One of my suggestions in "10 Essential New Year Resolutions for Web Marketers" was to start blogging.
The potential benefits of a well-executed corporate blog are simply huge. In addition to boosting your organic search engine optimization (SEO) by filling your pages with keyword-rich link bait, it also builds your reputation as an industry authority.
If that isn't enough, it also boosts the reputations of your individual staff members, creates a friendly public-facing corporate persona, helps you build industry connections, and increases your likelihood of press mentions.
So, how can you make the most of this important tool?
Commit to Regular Posts
A blog that is rarely updated does more harm than good.
Visitors who can see the blog hasn't been updated in three months will leave with an unfavorable impression of your entire company.
Not only that, there's no SEO benefit to infrequent updates. Give Google the regular content heartbeat it needs if it is to value your website.
Use Best Practice Online Copywriting
Readers online behave differently to offline. They don't value the content as much as they would in a newspaper or magazine, perhaps because it's free.
This makes them more likely to skim read your copy and much less likely to reach the end of any one article, particularly if you've included links.
So bear that in mind as you write. Use short sentences with the minimal grammar required (commas, hyphens, and so on can be distracting).
Try to use fresh paragraph for each sentence, so the words aren't all clumped together.
Place any calls to action high up in the copy and not at the end where they're likely to be missed.
Contribute Some Guest Posts
One of the best ways to build a following for your blog is to contribute to other industry blogs.
Guest posts will earn you inbound links to your own website (which the search engines appreciate), but it's also a great way to get attention for your own blog.
Get chatting to the editors of leading online portals for your industry and see if you can negotiate a placement.
Be Sociable Beyond PostingA blog is meant to be the beginning of a conversation. Don't simply post and consider your job done, take the time to read and respond to comments.
It's also important to socialize online in order to promote your blog. Use Twitter, Facebook, forums, and any other social platforms that are relevant to your sector.
By making friends and engaging with people elsewhere online, you'll drive more people to your blog and encourage valuable inbound links.
Don't be Scared of Outbound Links
People get frightened of linking out from their blogs and for good reason. Search engine robots follow links and so outbound links can whisk them away from your site.
However, the web is a social place. By linking to other websites when it's relevant and giving that valued link juice when it's appropriate, you make it more likely that other blogs and commentators will link to you.
If we all behave selfishly then we all lose out.
Encourage Repeat Visits
Make it easy for your reader to come back to your blog. Let them subscribe to your blog, offer to e-mail them when a reply is made to their comments, encourage them to sign up for newsletters.
Do everything you can to make the casual guest a repeat visitor. This ensures that when they come to buy the product or service you offer, your organization is at the very front of their minds.
Make Your Blog Easily Found
Hopefully you now realize that your blog does much more than simply feeding the search engines.
Promote it throughout your site, on your home page, and at the end of the buying process. If you send out any e-marketing, then include links to relevant posts on your blog.
Without a little helpful promotion, you won't build a readership very quickly and that can be disillusioning.
Create Cracking Headlines
When people share your content, they will often simply tweet the headline and a link, so make sure that headline is a real hook.
It has to be short enough to fit into a tweet, grabby enough to get people's attention, and explanatory enough that readers know it's worth their while to read.
That's no mean feat, so take the time to craft your headlines and don't just bash them out.
Lists Work Well
Online readers like valuable content in easily digestible format, which is why lists are so incredibly popular online.
Ten top tips for this, 25 best of that, 15 ways to do the other -- all these kinds of headlines promise informative articles that can be rapidly scanned.
Give your reader what they want and they are more likely to read all of it and share it with their peers.
Offer Readers Value
This is almost too obvious to write, except that a large amount of corporate blogs fail to grasp this essential fact.
Your articles need to be valuable, useful, and informative. Too many blogs are written by experts who are simply terrified of offering any real advice in case they accidentally make themselves redundant.
Don't be frightened of being useful. You're still the expert; you're just showcasing your knowledge and educating your future customers.
Even those readers who don't end up buying from you could still share your content or link to your articles. When the rewards are so great, it's OK to offer information for free.
Join us for SES London 2011, the Leading Search & Social Marketing Event, taking place February 21-25! The conference offers sessions on topics including search engine optimization (SEO), keyword analysis, link building, local, mobile, video, analytics, social media, and more. Register now.