RSS

Tag Archives: SEO

10 reasons to write a blog

pens and ink bottleWhy should you write a blog? Why should you start writing a blog, and why should you continue writing a blog? Here are my top reasons why. I’m really looking at business blogging here, but the first one applies to everyone!

1. Because you want to

This reason covers both personal bloggers and business bloggers. You should start writing, and continue writing, a blog, because you want to. Forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do is no fun, and you should enjoy the time you spend designing and honing your blog and writing those entries. Whether you want to share holiday pictures or reviews of restaurants or share your professional expertise, do it because you want to.

2. You’ve got something interesting to talk about

There are so many interesting things to talk about. I often meet people running businesses where I have no idea of the nitty gritty of their everyday lives. How does a carpenter learn his trade? What does a freelance solicitor do, day to day? How many projects does a crafter have on the go at any one time, and how does a mobile hairdresser help their clients to choose a new hairstyle?

I have found that my posts on building my business struck a chord and interested many people. A series of posts that I started really for myself about Word hints and tips has turned into a popular series. If you run a business, think about some of the behind the scenes things, some of the aspects of your knowledge that people might be interested to know about (don’t worry about giving away your secrets – I might publish articles on Word headings and tables of contents, but I still get asked to do them by my clients!).

Of course, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t share personal details about your clients. But I think it’s fine to talk about them if they’re heavily disguised – or ask if they’d like to have a case study published with links back to their website!

3. It will set you up as an expert in your field

This is invaluable when you’re building your reputation and your business. Don’t see it as giving away information for free, think of it as sharing your expertise with the world. Once you start appearing in people’s Google searches when they’re trying to resolve a problem, they’ll be more likely to come to you for help when they need your services. If you can offer a back catalogue of useful, targeted advice on your blog when you’re negotiating with a new prospect, they will see that you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

This may not lead to direct sales – but I’ve often seen my blog posts shared among other people and organisations in my field. Keep your name in front of them as well as prospects, and you never know where the next recommendation and job might come from!

4. It will attract people to your site

This links in to the above point. The more content you have on your website which is packed full of keywords and language to do with your business, the more findable it is in the search engines. The more people find information that is useful to them and engages with them, the more time they will spend on your website. The more time people spend on your website, or the more repeat visits they make, or the fact that they’ve signed up for your RSS feed and get regular updates into the RSS* reader or email inbox, the more likely they are to remember your name and your products or services when they or a contact need them.

More website visitors does not directly lead to more sales in a quantifiable relationship. But as long as you do show genuine expertise and a willingness to engage with your audience, you will build your exposure, get more visitors to your site, and this will help you to become better known and gain more sales.

5. It will build your platform

Your platform is the group of people who are engaged with you in whatever way – through personal connections, social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, through your email newsletter, through your blog – and who can then be “leveraged” (horrible word) when you want to get the word out about something new that you’re offering.

For example, if you’re self-publishing a book, it’s vital to have built a circle of connections before it comes out, so you have a guaranteed audience of at least a few people. If you start offering a new service, for example when I added transcription services to my proofreading and editing offering, it’s useful to have people who you can tell, and who will then hopefully spread the word.

Having a blog builds your platform because it engages people’s interest. It brings them to your website, it gets them reading your content regularly, and it encourages them to sign up for your RSS feed or to receive your posts by email as they’re published. Once you have subscribers, you can get information out to that guaranteed audience when you need to. That’s much harder if you only have a static website for them to visit.

6. Regularly updated content will boost your position in search engine search results

It’s fairly common knowledge that the search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) like content that is regularly updated. This means that their complex and little-known (and ever-changing) algorithms will promote websites that are frequently updated above those that are static. Updating your blog once a week or more gives all of the content on your website a better change of being found by potential contacts and clients, because it gives it a better chance of appearing in a higher position in the search results.

7. So will information crammed full of the keywords that are important in your industry

Keywords are vital for search engines, too. If you just write a set of keywords over and over again, the chances are the the search engines will pick up that it’s not real content, and will not show it to searchers. But if you are writing well-crafted copy which includes a good sprinkling of keywords among the text, you will find yourself doing better in the search engine results.

I write natural text in my blog posts that is (hopefully) interesting and gives something to the reader – but I am also careful to include relevant keywords at a regular rate in the blog posts I write, which does improve my search engine optimisation no end (it’s also good to get them into sub-headings and the blog title itself). SEO is a fairly dark art, but the more keywords you can sensibly insert into your content, the more the search engines will be happy to find and display your content to their users.

8. You want to engage with your readers / prospects / clients

Blogs are not a one-way conversation. Once your audience has built a bit, you will get comments, shares, etc. on your blog posts, and on the places where you promote them (I will get almost as many comments on my Facebook post advertising a new blog post as I will on the post itself).

One of the golden rules of blogging is that you need to respond to your comments. Some bloggers are very good at this, some are not. I’m sure everyone’s commented excitedly on a blog post, only to find their comment is effectively “ignored”, with no reply from the writer. I think that’s quite rude, and I am likely to engage a lot less – or stop engaging – with bloggers who have a habit of not replying. Obviously, we all get times when we’re away or too busy to reply that moment, but most blogging platforms alert users to replies, and you want to keep that feature switched on and engage with your audience, otherwise they will stop coming back.

And those commenters might just be your friend Ali or your ex-colleague Steph, but every person who engages with your blog is a potential client or recommender.

9. You want to engage with other bloggers

There’s nothing like blogging for building communities of like-minded people. Once you’re blogging in a niche area, whether it be fiction writing, editing, ironing services or Sage, people who are interested in the same sorts of areas will start to follow your blog, comment on your posts and share what you’re saying.

This is useful for a couple of reasons: firstly, it’s always good to have colleagues. I’ve written elsewhere about how I treat other people in the same line of business as me as colleagues rather than competitors. It’s always good to have people to recommend prospects on too if you’re fully booked and can’t take them on, and to have people to send you referrals. Sometimes you need to have a moan or a chat or ask advice, and you might want to do this privately rather than publicly, which is where your network of colleagues can come in very handy. You can also read what they’re saying, get new ideas, keep up to date, and slot into networks that offer mutually useful posts, services and applications.

Secondly, this may give you the opportunity to guest post on other people’s blogs, and vice versa. We’ll talk about sharing your content in other places next. But just to give you some examples, if I hadn’t started blogging, I wouldn’t have got to know many of the editors I now know who link to my blog articles, share them on social media, and act as a sounding-board when I need to talk things through. That’s worth every hour of effort I put into my blog, to be honest!

10. You want to share your content in other places on the web

The good thing about your URLs and name appearing in places on the web that are not connected directly with you, your website and social media is, you guessed it: it boosts your position in search engine results. The more times your URL appears on a website that’s on a solid standing itself and has followers and people talking about it, the more the search engines will consider your website to be appropriate to present in their search results listings.

These links to your content on other people’s pages are called backlinks. You can secure these in a number of ways:

  • Comment on someone else’s blog post, including your URL
  • Contribute when someone asks for examples, experiences or feedback, again making sure that your URL is included
  • Write a guest blog post for someone – ensuring that the biography at the end includes all of your links

Now, you’ll know if you’ve ever allowed comments on a website or blog that a lot of companies do this seemingly randomly, just to get their URL into other people’s comments, and now you know why they do it. So do make sure that the content and comments you share are appropriate to the topic of the post on which you’re commenting! But this is a great way to increase traffic to your website and blog.

So, there are 10 top reasons for writing a blog. Do you have any others? Why did you start yours? Do also read … 10 top reasons NOT to write a blog!

File:Feed-icon.svg *What’s this RSS stuff I keep talking about? RSS feeds are file formats that allow your regularly updated content to be collected and sent on to readers, usually involving them reading all of the blogs etc that interest them using an RSS reader that accumulates them all in one place. This Wikipedia article explains it all and examples of RSS readers include Feedly. RSS feeds can be found on blogs around the symbol at the beginning of this explanation.

Related topics:

10 top reasons NOT to write a blog

Reciprocity and social media

Top 10 blogging sins

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going

 
39 Comments

Posted by on August 9, 2013 in Blogging, Business, New skills, Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Keep an eye on your stats

Do you ever look at your blog or website statistics? If you don’t, I’m going to show you why you should. If you do, do you get all you can out of them? Do you look at them actively or passively?

Note: this post uses examples from the WordPress.com statistics pages, because that’s the blogging/website platform I use. But all of the standard blogging sites, plus Google Analytics, Statcounter and other analysis tools will offer you similar information, with similar headings.

Why should I look at my statistics?

Looking at your statistics can help you tailor your blog to match what your readers want, and will also alert you to who is talking about you and where they are doing so. You can also measure the success of your attempts to build your audience through posting on social media and other blogs and sites. Here are some of the things you can find out …

  • Which posts or pages are people looking at a lot … and which ones are they ignoring?
  • Is there a kind of post that people are particularly interested in?
  • When do people read your posts?
  • How do people find you (social media, web searches … )
  • What search terms do they use?
  • Where do your readers go next – what links do they click?
  • Are people finding your site via other sites and blogs?

How do I find and view my blog / website statistics?

Usually you’ll have some kind of button or menu option called Statistics or Analytics. On WordPress, you will find a Stats option when you go into your blog, or you can click on the bar chart at the top of the screen. Once you’ve found them, you’ll find a screen something like this:

Now we’ve located our stats, let’s look in more detail about what they can tell us.

How do I tell how many times my blog posts have been viewed?

One of the important ones to look at is your most popular pages. We’re looking at one day here, and I can see that my blog post on on route or en route is, yet again, the most popular.

But I can also see what other posts and pages have been popular (and if I click on yesterday or summaries I can see previous days’ stats, while if I click on the magnifying glass next to the number, I can see all the views for that post). This is useful, as I can tell how I’m doing in the search engines, if it’s an older post, or whether my alerts are doing well, if it’s today’s post going up the ratings.

How do I tell how people have found my blog or website?

It’s very useful to know how people are finding your blog. You should have a section of statistics called something like referrers or referrals. Here are mine for a particular day.

You can glean all sorts of information from this. At the top you can see I get most of my hits from search engines (over 70 of that day’s hits so far), then Facebook (1) and Twitter (2), then a variety of websites and blogs that I’ll go through in a minute. This has changed – when you’re new to blogging, you’ll get most of your hits from Facebook and Twitter and other social media, as your friends will be looking at your posts and you will be promoting them on social media. As your blog gets indexed on the search engines, results will start showing up from them.

Looking at the pages from which your readers have come can be SO useful. Here’s what I can learn from this one:

3 comes from one of the people I’ve featured on my blog blogging about my feature herself – a great link-back that Google will like indexing. 4 is from an answer I gave (with a link) on an expert site. 5 is from a comment I made on someone’s blog. 6 is from my other blog. 7 is from a list of editors a client added to her website (very valuable). 8 is from WordPress itself, probably someone surfing through tags, and 9 is from my old LiveJournal blog, where I post links to this blog/website.

All good stuff, and I can say thank you to people who have sent readers my way, or even find out when they’ve done so (all these links can be clicked, so I can see exactly what people have said). Now, what about those search engines?

How can I find out what search terms people have used to find my site?

You should have a heading like Search Terms somewhere on your stats page. This offers a world of exciting information.

Clicking on Other search terms will give you the rest of the terms people have searched on – that they will only have tried once (or only one person has tried).

For a start, you can see exactly what people are searching for. It might be useful to change the wording on your blog posts to get further up the search results for a popular term. It’s also worth searching for these terms yourself and seeing where on the Google results page they appear. Another useful point is it can give you ideas for future blog posts. I noticed that someone had found me while searching for Autocorrect, which I had mentioned in a blog post. So then I wrote a post on Autocorrect itself, which has been quite popular.

It can also be quite amusing to see what people search for. Someone once came through to my blog having searched for “persuasive piece on children believing in the tooth fairy” – I think they may have been disappointed (they found me because I mention the tooth fairy in an example sentence explaining a word definition).

How can I see where my blog readers are?

On WordPress you can see a rather nifty world map with the countries from which your visitors have come from highlighted.

This is more of a fun distraction than a useful tool, to be honest, but if you discover an anomaly, for example if you’re in the UK and you get a lot of visitors from Brazil, you could consider tailoring some of your blog posts for this market. I get a lot of international visitors, so I’m going to make sure I talk about my work with non-native speakers of English soon.

Is my website traffic increasing? What did I do to make that happen?

As well as today’s data, you can usually see a month or year’s worth, too. If I look at the traffic on my website and blog over time, I can see that it started increasing at the beginning of 2011.

What did I do at the time of that red arrow? Started writing this blog!

Do people read my blog more at the weekends?

Looking at your daily traffic will show peaks and troughs. If your blog is more popular at the weekends, it might be good to post new content then. If I drill down into one of my blog posts, the ever-popular “What do I do if my comment boxes go tiny in Word?”, I can see that it’s not read very often at the weekends.

This says to me that office workers are looking for and using this post, so I can make sure I post more for that kind of audience and save other new posts for the weekends.

Where do my website visitors go when they leave my site?

This is usually found under the heading Referrals, or maybe Click-throughs. Here’s a good representative one of mine from a few days ago:

Looking at clickthroughs from my website

You can see that the click-throughs fall into a few groups. 1 is my ebook, which I have linked to in a blog post and on the site itself. Hooray – my PR campaign is starting to work! 2 is a click to my Livejournal blog, linked to on my website. 3 is a pair of pages on this website, filed under my old url but I can see people are navigating around the site and sticking around. 4 and 5 are both links I have on blog posts; 5 is also on my references page. And all those marked 6 are websites of people I’ve featured on my blog, showing that I’m helping them get some traffic, too.

So there we go. Look at those statistics, whether you’re using WordPress or another host for your blog. And look at them actively: think about what they mean and how they can help you to find out how to tailor your blog to your audience and drive more traffic to your blog or website.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please click on one of the share buttons below, or leave me a comment. Especially if you’ve had any amusing search terms recently!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on August 17, 2012 in Blogging, Business, New skills, Organisation, Writing

 

Tags: , , , ,

New services and price offers

I’m now offering transcription services (prices from 75p per audio minute) so you can send me your audio files on .wma or MP3 and I’ll transcribe them onto a Word document for you. Suitable for journalists, researchers with interviews to check through, linguists, etc.

Do contact me to discuss this new services!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 20, 2010 in New skills

 

Tags: , , ,