Blog Standard

Blog Standard

The best bloggers in a market sector are not only appearing at the top of search engine rankings, as poor content continues to burden the chasing pack.

Much of this has been covered before, but as long as I continue to see more bad blogs than good, and the majority still not blogging at all, it’s worth repeating.

I write blogs. I ghostwrite blogs. I read blogs. I believe in blogs. So, I know a thing or two about blogs and what makes them good—and bad.

Every good business should have a blog. Within reason that’s true, but not every blog is good for business.

Let’s assume readers of this blog aren’t in the minority to whom a blog would add no value. We don’t need to go into the reasons why that might be here. Let’s take it for granted that you should blog, blog more and might be able to blog better.

What’s in a name?

The worst thing about a blog is the the word itself. Say it… Blog. It sounds insignificant and trivial. I have been blogging (the verb doesn’t sound any better) for about 10 years. At the time of my first post, I was working in the lifting equipment industry where many marketers were still struggling to come to terms with the internet so I was less a pioneer in the sector and more the guy with the giant mobile phone in the 1980s!

I was young too. So in an industry of engineers and lifting enthusiasts, I had to work hard to gain respect. Honestly, my early blogs didn’t gain much traction. My group editor at the time said I was spending too much time concentrating on online content and not enough on print, while engagement from the target audience was minimal.

I kept at it and one day, a managing director of a UK hoist company approached me at a trade show and said: “I liked your last blog.” Boom!

However, he still said it as though it was a dirty word. His mouth struggled with the letters. Perhaps it was the first time he had ever said it. He held the B, elongated the L and completed the OG with a raise of the eyebrows, as though it was a whacky, futuristic concept. I guess it was in some ways. But I was getting somewhere. Being read as a writer is an incredible feeling and this one compliment kept me motivated for months—honestly.

As an aside, if you appreciate something you read, give the author a doff of your cap.

Tried and tested

Entertaining an international, diverse community of crane and hoist professionals through the blog was tough, so I tried to stick with education, guidance and notes from trade shows or events that they could relate to.

Along with daily news posts and a regular newsletter, web traffic started to grow and people wanted to supplement their traditional print advertising with banners and digital spot adverts (pop-up and embedded ads were still a bit advanced for the industry). Simultaneously, my magazine and I were increasingly becoming respected as authorities in the industry. People wanted to know what I thought and how I would respond to certain developments.

Magazine editors put commentaries at the front of their titles. It creates a persona that one is equipped to commentate on the subject matter in the following pages. A blog does the same. If you strike an educational, entertaining, non-commercial tone in your blogs, not only will online communities be able to find you, they’ll trust you as an authoritative figure and respect your business as a consultative source. People like buying stuff from that sort of company.

They’re the big two reasons to blog—to get noticed and build a reputation for being good at what you do. But there’s a trick to achieving that illustrious, dreamy status. It takes time, dedication, patience and quality. One doesn’t have to be a gifted writer—it helps—but quality doesn’t only come in the shape of sparkling prose. More important is to be non-commercial. In other words, don’t shout about what you do, explain how you can help and share your experiences or success stories that target audiences can learn from.

My business used to provide a PR service to a company that insisted on their advertising slogan being worded into the first couple of paragraphs of press releases and the blogs we used to ghostwrite. Needless to say, when they consistently ignored our advice to leave the promotional jargon to their advertisements and livery, we started to lose interest in the account until it became untenable. Our hearts couldn’t remain in such self-serving content and it was at odds with our mission statement. Not all business is good business, after all.

‘The friendliest gardener in town’ or ‘The Rolls-Royce of forklift trucks’ are not statements that will develop SEO, generate positive interest in a brand or earn trust from target audiences who find themselves confronted with your content. Informed commentary on gardening issues and ideas about the integration of trucks in a warehouse environment might do. Pretend you’re an editor of a gardening or material handing magazine. Don’t sell a product. Commentate on an industry. Tackle a trend.

Canned content

Online content should be labelled correctly. Imagine if a shop keeper put the wrong labels on their produce. You’d be disgruntled. Online audiences are just as judgemental. But worse, they won’t stay in your shop; before you know it they’d have closed the window and moved on—possibly to a competitor.

A blog should be a blog, not a sales brochure, press release, company profile or gallery of images. You can’t cheat. Even if you’re lucky enough to get their eyes on your site—and you won’t in a competitive sector with lots of informed bloggers and SEO-savvy content marketers—you’ll never convince them you’re the best in the business just because you say so.

When you sit down to write your first, next or revamped blog, and you’ve imagined yourself as a magazine editor or authoritative commentator who covers your sector, remember that your target reader is busy, well-informed and already has more content than they can read. You’ve got to give them an angle they haven’t already got. Ask yourself: will they really take time out to read 500 words of self-promotional slogans? No chance.

I’ve heard it said that if one can send an email they can post a blog. In reality, structuring a written commentary or constructing an argument is challenging for some and takes time. Better to have a well-written, frequently updated, quality blog than not. Granted, it’s a service we provide, but getting blogs or other content produced by a copy or ghostwriter is an effective method.

There’s much debate about the frequency of blog posts. More isn’t necessarily better. Quality is better. More quality is obviously better still. You get the idea. Some bloggers post every day, some every week, some leave it longer in between than that. As long as a blog page doesn’t look like it’s been neglected, I don’t think it matters too much.

What will your next blog be about?

Follow the business on Twitter @BridgerHowes

Richard Howes

Director, Bridger Howes Limited