Blogs are often rated one of the top content marketing tactics for attracting and engaging customers, but most companies fail to combine two of the most important tools for boosting traffic and reach: optimization for search engines and for social media.
Most marketers and business bloggers understand the notion of search engine optimization, but often focus more on keywords than the customers that are actually searching. Adding keywords to blog posts is a common SEO tactic, but developing a blog content plan around both search keywords and social topics can result in content that is inherently search and social media friendly.
The Business of Optimizing Social Media
Social media optimization (SMO) involves optimizing social content for topics of interest to both the brand and the communities they seek to engage. SMO also focuses on the ability for social communities to share links and media they find interesting. Links to content shared on social networks and media sites can drive direct traffic to blog content and serve as a signal for search engines for ranking blog web pages.
Essentially, socialized and optimized blog content can drive traffic through search and those visitors can share that content through social channels, driving even more traffic. Social sharing can also impact even better search visibility, providing even more relevant visitors that are actively looking.
Search and Social Media Friendly
As Internet marketers have emphasized making websites search engine friendly over the past 10 years, we must not forget that making websites and blogs social media friendly is also important. Great blog content isn't really great until it's consumed and shared, so consider how your customers find information online that is most likely to inspire them to do what you want them to do.
A Better Business Blog Strategy
To get more out of the opportunity to improve online discovery of business blog content, here are a few key questions to ask for an "optimize and socialize" blog strategy:
- Who is the blog intended to influence? Prospects, customers, employees, industry analysts, reporters, bloggers?
- What content will your blog offer that will meet target audience needs?
- How will addressing those customer needs and telling the brand story manifest as a blog content plan?
- What search keywords and social topics are relevant to your target audience?
- Where does your blog content fit in the customer lifecycle of communication with the brand?
- If the blog content is properly optimized and socialized, how will it influence (directly or indirectly) measurable business outcomes?
Interest in Your Blog Is Related to Your Blog's Interest in Readers
One of the reasons business blogs fail as being optimized and socialized is that their content tends to be very brand-centric. Most business blog posts talk about the brand, its products, and its services without a lot of consideration for customer perspectives and language.
A self-centered business blogging approach tends to push ideas out, hoping to get a reaction in the form of search engine rankings, fans, friends, and followers. Many SEO-centric blogs share these characteristics.
The problem with a mostly brand content focus is that there usually isn't as much sharing, engagement, or direct influence on business outcomes because the content is all about the brand, vs. empathizing with customers and the language customers use.
To Be Great, Your Business Blog Must Participate
Conversely, a search-and-social-optimized business blog develops and participates in social communities online, offline, internally, and externally. To do that, blog editors need to figure out where the great ideas and stories are in the company.
All this said, it's not enough simply to have an optimized and socialized blog content plan that aligns brand solutions and ideas with those of your target audience. To tap into a high-quality stream of customer-centric blog content ideas, it's essential to engage relevant social communities. Ask them questions, crowdsource content ideas, give those who participate recognition, and repeat.
By shining a light on the awesomeness within your community, you'll provide the fuel of positive reinforcement to motivate fans and customers to partake in both content creation and promotion.
Walk the talk by telling your brand stories and those of your community. Lead by example and your community will start to tell your stories for you. And so will their friends, and their friends' friends. That's the benefit of optimizing beyond search to include social media, networks, and communities.