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Whether your business is an online store, hairdressing salon, a local marketing agency or in other industry you can think of, developing an engaged audience through blogging is one of the best ways to generate targeted traffic.

Content writing

What benefits does running a blog offer?

Good question. First of all, by creating valuable content (we will discuss this later) based around products or services your business offers will help brand your business as an authority within the industry. For example, if you’re a business that manufactures bespoke sports rackets, creating blog posts on which type of material is best suited for certain players, grips and string types, will demonstrate to your audience your knowledge and expertise.

Secondly, by running a blog your website will appear much higher in the search engines when people type key phrases related to your business. Leveraging well written articles can easily drum up a lot of targeted traffic and lead to higher conversions.

1. Write kickass content

Internet users are a tough crowd of people to keep focused, if your content is boring, off topic or irrelevant they simply won’t bother to read and go somewhere else. Blog content can be anything from industry related news, factual information or practical tips based around products or services you provide.

Keep your blog posts on point, don’t waffle and most of all ensure they are interesting to read and provide value to the reader.

Tip: If you’re having problems coming up with topics or hit writer’s block, head on to your competitors’ blogs to see what they are writing about. Ensure all content you write is unique and not directly copied from other sources online, search engines will penalize your website for this.

Tip 2: Try Buzzsumo to analyze what kind of content has performed best for your niche or competitors.

2. Make your blog easily sharable 

By this we mean to place Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit and all other social media buttons within your blog posts. The more awesome your content is, the more likely your readers will be to share it, which in turn leads to greater traffic. Needless to say, you should be disturbing your own blog content on all your social media channels.

Also, you should actively be encouraging your audience to share your content. Having a strong call to action never hurts.

3. Search engine optimization

SEO is a framework to structure content in order to rank well in search engines. This is done in several ways including targeting keywords, creating awesome organic content (most important), using best industry SEO practices (we will tackle this in another blog post) and so on.

To give you an example of SEO in practice, take a look at this blog post. It’s focused around one clear topic, is easily readable, and when skimming readers will instantly know what this article contains. On top of all that, it has a relevant image and most importantly of all, it offers brilliant (we’re so humble) advice.

Another aspect of SEO is keyword research, this is when a business creates articles based around a popular search term within their industry. For example, the term “Restaurant New York” yields over 5,400 monthly searches on Google alone. Restaurants operating in New York should seriously be considering creating a blog post around this keyword in an attempt to generate free targeted traffic.

Tip: Focusing more on creating valuable content that is easy to read and understand than focusing purely on keywords. Some blogs will stuff their keywords into the content so much that the article reads poorly and offers no value to the reader.

Tip #2: Check out Google Keyword Planner to search for commonly used keywords around your business.

4. Wear the white hat

Without sounding overly technical, there are two techniques to approach blogging to generate traffic, they are:   

White hat – is a method of sticking to search engine guidelines to create content and abiding by the rules.

Black hat– A way to trick search engines by understanding how they work and to exploit flaws to rank blog posts higher.

Proceed with caution when content agencies tell you they will have your website ranking on the first page of Google within weeks, this is usually done using black hat methods. Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, once they find out you have been utilizing black hat techniques, it’s not uncommon to be delisted from search engines. This can be a major blow to businesses who require a strong online presence.

5. Never stop updating

Google takes into account how often a blog is updated and will rank sites that post regular content higher than those that don’t. At the very least aim to publish at least one blog post per week, if you don’t have time, hire an quality writer who understands your industry and business to take over.

6. Understand your traffic

Google Analytics (GA) is a free tool which provides several extremely useful statistics about your blog. Alongside measuring how many hits your site receives daily, it shows:

Bounce rate – This is the amount of people who visit your webpage and then leave without clicking on another link. Low bounce rates indicate your site is very useful and you’re doing things right. A high bounce rate can mean your site content is not up to scratch (so people leave) or you’re attracting the wrong group of people to your site.

Note: A high bounce rate is not always a bad thing, if your blog post answered their question they would have no reason to stay on your site and visit other areas.

Demographic – GA segregates your visitors by age, sex and location. When selling products or services, this information can be used to better define your target market and develop new marketing strategies.

Referrals – Shows you other sites that are re-directing users to your blog including websites, forums and social media sites. This can be particularly beneficial if there is an ongoing discussion on a website or forum about something that relates to your industry. Using GA you can find such discussions and participate by providing useful advice. Be sure to link your website in your signature or profile when signing up, as this will lead to even greater targeted traffic to your site.

We could spend all day discussing the benefits GA offers a blog but we have still have more epic tips to dish out. Bottom line is this: install it and study the metrics to really get the most out of your blog.

7. Allow blog comments 

Comments are the most effective way of getting feedback on content and engaging with potential customers. They can ask questions which you may not have addressed on have additional questions after reading your blog posts. Answer all questions with as much detail as you can to further enforce your knowledge in the area, and to show customers that their queries will be addressed.

Tip: Ensure all comments moderated before they go live, as some will leave offensive or spam comments to self-promote their own website.

8. Link in and out

One of the best ways to keep visitors on your site is to interlink your own blog posts together so readers can jump from one post to another. As well as linking in, you should also be linking out to relevant articles based around your blog topic.

Take this paragraph for example, the team at Moz have listed 5 Reasons Why You Should Link Out to Others from Your Website in this article, by offering extra reading material you’re providing readers with additional information should they want it.  Having a good internal linking strategy helps search engines crawl your site easier, while placing relevant external links is good for SEO.

Tip: When placing external links in blog posts, ensure they open in a new tab allowing users to still browse your site. Use appropriate formatting and don’t simply paste the whole URL, it will make your site look very unprofessional.

9. Pay attention to native advertising opportunities

Networks like Taboola, Outbrain, Stumbleupon, ContentAD, and RevContent allow you to pay in order to have your content placed on popular sites around the web. Have you ever seen the “recommended articles” sections on sites like the Huffington Post? This is how you access those placements. You can also promote your content on Facebook & Twitter through ads in order to reach your target audience.

One under the radar strategy is to write an extremely high quality post, promote it through native advertising, and then retarget visitors with landing pages related to the product or service you’re trying to sell. We’ll go through this strategy in detail in the future.

10. Have systems in place to engage and follow up with readers

Ensure the right forms are on your blog to give your readers the opportunity to follow up with you for more information.

Having email opt-in forms on the right hand side of the page, at the bottom of the post, and at the top of the website are great locations to offer a reader further information in exchange for their email address. Tools like SumoMe make it easy to install these integrations.

And there you have it, 10 ways any business can successfully start their own blog and generate quality targeted traffic. Have you found this useful or have questions of your own? Then feel free to click one of the share buttons or leave a comment below telling us what you think.

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