I’ve been writing for this blog for around 3-4 years now. Through a move, several relationships, three hospitalizations and more, I’ve stuck around, writing the material here at Quantum SEO Labs for you, our loyal customers and readers week after week, month after month, year after year. And you know what? It’s hard work. Very hard work.
However, it is also rewarding when I see the comments from many of our readers on what they’ve learned from using the information I share here. So today, I thought I’d share something just a little bit different. Instead of telling you about some new SEO technique or some new sales technique, I thought I’d tell you a bit about what I do best – blogging.
In essence, there are certain rules I’ve picked up along the way in doing this thing on a regular basis which will help you to improve your blogging practices at your own company (and by the way, if you happen to need professional blogging services for your company, drop me a line. I’m available to take on one or two new projects right now).
So, here are seven mistakes many people make when blogging for their businesses. How many of these are you guilty of?
Why is it I wonder that so many corporate bloggers think that they’re not allowed to express their own personalities when they write for the company blog? I mean seriously – are you an automaton who can’t have his or her own style of writing? While guidelines are certainly fine, a good corporate blog can and should take on the personality of the people who write for it.
You can even have several different people writing for the corporate blog and all of them can have their own personalities when they write for the blog. People will keep coming back looking for their favorite columnist on your company’s blog and possibly also checking out what other people have said since they like this one person who is on your staff.
Mind you, it is possible to create content which conforms to an impersonal corporate identity. In fact, if you hire the average person calling themselves a “writer” for hire, that’s exactly what you’ll get.
Prior to becoming a professional freelance writer, I was a teacher of English Language Arts. I put my kids through their paces writing all kinds of different kinds of content and as a result, I realized that something one of my teachers said to me when I was in high school is very true – good writing has a distinctive flavor to it. Poor quality writing is bland and seems like everyone else’s writing.
Good writing is actually recognizable without ever needing to see who wrote it. Check the writing from your favorite newspaper columnist some time and you can see that they have a distinctive style which you’d recognize even if you didn’t see their name on the byline (i.e. if they’d written that day’s editorial). So get personal and just make sure that you stay on message. Ultimately, your customers will thank you for it.
Being a Used Car Salesman
Nothing against used car salespeople mind you. Everyone’s got to make a living and they happen to be quite good at what they do. However, such people do have a particular reputation which is often well deserved. They’re always in selling mode, trying to show you the positives of something they have on offer and explain away anything that doesn’t seem too exciting.
Too often, when people write for a corporate blog, they assume that it’s supposed to be about selling the products that the company has for sale. They are both right and wrong when they make this assumption. You are right that a corporate blog exists in order to increase sales. It’s not meant to be an altruistic enterprise. However, you are wrong that you need to engage in a hard sales pitch in order to make a successful corporate blog.
The best corporate blogs talk about new features in the products that the company has to offer and offer useful tips to the people visiting them.
For example by and large, I avoid heavy sales pitches for our products here at Quantum SEO Labs. This isn’t because Yasir doesn’t want to sell you his SEO services; far from it.
However, we believe that if we are going to provide customers with a feeling that we can provide value, we need to do so by providing you with quality content which demonstrates our knowledge of SEO and online marketing rather than by simply telling you how great we are at doing it.
So think about what your customers would actually want to know when they visit your website and then offer them content which is actually worth something rather than content which simply makes a hard sales pitch to them, ala a used car salesman.
Making Boring Headlines
I’ve been working in the world of SEO for a very long time now and I’ve seen pretty much every theory there is about headlines. There are those who don’t care at all about the headlines and those who insist that the headline needs to be descriptive and provide your keyword for the search engine spiders to pick up on.
The truth lays somewhere in the middle though. First of all, as I’ve written in this space in the past, your headlines matter a very, very great deal. They are the first things that your customers will see when they approach your blog and they need to grab the attention of your customers in order to keep them interested in what you have to say.
All of that having been said of course, SEO is a concern and should be a concern for anyone who is engaged in business blogging. Thus you need to ensure that while you have seductive headlines, you also include something which will be picked up by the search engines.
A classic example of this problem is something suggested to me years ago as a good title for an article about anger: All the Rage. It’s catchy and it grabs attention. However, it’s also a problem because there’s no keyword there. A better title which is still seductive might be “I’m So Angry I Could Scream!”
Mind you, thanks to Google’s new system, you don’t need to have an exact match keyword anymore (and frankly I’m not sure that you ever did have to) so don’t worry about matching for example “Hotels in New York” when writing about that subject. It’s enough to include something like accommodations or the like and Google will still register it.
On the flip side of things, we also need to make a headline seductive enough to grab people’s attention and get them to want to actually read what the article is about. Take a look at the headline I created above and indeed most of the headlines here at Quantum SEO Labs blog and you’ll see what I mean. I try to be creative about making it sound interesting while at the same time still being descriptive and using at least some keywords.
Failing to Grab Attention Right Away
Typically, you have around 1-2 seconds to grab people’s attention and get them to open up an article on your blog. That’s why the opening headline needs to be so seductive. It should speak to the person’s problems and at the same time pique their interest. However, once you’ve gotten your reader to look, there’s another problem: keep them going.
The fact is that you typically have around 5-10 seconds to grab a persons’ attention and get them to keep reading beyond the first paragraph of your content. Thus having an opening paragraph which is actually interesting and which grabs attention is almost as important as having an opening headline which grabs attention and which makes people stand up and take notice of the article you are pushing.
The best way to grab people’s attention with your opening headline is by making them empathize with you. Point out somehow that you understand their own pain and that you share a similar set of problems which they can relate to. This will inevitably lead them to want to know more. Of course, if you are a good writer (see above) then you are likely to be doing this anyway. If you’re not, you may want to hire someone else to write your blog for you.
Failure to Be Consistent
I admit it – I’m terrible at consistency. I often forget to post or I get busy with other things in life and don’t get around to doing what needs to be done on schedule. However, when it comes to business blogging, being consistent with your posts is essential. If you don’t consistently provide fresh content, not only will you be punished by the Google gods but you will also find that your regulars start to disappear.
The best way to handle this is to simply ensure that you create a batch of content to post at regular intervals when you have time to do it. I realize that’s not perfect advice and life does get in the way of things (I’m right now dealing with a nightmare of a contractor who ripped me off for around $7,000, completely destroyed what he was paid to build and then disappeared so I know life gets in the way at times).
If you find that you couldn’t be consistent however, just go back to your regular schedule and don’t start off offering long apologies for why you didn’t post in a while. At most, a sentence or two is all that you need to include and often, buried somewhere in the middle, not necessarily right at the beginning of the article.
Failing to Maintain an E-mail List
Visitors to your business blog are a precious commodity. Why one earth would you not want to get every benefit you can get from the people dropping by? This is really simple too – buy yourself a mailing list subscription from one of the very many services that offer it (I did a review a while back which is still useful for this) and then offer up some kind of reward for people who sign up.
For example, here at Quantum SEO Labs, we offer a book packed with useful information which can help you to do a more effective job on SEO. It’s not a book filled with lots of fluff and junk. I know because I helped to write the book and it really is valuable.
Of course, if you don’t want to write a book of your own or you simply don’t have the skill to do it, you do have other options. One option of course is again, to hire a professional to do the job for you.
Another option is to purchase some PLR content. You can either buy a read made book and then create a custom cover and title for it or simply create a book by editing together different articles which can be useful for your customers.
The only thing to be aware of when doing this is that you need to ensure that you are not giving away junk. Give away a book which has real value and real quality (the kind that you yourself would want) and you will find that people are more willing to sign up for your list.
Not bothering to Inspire
Finally, if you really want to keep your customers coming back to your blog for more content all the time then you need to give them some kind of a reason to do so. Give your customers hope that they’ll get some real benefit from what they’re seeing in your blog and they’ll want to keep coming back for more every time that you post.
In other words, don’t just end but end on a positive note and give your customers the feeling that they are special and that they can succeed, just as I know that you, dear reader are indeed special and can succeed in building a better business blog.