Blogging is an industry worth billions of dollars. But it’s often a misunderstood craft with yearly obituaries predicting its demise.
This post is a quick introduction to blogging, and will explain the role of blogs and their benefits. But first of all, let’s get the terminology out of the way and examine what exactly a blog is.
INTRODUCTION TO BLOGGING
The word blog is a shortened version of weblog, which is a specific type of website that is updated regularly through posts. Posts can include a wide variety of content including reviews, guides, images and infographics.
Blogs can be standalone or embedded.
Standalone blogs are personal websites offering individual and informal views on niche topics – Arrivals Hall is an example of a standalone blog specialising in the travel niche.
Since the advent of blogging, businesses have seen the value of blogs and often embed them in their main websites. The benefits of embedded blogs are multiple and I will elaborate on that below.
Standalone blogs have a detailed structure. Like regular websites, they have static pages where the content is updated occasionally. For example, my Destinations, About and Contact pages are updated a few times a year or when required, but I publish several posts per month. Blogs can have a static page that features a chronological order of posts (blogroll).
Pages and posts can have sidebars for navigation. On my site, only my posts have sidebars – my static pages are full width. Sidebars can include a number of information points such as social media feed, Google Maps location, selection of other posts, and sign-up form.
Like regular websites, blogs can include information in the footer area that will be seen on all posts and pages. Copyright information is by far the most popular information to be found in website and blog footers.
An embedded blog has a simple structure. Blog posts are published on a static page of the main business website in an infinite blogroll.
Both standalone and embedded blogs have categories to classify the posts. Categories enhance the user experience, making it easier to find related posts. For example, Country Guides and Advice are two of my categories. A beauty salon with an embedded blog could have categories such as Face, Body, Make-up, Nails.
BENEFITS OF BLOGS
Both standalone and embedded blogs have similar benefits:
- Blogging is a form of content marketing that will connect you to your target audience/market.
- It’s an excellent lead generator that will drive traffic to your product/service pages. Standalone blogs can sell products/services and/or gain commission on affiliate links directly from their posts.
- Expertise, authority and trust (EAT) can be built through posts by providing suggestions and solutions to customers. EAT is a ranking factor for Google.
- Quality content enhances search engine optimisation (SEO) opportunities (i.e. makes it easier to rank on Google page 1)
- It’s an opportunity to build a community around your business/brand.
- Your unique selling point can be reinforced through blog content.
BEFORE YOU START BLOGGING
Firstly, the blog has to be set up. For standalone blogs, I have detailed instructions in my What is a Travel Blog post that are relevant to all niches. Niche, Domain Name, SEO, Blogging Platform, Hosting Service are vital considerations for standalone blogs. For embedded blogs, this structure is already in place so adding a blog simply means adding an extra page to the menu.
Secondly, ensure your blog is connected to your social media accounts.
Finally, you need to put a strategy in place that will ensure your content matches your needs and goals. What are the goals of your blog and how will you measure whether you have achieved those goals?
Most importantly, what resources are available to manage the blog in-house? For blogs to be successful on search engines such as Google, they need to be updated regularly. For standalone blogs, bloggers create their own content with the occasional guest post. But for multi-employee businesses, will content be produced in-house or externally?
BLOGGING: IS IT STILL A THING?
Blogging is far from dead. With a number of benefits for business, blogging will remain relevant for the foreseeable future. The appetite for online content and eCommerce increased over the last decade with the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating this trend. And as long as blogs stay fresh, useful and unique, there will always be demand.
Have you got a question on this introduction to blogging guide? Please leave your comments below.