Blogging for business: Top tips

Many franchisees and owners of small businesses are now writing blogs about their daily life in a bid to publicise their products and services.  Here, Jessica Hodkinson, online PR and social media consultant at agency Blueclaw, gives some tips to bloggers keen to make their mark and bring in extra traffic to their ventures.

Many franchisees and owners of small businesses are now writing blogs about their daily life in a bid to publicise their products and services.  Here, Jessica Hodkinson, online PR and social media consultant at agency Blueclaw, gives some tips to bloggers keen to boost their SEO (search engine optimisation) and bring more traffic to their websites.

1.  Make sure your website links directly to your blog.  In an ideal world, your website 's blog should reside in an easy-to-remember address such as website.com/blog/.  Make sure you have links to this page from your website's home page or, better still, link to it from your main website navigation to ensure that the search engines can view your content.  As your blog's default installation doesn't link back to your website's home page by default, make sure there is some way to navigate back into your main website.

2.  Create search friendly URLs. When clicking around your blog, does the website address bar display URLs like website.com/blog/?id=123454&cat=34244? If so, then your website isn't correctly configured to maximise its search engine performance in Google and other search engines.  Simply log into your control panel and click to Settings > Permalinks to fix this.  In the box labelled ''Custom Structure'' enter /%category%%postname/. Now your website page addresses will look more like this: website.com/blog/news/great-news-for-our-customers/

3. Do your keyword research.  Matching your blog posts to keywords that could potentially drive traffic is one of the major benefits of blogging as it enables you to attract custom for terms that would be difficult to work into corporate websites.   Use the free Google Adwords Keywood Tool (http://adwords.google.co.uk/select/KeywordTool/External) to look up keywords to integrate into your posts.  You can even back-track through old posts and edit them to be more effective.

4. Work your keywords into your post titles.  Post titles are by far the most important factor of your blog posts.  In addition to making them inspirational and informative, try to insert keywords from your keyword research to help improve their search engine effectiveness.

5. Don't kill your slugs.  A slug is the address or your blog post on the site, such as website.com/blog/this-is-a-slug/.  Slugs are typically created from your article titles, but many blog systems truncate slugs making them unreadable by removing words such as ''and'', ''or'', etc.  Keep your slugs small, and, if possible, use the keyword to which you have aligned the target article.

6.  Keep your ego in check.  Don't just write about your business.  Google prefers blog content thtat talks about newsworthy topics within your industry.  Remember you can and should in k out to third party websites which contain the subject of, or reinforce your blog post's content – just don't link to yor competitors (news sources are fine) and use the anchor text (the clickable text in a link) ''read more'' as opposed to using a keyword.

7.  Link to your content.  When content has been discussed that relates back to your products or services make sur you add a link back into your commercial content.  This helps Google identify this as the most credible page on your site for each keyword.  Just make sure that your links are consistent and that only one ''product page'' os related to any one keyword.

8.  A picture speaks a thousand words.  Don't forget to add images into your blog posts.  This helps to break up your text and potentially makes the blog post look more considered.  Just make sure you don't use copyright images – instead look to sites such as sxc.hu where you can download many royalty free images.

9.  Kill the competition.  Make sure your blog categories and blog posts don't compete with the commercial content of your website, e.g. don't have a blue widget post or category and a page on your website selling blue widgets.  This helps Google identify what page is most relevant to what topic and helps keep your commercial content stronger than your supporting blog content.

10.  Think like a news broadcast.  Google loves long blog posts.  To keep your blog posts as lengthy as possible with a mimimum of effort think like a news broadcast.  News broadcasts typically tell you a story in three sections, an introduction, the news item and finally a summary of what has been said.  Repeating this formula in your blog posts means you can easily improve your keyword use in yor blog and provide informative content.

Bonus – Check your Google Analytics account and see what keywords drive traffic to your blog posts.  Then revisit these posts and change the titles to broaden or lighten the keyword relevancy to suit.  Just make sure your slugs remain the same.

 





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