After returning from SXSW Interactive in Austin, I am all hot and bothered again on the subject of corporate blogging. I’m going to do my best to vent elsewhere and make this a straight-up value-add article for those of you still sitting on the fence of blogging.
So with very little warmup, let’s dive straight in, shall we?
1. On-Site Optimization is Rarely Enough for Long-Term Success
Let me just say that far too many people are aware of the existence of SEO tactics, and just want me to “do” them to their site. No mess. No fuss. Just do the stuff that makes my site rank well and increases sales!
So, the problem with this mentality is that it assumes you can just “do” things to a potentially hideous website and somehow that will be the magic juice leading to success. Yes, there is a checklist of on-site optimization tactics I can perform on any site. I can make the most out of what I am given. But I can’t turn a Pontiac into a Lexus. Give me a Toyota and I can beautify it to be Lexus-like, but a Pontiac? Um, no. Your tags and static copy and internal linking can all be optimized. But in the end, earning new links from external sources is still the #1 most important part of building search authority and earning better rankings.
So you tell a client they need more websites to link to them. Great. When do we get started? Well, it’s not that simple. Yes, we can get you certain types of links, whether it be through directories, comments, or social bookmarking. But the links that everyone wants come only from having content, products, or sales that turns heads.
2. To Get the Best Links, Your Site Has to Be Link Worthy
That’s it in a nutshell. It’s a competitive world out there, and no webmaster or content manager is going to give up links to static content that isn’t compelling. And by “static content”, I’m referring to the pages of copy on your site that haven’t changed for the past few years. They say nothing new. We are each tasked with the responsibility of providing our users with value. Linking to a page of average legacy copy doesn’t really provide value to one’s readers. If I send you to another website via a link, you are trusting me that the information on the other end is worth seeing, or you are giving attribution to the original source.
Without fresh content, your website is more than likely NOT link worthy. And when I say “link worthy”, I mean a site whose content is unique and valuable enough that other sites will benefit by linking to you. They can benefit in many different ways. Just like a research paper, adding links to authoritative sources can add strength to statements someone is making. Put yourself into the mind of the other webmaster: I want to link to this other site’s page because it will benefit my visitors how? Will it make them laugh? Will they trust me more? Will they see me as someone who knows everything that’s going on in my niche? Will appreciate my sending them to additional resources that will answer their questions? Now you’re getting it. We have to make your website an attraction. Your content has to be of value to OTHER people’s visitors as well as your own.
I think many marketing VPs actually realize that their websites aren’t link worthy, but they’re intimidated by the idea of being responsible for producing quality content. That’s why I appreciate articles like Getting Links AND Content from Flickr by Lisa Barone. This gives me yet another strategy to put in the toolbelt to offer our clients when they object to starting a company blog. It’s intimidating to think of producing interesting content all the time if that’s not your forte. I get it. All you need to know is that there are many agencies out there, including MarketNet, who can handle or direct your blog content production under some general guidelines that you develop with your agency over time.
But We’re Not a Publisher. We’re Trying to Sell Widgets Over Here!
Very true. You are not a publishing startup. But everyone, and I mean everyone, is a publisher who has an active website. You published content on the Web that you expected to have some sort of influence upon the people who see it. And whether your goals are to sell widgets or generate sales leads, your website needs to be visible to your target audience. And if one of the most effective ways to increase visibility is by publishing a company blog full of valuable information, news, and insights, then so be it.
You need shoppers. You need those shoppers to buy widgets. Then you need to do whatever it takes to get them there. If it means publishing good blog content so other sites will link to you and therefore increase your site’s search engine rankings over time, then so be it.
You do what it takes to succeed. Let’s don’t get hung up on the fact that you don’t like the idea of doing something as “silly” as blogging. Successful websites blog. They engage their audience in many different ways. They find their people in the trenches, whether that looks like Twitter, forums, blog networks, or Facebook and MySpace.
If you can trust a traditional advertising agency enough to create multi-million dollar campaigns for radio and television, you can trust an interactive agency with tens of thousands to entrench your brand into the actual lives of your target audience.
“marketing guy in need of a better title”