Posted At: February 1, 2013 1:45 P.M.
by Charlotte Ward, Senior Account Manager at TopLine Communications
Public relations officers regularly recommend that clients commit to producing a blog, and each time they deliberately use that word: committing. Why? Because managing a blog is a time-consuming activity – it is not something to be taken lightly. Of course businesses can ask their PR agency or copywriter to compose and manage blog posts on their behalf. But unless the writer knows that business and its customers inside and out, the blog will lack the depth, personality and understanding necessary for it to be deemed first-class content.
The first and most important reason for a business to blog is to move its website up the search page rankings. If a company has a competitor, and I doubt you can show me a business which doesn’t, it is important to appear above them in a Google search.
A few years ago a study by Cornell University demonstrated click and attention distribution. Using eye-tracking technology it revealed that the first two links listed on a search page receive more than 50 percent of users’ attention. So it’s easy to see why a company would want to appear high in search rankings, but to actually get there a company must employ search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is a complicated beast that really requires an article all of its own. But essentially the key is fresh, compelling and regularly updated content – including appropriate keywords (not just general, cliché terms). In fact, this is now more important than HTML literacy in achieving higher search rankings.
To identify the most appropriate keywords for a blog, a business should conduct keyword research using the Google Keyword Tool. The tool shows how many global searches are made monthly using specific terms, in addition to how much competition a business using those terms would face. It is important to note that the most obvious term isn’t always the best for a business to pursue due to the number of competitors also concentrating on it. There’s a balance that must be struck between the obvious and the obscure.
Finally, if a blog’s content is interesting to others, then people are likely to share it, and the website or blog will begin generating inbound links – something that Google considers vital when assigning search rankings.
Depending on a company’s PR and marketing goals, a blog is the perfect way to raise the profile of the CEO as an entrepreneur or leader within the market place. If a client wants to be considered for an entrepreneur or leadership award (which in turn will raise the profile of his or her business), then blogging is a good place to start. It provides the perfect platform for them to demonstrate a commitment to an industry, to corporate social responsibility and to being a great, all-around leader — the exact attributes award judges want finalists to demonstrate.
Generate new business leads
Speaking from experience, blogging is an excellent way to generate new business leads. A healthy number of leads come through our company’s three blogs every week, and that’s because a well-written blog is the ideal way to demonstrate expertise.
If a client is a payments specialist, then it might want to write about payment technology or customer service advice. However, it is also important that the blog occupies its own space. By that I mean that it concerns itself with a unique topic that no other business is yet focusing on successfully. Readers want to find out something new, so repeating topics found on a million other blogs will not generate interest or attract business.
Then again, if a blog does feature compelling content, the business behind it will soon attract promising leads. And, as content is shared more often, it will result in a significant increase in general traffic, to both the blog and website.
While it has been said here that the client should produce the majority of the content, that doesn’t mean the PR team should be absent from the process. In fact, the PR contact should offer to proof all copy, if only to ensure that the blogs maintain a consistent voice and theme. Moreover, a good PR agency will be able to manage the keyword research on the client’s behalf, reporting back on SEO success and suggesting if and when keywords need changing. They will also produce a content plan so that the client never has to worry about coming up with interesting topics.
The blogging process is a collaborative one. While the PR agency plays a vital role in its client’s blog, it is ultimately the business’s responsibility to create the engaging, original content necessary in a successful blog.