Welcome to the third post in my How-to “Setting Up” series. Be sure to check out Setting Up Your LinkedIn Company Page and Setting Up Your Own LinkedIn Group. Today’s post is all about setting up your own blog.
Do you have a company blog yet? If not, you’re missing out on the social media platform that every single business should take advantage of. Blogs empower you to:
- Inform your customers and prospects and engage them.
- Improve your website’s SEO by providing a constant stream of fresh content.
Inbound Marketing Solution Provider Hubspot states, “Companies that blog have 55% more website visitors.” (Source: Hubspot)
Convinced yet? Good. Let’s get started!
Step One: Identify Your Purpose
Before you even set up a blogging account or platform, you need to define the purpose of your blog. Is your aim to . . .
- Drive search engine traffic to your site?
- Establish your expertise online?
- Offer promotions?
- Capture leads and sign them up to your email list?
- Make money directly through the blog?
- Build up a loyal readership and then sell the blog?
Be as clear and specific as possible in defining your main purpose; it determines the kind of content you will write.
Step Two: Research Keywords
Using the right keywords in the right way will help your blog be more successful from a ranking perspective. Don’t even name your blog until you have done your homework. Research keywords related to your niche to understand what people are searching for online. Try to incorporate your target long-tail keyword1 in the blog’s title. This can give your blog tremendous SEO benefit. People will search for these keywords and find your blog as it rises in search engine rankings. You can also use these keywords to write posts around, but keep in mind that SEO is just one element of a good blog. Since Google’s Free Keyword Tool is no longer a stand-alone tool (it has been replaced by Keyword Planner in Adwords), you can try services like Bing’s Keyword Research tool for keyword ideas if you don’t have access to an Adwords account.
Step Three: Choose Your Platform
Before you start writing your blog, decide whether you want to use a free platform or a self-hosted option (hosted on your own server or on a service like GoDaddy).
There are free platforms, like WordPress.com and Blogger, that you can use to set up your blog. However, it’s often much better to pay for your own hosting and host your blog on your own domain. You can use a free service until the blog is well established and then eventually move it onto its own domain (or as part of your company domain). The disadvantage to this method is that you’ll lose any links you previously had – and you may tank on your keyword rankings and traffic.
Even if you use your own hosting, you can use a self-hosted WordPress blog (see WordPress.org) or another platform as a content management system. These platforms make it easy to update and manage your blog without dealing with HTML.
Step Four: Style Your Blog
Depending on your budget and preferences, you can hire someone to create a custom design, purchase a sleek template through a service like Solostream.com, or use a free template from your preferred platform’s list of templates. Your template can always be changed later if you want to revamp it or create a custom design in the future.
[note – another disadvantage to WordPress.com versus a self-hosted WordPress blog is that you have fewer options for using plugins and templates]
Step Five: Start Writing
Your blog is set up and styling. I bet you are champing at the bit to start sending traffic there. WAIT! It’s vital to have content created BEFORE you start sending out the launch emails and social media blitz. I recommend blogging for a couple of weeks to a month (depending on your posting regularity) before making any grand announcements about your new blog. If you drive readers to a site with only one or two posts, they probably won’t come back. Once you have at least ten good posts, you can begin your traffic building efforts.
Make your blog part of your routine. Set a writing schedule for yourself – try for two posts per week. An editorial calendar can help you stay focused. On the days you aren’t writing posts, check in to moderate comments and back links. Make sure you reply to all comments.
What Makes a Good Blog?
A good blog doesn’t just promote your brand/company/you. It must provide information and education to readers to help them solve their problems/answer their questions. Your blog should encourage reader interaction. As part of building your blog readership, read other blogs, link to them, and comment on them. This is the social part of social media – “sharing is caring!”
1 Long-tail Keyword: “Long tail keywords are keyword phrases composed of three or more words that collectively are more specific than a single keyword. Long tail keywords are more likely to convert to sales than shorter, more generic keywords because there is less competition for them.” (Source: SEM/Online Advertising Glossary).