There are, I am told, 200 million blogs online as I write. So does the world really need another?
You’ll find most marketing consultants will urge you to write a blog and the reasons are sound: blogs are great for search engine optimisation, they offer a chance to demonstrate thought leadership and they can be a good way of engaging with your audience.
But with 200 million others out there, many recycling the same old stuff, how can you stand out from the crowd? Here are some ideas.
Find a niche
One of my favourite clients is a mining executive firm. Their blog offers careers advice to candidates and HR guidance for employers. If they focused generally on interview techniques they’d struggle to find an audience. So every article is written with a mining audience in mind – and keyword optimised in the same way.
So a recent blog entry aimed at mining companies, ‘Great interview questions for mining project managers’ has not only been shared a couple of hundred times, it also helps get them found for the phrase ‘mining project managers’.
Of course you need to be able to demonstrate some expertise in your niche, but I’m assuming you chose your targets on the basis of what you know. The more refined your definition of your niche the easier it becomes to stand out – but the smaller your audience becomes. It’s a trade off worth considering.
There’s a case of cobblers’ children at work here of course. My niche is marketing support for SME executive search, interim management and recruitment firms, plus management and HR consultancies. Over the course of the next few entries I hope you’ll notice a subtle move in that direction in my blogs.
Have your own voice
In my first draft that subheading read ‘Have an authentic voice’. For someone who advocates the use of plain language that felt a little… unauthentic.
Find your own preferred way of expressing yourself and have an angle that differentiates you. I get pretty tired of blogs and other social media messages that repeat the same old content they’ve harvested from better sites. Although cynicism and humour need to be handled very carefully they can be differentiators in markets that tend to be reverential.
I was surprised one early morning to hear one of the best bits of modern marketing advice I’d heard on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day. The speaker said:
“In a world of likes, shares and retweets, people crave voices not echoes.”
Have confidence in your own voice rather than simply repeating other people.
Use long tail keywords
Your list of target keywords is not only a good focus for your writing, it can also provide inspiration for subjects and headlines.
Longer tail keywords (i.e. longer and more specific phrases than just one or two words) are more useful in this regard as they provide a definite guide for the blog. Getting started on a blog about ‘Interim Management in Social Services’ will spark off more ideas than ‘Interim Managers’.
And using longer tail keywords makes your blog easier to find for people with that particular area of interest.
Remember to use the long tail keywords in your title tags and metadata too – a subject for another day.
Inbound marketing is a somewhat misunderstood term that sometimes leads to expectations that ‘if you build it they will come’. Sure enough Google and the like will pick up a good blog but you need to be more proactive.
Announce each blog entry across all your professional social media feeds. On LinkedIn consider posting on your own timeline, on your company page and in groups. You might even consider posting an edited version on LinkedIn Pulse. I don’t recommend sharing exactly the same content across more than one site.
Consider putting summaries of your blogs in a regular newsletter sent to your database of contacts.
And ask people to share your blog on their social media channels as well. I’m often surprised by how few websites have social sharing buttons (with a count) next to each entry.
There may be 200 million blogs out there but I’m willing to bet most of them haven’t been updated in the last month. Simply by committing to writing regularly you’ll stand out from the crowd.
I recommend a minimum of one 500(ish) word blog every week. From personal experience I know that’s both (a) difficult and (b) possible if you put your mind to it. Make blogging a regular part of your schedule.
A content plan or strategy will help but it’s not essential. Often inspiration will strike and you simply have to get the idea down. So my advice is just write.
If there are a number of you in your team, rotate writing duties. But just write.
If you find someone who can write well and who ‘gets’ your business, consider using him or her as a ghostwriter. If you’re interested in that kind of support please give us a call or send an email.
(And aim to end each blog with a call to action).