Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guest Post: Penny C. Sansevieri

How to Optimize Your Message With Blogging, an Interview with Rich Brooks 

Penny C. Sansevieri

I spent some time, pre-BlogWorld, with Rich Brooks; he is the president of Flyte New Media.

Let's just dig right into it. First off, I know that you are running around, managing Flyte and all the Internet changes all the time. But, I saw a blog that you wrote, or that you guest-blogged about blogging. We talk about all kinds of stuff to do in social media, blogging is still important though, right?

I feel as though it is important. It is actually my favorite tool in social media. I love Twitter and Facebook and all those different social media outposts, but what I like the most about blogging is the fact it works as social media because it is very social. You write something and the comments are open and people can respond to it. But it also works really well with search engine optimization, something you don't always get out of Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn. They have very limited search engine value. For me I always ask people, "What is it, when you have a question and you go to the Internet; what is it that you do to get the answers?" And it is either "go and Google it" or you ask your friends on Facebook. Of course, you can substitute your favorite search engine or social media outpost, but the bottom line is that is how we work today. It is either search or social. So when you create a blog post, it becomes search engine fodder. If you do it right it answers your ideal customers biggest problem. So when they go to Google or whatever, and they put in that search query, suddenly, Google refers them to your website or to your blog and then you have a new opportunity to connect with an ideal customer. That is why I think it is going to continue to be important, because it is yet another opportunity for somebody to find you. Plus it is great fodder for the rest of your social media conversations.

Very true, and it goes into what everybody is talking about -- content, content, content, got to create content. Blogging is one of the biggest content generators. Right?

Absolutely. I have been guilty of saying, "Create as much content as possible." I have kind of reined it in so I am like, "Create as much valuable content that you can create and still run your business." You have got to find that balance. One of the things that I like about a blog is that when I post something, it stays around for years. If I post something to Facebook, it is usually gone by the end of the day.

I wrote a blog years ago and it still drives about 200 unique visitors to our website every single month. Those are leads; those are people who have come to our site. Many of those fill out contact forms or sign up for our email newsletter. That content continues to generate business for us. If I had posted something like that to Facebook or Twitter, it will be gone.

How many times do you need to blog each week?

I try to avoid a "magic" number. I do think it is more about creating content consistently. So I could say two to three blog posts per week, that is great, that is a lot of opportunity. By the end of the year you will have a couple of hundred articles out there for people to find -- true. But you just can't create content like that. I know a lot of small businesses can't create enough content. What I say suggest is to try to create an editorial calendar; try to post once per week. There are a lot of different types of content that you can create, and a lot of places to get ideas.

One thing that I always tell people is that you get emails almost every day, with customers and prospects asking questions. "How do I do this?" or "What do you think about that?" Don't just hit the reply button. Take that email and put it into your blog (change the names) and then answer it. Now you have got a "Dear Abby"-style post that directly answers this person's question. Now you can go back to that person and say, "Hey, your question was so great I turned it into a blog post. And here is that blog post." That does a couple of things: One, it tells that person that you thought their question was important enough that you wanted to share it with others. Also, if one person is asking you a question, how many hundreds or thousands of others in the next six months are going to ask the exact same question to Google? If you give the answer to that question in your blog, it will help all of those people and in turn help you by driving them to your website or blog.

Yes, absolutely, because a lot of people say, "Well, how do I create content?" And sometimes the best content comes from your end user.

Absolutely, so that can be one place, and this is something that we talk about in our blog, I created a list of 50 different ways that you can create content. Email is an easy-to-use tool. Another thing is find competitor websites, find the frequently asked questions page, you know that page that nobody pays attention to, chances are at some point they gave some thought to that, improve your frequently asked questions page and answer them with your own approach. Make sure that you are not just stealing their ideas, come up with your own better answer and turn it into a blog post and all of sudden you are breathing new life into that question.

That is a really good idea, because we get so close to our own stuff that it is like, "Oh right, people are confused about that stuff." I talk about publishing; people are confused about distribution, or whatever. We live and breathe it every day so we don't give it a lot of thought. That is a great idea for generating content.

When I am trying to generate keywords one of the things I often do is start with my own list, then go to Google Adwords keyword tool and what I do is plug in. I often do this for me and for clients, anytime I am going to write a blog I will often go in and see if I can find a better phrase. For example, I was writing a blog post about Content Management System (CMS) and I just quickly ran a Google Adwords keyword tool, which is a free tool, I put in some of the phrases that I was thinking of using, and I uncovered a phrase that I would not have thought of using. It was, "What is the best CMS for small business?" I never would have thought of phrasing it like that. But once I made that the title of my post that became, for the month, the No. 1 driving keyword to my blog.

Wow!

That was CMS for small business. There were other variations for "CMS" and "small business"; there is a lot of traffic around those phrases. So that is a very valuable keyword tool to generate ideas. How many other keywords could you use?

Keywords are important -- right?

Absolutely. When it comes to the Web and you are talking about search. You absolutely want to do your keyword research, because those are the words that your ideal customer will be using when they go to Google. But even if you are just focusing on social media and you are less concerned about the search I still think you want to do some keyword research, it is a very inexpensive market research. So you may be thinking about writing blog posts about "rhinoplasty" and it turns out that most people are searching on "nose jobs" so they are going to miss the content and you are going to miss the customer. You need to make sure that you are using the language that the customer uses. Doing research in this way is very important.

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