Category Archives: Blogging

How Zombie Content Keeps Your Blog Alive

You’ve seen them, shuffling across television screens and groaning in the pages of teen romance best-sellers… the walking dead… the formerly alive… zombies! They’re everywhere! And while hordes of undead monsters generally spell bad things for the neighborhood, having some zombie content on your blog is a great way to keep your site alive.

Now, I don’t literally mean content that tries to gnaw on your readers’ brains (although I suppose that would be a great metaphor for blog posts and articles that are so thought-provoking they just can’t be forgotten…). I’m talking about content that just Will. Not. Die. Some call it epic shit. Journalists used to refer to it as “evergreen” – material that’s always relevant, as opposed to topical material that’s a big hit today and is a moldy oldie tomorrow. Zombie content is the older material on your site — pages, news clippings, articles, blog posts — that continues to draw new visitors to your site month after month.

Bloggers often focus on writing topical posts, in the hopes that they will bring in new readers who are searching for trending topics. And certainly, that should be a part of your strategy – you don’t want a blog that’s completely irrelevant to, or unaware of, what’s going on in the world today. But the problem with only writing topical posts is that they quickly become old news. How often are you going to get people finding your blog by searching for information about the 2004 Olympics, or about Britney Spears shaving her head?

Characters in a zombie movie almost never know what it is that’s causing the dead to stalk the living. Is it a plague? Is it some kind of advanced bio-terrorism? Zombie content is equally mysterious. You can make guesses as to how it came about or how to create more of it, but there’s no surefire recipe for creating content with an unnaturally long lifespan. You’ll just know it when you see the results. When all is said and done, visitors are the only true arbiter of what content will be valuable for the long haul.

So if you want to create zombie posts that keep on going, bringing new life – and new readers – to your blog, you’ll have to put out a lot of BRAINS … er, thought-provoking material. Answer your readers’ Big Questions. Tell them how your product saves them time. Show how your service helps them make more money. Find out what they’re searching for (do your keyword and keyphrase research!), and give it to them.

One last cautionary note about your zombie content – even a really well-made zombie can’t last forever. So don’t just put out a bunch of great stuff and rest on your laurels. Keep the great content coming on a regular basis, and you’ll find yourself carried to success on the shoulders of a horde of undead posts.

Six smart sources for killer blog ideas that are hiding in plain view

The business of blog content and SEO copywriting is all about getting customers to come to you – drawing them into your website with killer content based around topics they’re already searching for. The key, of course, is knowing what they’re searching for in the first place.

We all struggle to come up with these great ideas. When you’re creating new content every day, or even every week, it’s easy for your creative well to run dry. Luckily, I’ve found a great place – a place you’re already familiar with, and may already visit daily – to come up with an endless supply of blog post ideas that are tailor-made for compelling SEO content.

That place is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is perfect as a source of blog content ideas. It’s the premier social site for businesses and professionals, giving you a window onto what people in the business world are thinking about, discussing, and searching for.

Here are six ways to use LinkedIn for blog post ideas your audience is searching for right now:

    1. Home page: LinkedIn Today articles. At the top of your home page, you’ll see a selection of news and articles from around the web that LinkedIn thinks you might be interested in. Browse through a couple, and you’re sure to find something that catches your eye and gives you something to write about.
    2. Home page: Links and comments from your connections. The majority of the LinkedIn homepage is taken up by updates from your connections. These can be links or updates they’ve posted, new connections, actions they’ve taken on the site, or profile changes. This section is a goldmine! It tells you exactly what your prospects and connections are thinking about right now. Check your home page daily for blog post ideas that will resonate with the topics your customers are currently searching for.
    3. Your profile: Skills you’ve listed. The skills section of your profile tells LinkedIn what search terms you want to make sure your profile shows up for. If your prospects are finding you on LinkedIn with those terms, make sure that they can find your blog with the same terms in a search engine. Each skill should provide you with content ideas for one or more blog posts. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise.
    4. Your profile: Recommendations you’ve received. When people leave a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile, they’re telling the world what they value about your product or service. Make sure your blog content reflects these valuable attributes as well. Did a recommendation compliment the ease of working with you? Write a blog post about how your unique process makes hiring you a breeze.
    5. LinkedIn Answers: Questions your prospects and competitors are asking. You may already know that LinkedIn Answers is a good place to establish yourself as an expert, by offering up great answers to other professionals’ questions. But what you may have missed is its value as a source of blog post ideas that have a guaranteed audience. Make sure your blog offers comprehensive answers for the questions people are asking – both those in your industry, being asked by your competitors, and those being asked by your customers and prospects.
    6. LinkedIn Groups: Discussion history. In the same way that LinkedIn Answers tells you what people are asking about, the discussion history for your LinkedIn groups tells you what people have been talking about. Take a look at discussions in your groups that have received the most replies to get a sense of the hot topics in a given area. And remember, the more groups you belong to, the more blog content ideas you’ll have access to.

With content that changes on a daily basis and an ever-expanding network of professionals, LinkedIn is the ultimate source for getting blog post ideas your customers will love.

The 4 people who shouldn’t be blogging

I’ve talked before about the importance of a business blog, and how businesses of all sizes can use blog posts to demonstrate their value and pull customers to their website. And if you’ve spent any time lately on marketing blogs or websites, you’ve almost certainly seen the proclamation that “Content is king!”

I firmly believe that every business can benefit from a blog. But that doesn’t mean everyone is cut out to be a blogger. Here are five people who shouldn’t be in charge of your company blog. If you recognize yourself (or your blog) on the list, it might be time to get help!

The spammer – Often spotted popping up in LinkedIn groups, The Spammer is the blogger that everyone loves to hate. They start discussion after discussion with nothing more than a link to their latest blog, regardless of how relevant it might be to the group or whether anyone has expressed interest in reading what they’ve posted. Spammers can also be seen joining online forums in order to broadcast their posts to the world, without bothering to provide value or get to know the community. Repent your spammy ways! If you recognize yourself in this description, remember that the goal of building a business blog is to get organic search results by creating great content – not to fool uninterested people into increasing your pageviews.

The TMI guy – A little personality isn’t a bad thing, but for the most part a business blog should stay focused on business topics. After all, it’s really part of an ongoing conversation between you and your customers. The TMI guy, on the other hand, writes about anything and everything on his blog. Personal anecdotes, political rants, holiday recipes – it’s all there, mixed in with the legitimate business topics. Keep it “need to know”! Focus your blog on providing valuable information your clients need to know, and let your brand identity shine through the writing style and (very!) occasional non-business posts.

The plagiarist – Creating great content is hard work, and it takes time. But stealing great content is a lot faster and easier. Plagiarists like to hide behind the label of “content curator”, intimating that all they’re doing is helping people find the good stuff. But posting the good stuff without crediting your sources is outright stealing, and a blog with nothing but links and other peoples’ content – even if you’ve credited your sources properly – doesn’t do you much good when it comes to SEO and impressing your customers. Time to get original! If you’re struggling to write content that offers real value, you can always hire a copywriter to write your blog. No one said you have to be an expert at everything, just at doing what you do best.

The “just because” blogger – The “just because” blogger writes blog posts the way you don a lime-green reindeer sweater your Aunt Millie knitted you – half-heartedly and out of a sense of obligation. Nearly every business can benefit from a blog, but if all you know is that you “should” be blogging, you probably don’t have a very coherent strategy in place for what to write about. As a result, your company blog is a confusing mix of lackluster posts, without any kind of theme or focus to keep readers interested. Get a plan in place! Your business blog is a part of your overall marketing strategy. You should have an editorial calendar and a content plan in place to help you figure out what to write about when, so you can create great content without feeling like you’re coming up with ideas on the spot.

Do you want to defend your blogging style? Leave a note in the comments about the great things you’re doing with your company blog! And if you need help creating individual posts or an overall business blogging strategy, get in touch! I’d love to help get your business blog off the ground.

Should your company have a business blog or an email newsletter?

Think of your company’s email newsletter as a nice frosty glass of delicious craft beer. It’s quick, it’s refreshing, and you can enjoy it at home as easily as you can at a bar or restaurant or friend’s house.

Your company blog, on the other hand, is more like a gourmet pizza (and if you’re in the St. Louis area, that pizza should come from the wood-fired ovens at Peel in Edwardsville) – it’s best when it’s fresh and hot and right from the source.

Beer and pizza. They’re both great on their own, but they’re so much better together. Your company blog and email newsletter should complement each other the same way. One pulls prospects to your site, the other keeps them engaged in an ongoing relationship.

A business blog is a great way to draw search engine traffic to your site. It gives you a platform to address your customers’ questions, discuss the features and benefits of your products, and position your company as a knowledge leader in the industry.

Even better, your blog will build a backlog of valuable information that new prospects will be able to locate through keyword searches for years to come. Once they’ve landed on your site, you can entice them to sign up for your newsletter with an offer of a free white paper, special report, or informational autoresponder series.

An email newsletter, on the other hand, helps you to keep your existing customers engaged. You want your blog and website to offer valuable content that inspires prospects to sign up and get more from you. The company newsletter should provide more great content in a quick, informative burst that reminds customers of why they like and trust you.

Most customers don’t make business blogs a regular part of their reading material. Take advantage of that and get most of your newsletter content from the material you’ve already created, drawing customers back to your website and making the process of newsletter creation a lot less taxing. You can include special offers and sales in your newsletter, but remember to keep the focus on giving your customers content, not getting their money.

If you need more convincing that a company blog is a great way to give your customers what they want while generating valuable search engine traffic, check out my free report, Blogging for Business: 9 Great Ways to Capture and Keep Customers with a Company Blog.

Rich Burlew’s million-dollar free comic: How giving away the milk can make the cow more valuable

On Jan. 22, 2012, Rich Burlew, creator of the popular webcomic Order of the Stick, opened a Kickstarter funding drive with the goal of raising $57,750 to reprint one of the comic’s compilation books that had been out of print for months. A month later, on Feb. 21, the drive closed, having raised $1,254,120 – well over 2000% of the original goal.

All of this for a comic which has its entire run available online, free of charge. How does this happen? Why do people pay good money for something that they can get for free? And what does it have to do with your business blog?

The rise of the “free information” mentality of the internet has been a mixed bag for creative works, giving people much broader access to small-scale independent artists while at the same time giving them more ways to get those artists’ work for free (legally or not). But what seems to be happening more and more is that when people find value in a work, they’re willing to vote with their wallets. This isn’t true of everyone – there will always be people who steal content – but it seems to be true for most people.

Business owners in knowledge-based fields – CPAs, attorneys, financial planners, and others – often end up with generic blogs that don’t tell prospective customers anything useful, for fear of giving away the house. Never be afraid that your business blog is offering too much free information. Your blog is the place where you prove your expertise to potential customers.

The benefit here is twofold: first, when customers visit your website, an extensive blog filled with valuable content is immediate proof that you’re a professional who knows what she’s talking about. Secondly, your backlog of blog posts serves as a cache of business information that can help prospects discover your website when they’re searching for answers. For example, let’s say that you have a CPA blog on your tax firm’s website. Every week, you offer advice on a typical question that your clients have, like the tax implications of switching from a traditional to a Roth IRA. All that advice will bring up your site when someone goes searching for relevant keywords.

Small business owners often worry that if they have a business blog where they’re giving away free advice, potential clients won’t need their services. And it’s certainly true that some people will find, say, a CPA blog that seems relevant to their situation, and attempt a DIY solution. Realistically, these people weren’t going to pay your fees anyway. The vast majority of people recognize that sure, they could learn to do their own taxes, or act as a pro se litigant, but it would take ages and they’d have no guarantee that they were doing everything right.

What it comes down to is this: people are happy to pay when they know they’re getting value in return. A business blog that shows you have the expertise to handle their issue correctly – along with benefits-driven copy throughout the rest of your site which drives home the value of your service in saving time and money for your client – will make it clear to prospective customers that your business is the right one for the job.