By Carl Weiss
|Image courtesy of hotfrog.ca|
When it comes to generating results online, most people still act as though a website is the be-all, end-all of Internet marketing. That kind of thinking is so 20th Century. Sure, before the year 2000, there were only two things you needed to succeed online: a website and a search engine. Fifteen years later, not only is this clearly not the case, in some cases you don’t need a website to generate results at all.
Since it can take from 4-6 months on average for a website to work its way up the food change onto the first page of the major search engines, this isn’t always the best route to success for many businesses. Sad to say it, but 99% of websites never make it onto page one. In the first place, a website only represents 25% of the criteria that search engines use to determine ranking. The other 75% consists of off-page media, including blogs, social networks, and videos. Unless you have the time or money to post relevant content to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogger and YouTube on a regular basis, then your chances of making it to the top of the search engines is slim to none.
However, that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Especially if your resources are limited, it is sometimes a better course of action to choose your battles and start growing your web presence on the installment basis. One of the quickest ways you can create a growing audience that you can sell to is by blogging.
This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Blog
Started on August 23, Blogger was originally created in San Francisco by three contract programmers during the dot-com boom. When dot-com became dot-bomb, Blogger barely survived the shake out. Then Google came calling in 2003 and bought Blogger. Since that time, Blogger has seen quite a few changes. Today’s platform allows users to do much more than merely post blogs. Fully fledged, a writer can do everything with Blogger that they can do with a website, including:
· Post text
· Embed videos
· Include banner ads
· Host forms
· Create subsidiary pages
· Add backlinks
· Automatically resize to any platform
· Generate a loyal following
Even more important is the fact that as soon as you click on the submit button, the Googlebots will spider your blog. This means that a properly optimized blogpost could wind up on page one of Google in as little as a few hours. Try doing that with a website.
We Don’t Need No Stinking Website!
Face it, the reason anyone builds a website is to generate exposure. The problem with that idea is that the current monopoly exerted by Google, Yahoo and Bing means it’s their way or the highway when it comes to what generates top ranking. That makes trying to getting on page 1 very hard to do. (This is especially true when the search engines “Tweak” their algorithms on an almost daily basis.)
But what if there was a way to generate the same or even better exposure for your business without having to rely on search engines at all. In fact, what if I could show you a way to generate a bigger, more targeted audience while at the same time increasing conversion without the use of a website? Would that interest you?
Before I do that, let’s take a look at the best case search engine scenario. Let’s say for the sake of argument that you woke up one morning to find your website in position 1, page 1 on Google. Let’s also assume that it was for a highly coveted keyword or phrase that produces 10,000 relevant searches per month. Sounds good doesn’t it? Well, it should, because on average the top organic listing on Google generates nearly two thirds of the clicks that land on that search. So your website would receive around 6,500 clicks that month.
That’s the good news. The bad news is just because your site generated a few thousand clicks doesn’t necessarily mean that it will generate a lead, much less a registration or a sale. That’s because on average a visitor to your site from a search engine is going to spend less than two minutes on-site before they either take action or click back to search. After all, there are upwards of twenty listings on page 1 of Google search from which to choose. Unless your website fulfills a need, or contains an irresistible offer that compels the visitor to act, odds are they are going to peruse several sites other than yours. That’s the main reason people “Google it” in the first place, to comparison shop.
Blog readers are a different breed of cat. In the first place, blog readers spend on average twice the
amount of time on a blog as a visitor does
when they visit a website. Secondly, a
well-written blog can not only make an impact on the reader, but it can also
elevate the writer to the level of expert. That’s right, it raises your
credibility! Since it is important that
a visitor know, like and trust you before they make a buying decision, you can
convey much more authority with a timely blog than you can with even a highly focused
website. Best of all, once immersed in
your blog, the only subsidiary clicks available are not to competing bloggers,
but to the other content contained on your site. Just like your website, Blogger comes
complete with analytics that can help you adjust your message, your subsidiary
content and your offers. (Take a look at a snapshot of our readership below.)
|Courtesy of bytecubed.com|
Currently, our blog is being read by almost 50,000 people per month. This figure far exceeds the 6,500 clicks per month that our mythical website above achieved during the same period. These blogs are well-read and our offers and ads produce results nearly every day. This blog’s readership was generated by writing an average of 1 post every week for the past three years. So this is something that anybody can do as long as they follow the ABC’s of successful blog writing.
A - Always intrigue the reader. The last thing anyone wants to read is about your last board meeting or ad copy. To create a following you need to answer a question, fulfill a need, or provide real value. A catchy title and lead paragraph are also a plus. The objective is to inform and entertain at the same time. (We refer to this as Infotainment.)
B – Bring your readers a great read. We have found that the minimum copy for a great blog is 1,200 words or more. Don’t short sheet your readers by penning only a few paragraphs. Think magazine article as opposed to a tweet. Your readers will thank you.
C – Create a sharing atmosphere. Provide your audience with information that they can’t find anywhere else and they will treat you like an authority figure. Also make it easy to share your blog with others. Post it to your social nets daily so that your current following can stay current.
A few other must haves are:
1. Keywords embedded in the title and text
2. Backlinks to your website (if you have one)
3. Brief bio of the writer at the end of the blog
4. Appropriate images and/or videos embedded in the copy
5. A clear offer or call to action
Then there is just one more task and that is to distribute your blog. The problem is if you write the world’s best blogs and no one reads them what you have created is a billboard in the desert. While there are a number of ways to create an audience, the most popular way to promote a post is via pay-per-click advertising. And that can get expensive.
However, that isn’t the only way to generate an audience. The two best organic ways to get the word out are by posting to your social nets and by working with other successful bloggers. If you already have a substantial amount of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and/or Google+, pushing your blogposts couldn’t be simpler. That’s because at the bottom of every Blogger blog is the F, T, P and G that were created for you to do just that. Simply point and click to push your blog to your followers.
An even better way to generate a following is to pool your resources with fellow bloggers. One of the services that we offer to clients is called Team Tech. This is a peer-to-peer blogging club where members are matched with five bloggers from non-competing businesses. Every week these blog buddies are tasked with reading each other’s blog, adding an appropriate comment and then pushing member blogs to their respective social nets. This creates instant readership, since their blogs are seen every week by thousands of readers who would otherwise have no way of receiving their blog. This has literally allowed us to help bloggers generate thousands of readers in less than a year for participating club members. (If you would like to learn more about this service, call Carl or Hector at 904-410-2091.)
On top of that, we coach each team to make sure they are optimizing their blogs and acting in each other’s best interest. As part of the service we also share their blog post to our 65,000+ followers and groups we belong to. This gives each of the team tech members an additional bump each week and really kick start their readership.
The important thing is that with a little imagination, you can create an audience without having to duke it out on the search engines. If you do have a website, adding a blog is a great source of Google Juice, since the world’s most popular search engine puts a high value on blogs that generate a substantial following. You can also use these blogs to bolster your social networks as well, in essence killing two birds with one stone. All you have to do to succeed is apply the write stuff.
Carl Weiss is president of Working the Web to Win, an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida. You can listen to Carl live every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio