We have been talking a lot about SEO lately at Kalexiko HQ, with good reason. As you will know, Google's algorithm update has revolutionised how companies undergo their SEO tactics and one of the most effective it seems is social connection through your company blog.
If you remember our post; Penguin 2.0: the aftermath you will recall that one of the ways to build a good relationship with Google through your content is to be socially connected. That means Google will reward companies that interact with their audience through social mediums; i.e: social networking pages, forums and of course, your company blog.
Your blog is one of your biggest assets, believe it or not. Although it may seem like just a small part of your online presence, it really isn't. Your blog is your company's way of transmitting your services to an audience, your know-how and of course, a fantastic way to generate leads.
"So, where's he going with this? your asking" Well, using your blog you can heighten your social presence massively and it really isn't all that hard, it just takes an ongoing effort.
Engagement is the key word when it comes down to it. You need to use your blog not only to advertise to your audience, but to engage with them, and I'm going to show you five ways to do this effectively.
1. Don't just write; communicate
As far as I'm aware, people don't speak to their computers, well not in the same way you and I would chat anyway. This is because people don't want to talk to a machine. To engage with your readers then you need to write like a human; like yourself basically. While it sounds pretty mad, you should write your blog as if you were talking to a friend about the topic you are covering; try to enlighten them and answer the questions that you imagine they would be asking you on the topic.
There are a few simple ways to do this;
Throw away the book of grammar: 'Gasp', that's right. This isn't an academic essay, it's a blog. While it is important to keep your spelling and punctuation correct, regular rules of grammar needn't apply to your posts. So feel free to begin sentences with conjunctions such as 'and' and 'but'. But keep your writing of a high quality, it's not only grammar pedants that hate sloppy writing.
Short and snappy sentences are great for quick fire informative content. No one wants to trawl through cumbersome sentences with superfluous clauses. It doesn't make a compelling read. Keep sentences short and straight to the point. Got it?!
'Speak' colloquially: That means that everyday exclamations you would use in a conversation are fine; granted you know that the audience know what you are talking about.
Use direct terms of address: Nothing lets a reader know that you are involving them by addressing them directly, with terms like 'you'. Likewise, nothing lets a reader know that you are communicating with them by addressing yourself as 'I'. It forms a unity between you and the reader which can only mean a closer engagement.
And finally, entice inquisitiveness: In a short, pose questions to the reader, get them thinking and wanting to answer and engage with you.
2. Stimulate the senses of your reader
Ok, this sounds a bit flowery and sensual, but if you remember our blog, 'It's not what people buy, it's why they buy it', you will remember Simon Sinek's (video above) theory that brands who engage with the limbic part of the brain excite emotion and therefore create a ?why? rather than ?what?.
It is the same with your blog. By stimulating the readers senses you create an engagement that doesn't stay on the page. For this I recommend metaphors, as metaphors are like transmitters to the reader's soul.
By evoking sensual visuality through figurative language, you not only not only engage in what the audience are reading, but alsoi what they see, taste, smell and feel. If your blog reeks like a sixteen story high manure tower than your going to repel your readers. But if the words in your blog hit the readers mental ear like the music of the spheres then they will no doubt return for more.
Though a good point to note here is that you need to keep any figurative language that you use relevant to the understanding of the audience. It's no good using esoteric language that will just fly over the audience's head. Make sure that your reader will get what you are talking about, it would be no good using language inspired by imagery inspired by bird-watching when your readership are mainly technology fanatics. You must create hit home with sensory stimulation; there's nothing worse than misunderstood pomposity.
3. Be on your audience's level
Ok, so you may be an authority in your field; being a blogger an' all but that doesn't mean that you know more than your readers do. People often mistake their blog as definitive fountains of knowledge as opposed to discussion bases. By assuming a stance of a technology oracle or the next Messiah of prose you will more than likely alienate your readership. No One like a show-off, an smarty-pants lesser so, so don't be afraid to express uncertainty sometimes because we all don't know everything and honestly; it's ok!
By showing your uncertainties and the mistakes you have made you are only showing what you are; a human, just like your reader. Think about, how many times have you shy'ed away from putting that amazing point you had in mind at a client meeting because the client seemed untouchable. It works the same for blogging too; you are more likely to engage with an audience who are not intimidated by your seemingly all-knowing genius on a subject.
Inspiration drives creativity. You know you feel when something inspires you; how grateful and full of exultation you are towards the creator of whatever sparked you off? The only thing that is possibly better than that is igniting that in someone else. Inspiring a reader to create, to adopt your ideas or to inspire others is really what you should be aiming for. Inspiration makes the world go round, and when it comes to generating leads inspiration can be the thing that captures a conversion.
So, how to inspire? That's a difficult one as of course inspiration is idiosyncratic, subjective and individualistic. I have found that there are two things that you can apply to a blog article that usually seem to work;
Open up by demonstrating that you empathise with your reader, demonstrate that you understand their problems as their ears will be pinned back waiting for your solution.
Don't let your ending burn out. Many bloggers have a habit of caving into exhaustion when it comes to the end of their post and give up. The last paragraph is as important as the first as it will be what the reader leaves with. Conclude with an inspirational message or a summary of the article.
5. And finally, interact with your audience
It is quite easy to be content when you receive a load of comments and then leave them as they are; but this is where most people miss out on one of the most valuable opportunities to maximise reader engagement.
A successful blog doesn't just end with writing it, keeping people coming back for more is what makes a blog successful. To do this you need to engage directly with your readers, converse with them; respond to their comments: give them a reason to keep coming back. This will help you form a community based around your blog; which is more valuable than anything.
You can even go further than this, try checking out the commenter's website or blog and start a discussion about their content; build friends not just readers.
So, what to do from here
Obviously Google is sharking (perhaps there's an idea for the name of their next deadly beast) around the waters of the net biting those using crooked SEO tactics, which is fair. On the other hand there are many innocent SEOs and bloggers being attacked despite playing fair.
Using your blog properly can enhance your PageRank like you wouldn't believe, but you have to put in the work for the long game, yes it will take a lot of effort, but come on, what's wrong with playing the game hard and fair to win?
Now instead of despairing how Google have ravaged your SEO, suck it up and get blogging, and don't forget to let us know how your efforts are going!