You’ve read the numbers: content marketing is on the rise and shows no signs of slowing. Intent on cutting yourself a slice of this pie, you hire some writers, ask your web developer to create a blog page or separate site (or, if you’re a startup, you do all of this yourself), and with a rapidly beating heart you publish your first blog post, certain that the users will come pouring in.
But they never come.
You create post after post after post but the hits never come. What’s going on? Wasn’t this content marketing thing supposed to be a sure bet? The answer to your question is: nothing is a “sure bet”, but content marketing is a powerful tool in improving sales and brand perception. The problem likely has nothing to do with your astute observation that business blogs are on the rise, but instead has to do with the nature of blogging itself.
Blogging thrives on organic traffic; traffic that depends on a body of content that triggers search engine keywords and results in page views and, eventually, conversion. But the process requires a great deal of maintenance in order to run at full steam. For that reason, do not despair. Let’s walk through some of the reasons that your blog may be underperforming.
1. Your blog is new
Take a look at your watch. Has it been an hour since your first post? Then slow your roll friend. Blogging takes time to develop readership. As mentioned, the model requires an extensive body of work that generates traffic from keyword hits. Creating this volume of posts and establishing credibility as a reputable source takes time and patience. Before jumping ship on the whole concept, examine other necessary steps to building your audience.
2. You’re blogging about yourself
We’ll begin with content. Content is a powerful driver of returning traffic and brand perception and should receive a great deal of your time. A terrible blog with great SEO may land visits, but the victory will be short-lived.
If you’re blogging about yourself, your accomplishments, and your products, stop. The goal of your business blog is not to advertise your product catalog. It’s to deliver value to your users and thereby convert them into customers. This means that blog topics and content will need to appeal to customers in order to gain and maintain readership. Focus on finding out what’s important to them and generate material accordingly.
3. Your content isn’t valuable to your intended audience
The key is to blog for the readers you want. This means that understanding your customer base is essential to generating stimulating blog pieces. Do so by creating customer personas that articulate their interests and personalities. Set up interviews with customers of different types and drill down their characteristics to identifiable personalities. Then, let these profiles guide your content creation. Doing so will not only put you in tune with your target audience, it will help make future writing easier and more effective.
4. Your writing is boring or bad
It’s not easy to hear, but sometimes the writing on your business blog is, well, bad. If you possess the resources to hire strong writers, make sure you read their content and assure its quality. If you write your own content, consider some rudimentary writing lessons in subjects such as grammar, spelling, and clarity. By nailing down the basics, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of the curve, but the basics are not all that matter. Choose engaging topics with eye-catching headlines and make your writing interesting and compelling. Avoid being robotic in your delivery and focus on being conversational and witty in order to connect with your target audience.
5. Your content is irrelevant
Blogging involves more than just writing interesting topics. Said topics need to have relevance in order to capture user attention. For this reason, keep an ear to the ground regarding industry trends, news events, and cultural developments and interject your commentary or authority where relevant. Doing so will improve not only organic traffic by tapping into hot search keywords, but reader perception by appearing current and cutting-edge.
6. Your publishing schedule is infrequent and inconsistent
Creating good content is just the beginning. Other factors play a huge part in site traffic due to the idiosyncratic characteristics of today’s users. For starters establish a blog publishing schedule and stick to it. It is not enough to simply throw content into the air at irregular intervals and trust that your blog will stay on everyone’s mind. Internet readers need a constant reminder that you exist, and establishing a publishing schedule will help facilitate that.
7. You’re not encouraging email subscription
There are all types of “vanity metrics” in the blogging world that in no way affect your actual reader engagement. Email subscription is not one of them. If the goal is to stay relevant, then email provides just that opportunity by shuttling blog content directly into user inboxes on a regular basis. If your business blog has RSS readers (individuals who read news through automated feeds), then you haven’t quite made your mark, as such readers have the luxury of remaining more passive. Consider a call-to-action imploring readers to subscribe via email and expect better traffic as a result.
8. Your blog is un-shareable
Spreading the word about your blog doesn’t have to fall entirely to you. While you remain responsible for the brunt of the work, including social media sharing buttons on blog posts can greatly increase your reach. Certain factors influence content sharing: photographs are more likely to be shared, agreeable opinions or content that embodies values readers wish to be associated with will see likes. In either instance, make this action available to your readers through social media buttons, which are both easy in implementation and profound in implication.
9. You’re not promoting your blog
As we said before, the brunt of the work is still yours, even with readers spreading the word for you. Your blog acts as marketing for your products but requires some marketing of its own to have impact. Promote posts in social media, include blog content in efforts that generate leads, link to your blog in your site navigation, and think like a marketer when promoting your material. Think of content as the ingredients in your marketing dish and promotion as the presentation; both work in tandem to whet the appetite.
10. Your blog content isn’t optimized for search
As stated earlier, blogging depends on organic traffic from keywords. But if your blog isn’t optimized for discovery, then organic traffic will be much harder to come by. Volume is essential, since each blog post you publish is another page to be indexed. In fact, research shows that the average company will see a 45% growth in traffic when increasing total blog articles from 11-20 to 21-50. Along with increased volume, research keywords relevant to your industry and topics and include these keywords on every page of your blog. The combination of better, more descriptive search indexing and post volume will drive your site traffic over time and lead to positive returns.
The potential of blogging is there, but the endeavor is not without its maintenance. Focus on creating good, relevant, and compelling content and publish it consistently. Facilitate sharing and push email subscribers in order to retain readership. Finally, promote your blog, increase your volume, and optimize your search engine keywords for greater traffic volumes and customer impact. By performing the necessary blogging chores, you may see your lemon turn into a peach, both in ROI and satisfaction.