5 ways to come up with interesting topics and content for your business site blog, even in boring industries
Certainly creating new content for your blog is important for search traffic, link-building, and user engagement. But often, people either struggle to come up with interesting ideas for content, or else they're churning out masses of lightweight, meaningless fluff.
If you're creating content just for the sake of creating content, i.e. generating that meaningless fluff so that no one cares, and no one shares–Google sees that, and it's not good. From Google's perspective, if you have a lot to say, but no one shares it, what do you think that says about the value of your content? You get the picture.
If you're a pet store, it's easy–you can post cute pictures of kittens, puppies, etc., and people will share those forever. But what about the rest of us–what if you're in a relatively dry/boring/technical/niche industry? I'm going to share 5 tips on how to create content quickly and easily that gets engagement: shares, likes, and links.
Here, the idea is this: find a news story or other article on a topic related to your business, and offer your opinion on the article. It can be positive (“Great article on the impact of this new technology–the reporter nails it when he/she talks about the environmental impact of X…”) or critical (“Yet again, the media misses this key aspect of Y–it's cheaper, but the long-term impact of Z….”). Include the logo of the publication or an image (with proper credit) from the article, and link to the article with a “read the entire article here at XYZ.”
How to find articles like this? Think of topics related to your business, and do a Google News search for those topics to see what was written recently, then scan through the articles until you find one you have a strong opinion about. Be “general” in your search, for starters, e.g. if you're a dentist, search for things like “orthodontics”, “fluoride treatment”, etc.
Why do this kind of post? If it's at all controversial, people who like your opinion on it will share it.
Photo credit: Chris Murphy on Flickr.
Let's face it: cartoons, videos and funny photos get shared like crazy, especially on Facebook. So you're not a cartoonist, and not a great photographer. You don't need to be! All you need to do is FIND those cartoons, videos and photos, embed them in your blog post, credit the author/creator, and link to the page on their site where you found it as well.
Now, when you share your blog post on Facebook, Twitter, etc., if someone reshares it, they're resharing the link to the post on your blog. Credit is given to the original creator, but the link from each social media share goes back to you.
How do you find those cartoons and photos? Google, of course! Let's say you're a plumber: search for “plumber cartoon”, then click the Images tab. There's a couple of years worth of daily posts there (after you wade through a fair bit of awful clip art…sigh). For some of them, you'll need to buy the image…when you click on a cartoon you like, click the Visit Page button, as many of these cost money to use.
This one was $6 (pretty cheap when you think of the cost of the time you're spending). If you're looking for photos, try Flickr (and be sure to set the licensing selection to “commercial use allowed”).
For videos, search on YouTube, and look to see if there's the Embed option available–that tells you if the owner has set the permissions to allow it to be shared on other sites:
And don't be overly concerned about your posts not being terribly serious, even if you're in a serious industry. Everyone likes someone with a sense of humor, and if you're in a “dry” industry…even more so. And people do business with people they like.
#3: Love your employees
Share news about your employees: new hires, promotions, weddings, babies, retirements. People who know those employees will likely share the posts on social media, and for clients, you're showing the human side of your business, and giving your company some real personality. I did this podcast with Nathalie Nahai at The Web Psychologist a few months ago, talking about the conversion rate improvements sites see when they let their real people show through–on their websites, blogs, and Facebook pages.
If you're not actively soliciting feedback (including Yelp, Google+ etc. reviews) from clients already–you should be. For local businesses, the Google+ and Yelp reviews can have a huge effect on rankings in local search, as well as driving traffic directly from the review sites.
When you either get a glowing review, or know you've really impressed a customer, ask for a slightly longer testimonial that you can use on your website. Make that a blog post, and share that blog post on your social media channels. Be sure to share that Facebook post, Tweet, etc. with the client who gave you the testimonial–they're likely to share that too, and while the audience for what that one client shares is small, the fact that the people who'll see that are their friends means that those friends are more likely to convert to clients.
#5: Community Service
When your company participates in a community service project or contributes to a charity, talk about that on your blog (then, share that blog post on social media). And when you share that on social media, be sure to tag or hashtag the charity or community service project's social media profiles as well. Chances are, they'll reshare it on their channels, which brings your post to a much wider audience–and you'll build goodwill then amongst a group of people who are guaranteed to like the fact that you're supporting a charity or project that they themselves follow.
And don't just restrict this to things you support officially as a company: celebrate your employees' individual contributions as well. When an employee donates blood–share that (and a photo, of course). When an employee gets a new puppy from the pet shelter–share that (and a photo…because the internet was MADE for cute puppy photos).
Take a second to think about what you're really communicating when you share what your employees are doing in terms of charity and community service: you're not just telling your customers that you're good people–you're celebrating publicly the good things that those employees are doing, and that's a strong, positive message about your culture to your employees as well as to your customers. It's important to your employees that you noticed, cared, and gave kudos publicly for what they've done.