The term blog comes from the combination of the terms, web and log. A blog is defined as a website containing articles, referred to as “blog posts” or blogs”, that highlight subject matter expertise, industry news, or any relevant information to the audience you are targeting. Blogging has become a critical marketing tactic for a variety of reasons.

This is part one of a two part series on blogging for success. Part one discusses reasons to blog, blogging platforms, and 11 important features every blog should have. Once you have established your blog, read Blogging For Success (Part 2) to learn more about the ongoing management of your blog including content planning, content ideas, and ways to promote your blog posts.

Why You Need to Blog

Blogging reinforces thought leadership and subject matter expertise. You can publish very specialized content that is searchable for years to come.

Second, when implemented properly, blogging can have profound effects on search engine authority. Each blog post builds indexed pages and blog titles, page titles, URL structures, and image Alt tags all support SEO. The typical blog roll can build reciprocal links and interlinking within a blog post can build back-links. Next, social sharing and linking to social profiles can build search authority. Finally, throw in Header Tags, keyword tags, and Google Analytics and you have a powerhouse of search engine optimization delivered to your website.

Third, your blog can be the center of your content marketing and social media program. When integrated with other social profiles and sharing tools, blogs can effectively “automate” content deployment. How? With Retweet, Facebook Like, Google+, and other share tools, content can be easily posted in these profiles. Even LinkedIn profiles can be integrated for auto-updates.

Last but not certainly not least, blogs can generate leads. A survey found that 57% of marketers have acquired new customers through blogging. How? RSS registrations capture email addresses. Links to registration pages allow for email newsletter sign-ups.  Placing offers within blog posts that hyperlink to registration pages can also generate leads. Additionally, blog comments often contain customer questions or requests. And finally, website analytics can identify traffic from blogs.

Blogging Platforms

There are several options for what platform or software to use for blogging. The two most popular options are Blogger, which is owned by Google, and WordPress. There are several other platforms, but these two dominate due to both user-friendliness and features. A plethora of Plug-Ins are available on WordPress, some of which can amplify your SEO efforts, making WordPress the leading platform in our eyes. Check out this list of 5 blogging platforms:

  1. WordPress
  2. Blogger
  3. Tumblr
  4. Drupal
  5. Joomla (considered a Content Management System but can be used to create a blog)

Keep in mind what you intend your blog to be and no matter what platform you choose, be ready for the next step of developing content and publishing regularly, the subject of our next blog, Blogging For Success (Part 2): Content and Promotion.

11 Features Every Blog Should Have

Resource Links/Blog Roll – standard feature that benefits SEO and acts as a valuable resource to your readers to find industry content.

RSS Feed – a plug-in that allows your readers/visitors to sign up to be emailed when you publish a new blog. (RSS=real simple syndication). Check out Feedburner, it’s owned by Google.

Social Sharing – when readers share your content it builds up your SEO and over time will drive your page rank higher on search engines. Add social sharing features such as the Facebook Like button, the Twitter Retweet Button, the Google+ button, and the LinkedIn Share button.

Image Optimization – images can be optimized for SEO in 3 ways; image file name, image title, and image alt tag. Use keywords!

Tags & Categories – both help users locate blog content; Tags are meta-tags that are indexed by search engines. Categories allow users to search blog archives by category name (For example: this blog can be found in the blogging category on the right-hand side).

Utilization of Bold Face and H1 Header Tags – both of these rich text-editing features help to build SEO. Be sure to use these when appropriate throughout blogposts to maximize SEO.

Widgets on the sidebar – WordPress has a vast amount of “widgets” available for use on the sidebar. Examples include Blogroll, Archive by month and categories, Word Cloud, recent blogs, recent tweets.

Analytics – be sure to track and monitor your success with blogging. Before you even start blogging, be sure to develop key performance indicators (KPI’s) that you will keep track of (ex: total visitors, click-through rates, form registrations).

Plug-Ins – Currently WordPress has 21,983 (and growing!) Plug-In’s available. Learn more at WordPress PlugIns.

Call to Action – each and every blog you write needs to have a purpose. Be sure to have a call to action to solicit a response from a reader. Often times these will be a link to a form the reader can fill out to receive __(insert offer here) ____.

Branding – custom design should extend your visual identity and reflect company goals and vision.

Additional Resources

How to Get Started Blogging with Google’s Blogger

How to Get Started Blogging with WordPress

Choosing a Blog Platform

10 Getting Started Tips for Publishing a Successful Blog

Stay tuned for Blogging For Success (Part 2): Content and Promotion. And share this blog with others who are interested in starting blogging.