Just in case you are still not convinced about the importance of content, let’s briefly revisit the equation the calculates website success:
Visits X conversion % X conversion value = return on investment
Of all the strategies for increasing the number of visitors to your website, the creation of new, useful, content is the most powerful and most “evergreen”. No matter what new rules and guidelines search engines might introduce in the future, I can’t see any logical reason that they would ever, ever turn against people creating new and useful content – it is literally the thing that the web is made from.
Content = Rankings. Rankings = Visitors.
So… If you’re not blogging… start.
Blogging works. Or, to be more accurate, regularly creating and sharing useful and unique content on your website works.
Blogging is also hard work. I once had a job of writing blog posts about candles. I can tell you now, not much is changing in the world of candles. They are pretty much the same as they were last year, the year before that, and three hundred years before that. But, we had to find things to write about and so we found anything and everything we could that could get a “candle” spin on it and we blogged about it.
The hard work paid off. Our rankings improved and our organic traffic improved.
The point is that I’m not giving you advice flippantly or only from the perspective of someone who writes blogs about the fast moving, ever changing technology industry. I’m giving you this advice because it works, because anyone can do it, and because if you’re an expert in the field you are working in then you probably do have useful and unique information (or at least a unique perspective) that you can bring to your blog.
The easiest way to turn up new blog ideas is to find recent news articles related to your keywords and then riff off those. Don’t just regurgitate the same news article – that might be timely, but it’s not useful or unique.
However, if you can add something useful and unique to the story, you might just strike blogging gold.
During a recent security breach at Facebook, news sites trampled over each other to get the news out. All the usual suspects were there. Where smaller blogs ranked well, even going so far as to appear in Google News (the holy grail of blogging), was in offering advice and guidance to people who may have been affected.
The articles were useful, unique, timely, they used expert knowledge, they were authoritative, and trustworthy. That’s the blogging double trifecta.
And if you’re wondering about those last two factors, there were mostly achieved by being on sites already covering tech, social media, etc. – there’s not much point blogging about a Facebook security problem on your blog about baking!
How to eat your own dog food.
The phrase “Eat your own dog food” is believed to have originated inside Microsoft sometime in the 1980s. The concept is that if you aren’t using your own product, why you expect anyone else to?
“Dogfooding” (as it has become known) can be applied to blogging as well. Take your product or service somewhere new, somewhere different, and see how it fairs. Try to do something with your product or service that nobody else has ever done, see what happens, and then share it.
You’re going to get an interesting story, one way or another.
(And even if you fail, what’s to stop you tuning up your product or service and trying again?)
The Prism Trick
Sometimes there is no news, however (see “Nothing ever changes with candles!”) and it’s here that the Prism Trick can help you generate multiple articles from one small idea…
If you’re struggling for a blog idea, try applying the “Prism Trick”. I can’t remember where I learnt this one, but it’s really very useful.
The Prism Trick simply means looking at something we’ve already seen, but from a different angle or through a different “lens”.
If yesterday you blogged about “The 10 Best Scented Candles for your Bathroom”, today write about “The 10 Scented Candles to Avoid Using In your Bathroom”. Tomorrow, “Unusual Bathroom Fragrances – Candles that shouldn’t work..but do!”
This is essentially all the same job in terms of research and brainstorming, but you’re going to get three articles out of the one piece of effort.
Like splitting light up through a prism, one thing becomes a multi-faceted many.
Once you have a structure in place, you can also generate new on-topic articles by changing one variable. So, move from the bathroom to the kitchen and you’ve got three new blog ideas instantly.
Don’t be the same – be better, be helpful
You can also look at blogs other people have written. Just because somebody else already wrote an article on a topic doesn’t mean you can’t write a counterpoint…or just write something better.
Another variation of this is to look for questions that people have asked on forums, social media, and Q&A sites that you can answer. There’s value in providing the answer right there on the forum, there’s even more value to be had in answering the question and writing a longer, more detailed answer on your blog.
Quora, Stack Exchange, and Reddit are all great places to look for questions people are asking. You can even check social media – Twitter’s advanced search, for example, lets you look for people asking questions, although your mileage may vary when wading through the tweets of the world.
The thing to remember is that every question asked on a Q&A site or forum was a Google search before it was a question. Nobody posts a question for which they could find the answer. Answering questions is a great way to build up quality blog content that people are actively looking for.
Of course, you can always share your blog posts on the same forums, sites, and social media networks you are checking for questions. Just sharing and posting, however… that’s the internet equivalent of shouting over everyone at a dinner party.
The Internet should not be a “broadcast” medium – even when sharing your own content you should look to engage with the audience: ask questions, ask for feedback, and say thank you for everything you receive.Which neatly brings us on to the last part of our ABC (or ACB)… backlinks.