4 Reasons For Small Businesses to (Still) Blog

In today’s busy world (online and offline), it’s not uncommon to think of shortcuts or things that can be cut out completely. Unfortunately, blogging isn’t something that can or should be swept under the rug. Despite blogging’s diminished role in SEO, its still useful, especially for small businesses. Here are 4 good reasons you should still continue business blogging:

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1) Increase website traffic

Blogging is a good way to regularly publish time-sensitive content. This is important as it encourages readers to come back and check for new posts. Readers that spend time on the blog are more likely to click through and visit other portions of your website. Search engines also appreciate frequent blog posts. But remember that quality trumps quantity. It’s better to produce 1 or 2 good posts a week, rather than aim for blogging every day, or even every other day!

Blogging allows you to cover topics related to the main pages on your website. This means that you can cover small topics or go more in-depth into another topic. Although this might not be appropriate on your main website, it’s perfectly suited for a blog post.

2) Helps your website get crawled and indexed faster by Google

Having a blog attached to your site, whether its /blog or blog.domain.com, will essentially help your website get crawled and indexed faster than just a static web page without a blog. Because of the time-sensitive nature of blogs, search engines tend to crawl and index them faster. This is good because Google will recognize your current blog posts more quickly. And it will also recognize and help with optimization when crawling links to the pages on your site.

3) Gives you content to share on social media

Don’t be dead in the water when it comes to social media. If you’re feeling burnt out and tired of sharing the same old pages to your website, think of how your followers will feel. Blog posts are often fuel that feeds the fire and keeps your social media updates steadily streaming. Sharing these posts can lead to engagement, increase in brand awareness, and blog/website traffic growth.

4) Involve your community and peers

Engagement is a huge driving point of blogging for small businesses. Whether it’s an additional “Like”, comment, or a potential employee visiting your blog and liking what they see, having an updated blog is key to any business’ online marketing campaign.

Activity on your blog or social media shares, helps your business be part of the online community. You can extend that reach to real life because your blog gives you the opportunity and platform to post about causes or local charities or even other businesses that you’re passionate about. Blogging (and social media updates) about your favorite coffee shop or pizza place down the street helps give readers something they can relate to and connect with. With that being said, here’s a shout out to all the great restaurants in Eagle Rock. Don’t be afraid to show your local pride!

Get Over Your Blog Hangups and Start (or Continue) Today!

The hardest part of blogging for your business is setting aside time to do it. Remember, it’s not about trying to write for search engines. Appeal to your readers! So, try to fit blogging into your busy schedule or let us know if you need help!

* Awesome shirt courtesy of this site.

How to Increase Your Blogging Productivity

Writer’s block happens to the best and worst of us. Whether you’re feeling uninspired, burned out or literally burned (high of 100 degrees in Los Angeles yesterday!), it’s understandable that you might not be as productive as you would like. Having a routine and using tools and keeping track of your ideas will help you get through the writing slog.

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What Happens When I Can’t Think of Anything to Write?

So, you’re in the writing mode but you don’t have a topic – that’s the worst. Blogging doesn’t happen all of a sudden without planning and thought. Usually, you don’t just sit down at the computer as words magically come flowing through to the screen from your keyword.

Prepping beforehand saves a lot of time and stress. Using this approach, you can keep a list of possible topics ready in your back pocket. Have this list easily accessible so that you can add to it anytime inspiration strikes. It can be kept in your email, document on your desktop, in your moleskin notebook or favorite productivity application, like Evernote. Making note keeping a habit will help your blogging in the long run.

Surf with Purpose

If you don’t have a topic list to fall back on, that’s ok too. Browsing for writing inspiration also doubles for doing research. Having a purpose to your research/browsing will help you narrow in on a topic, instead of drifting around the internet aimlessly for hours with no real results. This means no visiting Pinterest, Cracked, Buzzfeed, or even YouTube unless you absolutely need too! Instead, sites like Inc and LifeHacker are productive, stimulating and share time-sensitive stories… all of which can help you come up with a blog topic or further continue your blogging.

How Can I Boost My Blog’s Visibility?

The idea of getting your blog out in front of a bigger audience can be an inspiring thing in itself! Writing for people is important but your blog posts alone can’t get more visitors. Blogs don’t exist in a standalone bubble. Here are some basic things that you can add to your list to help with visibility:
– Think in Q&A terms and answer questions that you have searched for yourself (Think Google Hummingbird)
– Share your blog posts and link when possible and appropriate: linked to social media accounts, pushed in newsletters, sent to friends and family.
– Share even more on blog specific sites such as Blog Catalog, AllTop, Inbound, Patch and more.
– Check news sites, Google Trends, and Twitter Trending Topics for ideas on what people are talking about and searching for.

Keep on, Keepin’ On

Blogging more can help you become a better and more consistent writer. Even when there are days you don’t want to write or boring topics that you don’t really want to expand on, you should push through it. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…” and blogging might fall under that category, but it’s worth it!

Blog Topic Ideas for Boring Industries

Blogging might not be what it used to be. But in terms of keeping your website fresh (for on-site blogs) and social signals, blogs are still an important part of SEO. The hardest part about keeping up with your blogging schedule is probably setting aside the time and being able to fill that space with something unique and meaningful. Sure, writing about fashion, video games and technology is great. But what about the “boring” industries? This can especially be a challenge fields such as healthcare, financial or e-commerce. Here are a few ideas to inspire you to blog more, even if the industry can bore you to tears!

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Explain what you do in layman’s terms-

As an expert in your field, this is an easy way to show what you know, while addressing things that matter. Explaining hard-to-explain topics in a simple way is appealing to readers and will encourage them to 1) stay on site longer 2) finish what they’re reading. At the same time, it gives you space to write about things that should be common knowledge and dispel myths. This is great for seemingly boring topics that really are important, such as insurance and taxes.

Case study-

A case study gives potential customers something to relate to. They want to see a problem that they can related to and what type of solution there is. But it’s not just as simple as the before and after. The process of how you approached the situation and obstacles you overcame are also meaningful. The devil’s in the details!

Blurb from authoritative source-

Think YMYL content. For serious industries, it’s hard not to write about fluff without directly giving readers any type of legal, medical, or financial advice. In order to boost your credibility, you can get a direct quote or blurb from the doctor, lawyer or other specialist and write a blog post around this. This method will have real content/advice that you can expand on in a blog or even a series of posts.

Interview style-

Interviewing someone at your company gives potential customers a better idea of what your company represents. It also gives you a reason to blog because it’s interesting, as well as SEO-friendly. A short blog post can help your customers get to know any employee better and give them a good reason to choose your company over a competitor. The human touch is something that differentiates your brand and it can’t be copied or duplicated!

Off tangent but close enough to be related-

Every once in awhile, you’re going to lose track in blogging or fall off-topic. But that’s ok! “Interesting” blog posts that are social media-friendly are definitely encouraged. Whether it’s tying your industry to an up and coming movie or book, it’s useful to tie your business into something in pop culture that more people can understand and relate to. The tie in is most important and should give them a reason for reading. Don’t forget a call to action involving social networking!

Tweet us @emarketed and let us know if you have any blogging tips for boring industries!

Google and Guest Blogging

First, it was My Blog Guest, now it’s PostJoint. Google is taking down major guest blogging networks and making an example of them… no matter how large, reputable, or clean they seem to be. As Matt Cutts explained on his Twitter account, “any link or guest blog network that claims to have “zero footprints” is waving a giant red flag.” If you’re considering continuing guest blogging, it’s time to take a hint and proceed with caution.

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Google’s Reasoning

Google has always frowned upon tactics and networks that work to manipulate search rankings. From their point of view, guest blogging networks have been taking advantage of search engines for awhile now. This means that networks/communities who have participated have received an unnatural and unwarranted boost to their website rankings. In order to restore the natural order of ranking results, Google has imposed a manual penalty against the network PostJoint.

Why The Penalties?

One (or a few) good, relevant and meaningful blog posts are beneficial to the writer, reader and website where the blog is posted. BUT when this turns into an aggressive tactic that is overused, it’s no longer fair. Too much of something is never a good thing, especially in Google’s eyes. They want links to be earned fairly. In many cases, some website owners have relied on guest blogging as a main factor of their SEO campaign. Posting your blog posts on a variety of websites seems to be desirable so that you can diversify the domains pointing to your website. But the point is that Google wants these links to be earned, not bought.

Are Guest Blog Posts Still Viable for SEO?

When Google speaks out against something, it’s generally a good idea to pay attention and listen. In this case, Matt Cutts basically said that guest blogging is dead. You shouldn’t invest a majority of your SEO efforts into guest blogging. You shouldn’t rely on follow links in guest blogs to give your site boost. This is where Google has a problem with guest posts. Even so, guest blogging is not entirely dead. As Matt Cutts continues, “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.

If you have questions about guest blog posts, contact us for more information about business blogging.

3 Essential Elements of the Perfect Blog Post

The fine art of blogging incorporates creativity, organization, discipline and actual writing. Sometimes, writer’s block can take a hold but remind yourself of one thing: you can pull through it!

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Headline

Interesting blog headlines are compelling, magnetic, intriguing and meaningful. Check out 6 Lessons for Writing Irresistibly Magnetic Blog Post Headlines for tips on how to craft an engaging headline. Along with an eye catching title, a headline has to deliver what you promise. There’s nothing more underwhelming and disappointing than a blog article that fails to deliver.

Content

Content is king. But is what you have to say meaningful? Content should answer a question and you can elaborate with proof, reasoning or anecdotes. It can also open up to related topics or pose more questions, which you can answer in a series of blog posts.

Content in a blog post matters because of the timeliness of the topic that you’re writing about. What you wrote 2 years ago can be different than what is relevant today. Which brings about another point… as you should often rewrite and rework website content, don’t be afraid to add to and update blog content. If you have a certain blog post that has achieved a healthy PageRank, many comments or views, you can certainly go back and improve it. This is a great opportunity to turn your blog posts into “evergreen” content.

Call to Action

The end to your beginning. The cherry on the sundae. A call to action persuades the reader to do something, anything! Signup for your newsletter, Like the blog post, call a phone number, fill out a form, download a white paper, RT, and more. A blog post doesn’t mean much if you don’t ask something of your readers. This doesn’t mean asking them to make a purchase in every post, but rather, give them something to think about and take away. An interesting blog post will leave a good impression and encourage readers to come back for more.

Let us know what you consider when writing the “perfect” blog post and let us know what you would like to see more of on our own blog! Visit our Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/emarketed

The Power of Conversational Blogging

Using conversation in blogs is helpful in many different ways. From first grabbing a reader’s attention, to encouraging them to finish reading and share, conversation is key to good content. Here are a few more reasons you should use the “conversation” style in some of your blog posts:

conversation

Easy to read

Short posts, personal stories and recaps of any kind can all benefit from being written in a conversational style. The simplicity of writing as if you were speaking draws more attention to your message and purpose. People enjoy reading blog posts that are easy to digest and finish. Some people don’t even bother to read the story if they’re drawn in by a catchy headline! Conversational writing helps get people interested. When you’re conversing with someone, you want to keep them there until the thought is finished.

Appeal to more readers

Posts that are written in a conversational manner appeal to a broader audience because they are easier to understand. The topic doesn’t really matter, since you can pretty much put any topic into layman’s terms that almost everyone can understand. The appeal of a conversational piece of content is that it includes everyone and makes them feel important, instead of confused or left out because they don’t understand the concepts or language.

SEO and Google Hummingbird friendly

Long tail search and Google Hummingbird was created with conversational queries in mind. Instead of appealing to awkward keyword terms, Google prefers it when sites optimize for natural keywords. This means queries that would be asked as if you were talking to another person. So the “old” way to optimize would be targeting “Los Angeles cronut bakery”. Now, you would write and optimize for “what bakeries in Los Angeles sell cronuts?”.

Engage and continue the conversation on social media

After reading a good conversational piece, readers will want to do just that – take the conversation elsewhere. Conversational blogs leave space for answers, opinions and everything in between. This gives readers a chance to express themselves and post their own response to your conversational piece. These types of blogs will generate Likes, Comments and even Likes on Comments on Facebook! All these social signals add up quickly and the numbers will be associated with the popularity and relevance of your website/blog.

Easier to write

If all else fails, writing in the conversational tone is just plain easier! Thoughts and ideas come out easier and they words are conveyed just how you mean for them to come out. There’s no need for complex analogies or a fancy thesaurus. Easy blogs mean that you’ll enjoy writing more. Writing more encourages you to be more active and share on social and get new ideas to help improve your website. It all comes full circle and goes back to what matters most – your website.

Join the conversation by visiting our Facebook Page today! https://www.facebook.com/emarketed

Dear Blog, Are You There? It’s Me…

Over the past few years, blogging has changed and so have my thoughts on it. Starting my 6th year on this blog, it’s nostalgic to look back and reminisce about the past. Most notably, when comparing blogging best practices.

blog-writing

An exercise used in writing is what you would tell your younger self. Sure, it’s an activity mostly used for diaries or journals but it can also apply to blogs. Why not? Here are 5 things I would tell my younger self about blogging.

1) It’s not all about keywords

Short-tail and broad keywords have been targeted since blogging was first associated with SEO. It was all about using and repeating keywords in a blog post. Nowadays, that is seen as overoptimization.

Instead of pushing certain keywords, it’s a good rule of thumb to target long tail and more “conversational queries”. This includes answering FAQs and common questions. They key here is to focus on content as a whole rather than keywords on their own.

2) Links aren’t everything

Links and keywords used to go hand in hand. As often as you could push desired keywords, it was about getting links. More links with more exact match keywords was once a good thing and the ultimate goal of why blogs were used in SEO. Nowadays, we certainly know better and that this can lead to an unnatural link warning.

Natural links aren’t solicited or paid for. Instead, the idea is to build good content so that people will want to share it naturally.

3) Blogs are an extension of your brand’s personality

In the past, blogs were hardly thought of to convey any human aspect of a business. Blogs were strictly meant for business and part of the SEO process. Today, blogs consist of more than just keywords and links. We want blogs to be found, read and shared. This means posting things that aren’t necessarily just for SEO purposes. Posting about events, company news and just your own personal thoughts are a different way to incorporate a human touch in a business blog.

4) Think about cross promotion

At one time, blogs were seen as a standalone cog in the SEO wheel. It was something you did and left alone once you were finished with writing. Now that social media marketing is growing in importance, we know that blogs can play a crucial role in that strategy – content creation. Social media thrives on sharing content and blogs should provide fresh content that can keep the conversation flowing.

Blogs were once something built to bring in customers, which (trust me) isn’t going to happen with a little pull. Now, blogs give readers a reason to read, research and share. Blog readers aren’t going to just come across a badly written blog. Luckily today, the mentality for blogging and social media helps a great deal in exposure.

5) Google is going to change more than you think!

Over the years, it can be argued that blogs have dwindled in importance. They once counted for and played a huge role in ranking for desired key terms. Because those processes have been abused and spam, it’s time that Google looks at blogs in a different light. This is why Google updates have also targeted unnatural blog strategies (excessive guest blogging, blog/link schemes and advertorials).

Although this seems like a disparaging way to look at blogs, the twist is in how blogs have changed. Blogs play a different role by helping a business get discovered and are seen as a signal of trust and authority.

Lessons Learned

Part of growing up is recognizing change and applying that on how to better yourself in the future. Blogs have given us all a lot more to think about in these past few years. And you can expect it to grow again soon. Try this exercise out for yourself and let us know what you came up with. Follow us and Tweet us @emarketed.

5 Reasons to Be Thankful for Blogs This Holiday Season

Blogs are more than just fleeting posts that get published and are forgotten. Posts allow writers to share their passion and readers to spread the word about things that they’re truly interested in. Although it’s easy to overlook blogs during the busy holiday season, they do a lot for us on the SEO world. Let’s take a look at 5 ways you can better appreciate blog posts in 2014:

christmas-tree

1) Series of Posts

If you get the urge to write non-stop on a particular topic, breaking it up into a series of posts will help bring variety to your blog. Having several different related blog posts will  help fill our your writing schedule, so you don’t feel like you’re stuck or have run out of things to write about.

Having a part 2, B or deux will help bring readers back for more. Particularly if you have a great topic, such as: top SEO errors, effective social media campaigns of 2013, top CMS design templates etc. Bringing in more clicks and building up anticipation is a one of the best strategies for your blog.

2) Long Form Content

On the other hand, sometimes you just need to have all important questions and answers all in one place. This is where a long form blog post comes in handy.

Integrating long blog posts in a mix of short posts, is an important part of giving readers variety, as well as search engines variety in the length of content to crawl. It looks more natural to have different types of blog posts, rather than have all posts scheduled systematically to be around exactly the same length.

Long blog posts work best in the form of: case studies, how-tos, tutorials, and even interviews.

3) Repurpose Content

Repurposing and reusing similar content on your website is a great way to capture long tail keywords. The more intricate a search query is, the more you’re likely to find it off your website. Meaning, if you’ve looked at general phrases or questions in your search queries and find that your website is ranking, it could actually be your on-site blog instead of a content page on your website.

If you have a video or infographic on your website, you can leverage your blog by writing a short post and linking back to it. Related and repurposed content do well when they’re linked back to each other in a way that makes sense.

4) Encourage Faster Indexing

The social nature of blogs paired with social share buttons will skyrocket your post to being indexed way more quickly than a page on your website… especially if it’s buried deep within folders. Blog posts are indexed as an individual page and more frequent posts will bring crawlers to your site more often and have them remain on your site for longer. The goal is to have bots regularly crawl, index and rank your content. What better way than to do it with time-sensitive, interesting and helpful blog posts?

5) Cross Promote with Other Properties

With blog posts, you have the endless opportunity of sharing things on your other social media profiles or website properties. Whether it’s click bait, Facebook campaigns, funny photos, community events or contests, you can link these all on your blog. Blogs and Instagram might not be so effective on their own, but using the 2 to cross promote will amplify the reach of your active audience and make your campaign stronger. Social media activity is very time sensitive and there are increasing barriers to what your Fans will and will not see. Why not strengthen that by cross promoting on your blog?

Blog content can be evergreen so it’s not surprising to see a business’ contest from 2 or 3 years ago pop up when you do a search. It brings a sense of authority and permanence to an otherwise run of the mill social media activity.

Happy blogging and have a great holiday season. Visit our Facebook Page and give us a shout out!

Halloween Topics for Blog Traffic

Halloween, or any other holiday for that matter, is a great time for you to brainstorm and think about topics that will expand your blog audience outreach. No matter what your industry is, holiday-friendly topics are a great way to cover different material and get readers who wouldn’t normally stop by your blog. Here are a few more reasons you should think about blogging about Halloween:

halloween-blogging

Blog Exposure

Since your blog posts should be shared on your different social networking accounts, Halloween topics will give your blog a greater and more broad exposure than what you normally write about alone. You can write about Halloween outside of your regular topics. But you can also bring it in and actually tie a Halloween theme to your normal post. This will help enhance your blog posts by adding a unique spin on an otherwise mundane topic.

Clickworthy Content Brings Social Shares

During this time of year, people are bound to search for creative costumes, scary stories, origin stories and all things related to Halloween. Blogging about these topics will help bring more readers to your site/blog during the holidays. Check out Jezebel, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and Cracked for examples of clickworthy headlines and content.

Get Local Recognition

Halloween is a great time of year to write about safety tips for children and trick-or-treating. Local blogs and newspapers (and parents!) pick up on these types of stories all the time during October. But you can also take advantage of the local aspect of your neighborhood to write about something new and fun. Being in Los Angeles, we have a lot of opportunities to write about events for Halloween, best trick-or-treating neighborhoods, and real haunted spots. Blogging about local events, landmarks and history will show that you’re a resident with community pride.

Have Fun

Blog posts shouldn’t just be cranked out on an automated manner. This can be boring for readers and won’t give them a reason to care why you’re writing. Blogs written without a sense of personality or the human touch aren’t getting the clicks that you want them to get. Being in a certain industry or niche, you might feel compelled to stick to the same old things. Blogging about holidays like Halloween will bring something different to the table and is actually fun for the writer and the reader! Remember, you don’t have to go so outside the box that the post doesn’t match the rest of your blog. But you can weave in a piece of the holiday spirit that will give your posts an extra boost.

Take a look at our past Halloween related blog topics below for some ideas of your own!

How Closely is Social Tied to Blogging?

Blogging can no longer be seen as a standalone tactic for online marketing. In today’s changing internet landscape, blogs (on their own) have become less powerful than they have been in the past.

social related blogging

So, why is it still necessary for businesses to blog? The nature of blogs has been geared towards social for many years now. Recent studies have shown just how powerful social networking is in spreading the word about your website content.

Here are a few ways blogging has become more closely tied to social media marketing:

1) Social shares – Social sharing is like a vote of confidence about the quality and authority of your blog post or webpage. All these years, the mantra for blogging has been to write for the reader, not search engines. The momentum of +1s, Shares and Likes is becoming increasingly correlated to well-ranking sites. Not only can we now take this piece of advice to heart, but there are concrete numbers and statistics that show just how effective that blog exposure is.

2) Interesting Topics – At this point, it’s VERY difficult to blog about a topic that hasn’t been discussed before. The key here is to write about your own take on something that hasn’t been dragged out to death. If you saw this topic on your News Feed, would you Like it? If you saw this in an email blast, would you click through? The key is to be creative as possible but at the same time realistic. You want to choose interesting topics with your unique point of view and bring something relatively new or different to the table.

3) User Engagement – Getting users to engage is easily seen through social shares. But what about the silent votes of confidence? Getting readers to stay on the page for longer and visit more pages before leaving, is a good sign that your content is grabbing their attention. Blogs have a notorious high bounce rate because they often target general, vague topics. It’s no wonder that readers leave right after landing. This is why it’s good to add variety, blog about local events, introduce your team members and write about your specific special interests. Think micro as well as macro.

4) Link Earning – Instead of buying, soliciting or generating links, social blogging has solidified the idea of link earning – that is, the idea that you have to work hard to earn your links. The same idea of link building applies, only it’s magnified and adjusted to today’s world of SEO. You want to create high quality content that others want to link to. You have to work hard to put in the effort to make your blog posts stand out and give people a reason to come, read, comment and share.

Blogging is evolving and social media is becoming a significant part of that change. In order to do both successful, don’t think that one can succeed without the other!