What is Blogging?

I'm often asked what blogging actually is, usually by one of my own relatives who doesn't have the faintest idea of what I do for a living. And unless you've ever had a blog of your own, there isn't too much reason why you would know what it is.

So, what is blogging? Let's start by stating what it is not.

'Ordinary' Websites

Although the nature of the internet is that things don't need to be linear, most of us are still happiest if a website works in a similar way to a brochure or catalogue.

For this reason, most 'ordinary' websites are quite static - they have a homepage that works like the front cover and index of the brochure, pages for individual products and services, and pages that tell you about the company or individual, and how to contact them.

Many small business websites are created with five pages - homepage, products, image gallery, 'contact us' and 'about us', for example - and have five pages forever.

The formal exception to this is if your site has a press or news section, in which case press releases and news articles may be published from time to time, and add to your total number of pages.

Of course, there are larger websites, and these often have many pages simply because they have a separate page for each product that is available to buy; sites like Amazon and eBay are good examples of this.

Blogs

A blog is akin to having a fairly informal news section on your website.

Originally, blogs were nothing more than online diaries, where people could share their experiences with their readers. Many people still take this approach to blogging - you might see a blog about coping with mental illness, for example, or about the writer's experiences of parenting.


'Growing Social Media', courtesy of mkhmarketing

While many blogs focus on very personal topics, they are generally about sharing information with others, and writing about a health condition or difficult life experience is a good chance to gain support from others who have gone through the same thing.

Over the years, though, web marketers came to realise a different potential for blogs, as an ad hoc container to place marketing content into, and that is what business blogging now tends to be about.

In this sense, blogs can serve one or more of a fairly long list of purposes, including, but not limited to:

  • keeping your website looking fresh and dynamic
  • adding to your total number of web pages
  • sharing news in a more accessible way than a formal press release
  • engaging potential customers in discussion via your comments section
  • adding more search-visible key phrases to your site

Whatever the purpose, though, a blog post is basically just a piece of writing, usually in a chatty tone of voice, posted to your website or blog.

Like any other piece of writing, it can be humorous, sharing a funny experience or favourite joke; informative, giving instructions, hints or tips; persuasive, describing one of your products as positively as possible; entertaining, simply sharing a story or poem that your readers might like, and so on.

Unlike the formal and more static parts of your site, your blog is the place where you can discuss things more freely, and even stray off-topic if you want - your audience will, in theory, be much more forgiving here than they would elsewhere on your site.

Marketing Blogs

There is a relatively narrow definition of what most people mean when they describe something as being a 'marketing blog', and this is what most of my day-to-day work is concerned with.

Generally speaking, a marketing blog consists of:

  • Mid-length articles...
  • ...about your company or industry area...
  • ...that contain SEO keywords.

As always, there are exceptions; not everybody chooses to include specific keywords or keyword phrases, instead preferring the natural relevance of their content to help it to rank in the search results.

The word count can also vary, with short news updates often around 150-200 words, longer 500-word posts containing lists or how-to guides, and in-depth pages of 1,000-2,000 words that cover a topic from every angle. Again, there are exceptions, but these are broadly the types of content most people order to place on their blogs.

Benefits vary too, from engaging with your human audience better, to helping your site to rank higher in the search results, and for more target keyword phrases.

In terms of SEO, the benefits include:

  • more pages means more chances to appear in search results
  • more pages means more words, so more chance to include key phrases without over-stuffing your content
  • regularly publishing pages shows Google your site isn't dormant, and helps you to rank higher
  • timely content allows you to react to headline stories, making it easy to appear in search results
  • repeating your main key phrases across multiple pages helps your whole site to rank higher
  • publishing with a named author helps you gain Google Authorship ranking*

*this is a BIG separate topic in its own right, but is likely to become increasingly important in the not-too-distant future.


Blogging - even for business purposes - can also simply be good fun, a creative outlet to show a lighter side to your customers. In industries like payday lending or debt collection, for example, this can help you to dispel the common perception of you or your company as being some kind of monster, and put across the fact that you act with ethics and good humour in your general business proceedings.

Summing Up...

The take-home message here is that a business blog is a general repository for any content you want to publish. You have total control over what you place there, and it's your decision whether to stay on-topic and fairly formal, or go wild and witty in an attempt to engage with your audience on another level.

Personally I prefer a combination of the two, with occasional self-promotional posts, a majority of content that describes my industry in general terms, and maybe one post in six that's totally off-topic, but engaging to read just for fun.

2 comments:

Honor Clement-Hayes said...

Authorship and Author Rank are basically all I'm talking about right now. <3

bobble said...

Yup, it's definitely the single biggest current SEO issue. SERPs are gonna look a bit odd if every single result has an author pic alongside it though :)

I've given Authorship a very brief write-up already here but I suspect I'll need to do something more in-depth in the near future.

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