Should we be blogging? We get this question a lot. And the answer is a big fat clear… maybe.
It’s no secret that both users and search engines love fresh, unique content, right? Absolutely – when it’s timely, original, meaningful and well written. By blogging, you create the opportunity to build relationships with readers, position your organization as an expert in the field and provide new content for Google to index. We have seen the dramatic impact a strategic, well-run blog can have on increasing visibility and improving search engine rankings for an organization. We’re definitely a fan.
But that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. We have also seen un-nurtured blogs become stale, outdated, duplicative and even a liability.
Develop a Blog Strategy
Before you dive into blogging with both feet, take a step back and think about your purpose in doing so and, maybe even more importantly, your capacity to effectively execute it. Creating a roadmap can help position you, and your blog, for success. Some things to consider before you get started:
Audience – Who are they and what are they interested in? Use this as a guide in developing your content strategy.
Authors – Identify your key thought leaders in the organization and assess their capacity and willingness to develop content.
Content Strategy – Align your audiences’ interests with your authors’ expertise and map out what topics you plan to cover.
Content Calendar – Will you have topics assigned to specific days of the week? Or will the content cycle ebb and flow with current events? Will you create a blog schedule and assign posts to specific contributors? Or will you allow authors to self-select when they provide content? How will you hold your blogging team accountable for maintaining a steady stream of content?
Monitoring – Will you enable blog comments? If so, develop a policy on if, when and how to respond.
Distribution – Optimizing your blog content to be found in search is a great start, but how else will you distribute your blog posts to ensure they reach your target audience?
A few weeks ago, Google announced new guidelines for bloggers reviewing free products from companies. If a blogger receives free product(s) in exchange for posting a review on their blog, these steps must be followed to be complaint with Google Webmaster Guidelines. Although these are all important, please pay particular attention to number 1 as Google recently issued several penalties for violation of this guideline.
Use the nofollow tag on any links that point back to the company/product website to avoid passing any PageRank, which would be considered a “link scheme” in the eyes of Google because the links were not earned organically. See below for instructions on how to implement the nofollow tag.
Disclose the relationship so users know that it the blog post includes sponsored content.
Create compelling, unique content. No two blog posts (whether within your own blog or related to others) should be the same or too similar.
A recent presentation to a group of juniors and seniors at Colorado Christian University reminded me of the critical skills that public relations professionals must have:
Relationships with media and pitching
Expertise with social media channels to communicate with target audiences
Understanding of the client’s business
I told this class of eager, young students that being a strong writer is as important today as it ever was, and it’s the one skill that will make the difference in getting a job interview or not. The best way to become better at it is to write every day – whether it’s your own blog, a journal, or volunteering to write for a nonprofit organization. The key is to do it.
In an age where magazines are getting smaller, and Colorado has seen its share of magazines, come, go and be sold (now Westword will be owned by the Village Voice), it’s refreshing to see 5280 continue to thrive. With a monthly distribution of 85,000, making it Colorado’s largest local magazine, Denver’s Mile High Magazine will celebrate 20 years next year.
One of my GroundFloor Media colleagues recently met with assistant editor, Daliah Singer, who shared the following insights about the magazine and 5280 Digital.
According to Singer, 5280’s digital landscape is exploding. They are trying to post six to 10 blogs per day on topics ranging from the outdoors, sports, culture, food, and volunteering. Singer suggested reading the blog to learn more about the topics and what they like to cover on which day.
Multimedia is growing, so you will soon see more slideshows and video
The magazine and web will have more crossover; not all the content will make it in to the magazine, so readers are encouraged to visit the web for additional coverage
And as with all monthly magazines, they work at least three months out
January and February are traditionally smaller issues