If you or your company is publishing a regular blog to increase website traffic, these are just a few of the questions that you need to ask. Since the number of blogs has grown to 126 million in 2009, it is becoming increasing difficult to stand out from the digital pack.
Most blogs, of course, are low-quality, personal ones that receive little online-traffic and are little more than online diaries. But for those who blog to earn revenue from advertising or generate potential sales-leads for their businesses, it is vital to view the art (and science) in a professional light just as though one was publishing a book.
If you’ve followed my writings for the past several years, you know that I love blogging. It’s a way to combine my two passions — journalism and online marketing.
At Considerations, the group blog I founded in 2006 when I was a Boston newspaper editor, I discuss everything from international relations to the Middle East to economics to dating as a way to keep my journalistic interests alive. Here, of course, I cover all aspects of SEO and Internet marketing. And SEM and online marketing are crucial to bloggers who want to write and publish seriously. My interests in journalism and search-optimization have combined to turn the various sites I own into successful online ventures.
If you are just starting out as a professional blogger (or a blogger in a professional context), it is important first to review the basic theory and principles of online marketing. (Each of the two linked books is a good SEO title.)
Blogging Theory on Blogspot Blogs or WordPress
Second, it is important to know your audience. Although the tactics of marketing have changed in the Digital Age, the strategy remains the same. Decades ago, marketers used broad messages in generic outlets (like general-interest newspapers) to reach as wide an audience as possible. However, in recent times, the fabric of society has changed to become segmented, personalized, and individualized. (The reasons are complex and suited to a discussion at another time.) As a result, marketers have increasingly tailored their messages to a specific demographic (teenage girls, working mothers, elderly men, and so on).
The same is true in SEO and online marketing. Nearly every product, service, and blogging topic will tend to interest a specific demographic in terms that include gender, age, income, education, and location. Just like traditional marketers, professional bloggers need to research their likely demographic before they begin writing and publishing.
In just a few examples, Dan Zarrella of Hubspot has found that more men than women check blogs more than once per day. Women are also more likely to subscribe to blogs via e-mail (while men presumably prefer techniques including RSS feeds, Google Reader, and going directly to the site). Men tend to read blogs in the evening or at night while women check their favorite writers during the day. (Zarrella is the author of the “Social-Media Marketing Book,” and he hosted a free webinar — that I highly recommend — on “The Science of Blogging.”)
Here are a few Zarrella’s insights that I did not know:
- Readers prefer to read and forward blog posts that are positive in tone
- “Trigger words” like “why” are “how to” generate more interest while jargon bores people
- Twitter users prefer blogs that have “higher readability” while Facebook users like items written at a sixth-grade level
- Write in a third-person voice and use more nouns and verbs rather than adjectives and adverbs
- People will follow blogs that are “novel” — they offer original insights that are not found anywhere else
- People are more likely to share articles on social media when few others (but not zero) have done so — they like to be among the “first” to discover something new
- It is best to publish new blog posts in the early morning — between 7 and 8 a.m. EST if your target audience is in the United States — and circulate them in social media in the late afternoon
I highly encourage people to watch his free webinar — I don’t want to spoil it by listing all of the recommendations here. But many of his points relate to demographic profiling. The following items will affect how you write, publish, and distribute your professional blog:
- Does your demographic use Twitter or Facebook more?
- How old and educated are they?
- Where are they located?
- How do they follow your blog (RSS, e-mailed posts, etc.)
- And so on.
By researching your potential audience; choosing external keyword-tools and SEM data; looking into HTML search-engine optimization; using marketing SEO software; and possibly hiring an SEO consultant, you can become a professional blogger either for yourself or your company.
Samuel J. Scott, a former journalist in Boston turned Internet marketer in Israel, is the founder and publisher of My SEO Software and Director of Digital Marketing and Communications and SEO Team Leader at The Cline Group. You can follow him at Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. His views here and elsewhere do not necessarily reflect those of his company and clients.