Why Your Business Should Be Writing a Blog

Why your business should blog

Blogging is more than sharing angry vents, happy memories, self-indulgent bragging and hobby posts. It is a marketing tool, an SEO gem and a shareable opportunity to provide your audience with helpful, inspirational and real information.

Let me explain in better detail.

Blogs drive traffic to your website. How? Well every time you publish a post, it signals to search engines and tells them that they need to re-scan your website- that you are active and have updated/provided new information. So what? Well every new indexed page means a heightened chance that your blog is going to surface when someone types keywords into a search engine… which means strangers will read your post, be directed to your site- then SHARE your post… then their contacts will be directed to your site and so on and so forth.

Blogs provide shareable content. When you write relevant information, people will want to share it on twitter, facebook, google+, pinterest and linkedin. Most blog hosts automatically imbed a “share” button at the bottom of each published post- so no need to worry about that. So again you are driving people to your site through your blog.

Blogs provide you with street cred. Or industry cred… whatever you prefer. Your blog showcases your knowledge and your willingness to share that knowledge. You are confident enough in your ability to communicate with your audience!

Blogs give your company a voice. Obviously your blog content will be relevant, on brand and the ‘voice’ you use will be consistent. People will get an idea of what to expect when they communicate with your company by what they read on your blog, how you respond to comments (good AND bad) and the tone in your posts.

Blogs are fairly easy to set up. You don’t have to be a graphic designer! You can use sites like wordpress, hubspot, blog.com… we use wordpress- but the choice is yours! You can choose from a plethora of template designs and colours to suit your needs and keep you on brand.

I recommend writing your posts in word or some other word processor- that way you can utilize the spelling/ grammar features AND you can save it half way through. You can also start multiple posts and go back to them if your brain freezes. I also don’t like to fully rely on the world wide web to save my draft properly should a hiccup occur.

Blogging isn’t scary. It’s fun and with practice comes confidence! Don’t think too much about tweaking it into perfection (you can always go back and edit after it’s published) just write it, check grammar and spelling and hit publish! You can do this! Follow likeminded people- read their blogs. Get inspired and be inspiring!
Good luck!

Your DIY Website: Can it be improved?

DIY

Do it yourself websites have come a long way. Now more than ever, you can design a beautiful website yourself for much less than the cost of a graphic designer (sorry graphic designer friends! I know these template websites don’t compare to custom coding but not everyone can afford you off the hop). That being said: You want to make sure that you are getting the most out of your DIY website, that you are appealing to the public and that you are being received as a professional company!

I’ve compiled a list of what I believe to be the top ten DIY website building areas of focus:

1) ANALYTICS

“Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources and measures conversions and sales.” – wiki

YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO IS VISITING YOUR SITE! You want to know how long they are staying, what pages they like/dislike, where they live, their language and more. The information that you can collect FOR FREE will help direct your advertising efforts (so you know where to target) it will help you measure your efforts and outlines your ROI. Get yourself a Google account and sign your site up for Google analytics. www.google.ca/analytics/

The website builder you use will have an analytics section in its settings. Once you are set up and given your analytics number- you simply copy and paste the number into the setting. If you don’t know where that is? Type ‘Analytics ‘into their HELP search area.

2) MUSIC

Don’t have automatic music. A large percentage of people surfing the web are at work taking a break and the last think they need is your chosen song to start blasting in their office and have everyone KNOW that they are taking a break. Best believe they will be closing off your site ASAP and probably aren’t going to return. If you want music on?-that’s fine! Just don’t have it on auto-play, give people the option to play it at their own leisure.

3) IMAGES

If you are going to ‘borrow’ an image from a search engine- make sure you give credit where it is due and make sure your image makes sense- no pink martini glasses just because you think the colour matches your real estate business’s logo.

Make sure that you label your images properly when you upload them so that when a user’s mouse goes over it, it doesn’t read gibberish/ the file name. Describe the pictures as best you can to relate to your business so that you increase your SEO (search engine optimization).

Pixilation is the worst. Please don’t publish blurry photos! A trick is to size the image to what you want before uploading it rather than resizing it online.

4) SPELLING & GRAMMAR

No one expects you to be a top notch editor- people do however, expect you to be somewhat grammatically correct and for your spelling to be correct. Ask family and friends to look over your written work before you post. I like to write all of my work in word so obvious spelling errors will be highlighted (grammar isn’t that easy).

5) LESS IS MORE

Lay off the million banners, boxes, pictures, information- you may scare off a visitor. You have three seconds to make a good impression- use it wisely. Personally I like when the homepage is short but sweet and doesn’t involve a lot of scrolling down and definitely never scrolling to the sides.

Oh! Your DIY builder offers groovy animations for your site? DON’T DO IT! Clip-art emoticons are not the way to go… no matter what, that dancing smiley face holding a fishing rod doesn’t fit into a professional site. (Sorry)

6) CONTACT INFORMATION IS CORRECT

Your company contact information, make sure your employee information is up to date, your social media handles haven’t changed… actually- just make sure all of your information is correct.

That’s better.

7) CHECK YOUR LINKS

Does your email hyperlink work? Does your social media handle direct properly? External links- are the correct? ALWAYS check your links. Clicking and being directed to a null page is irritating.

8) FONT

Stay away from too many fonts. Make sure your font is not too big, not too small. (If you are targeting senior citizens? Bump up the font size to make it easier to read). Stay away from neon colours, rainbow colours, bright yellow on black (I personally despise solid black website backgrounds, my eyes feel like they are going to burn out.) Ideally (according to my graphic designer friends) you should use two no more than three fonts.

9) WEBSITE ADS

There are plenty of free website builders- if you want to be taken seriously, buy their upgraded package so you diminish the ads that you get if you use the free option (plus you don’t get a personalized domain name with the free package- personalized domains are a must).

The price ranges from $50-$200 and it is worth every penny. “Create your own free website” splattered all over your site doesn’t say commitment to me. Not to mention sometimes you have no control over the ads being posted! You are selling cute fuzzy Christmas crafts and XXX ads could be tarnishing the reputation you are trying to build. (Maybe not XXX ads, but you get my drift.)

10) TAKE YOUR TIME

Time is money- yes- but if you are going to build your own site I hope you are somewhat computer literate and will be able to maneuver through the site options. Take your time and see what your site builder has to offer before really getting started. Also- you don’t have to publish your site off the hop. Save your work and publish it when you are ready. Take your time and label everything correctly. Fill in all the blanks in your page settings so you increase your SEO and are user friendly.

Take note that I am not a graphic designer– I don’t claim to be. I am a DIY site builder, a website user and a corporate communications graduate who knows that this top ten list makes a world of difference.

Crystal Lengua