Digital networks and technologies offer people and organisations countless ways to communicate and share information with individuals and communities. But for anyone trying to master the dark art of digital engagement, the sheer complexity of what to communicate, how and when, through which channels and on what device can prove overwhelming and off putting.
I’ve now managed (and analysed) countless websites – big and small, public and private sector – and the canny (and successful) ones understand that the web experience is a total ecosystem involving fresh content on different platforms (mobile, tablet, laptop) across multiple social networks, all bound up within search analytics.
Death of the home page
With the advent of mobile devices home pages are now often considered to be irrelevant as people search for information in Google or Bing and share links on social networks rather than navigate through a site architecture.
So this is the challenge for website owners – how to build the perfect ecosystem that will attract customers or users who will want to interact and come back again and again.
The only practical way to approach this is by taking it step by step, experimenting, analysing results and finding out what works for you as an individual or organisation. This will take time and effort, but with a methodical approach, the rewards will come in the form of more shareable content, social engagement and user interaction, and a higher search engine page ranking. A community of interested users will see you as a source of information to be trusted, bookmarked and shared. They will become eager participants within the digital ecosystem you create.
Once you have your website, you need to start driving users to all that rich content you spent months uploading. You need people to visit and see how good it is, use and share the information on your pages or buy the products you sell. That has to be your goal.
Apart from the core content that has been written across your site, you need to build a content strategy to keep the website fresh and updated. Above all other weekly tasks, updating your website is key. Google’s algorithm updates regularly penalise websites that fail to update their content. These often slip, sometimes dramatically, down the page rankings. Directories, in particular, are prone to this problem.
Content comes in many forms – here is a list the most popular forms:
- White papers
What is a blog?
The first question everyone asks is why blog – indeed what is a blog? The most common perception of a blogger is a student railing against the world, sitting at a laptop in his or her pyjamas late into the night. But blogs are much more serious than that. They’re about updating information on your website, thought leadership for your audience and often the starting point of a discussion on products or services.
For PR professionals, it’s worth noting that this doesn’t have to unlock a Pandora’s box full of hate mail and negative sentiment, but a genuine interaction. Furthermore, blogs are excellent ways to manage your reputation by engaging with positive and negative comments. If you’re not part of the discussion, your community acts without you and sometimes even against you. Be warned.
The benefits of blogging
So what benefit do you have by creating a regular blog (and I’m using blog as a generic term for text and audio-visual content)? First rule is to understand your audience, do some social listening (look at local Facebook and Twitter conversations, as an example) and ensure your content is going to strike a chord with people and organisations in your chosen community. Here is a list of why you should blog:
- A well-maintained blog, in terms of SEO and timely content, is one of the most effective ways to benefit in real-time visibility for a search and social world.
- A combination of a timely, popular blog and a wide group of followers and friends in networks is one of the quickest ways to get published and distributed instantaneously.
- Through comments, additional conversation and feedback occur immediately as the content is read and shared.
- Blog posts and articles are shared in real-time on social networks via links, likes, retweets and LinkedIn shares, among other types of shares. Frequency and timeliness of blog posts and news updates indicate to a person and a search engine that the blog has a live presence, is relevant to the moment, and is fresh.
- A well-maintained and trusted blog can go from published post to live in Google search in just a few minutes.
- Overall, blogs serve as a method of delivering your messages quickly and in real-time to your audience. Whether you are providing fast news, sporadic updates, full-length articles, or instant updates to your audience, a blog should be fundamental to every content strategy.
What to write about
For hard-pressed communications professionals, the next question is what to write, film or record? Try to be anecdotal. Blog and video posts are essentially telling stories. Topics can include:
- Tips on topical issues – numbers are always good in headlines
- Debates that are raging in the press
- Reviews of products and services
- Review a book or event
- Lists of top 10 concerns, practical solutions to overcoming them
- Interview local and national experts
- Write an A-Z guide of your digital community
- Comment on a recent campaign
- Write about your own survey
- Video professionals at work, talking about work or people in the community about local issues
- Infographics of community or national issues.
Next week I’ll put some more flesh on the bones of blog writing…Follow witleyboy