August 09, 2013
Write in your own voice. Be casual. Be authentic. Be you!
by Maureen McCabe
I love reading and in particular, legal and political mysteries. With a book, what first intrigues me, is a compelling overview on the back cover. And then, I have to admit that I’m drawn to covers with captivating images – they do draw my attention immediately as I am sure the above image has captured yours. This is an awesome one!
When it comes to reading a blog – the first couple of paragraphs are either ‘make or break’. Within a few seconds, I need to understand what I will gain from reading the blog and then I will make a quick decision as to whether it is of interest to me or not. As well, it’s a given that a blog must be well-written in order to hold my attention.
The following blog outlines the costs involved in setting up a blog and hiring a writer, as well as eight practical tips if you are writing a blog yourself. Most importantly, my blog shows you how to maximize your blog post to help improve your search engine optimization, SEO – i.e. being found on Page 1 of Google.
The cost to engage a Canadian freelance web developer or agency to set-up a blog in WordPress, is typically in the range of $750-$1,000. Ideally, your blog template should be created and integrated into your website when it is first designed and built. Once you have an idea for a blog and have set it up, you must start blogging regularly. Blogging helps drive more sales leads to your site, as per an earlier blog that I posted. What is another key reason that blogging is important for your business?
“Fresh” content helps your organic ranking
When it comes to blogging, a recurring message for 2012 and 2013 is that new content often referenced as “fresh” means “original writing”. Also, it must be relevant to your business to help improve your website ranking. For example, if you are a plumber blogging about furniture-making, I’m sure you would agree that this is irrelevant. However, if your blog is related to installing plumbing fixtures for bathroom vanities and other bathroom furnishing, then that is relevant.
Matt Cutts is the spokesperson for Google’s Search Quality team which manages its search engine optimization algorithm. He is regarded by many as the “God of Search” – when he speaks or just hints as to what’s important – everyone listens!
Google has never disclosed their algorithm. Why? Because everyone and their company could be found on Page 1 of Google if they did. Seriously, it’s tweaked on a regular basis; in fact the 200 odd elements apparently change up to 400 times yearly. Further, we don’t know the weighting of each element.
Google “spiders” will crawl and re-index your site when there is new content. The buzz word today is “content marketing”. In a nutshell, you must write often – either add new pages or load blog posts to your website. This will keep a reader engaged and returning to your site.
NOTE: Google has repeatedly stated that duplicate content issues are rarely a penalty. It is more about Google knowing which pages they should and shouldn’t rank. Google doesn’t want to show the same content to searchers for the same query; they do like to diversify the results to their searchers. I recommend you view Matt’s video.
Content writing for your blog
Turn the world upside down… with blogging. It is one of the most powerful Internet marketing opportunities for so many reasons. Get right to it!
Ideally, you should blog weekly, realistically, as a small business owner if you can make the time to do two blogs monthly – that’s great. Blogging is one thing, good content is another. Keep in mind that with quality content, you will gain a loyal base of followers. A stagnant website can result in your ranking taking a dive.
I strive to blog twice monthly, although some months, I find myself writing one blog at the very end of the month because my website displays the months of the year and categories. Failure to blog consistently could give the impression that your company is inactive and not successful.
NOTE: I have a competitor who hasn’t blogged since 2009. If, when submitting a RFP, I hear that this company is the other Toronto marketing company under consideration, I will immediately educate my potential customer by asking open-ended questions as to how they evaluate a small Toronto business marketing firm – without disparaging the other company. Sounds like another topic for a blog, “How to select a marketing company in Toronto!”
Go pro – engage a writer
If you have neither the time to blog nor a staff person that’s up to the challenge, I recommend that you engage a professional writer. Before hiring them, ensure that you read a few samples of work the writer has written for clients before hiring them. Every writer has their own style and some are not suited to blogging.
You cannot assume because a writer lives in Canada or the company is located in Canada that the writer has an excellent command of the English language. (I have a client who literally had “garbage” written by a SEO agency. It was written by someone who wrote in broken English and it was posted without my client’s knowledge. The marketing firm did a great job of promoting the blog through social media, but it was a huge embarrassment.)
Two professionally written blogs which are well-researched, original and articulate (written without duplicate content or plagiarism) should cost approximately $500 per month. The independent writer or agency whom you have contracted may have to sign a contract for a three-month period as the writer will require time to familiarize themselves with your industry and business.
If a contract were required, as a precaution, ensure that there is an “Opt-Out” clause without a penalty after the first blog is written, just in case you are disappointed with the quality of their work and the blog is not what you had in mind. The $500 monthly fee should include:
- Writing two original blogs per month
- Posting each one on your website with SEO tags such as headlines: h1 or h2, ALT tags for images, meta or title tags, meta description etc.
- “Pushing them out” which is marketing jargon for promoting them on your Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn personal and company pages.
If the writer doesn’t have the above noted “Posting and Pushing” skill-set, then you or the person who manages your website must ensure that the blog is correctly uploaded and optimized. One of the key reasons that you are posting a blog (other than to educate prospective customers) is to improve your ranking in Google. Other benefits of a blog include the following key eight take-away blog tips:
- Blog on a regular basis for Google to continuously index your site. It will also help to set the expectation for your readers and subscribers.
- An appropriate length of your blog should be a minimum of 500 words to ensure that there is sufficient content to be indexed. Most bloggers target to write 750 words.
- Blog about – one theme only or a major topic because Google cannot index you well for diverse topics. For example – if you blog about “How to choose a marketing company” and “Social media marketing for small business owners”, write two blogs instead and reap the rewards.
- Relevant keyword phrases should be used. These are phrases that people key into Google when looking for your type of business product and/or service.
- Avoid being penalized if you keyword over-used repetitive phrases. Synonyms are good and an effective way around this penalty!
- Use interesting images for your blog.
- Designate an employee to proof, edit and approve all blogs prior to posting, particularly if they are written by a third party.
- Use SEO tags/commands to optimize your blog for the search engines. (Although in Canada we typically refer only to Google, as I have done throughout this blog.)
If your business needs guidance and support with a content strategy and/or writing, please contact McCabe Marketing for your risk-free consultation. We are the Toronto Marketing company you can turn to for all facets of your sales and marketing, even blogging!
Remember, through blogging, you will drive more business to your website, gain influence, establish yourself as an expert in your field, build a network, create a virtual store, and so much more!
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