The Importance of Blogging
Adam looks at what a blog could do for your business in this new post featuring Rock'n' Roll Bride, Kat Williams, and SEOMoz's Rand Fishkin.What will a Blog Achieve for my Business?
Web Logs, or Blogs as they are now known, started life back in the late 1990’s. A creative new platform granting users the opportunity to share their lives with the rest of the world. By 1999 blogging had hit the mainstream, becoming one of the most popular forms of creating and sharing content on the web. Throughout the “Naughties” the true power of blogging was unearthed, with blogs such as The Huffington Post and Mashable showing what could be achieved. As blogs evolved, businesses, marketers and advertisers opened their eyes to the benefits to be gained through properly harnessing this exciting platform.
And so here we are, 2012 and the vibrations of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates are still resonating throughout the web, echoing one clear message to every SEO, marketer and business online:Content...Content...Content...Content Why is Content King?
If you subscribe to any sort of SEO blog, or follow any SEOs or marketers through social media, you are bound to have heard the phrase “Content is King”. Over the past two years Google has been targeting sites that feature thin content, un-natural link profiles, over optimisation, are engaged in grey/black hat SEO and spam. To put it simply, low quality web sites.
These updates wiped out a whole host of techniques and tactics used by shady SEOs to improve keyword rankings. It was Google’s way of putting the foot down and saying “Game Over”.
Following this time of change the focus is now firmly on creating content. By Content we are referring to blog posts, videos, images, games, products, tools, software, anything that adds value to the web and its users. Search engines love fresh quality content, and reward it in many ways.
When we sign a new client at Ionic Media, be it for Web Design or Online Marketing, we always take the time to explain the current state of search, and recently this has been driving home the importance of quality content. We next explain to our client the importance of integrating a blog into their site. A common and understandable question that usually follows is:"What will a Blog Achieve for my Business?"
To answer that question I will look at three examples, from three blogs each at different stages in their lifecycle.
To begin with I am going to talk about this very blog.The Ionic Media blog
As a start-up agency we began our journey as a company 8 months ago from nothing. We launched our website, registered our social accounts and set up our blog. But we had no audience. This is a scenario that will be familiar to every start up. So what is important to remember is that building a strong and loyal audience takes time. I often refer to this post, “21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic 2012” by Rand Fishkin, in particular this image:
This is a screen shot taken from the Google Analytics account of Rand’s wife Geraldine’s blog The Everywhereist. I love this image as it clearly shows what can be achieved if you refuse to give up and keep working on your blog.
The Ionic Blog is very much in its infant stage, a baby blog if you will; on the image above we would be at the 3rd dot on the graph. However, our posts do get read and do get shared which in return improves the volume of traffic to our site as well as creating valuable links. We have had some great feedback and encouragement from many of our peers, as well as those we regard as industry leaders such as Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz and Oli Gardner of Unbounce.
As we continue to churn out our posts we have gradually seen our audience increase. More importantly, our audience consists of fellow industry peers and thought thinkers. To me it is more important to have a relevant audience, than a large audience. I always wanted the Ionic Blog to be a place that business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers, agencies and students could come learn, give advice, share and help others. I wanted to create a community, invite others to guest post and participate. This is beginning to take form, it is exciting to see and we will not give up, so again I can draw strength from the image above.
Our approach to our blog is very much the same we apply to the rest of our company; be transparent, be passionate, be human. What we have found is that by following this ethos, our posts take on an accessible tone, which alongside the information and advice we provide, adds value for our followers.
On a final note, we have actually had a number of enquiries through that have said they found us through one of our blog posts. Our blog allows potential clients to see exactly what kind of a company we are as well as displaying our knowledge and understanding of our services. This creates trust, respect and loyalty which makes for the best kind of business relationship. Now that can’t be a bad thing!Actions for a Baby Blog
- Write great posts that provide value to your readers
- Make your posts sharable by adding clear social sharing buttons
- Reach out to peers and those you admire for constructive criticism and advice
- Link to other sources and individuals in your posts
- Engage in Social Media to promote your posts
- Mention those you linked to using Twitter
- Share other people’s posts, and compliment them: create relationships
- Find other blogs similar to yours, and comment on their posts, if it will add value and continue discussion leave a link to your post
- Share your post using bookmarking sites such as Stumble Upon and Reddit
- Never give up, keep going, it will pay off
If you do all these things, and keep regularly updating your blog with superior content, like a child your blog will grow and develop its own personality and character. You will produce what I am coining an Adolescent blog, which brings us nicely to our next blog.Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride - An 'adolescent' blog
Photograph taken by David McNeil Photography
I first came across Kat Williams wedding blog Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride whilst searching for guest post opportunities for a client I had. As a metal-head this was the first wedding blog I had found that was different, it stood out and its clear to see why.
Kat started Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride back in October 2007 with the intention of being individual, or as she puts it:
“Rock n Roll Bride promotes individuality and general awesomeness within a cookie cutter, pastel and puke-worthy wedding world. Don’t let the wedding industry define your day – let *you* define your day.”
To say she has achieved her mission statement would be an understatement. In just over five years Kat has managed to achieve more with her blog than most would do in a life time. Her posts have been featured in many high profile publications such as Marie Claire Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, The British Journal of Photography, Perfect Wedding, Wedding Ideas, Wed Magazine, Southern Weddings Magazine (US), The Guardian Newspaper, and The Sunday Times Style Magazine (Ireland).
Kat also writes a monthly column for Photo Professional Magazine, and regularly contributes to Wedding Magazine, Vintage Life Magazine, Unique Bride Magazine and Perfect Wedding.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride has been recognised at many prestigious awards and was awarded; Best Wedding Blog by Cosmopolitan Magazine in their Blog Awards which took place in October 2011.Phew...just let me take a breather!.......
Rock ‘n’ Roll bride started as a 'baby' blog but has completely transformed Kat’s life, providing her with a full time job that she loves and is clearly passionate about. I’m sure Kat hit that point where she could have given up, but she didn’t, she pushed through and created something truly amazing, and that is reflected by those who follow her.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride has 20,575 followers on Twitter and 21,533 likes on Facebook. If you follow her on either you will see first-hand that her audience loves what she provides them. They are engaged and feel part of a community. They can communicate with Kat and she listens and responds. They are full of compliments and genuine admiration. All these things keep Kats audience loyal and coming back for more, because they can trust that what they get will be of value to them.So what is the Rock ‘n’ Roll factor that Kat possesses?
The success of Kat’s blog lies in one fundamental principle; she understands her audience.
Understanding your audience is the most important factor of any successful blog. Once you fully understand who visits your blog, why they visit your blog and what they take away from your blog, you can then tailor your blog to meet their expectations. You can deliver what they want, you can fulfil a need and create a blog that speaks directly to its audience.
However, in order to speak to your audience you must first listen to your audience and Kat excels at this. She truly engages with her followers, through the comments on her posts and through social media. She takes everything they say on board and goes above and beyond to create awesome posts, full of inspiring and unique photographs.
>As mentioned above, this is a full time job for Kat, and by full time I mean 24/7! I have been on Twitter late at night and Kat has still been posting and sharing. Blogs are hard work, building an audience like Kat’s takes extreme amounts of work, time and dedication. That’s why it is so important to love what you’re doing. The passion will not only keep you going, it will spill into everything you do, creating a better experience for you and your audience.Actions for an 'Adolescent' Blog
- Keep doing the baby blog actions
- Listen to your audience, ask them what they think or want
- Regularly engage with your audience through social media
- Take it offline, go to events, seminars, networking etc
- Be bold, seek features in magazines and other coverage
- Guest blog and allow others to guest blog
- Love what you do
By this stage your blog will demand a lot of your time, but the rewards will make it all worthwhile. Kat has featured on both UK and US television and radio, and has travelled around the world gaining new experiences and meeting many wonderful people. If Kat maintains her level of work and commitment to Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride it will continue to grow, opening new doors and opportunities along the way.
If you stick in there, put in the work and dedication your blog can actually become the central core of your entire business. That was certainly the case with the next blog we wil look at.The SEOmoz Blog
For those unaware SEOmoz is the leading blog within the SEO and Online Marketing industry. Founded by CEO Rand Fishkin the blog has grown to a monumental size with well over 250,000 active members, becoming the SEO and marketing industry’s No.1 resource. What SEOmoz has achieved is the creation of a loyal community. A community that shares ideas, helps one another; innovating and developing the online marketing industry along the way.
How has SEOmoz achieved this success?
Well I can’t answer that so I asked a man who could, Rand Fishkin.An interview with Rand Fishkin
Adam - How did you start the SEOmoz blog? Rand - “I first started SEOmoz as a blog on a .org domain (which it remains to this day!) as a way to share my learning’s in the field of SEO and hopefully get some feedback on the tactics I was pursuing. The blog and site eventually became a very popular site for professional SEOs and heralded our transition into the SEO consulting field and then the software world.”
Adam - What tactics were used to promote and establish SEOmoz’ audience? Rand - “A lot of participation in other communities and coverage/discussion of the ideas and questions sparked by those discussions. For example, there might be a big debate at a forum over certain SEO tactics, and I'd try to summarize the opinions and include my own $0.02 on the SEOmoz blog. This drew in many audiences from other communities prior to the existence of social media sites like Twitter & Facebook.”
Adam - How did the SEOmoz team manage to keep its audience engaged and coming back for more? Rand - “A lot of community moderation, a good number of devoted members commenting intelligently on posts, and consistently solid content from multiple perspectives. That, along with sharing our learning’s very transparently and never holding back on information made SEOmoz a popular destination. Most professional SEOs at the time hoarded knowledge and kept their "secrets" secret. By doing the opposite, we became a unique source of data and experiences for a wide variety of folks.”
Adam - When did SEOmoz reach a larger audience, what caused the growth? Rand - “I'd say we're still fairly niche - it's more that the SEO industry has grown enormously and the number of digital marketers tasked with SEO has become millions of individuals rather than the thousands when we started. Our growth has paralleled the industry's and it's a strong indication to me that focusing on a growing niche is a great way to build success, particularly if you can become a popular destination early in the lifecycle of that niche and maintain relevancy/value as it grows.”
Adam - How many visits to your blog do you receive on average per month? Rand - “We receive ~2mm visits total to SEOmoz.org, but the blog specifically received 648,820 pageviews in July 2012.”
Adam - What benefits do you think blogging has for business? Rand - “For us, the blog is the centrepiece of everything we've done. Through the community the blog, YOUmoz and Q+A built, we get tremendous feedback on our products and data. We're able to attract new customers at a fraction of the cost of paid acquisition-focused vendors. We have evangelists and customer advisors and critics and everything a business needs in their industry to grow, learn, and thrive. It's now up to us to execute on the vision they've helped us create.”
Adam - What is the future of blogging? Rand - “Blogging will continue to grow, much as it has this past decade. As mobile consumption continues, responsive design will increase in value. RSS will continue to be essential to reach third-party readers and apps. Social media and blogging will continue to intersect as we've seen with Disqus and Facebook comments. But blogging will fundamentally be about creativity, quality, and building a brand your audience respects and wants to share.”To sum up...
So let’s now re-visit that question: What will a Blog Achieve for my Business? Your blog will be exactly what you make of it, if you spend the time, put in the work and completely dedicate yourself to its success then you can achieve anything. I for one will be working hard on our blog, and I hope that the stories and insights within this post will have sparked a fire in you to do the same.
Finally I would just like to shout out a big thank you to Kat Williams and Rand Fishkin for participating in this post, it has been great fun writing and as well as being a fantastic learning experience!