First there was blogging, and then ICQ, Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and Vine… well, you get the idea. Few people would deny that social media plays an extremely important role in content marketing. But some are so intent on being ahead of the curve, catching the next social media wave, that they’ve neglected their blogs—and blogs remain the foundation for building a strong online presence.
That’s not to say that those other platforms aren’t important—they are. But blogging provides SEO and relationship building benefits that simply can’t be matched by other forms of online communication.
Relationships with Your Target Audience
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are exceptional ways to give your audience access to quick snippets of information and up your ability to engage with them, but blogging offers the opportunity to share more immersive, meaningful content.
Whose Content Do You Want to Share?
Think about your personal relationships with friends and family. It’s likely that you connect with your personal network online as well as in person, and it’s also likely that you have contacts with whom you communicate strictly via social media comments and app requests. While this latter group is part of your network, which group would you say you have a stronger connection with? The first, naturally—because those social media connections are used to supplement a relationship built on deeper, more meaningful communication.
You can certainly use social media to link your network to meaningful information—but it’s far more advantageous to link them to meaningful content you’ve produced yourself—and blogging offers the simplest, most engaging method for doing that. Remember, your goal with social media should be to touch base with your audience, remind them of your value in their network, and encourage them to visit your website. Social media isn’t the end-game; it’s a step to get there. If you’re using social media to link only to your website and to content produced by others, you’re wasting an opportunity to promote yourself, and you’re turning yourself into a middle man whose primary value is being a stepping stone to other content.
Naturally, sharing meaningful content that others have created is an important part of networking, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t share the limelight with your own blog—and lots of reasons you should.
Don’t Just Point to Meaningful Content—Provide it.
Providing your audience with quality, original content is one of the best relationship-building strategies you can engage in online. It proves your value to your audience directly, before asking them to commit to purchasing your products or services, and here’s how it does so:
Blogging proves to your audience that you aren’t just able to recognize great information, you’re a source of it.
Linking to other articles and information might make you an interesting contact, but when you link to other blogs and content providers, your audience will start visiting those sources directly. That’s fine, as long as you can provide an unlimited stream of unique sources. Hint: You probably can’t. By having a high-quality blog, you’ve guaranteed that you have original content for your audience.
Blogging provides a platform for sharing your message directly, and in-depth.
When you link only to content created by others, you’re diluting your message; you’re presenting it in a piecemeal manner and expecting your audience to put it together. Why make them work for it, and why risk being misinterpreted, when you can refine and present your message in a direct, cohesive manner using your own original content?
Blogging gives you the opportunity to expand upon your message in an organized, engaging way, to establish continuity between the ideas you’re sharing with your network, and it provides them with a constantly available, easily accessible resource for the information you share.
Blogging is the best way to establish your brand identity and your position in the industry.
You want to be an industry leader, and it’s important that your audience views you as one, and for that, you need to provide original content in a professional manner. In short, you need to blog. Well-written articles demonstrate value, professionalism, and knowledge. They establish to your audience that you’re a skilled and contributing member of your industry.
Using professional presentation methods to provide your audience with information they can get nowhere else also establishes that’s you’re not just a savvy follower of trends. You set the trends, and this will be even more obvious to your audience when they see your content being linked elsewhere.
Blogging gives you the chance to build relationships with other bloggers.
You won’t find yourself guest-blogging on other industry leading blogs unless you have one of your own, and you can’t invite other influential members of your industry to write for you unless you have a platform on which to publish it. No man is an island, and that’s never been more true than now. Like it or not, audiences look at who your connections are to determine your value, and in an age where a colleague may have thousands of Facebook friends, that’s simply not enough to establish to your audience that your connection with them is meaningful one.
You have to demonstrate that your opinions are influential, and that those with influential opinions have you on their short-list—blogging can do this in a way that social media simply cannot.
Blogging can provide substantial, interactive, multi-media content in a way that other platforms can’t.
Your weekly blogpost can contain anything you like—you’re not limited to 140 characters, you’re not limited by what Facebook has determined your audience’s newsfeed should contain that day, you’re not limited to six seconds of video—you set your own limits. Your blog can be a multimedia presentation including well-written text, video, images, games—whatever you want. And your audience can comment, interact with you, and interact with one another.
Blogs create a lasting presence, lasting value, and give your audience content they can share.
One of the nicer things about keeping an eye on one’s blog stats is seeing a post from six months or two years ago suddenly go viral again (or for the first time). Blogging establishes you as a digital citizen, not just another flash in the pan social media star. While shorter forms of social media communication let you post content more frequently, your blog provides your audience with a permanent resource—and it’s one that’s valuable not only because it provides them with information, but because they can share your content with others. And that, of course, benefits you as well. Whether it’s a network of followers spreading each new post far and wide, or a steady trickle of incoming visitors who have stumbled upon a link from one of your contacts, your blog helps you connect with more potential clients and fans.
If your website is your online shop or office, your blog is your home online.
Blogging and SEO
Blogging is—without a doubt—the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to search engine optimization for your website. It provides you with ongoing opportunities to use SEO keywords in a meaningful, dynamic context, and it provides you with a hub for creating links between all of your different web presences, including your website.
Search Engine Optimization Tips for Bloggers
Produce meaningful, audience-oriented content
First things first—always ensure that the content you post is geared toward your audience. SEO strategies should be applied with a light touch for best effect. Keyword stuffing and formulaic, repetitive content might (but probably won’t) fool search engines briefly, but they certainly won’t fool readers into staying on your blog or clicking links, they won’t encourage your readers to link back to you, and they certainly won’t encourage repeat visitors. The SEO techniques and tips we share are meant to be incorporated into quality content, not replace it.
Use titles to make a good first impression on search engines and readers.
Make sure your titles pack a one-two punch by being intriguing to your audience and by incorporating one of your primary keywords. Take a little extra time to create a title that’s truly compelling—unique, informative, and with a touch of humor or emotion. Think of each blog title as the handshake you share at the beginning of a conversation with a new potential member of your network. It’s only a momentary contact, but it sets the tone for the rest of your interaction with one another.
Ensure your permalinks include blog titles.
You’ll get more of an SEO boost if your permalinks include your post titles—because, as you’ll remember, you’ve included one of your primary keyword phrases. Search engines do take note of the URL as well as the post title. There’s an added bonus to this as well—when your audience shares your links, they’ll often use the full URL, which gives others a quick preview of what’s to come if they didn’t include the title.
Write your own meta descriptions.
While search engines will provide a snippet or, sometimes, correctly plug your blog description into the search results, your best bet for ensuring compelling descriptions is to write them yourself. Good blogging platforms will provide you with a field to include meta descriptions for your site, pages, posts, and images—use them! Again, approach these with an audience-oriented goal in mind, and incorporate keywords artfully.
There are two goals here: First, you want your site to be enjoyable and easy to navigate for your readers. That’s a given. Second, good internal linking will also boost your SEO efforts.
Enhance your text content with multimedia extras.
Readers love high-quality, relevant images and video—and so do search engines. Again, include meta-descriptions when possible to maximize results. \
Make sure you’re optimized for mobile viewing.
More people than ever before are using mobile devices as their go-to for browsing, and that’s especially true when it comes to blogging. On the bus on the way to work, with a cup of coffee and an iPad in the early morning, waiting for a meeting to get started—mobile devices make your blog accessible anytime, anywhere. Be prepared to take advantage of that, and you’ll boost your site visitors and in turn your search engine results.
Remember: optimizing for your audience is search engine optimization, too.
Notice a theme with these tips? That’s right—most of these SEO tips are also great tips for making your blog more accessible, more audience-friendly, more engaging, and more informative. You don’t have to be an SEO wizard to maintain a blog that search engines will notice. It’s a misconception that was born in era of keyword stuffing and black hat SEO, but times have changed. SEO has become extremely sophisticated—not extremely complicated. By sophistication, we mean that search engines have gotten better at identifying quality content that appeals to audiences.
Social media contact is great—and necessary, but content creation is the backbone of maintaining an online presence that does your brand justice, cements relationships with your followers, and expands your audience.
Blogging is, without a doubt, the best way to present that content. Your blog is your opportunity to demonstrate your value, on your terms, to your audience, and it creates a digital footprint that will boost your website’s presence online in a way that no other strategy can compete with.
If you have a blog that’s been neglected—revive it! If you don’t have one yet, there’s no time to start like today. That’s another beautiful thing about blogging; a great blog takes very little investment to start up, and can be continually and constantly improved upon to offer your audience more. And the more you offer, the greater the chance your audience will turn to you to provide them with the information, products, and services they’re looking for. Start blogging, and start today!
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