Writing has always been a form of expressing an idea or a thought. However, in the current digital age, paper and pen has made way for blogging. When blogging began in 1994, it was more like a personal diary or thought journal in which individuals expressed their opinions and feelings on either a particular subject or on a variety of subjects.
Now, blogging has evolved to become a trusted and profitable medium to reach all kinds of audiences—individuals, businesses, companies, and so on. As a business, if you really need to optimize blogs, it is imperative to know what is a blog, why blogs are important, and how blogs can enhance user experience.
What is a blog?
A blog is an online informational portal or website that publishes and displays content on a particular topic or a variety of subject matters in reverse chronological order (from newest to oldest).
Blogs are also used by writers or groups of writers to share their thoughts and views on anything – from personal experiences to personal finance to human rights.
A blog can exist on a standalone basis, or as part of a website. Running a blog requires consistent ideation and brainstorming, scheduling and posting of content, and promotion and link building, among other aspects.
Why do you need a blog?
To completely understand the benefits of blogs, whether you are a business or an individual entity, the first step is to understand why is it important to have a blog.
In today’s hyper-digital world, getting noticed for your passion or building your venture requires you to have an active online presence. And a blog is one of the best ways to do that. Blogging ensures that your ideas and opinions gain visibility on search engines, and that your target audience finds you.
This becomes more crucial if you are using a blog to promote your business or service. Blogging can get your niche customer to notice you, generate organic leads, and drive more income your way.
Blog vs Website
A blog is very different from a website, even though the two mainly display content on search engines. One of the core purposes and benefits of a blog is to provide its regular readers or visitors with fresh content on a niche topic that gets updated regularly.
On the other hand, the main aim of a website is to provide new and old users insights into a particular product, service, person, or subject. Blogs get updated from time to time while some websites tend to remain static.
Websites are updated less frequently than blogs. And even after they are updated, websites appear more or less the same to visitors. Moreover, blogs are interactive and allow users to comment, share, and engage with the posts. Websites are not interactive and are more like navigation tools that users can use to explore the offerings of the website or business. Blogs can be a part of websites, but not all websites can be a part of a blog.
Types of Blogs
Once you know what is a blog, you can move on to understanding the types of blogs.
When blogs became mainstream, they were synonymous with personal journaling or blogging. While various blogging styles emerged later, personal blogs still remain one of the most popular forms of blogging.
As the term suggests, personal blogs are all about sharing personal opinions and thoughts on various subjects. Personal blogs are not aimed at a particular target audience and the bloggers do not aim to make money off them either.
Personal bloggers write about anything—from controversial topics to the day-to-day details of their life.
Business or company blogs are run by businesses or companies to communicate with their customers, attract prospective customers, and generate viable leads. These blogs are in sync with the core USP, product, service, or offerings of the business.
Businesses use blogs to inform their clientele, partners, and stakeholders about upcoming product launches, projects, press releases, and other details. Almost all businesses and companies have a digital presence without which they would not be able to gain visibility and move ahead of their competitors.
Review blogs, also known as affiliate blogs, assess and review a specific product or service from a niche or broad market category. Review blogs educate prospective buyers about a particular product or service, about the pros and cons, the price, and the overall value of that product. They also give their verdict on whether something is worthy of purchase.
Most review blogs take time to take off, as establishing trust amongst readers takes a lot of patience and expertise.
Multimedia blogs have caught on in popularity over the last decade or so, given the popularity of visual content among viewers. Multimedia bloggers use the same base format of a blog, but instead of written content, the blog page consists of audiovisual content like vlogs, podcasts, videos, and images with a piece of text summarizing the content to give context to the audience. Multimedia blogs also contain a table of contents and other widgets and icons in multimedia blogs.
News blogs focus on the latest happenings and recent global trends relating to various industries or even diverse topics. The purpose of a news blog is to keep the reader informed of what is going on in a specific field or industry. News blogs are objective instead of subjective and rarely include the perspective or opinion of the writer.
Lifestyle blogs are increasing in popularity by the day and are gaining immense followers. These blogs touch on a range of lifestyle-related topics around the central theme of improving the quality of life.
Most lifestyle blogs include discussions around health, nutrition, fitness and exercise, social life, career, productivity, passion, hobbies, holistic wellness, and anything else that gives readers practical and actionable tips on improving their lifestyle.
Influencer/ brand blogs
Influencer or brand blogs are a new category of blogs and are a cross between personal and professional business blogging. Usually, an individual starts and runs these blogs by picking a niche and creating content specific to it.
Once the blog gets traction, it becomes a well-recognized personal brand that is in a position to make money through brand collaborations, advertising, marketing, and partnerships with other established labels or individuals. These blog types require consistent content creation, a strong business strategy, and regular analysis of upcoming trends.
Travel blogs contain information about traveling. Travel blogging requires a lot of work as the target audience, which comprises travelers and tourists, spends dedicated time and research on finding the best destinations and travel deals.
Apart from destinations, travel blogs cover culture, cuisines, itineraries, best spots, and the best packages or travel deals. Creating a travel blog takes time as you are required to create content with in-depth research and accurate information.
What is blogging? Why is it popular?
Blogging is a method of sharing relevant and up-to-date information around a specific topic or cluster of topics with a widespread audience. There are almost 570 to 600 million blogs circulating on the internet, and the number only increases every day. Blogging is getting more and more popular by the day because it can:
- Help gain visibility on search engines
- Share information on specific topics
- Generate traffic with the help of SEO
- Get new visitors
- Engage in customer retention
- Help earn a steady income
Why do you need blogs?
So, the question that now arises is why are blogs important for SEO and businesses?
If you are a self-employed professional, a business owner, or someone who runs a company and wants to make your presence known among a wide range of people and potential clients, you must have a blog.
In today’s digital world, offline forms of communication are almost obsolete. So, if you want to build your brand and get noticed for your expertise, you must work towards having an active online presence.
A blog is one of the best ways to get your target audience to find you and convert them into leads. Almost everyone uses search engine platforms to find answers to their queries, buy a product, avail of a service, and get solutions for practically anything that they require.
Blogging is one of the best means of ensuring that your business, profession, or ideas gain visibility on search engine platforms and that your target audience finds you.
This becomes even more important for an e-commerce company advocating a product or service as you need customers to keep buying from you. Without blogging, you risk your brand being invisible to the millions of users on the Web. You need to blog to stay relevant, generate organic leads, and ultimately drive income your way.
How to blog?
1. Choose your target audience
The first step in starting a blog is understanding who will make up your target audience. Your target audience will be those people who resonate with your blog, align with the ideas and facts that make up the blog posts and find your products or services useful.
Ask yourself questions like who are you creating the blog for? Who should read them? That way, you will discover your niche and the topics you want to cover for that niche audience. For instance, if you are starting a financial blog, your target audience would be people looking for inputs on money management, insurance, and investments.
2. Brainstorm new content ideas
A crucial part of running a successful blog is maintaining its freshness quotient. For your blog to stay relevant on search engines, you must come up with original, unique, and well-researched content regularly. While you can decide the timeline for posting content, you have to ensure you are consistent and stick to the schedule.
The ideal timeline for posting new content is once a day, or at least once a week, especially if you are an up-and-coming brand with little to no audience. The content you come up with must also be of high quality, SEO-approved, and interesting to your readers.
3. Research on CMS
Content management systems (CMS) are software tools that help design, manage, and publish blog posts and other content for your blog site. Without a CMS, you will not be able to publish and update your blog content.
You will also have to take care of the technical aspects yourself, which includes writing a static HTML file and uploading it to your server. Using a CMS helps you upload your content directly and integrate it with your blog or website.
Various CMS softwares are available but WordPress is one of the most popular CMS tools as it is easy to use and free. Joomla, Drupal, Magneto, and Sitecore, among plenty others, follow WordPress.
4. Create a strategy
No endeavour ever works without a strong and adaptable content strategy in place. The same goes for blogging. If you blog without a specific aim in mind and post unrelated content, it can get hard to unlock the benefits of blogs. Your blogging strategy should have answers to these questions:
- Which part of the audience is the niche for my offering and what type of content will I produce and curate for them?
- Do my blog posts meet my target audience’s needs?
- What content, content pool/ reserve, research sources, editorial tools, tracking tools will I use?
- What is the timeline for posting and scheduling posts?
- Where will I promote my content, the brands I want to target for collaboration, and the like?
5. Write a blog
When it comes down to it, how you write a blog is crucial in ensuring its success and visibility. Pay close attention to the structure of your blog. While each blog is different, there is a standard blog structure that authors use that is already well received by blog readers.
When writing your blog posts, pay due attention to the article structure. Your blog should start with an attention-grabbing, yet meaningful, header or title. It should have plenty of subheads, bullet points, tables, images, and other broken-down content to make the blog post easy to read and digest. It should also have an inviting call-to-action (CTA). A CTA nudges readers to engage further with your blog and ultimately generates viable leads.
6. Promote your blogs
It would not matter how valuable your content is if no one ever finds or reads it. Once you get done with the content creation bit, it is vital to ensure that your target audience finds your blog posts. Here is where promotion and marketing come into play. You can promote your blog posts through:
- Mentioning it on various digital platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Twitter
- Sending out emails and daily/ weekly/ monthly newsletters
- Inviting guests to write posts or linking to other websites
- Partnering with an influential personality or brand
- Advertising or pay-per-click adverts
- Offering incentives for customer participation and promotion
7. Conduct SEO
Why blogs are important for SEO, you ask? Well, as your blog post will get displayed on search engines (especially Google), it is important to conduct thorough search engine optimization (SEO) to push up your search ranking.
You have to conduct SEO from time to time to get actual results and drive organic traffic to your blog page. You can carry out SEO by researching keywords relevant to your field or niche industry, doing competitor analysis, doing internal and external linking, and using user-friendly URLs and meta tags, among other steps. You should also optimize your user interface and optimize your blog to be lag-free for boosting user experience.
8. Use variations
When we say use variation, we mean to try and write your blog posts in various styles and patterns. This does not mean you stray away from your niche and dabble in topics beyond your expertise. It only means that you have to try various combinations of blogging structure and styles to keep up user experience and interest.
For instance, one day you can have a how-to blog post, and the other day a listicle blog post. Or you can have a multimedia blog post, share personal stories, publish interviews, or have a guest blogger write for you.
9. Repurpose old content
Repurposing is not just for clothes and materialistic items. You can repurpose and reuse your digital content as long as you remodel it in a way that has a fresh and relevant feel to it. As brainstorming and coming up with 100% authentic and interesting blog content is hard and requires consistency, you can reinvent your old content.
Doing this can save you time and beat those writer’s blocks if the need arises. For instance, you can convert a video or audio content of yours into an article or vice versa. In case repurposing content is not an option, you can invite a group of bloggers to come up with fresh content and run your blog in your absence.
10. Keep an eye on competitors
A little healthy competition never hurt anyone. Some of the biggest successes in the world have looked up to their peers and competitors for inspiration. Why should blogging be any different? Looking at what your competitors are up to can help you identify industry trends, understand your audience, develop a foolproof strategy, and fix the shortcomings in your content.
It can also give you many ideas on relevant topics, mutually beneficial collaboration and promotion, and ways to promote your blog. More than anything, it will keep you on your toes and have you learning and growing every day.
Benefits of having a blog
There are several benefits of blogs. Having a blog can:
- Help your company, business, brand, or personal page to rank higher than competitor pages and gain top rankings on search engines. This is only possible with the incorporation of SEO in blogging.
- Help you share information about a specific topic of interest and become an expert in an industry over time.
- Help to drive organic traffic to your site or platform, and turn prospective visitors into actionable leads, which in turn, can bring you consistent revenue. It can also maintain engagement with your current customer base.
- Help you cultivate an online community and engage with an audience to better understand their needs and bank on them.
- Help establish trust and expertise within your customer base, partners, and stakeholders.
- Help increase your credibility and goodwill in the industry.
- Help improve user experience and customer satisfaction.
Best practices of blogging
To unlock the benefits of blogs, it is vital to consistently create and publish high-quality posts. Strive for your content to be authentic, plagiarism-free, impactful, trustworthy, and showcase your expertise in your field.
It should also be easy to understand as most readers do not have the patience to read language that is verbose, complex, abstract, and unnecessarily lengthy. Remember to carry out regular SEO. Also, make sure your headline is as inviting and attention-grabbing as possible, as 80% of readers click on an article/ blog post if they find the headline compelling.
Active reader engagement
A reliable marker of a successful blog is active reader engagement. Reader engagement is any action taken by the person who visits your blog that indicates that they have interacted with your content.
For instance, if they read an article from start to finish, leave comments on your posts, click on the CTA, share the blog post on their social media profile, generate an active lead, or make a purchase it will qualify as an indicator of active reader engagement. Different blog/ Web applications will provide insight through varying modes.
User experience is important
To run a successful blog for the long term, it is of utmost importance that your users have a smooth user experience and a smoother user interface to navigate. While you ensure that your blog layout is aesthetic with the right typography, fonts, and colour schemes, ensure that your Web design is simple, consistent, and easy to navigate. Optimize your blog to be as user friendly as possible. For instance, take care of factors like load time, mobile friendliness, and functionality. Get rid of unnecessary components that clutter your blog layout. Your blog has to be user-friendly so it generates a positive user experience.
Blogs should be utilised as important complementary spaces for businesses and individuals to engage with their audiences on a regular basis. While they might have their minor set of disadvantages, blogs can be a vital medium of making money from the content created, and many businesses are already utilising these services to optimise their resources and offer them to their customers.
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