflect the views of the author or a business. A blog steps out of the formal confines of a corporate website tends to emit; it is a more conversational platform on the web. Social Media Marketing is therefore a perfect fit with blogging.
I would strongly advice you have a Social Media Marketing Strategy in place before the launch of your site.
You need to plan out how you intend to promote your blog online through socialising and interacting with other people, networks and blogs online. The primary idea behind behind Social media is building a followership by adding value across the web.
Blogging is actually a channel of Social Media Marketing. A single post would not be enough to cover all aspects of Social Media Marketing. But as a summary here is a checklist to get you started:
Reach out to other bloggers in the blogosphere – don’t email them asking for link swaps as they would tend to ignore such requests. Rather, email or contact major blog personalities in the your industry requesting for an interview (either email interview or podcast interview). This is a gesture of goodwill that would add value to their online personality and could also lead to a mention of their interview on your blog to their already established audience.
Remember to collaborate in any way possible so as to reach out – look at it this way; most organisations have interns who eventually turn out to be full staff after paying their dues. In the same vain, starting out blogging in a new industry requires you in a way to pay your dues in order to be picked up.
Depending on the type of blog you are building choose some social media sites you would like to promote some (not all) of your blog posts to. If you do not have the time, I would suggest you hire a Social Media Marketing consultant to guide and help you with marketing on Social media sites as it is quite a time consuming exercise. Here are a list of sites you should consider:
- Join MyBlogLog
- Add your blog to your LinkedIn profile (if you have one),
- Create a Facebook or LinkedIn group
- Start a Twitter account and communicate with personalities in your industry
- Submit your site to social bookmarking sites like Delicious, Digg, Reddit & Stumbleupon.
For any of the above to work, you have to dedicate some time an effort towards adding value to the platforms you choose. When you join the above networks, do not just submit and leave their sites as this never works. You would actually need to contribute to each of the virtual social communities, build relationships and leverage your relationships to help your site or blog – which to me is pure social media networking and marketing.
Bear in mind that social networks can generate enormous amounts of traffic to your blog and in many cases kick start readership and followership at its early stages. Your social media efforts would most often not generate direct business but would help increase the profile and search engine visibility of your blog.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is probably the most overrated buzzword on the web at the moment – it is yet crucial to the survival of several businesses in today’s world. Some businesses would not survive yet alone exist without Google rankings. It is important not only to build a following from humans but also one from all major search engines (especially the almighty Google).
Depending on what blog platform you would be using, it is essential that the following steps are taken for basic level search engine optimisation. Also download the the Google SEO Starter Guide (PDF):
Embark on some keyword research using Google Insights to determine ‘what the world actually searches for’ – one of my clients started off her blog optimising for a totally unpopular keyword.
- Ensure that every page and post on your blog has unique value on the following HTML tags: TITLE, META DESCRIPTION & KEYWORDS & H1-6 tags
- If your blogging software permits, ensure you utilise search engine readable URLs
- Set up an XML sitemap
- Interlink between articles
- Tag images with proper descriptions
- Update your blog regularly with fresh content
- List your blog on blog directories (most of which are free but might require a reciprocal link)
Once you ensure all of the above actions have been taken; my golden rule for SEO on your blog is unique quality content. After posting an article, always ask yourself if the article quality was good enough to get picked up by other bloggers, websites or even the press in a bid to link back to you. Do not remanufacture the news – at the information age we currently are in, news gets syndicated across hundreds and thousands of sites. Rather put a spin on the news – be controversial; you can write guides or HOWTOs; don’t be afraid to give you expertise in your area of knowledge in form a guides. They at the end add value and would ensure people link back to you, which raises the profile of your blog and forms the real online marketing of your blog.