How a corporate blog can improve SEO and offer a good ROI
Corporate blogs have the potential to be one of the most boring things on the Internet. There's nothing worse than reading what the CEO did for lunch and that their latest "REVOLUTIONARY" stapler has just been launched. Unless you deal in a very cool industry or have astonishing stories to tell (such as the MD being flown out on a private jet to play with Ferrari's) then no one actually cares.
The subject matter is tricky
A company blog needs to remain objective. You can't just write about the last company night out because it belies the professionalism you need to continue trading, nor can you write about the dull tedium of your business - because unless you're a broker of fireworks, kittens and sports cars there will be acres of tedium that will do little more than induce fatigue upon your reader.
Remain objective, your mission is to improve business. Whether that's through brand recognition or a strong SEO push, you need to have something compelling for the reader otherwise it's time wasted.
The main point I'm giving here is that you need to have a purpose behind your company blog. Where I work the idea has been thrown around a fair bit but there were some crucial problems - namely the quality of content. What you need to do is write a blog that departs the wisdom your business holds upon the world - providing useful resources. That way people will recognise your brand as being synonymous with the field you blog about - which should help bring in revenue.
How make your company blog worthwhile
Let's look at the key points needed to make your company blog worthwhile.
#1 - Regular, high quality content that experts use as a resource
Whatever you're selling, whether it's a service or a product your company blog should offer insight into the business. If you're a search agency your blog should contain high quality resources about improving your SEO. If you're a web development agency then you should offer tutorials, advice, hints and tips on how to create the best work. This is really important because it helps establish your brand as excelling in the field you're in - which helps generate natural sales (which are entirely FREE don't forget).
#2 - Professionalism and strong branding
It'd be completely folly to have a very formal brand which has a very informal blog; you need to remain consistent. If you go back against your branding or professional image then your blog is likely to have the opposite effect. After all, would your customers be happy buying services from you knowing that your CEO was rumoured to be high on narcotics at the last Christmas party?
#3 - Someone MUST take charge
I speak from personal experience with this. Where I work it would be nigh impossible for someone to take ownership of the blog; and the problem is that the person who would take ownership isn't necessarily the person who can provide the high quality content that the blog requires. You do need someone to be the top-level boss of the blog, but you also need people who can dedicate time and ideas to the project, otherwise you'll have crap content and no one will be interested.
#4 - You cannot stop blogging
Once you've started you cannot leave it for long periods without an update. Customers will think you've disappeared off the face of this planet and they will assume that your service/support is likely to be as timely. If you only update the blog rarely, it's worth making that very clear at every level or avoiding placing any dates on the content.
#5 - You need people to commit their content
This is another problem I have in the real world. Where I work there are a couple of us with personal sites/blogs and it would be very hard to sign off good content to our employers when we could just as well stay quiet, take that idea home and profit from it ourselves. You need people who are good writers and experts at their field to commit content to the cause - which is harder said than done.
This is all well and good, but how is it going to help generate revenue?
The funny thing is, it might be possible to offset the cost of the time spent blogging against the business it could bring in. If you are writing regular, high quality content then you're likely to have visitors. Visitors who come back. Visitors who tell their friends. Visitors who also own blogs and write about your blog. They will also have visitors, who also have visitors - suddenly you have a blog that behaves like viral marketing. Suddenly you have thousands of people coming to your business for free advice.
Now, if you've got thousands of people coming to your business for free advice, isn't it possible that some of them would pay for your services? I'd say it's entirely likely. The bonus of that is that you haven't had to actively chase down clients and use your sales people to corner them until they surrender a brief of the work they're after. Any sales that are generated as a direct result of your company blog are essentially "free", with the only cost incurred being the time spent blogging.
Naturally, high quality content and readers means people will blog about you. This yields massive natural search engine gains. Suddenly after 5-6 excellent posts on your blog you've got hundreds of people linking to you and sending visitors you way, giving your SEO a massive boost in the process. These sites will be within your niche, your PageRank should increase and having a company blog suddenly became a more profitable and sustainable venture than a heavy PPC campaign.
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