By Billy Burnett, Account Director, onechocolate communications

In a world where small businesses with corporate blogs receive 55 percent more traffic (see: Study Shows Small Businesses That Blog Get 55% More Website Visitors) than small businesses that don’t blog, and benefit from a laundry list of PR advantages, the business rationale behind launching or evolving your blog in 2011 is clear.

But corporate blogs often don’t deliver on expectations.

So, before retiring your corporate blog as a “good learning exercise” here are five tips on how to make this powerful tool work harder and perform better:

1. Think Like an Editor

When buying a newspaper, magazine or reading a blog the main incentive is not to study the advertisements sprawled across the various pages but to gain insight through news, analysis and opinion.

Choose a theme that fits well with your company’s expertise. This will resonate with your target audience, which was agreed upon when you wrote your editorial policy. But don’t be afraid to branch out into a larger space to keep the content fresh.

Content is king. So stay away from trying to sell products to your readers and instead give them a reason to come back and read more.

2. Maximise Your SEO with Just a few Tweaks

The bulk of your would-be readers are likely to come from search engines such as Google, so taking into consideration how digital web crawlers’ work can be a powerful way of increasing visitor stats.

The headline or title of your blog post is one of the first things web crawlers see. They generally assume the words that appear earliest are most important, so don’t use obscure headlines. So always try to put the most important search term in the heading.

Tags are also taken into consideration by search engines. Ensure you apply relevant ones to every post to help them out and also your readers.

Finally, another quick tip is that linked-to posts are assumed to have more authority by search engines than ones that are not. So link keywords back to relevant postings on your blog to further improve SEO (Search engine optimization.

3. If a blog falls in social media land

As with any other company initiative you need to tell people about it. Share the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) on your website, business cards, e-mails, and advertisements. Most blogging platforms also offer simple tools to integrate with your other social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, providing additional touch points for discovery.

4. Get Involved

Creating relationships with established bloggers who write on your topic is a great way to increase your rank as an influencer and subsequently traffic.

Comment on other blogs that cover similar topics in your niche, obviously not those of a competitor, using the same name and URL in the corresponding fields will give you a quick SEO boost. But make sure you are adding value rather than simply saying “check out my blog” or it’s going to be binned as spam. Including links to their content in your own posts is also a great way to get noticed.

Guest blogging is an effective way to get links to your blog thoughts in front of people who are likely to be interested and advertise your own blog. By building your reputation as a genuine commentator, you can start to build relationships with those bloggers and offer to provide more in-depth guest posts down the line. This can also work in reverse with you inviting key influencers to provide you with content. But ensure you make each invitation personal, citing recent articles they have written and explaining why you think it would be a good fit.

But what about taking your blog on the social networking media road? Take advantage of established communities that already cater for your target audience by promoting articles. Some websites have also looked to take advantage of blogs from an editorial perspective, either taking RSS feeds or offering an entire platform to host your blog.

5. Smart Measurement

Most blogging platforms provide a dashboard that shows traffic figures, the most popular posts and also where the traffic is coming from. If the blog is featured on your website use a free tool, such as Google Analytics, to track the same data.

Regularly review the data and refine your blogging guidelines accordingly to incorporate some of the more popular key words, topics and authors. This can also provide some great insight for your company from a product and marketing perspective, such as what are topics that are really getting your potential customers excited?

These are my five top tips for making your blog work harder and perform better. But most important is that you need to write content that adds value. It’s ok to be a marketer but you need to be a blogger first and foremost.


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