Every month I’ll be highlighting a free or low-cost tool that community groups and not-for-profits can use to improve their marketing and communications. This month’s focus is on blogs.
A blog (short for ‘weblog’) is a regularly updated site written in a conversational style. Blogs originally started out as online diaries written by individuals, but many businesses now also use them to regularly update their users with information about the latest happenings in their industry. A blog is displayed as a series of posts, usually in reverse chronological order (newest first). Blogs also usually have a comment function where users can reply directly to the post.
Blog posts are generally quite short (usually around 500 to 1500 words) and are usually written in a conversational, informal style. Like all web content, they need to be either useful, entertaining or both. Many business posts use lists (e.g. ‘10 ways to improve your search rankings’) as a way of conveying information quickly and easily. Other, more personal blogs, like those written by public figures such as authors, may give some insight into the writer’s personality or creative process and function as a way to develop a relationship with readers.
Having a blog on your site is a very effective way of maximising your search engine optimisation (SEO), as long as it’s updated regularly. Although there are lots of free sites where you can host your blog—Blogger and WordPress being two of the biggest—it’s a good idea to have it attached directly to your site (e.g. yourdomain.com/blog) as any hits on your blog will also count towards your main site’s SEO. If you build a site on WordPress.com, you’ll automatically have a ‘posts’ page that you can use for blogging (if you don’t want to use it, you can elect for it not to be published).
The main purpose of a blog is to build relationships with your users. You want to encourage interaction, although it’s important to also moderate the comments section so that any offensive comments or users can be blocked. You can also interact with other bloggers in your field to develop relationships and possibly share links or guest post on each other’s sites.
The main thing to remember about blogs is that they need to be updated regularly, so starting one is a long-term commitment. Only get into blogging if you really enjoy it—it shouldn’t feel like a chore, and if it does, your readers will be able to tell. But if you enjoy writing and developing communities, a blog can really enhance your organisation’s website.