Online Marketing

Step Up! Business Blogging Tips with Cary Snowden

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This is sheri bell revolt. Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of step up the article interview program in which I interviewed smart people making smart moves and their businesses so that we can learn their tips and tools and move our businesses forward as well. I guess this week, Carrie Snowden the professional marketer and blogger here in the salt lake city area and before we get to carries interview in which he gives us some great blogging tips.

I just wanted to do a shout-out for his website. Business. Blogger tips come in which he shares lots of information about blogging, including an excellent resource list. I also wanted to make sure that you knew that he had a itunes, podcast called business bloggers tips and there are at least fifty podcasts that you can listen to again. Specific to blogging so right now, let’s hear from Carrie Snowden and get his tips on adding blogging to our small businesses.

So we can move our businesses forward, hi Carrie thanks so much for joining me on this episode of step up. My pleasure sherry glad to be here. Thank you. I love talking to you so today we’re going to talk about blogging, and I know that you have a service that provides content for people who are interested in blogging and perhaps don’t want to start out doing it. Why don’t you give us a little background on list 5 and then we’ll go from there? We work with franchise groups to build out basically a blog for each of their sites, and then we provide regular customized content into each of those blogs.

So, quite literally, we can provide an unlimited number of customized unique blogs for a wide range of you know: distributors or sales people, or even you know, brick and mortar kind of shops all around, and our our key really is in being able to provide compliant content. That is completely unique for each site and just explain to people who are new to blogging. What does compliance you know compliant has to do with with corporate rules and sometimes even government rules and regulations, and that is saying things that are not only appropriate but legal.

So compliance has to do with either you know matching corporate rate rules and regulations or government rules and regulations, and that’s a big problem for a lot of franchise groups in particular that are worried about their brand and worried about what some of their bloggers out there Might be saying about their products right, okay, great! So let me just jump right in um. Why should people be blogging primarily because it becomes a very strong voice in in two primary areas of marketing? One is web based marketing, so marketing to the search engines and getting your content out in the search engines and another is that you know.

Lately. It’s been very important for companies to connect with their consumers. They’re cut their customers in a very personalized kind of way and a blog allows that to happen as well, so you’re, you’re kind of killing two birds with one stone, you’re you’re, appealing to the search engines in possibly the best way that you can, when you’re, providing Regular content on your blog you’re, giving search engines what they need, and that is content to delivery.

People who are searching for your keywords, so blogging is a great way to get your SEO out of the way and connect with your customers. Okay. So, let’s just talk briefly about keywords, then, if you had three tips for bloggers, keywords would definitely be one of the tips. Then yeah, that’s a that’s actually, a pretty huge one. The important thing about using a blog for marketing is to maintain relevancy.

So you know you don’t want your blog to meander through lots of different topics. You really want to focus on a specific topic, and usually that is your company or your products or the value or in benefits that they provide to your customers. So using kind of those three building blocks company products value, there’s a million one things that you can write about and you’re staying on topic. Basically, so it makes it easier to gather an audience because people are flocking to some content that they like to read and then you’re also looking at being able to maintain some search engine kind of rank based on those keywords to so consistency, there is important.

Okay, so before even writing that first blog post, what are things that a company needs to think about? What do they need to know about their own product or service or what they’re trying to do? But what do they need to know about their prospects or their target market? So you’ve got two questions in there. One is what do I need to know about my topic and then the other is. What do I need to know about the people who are going to read about that right? And this is where a lot of people kind of get hung up on blogging.

You’ll find a lot of people say, I’m just not ready to start, because I don’t know everything that I need to know and that’s not necessarily true. You’ll find that blogging becomes an experience where you can actually learn a lot more about your own products, and you start to meet an audience that you may not know you ever had. So I would say to start with it’s important to know your elevator pitch.

What is it that you’re talking about, and can you can you describe that in just a few sentences? You know an elevator pitch is, is the idea of if we both get on an elevator at the first floor and you’re getting off on the second floor, can I describe to you what my company does in that amount of time and you walk away understanding what We’ve got if you can, if you have your elevator pitch kind of worked out, that can be the basis for starting a quite wonderful blog because now you’re starting to share that story with your customers and you go out now.

Let’s talk about the audience side to just for a minute I want to when I start a blog I’ll have an audience in mind, and anyone that has a small business should have at least in a segment of their audience in mind. But I don’t – I don’t really know my entire audience this product that I have may appeal to someone that I haven’t even considered yet, hopefully that’s the case as an entrepreneur. We’re experimenting with ideas and products and getting them out there in a way that maybe attracts more people than we thought we could so split.

But it is important to start with an audience that you think is going to apply. You know I i’m not going to start talking about swimsuits to people who ride horses, for instance, so you can at least kind of start in in an area. But it’s not important to refine that audience down to the finest segment, because, when you’re blogging you’re appealing to a pretty wide range of people. I kind of think of this in terms of what I like to call the considered purchase cycle and blogging is a great way to generate interest at a very early stage of a considered, purchase and and along that considered purchase that the closer somebody gets to buying Your product, the more specific the information they’re going to need.

Okay and that’s when you get into personalized contact or delivering spec sheets or data sheets about your product. We’re talking early on we’re talking almost the same kind of information that you would see in a in a television commercial, so very broad, very emotional, based information about your product. Getting people excited about it, sharing some benefits and features and getting people interested in asking questions about those, and then you can refine it from there.

But what do you need to know about your product start with your elevator pitch and kind of work with that? And just be very general about the kind of information and consider that you’re going to a very general audience and the people who are really interested will start to refine as they go down that considered purchase cycle. Okay, um. This might be a strange question totally off base, but I was actually listening to a guy sort of teach at blogging class and he said never embed links that can take someone away from your you’re making or your website and take it to someone else.

I know that you can have when you’re liking, WordPress and you’re adding a link. You can have it open into an in page so that they they don’t lose you but sure. I know the new, your information. You do talk about linking a lot so give us your tip specific to lady. Should they do it specific to linking, should they do it, and the answer is yes and – and I have a very different opinion about linking – and it all has to do with what search engines are really looking for and what people who use search engines are looking For so let’s, let’s take Google, for example, Google delivers a product and that product is information that is relevant to your search term.

When you get to the site that you found through google, google wants that site to be as informational as possible. They also want that site to be very connected and think about connections being even social connections. The person you want to meet is the person who knows everyone, because now you become part of that culture and you can meet everyone through that. One link. Think of your website. In the same way, when I provide links to other relevant sites through my own site, I essentially become a hub to that community and Google will recognize my hub position in that community and will link to me more often because they know people would get to those Other sites through me and I can become most relevant by linking to other sites from mine, so in other words, Google will say of all of these people that I can introduce you to.

I want to introduce you to the one who knows the most people and those people then become. Are the links essentially to your website. So, linking out from your website is a great idea when you, when you want to establish yourself, is that central hub? Okay and how do you get links back? How do you get links back and that’s that’s a tricky one, because you know there’s link farming and there’s there’s these call groups that will literally spend all day calling people just ask for a link back.

There are the linkbacks that you get, are kind of graded and linked back from a very relevant site are very highly ranked links back from just junk sites out there are ranked fairly very low, and the problem is, if you have a lot of those low ranks, It won’t help you a lot in some cases. It can hurt you if you have lots of links from a topic that you’re not discussing. Google might think that you are selling horses instead of bathing suits, so you want to be real careful about the kind of links you’re getting back so how to get those links.

There are a number of ways using a blog in particular, is a great way to get links back to your home site. So you want to be linking to your home site from your blog, and there are a few strategies for doing that. Building a blog externals to your site is one not necessarily the best strategy. The other best way to get links is to get engaged with your community. So if you happen to be a saddle, salesman go out and engage with other people who are selling saddles discussing, saddles, making saddles talk to those people, make comments on their blogs and comments.

Usually contain a link back to your site, so the more engaged you are with your community, the more links you can get back and those are good, solid, relevant links, really quick. Another great way to get links in a very important way to get links is to use press relations every time your company or your entrepreneurial venture does something that is newsworthy, create a press release about that event and send that out to the multitude of free press Sites out there and that becomes good, solid content coming back to you from from new sites and those are very highly regarded links back to your site.

So don’t forget, don’t forget the PR angle to that as well thats, a good reminder. So how do you find? Let’s say you want to find the five most influential blogs that are in your niche. Do you what we want your tip for doing that? Well, so all of this might start with a visit to the google keyword tool. Just do a google search for google keyword tool and you’ll find it. If I’m that tool, you can find the top 100 search terms that are related to a search term that you type in so FL I’ll.

Stick with the horse analogy and say all right: i’m selling saddles so i’ll enter saddle into the keyword, search tool and Google will give me the top 100 search terms that are related to that. So now I have a list of things that I can begin to. Search for and find other blogs that are using those same search terms, and that’s that’s how I would do it there’s a couple of easy ways to do this. I can run down to Barnes & Noble and grab a horse magazine and in that horse magazine are going to be hundreds of websites that I can visit.

Bloggers. People are selling other types of horse tack and I might visit those sites and just really get engaged with the community so finding it is just a matter of sticking to the search terms and really going after the relevant content that is out on the web. And let me throw one more thing in there when I do find those. I want to gauge those sites. If you can find out what those sites are ranked and now you can literally make a list of sites in order of priority with the highest ranked site.

Being your top priority to become engaged with and to get links from both of those important you, don’t you don’t want to just go out there and get links for the sake of links. The the links will be stronger and more beneficial to you. If you are engaged in those communities, so engaged means I’m making comments on their sites. I’m talking to people in a forum or I’m even developing a relationship with the owner of that other site, but specific to finding out how a page is ranked.

I know there’s a: is it a Google tool that you can use? You know, there’s a lot of plugins if you’re using Firefox for your browser, which I do there are a couple of PageRank plugins. So, every time I visit a site, the PageRank is displayed right at the bottom of the page. I can see it right off if you just go to your plugins for your browser and do a search for pagerank you’ll find dozens of them.

Most of them are using the same data, so that would be the first step is to install some type of browser plug-in that it shows page range. This problem have that do roam. Yeah chrome does have page rank okay, um, let’s see one of the other things that I noticed that you give a tip for 2. New bloggers is if they are a local business, how are they? How are they establishing a local presence versus you know just trying to attach themselves to the world right? So the idea there is that if I am a brick-and-mortar type shop, let’s say a hair salon, my clientele for a hair salon are going to be within 20 or 30 miles of my hair salon.

Most of the activity I’ll see is going to be within 10 or 15 miles of my of my brick and mortar shop. So it doesn’t make sense to me for me to market my shop to people who are in another state, for instance. So now we talk about localization and there are a couple of ways that you can optimize for localized search, optimization. One of them is to add your address to your blog content. So I might add the name of my state or the name of my city and especially here’s a tip, especially my zip code.

Adding your address to your blog posts will help you in the local search traffic rankings. I do a lot of keyword, modification or keyword. Optimization so if I have a keyword, is hair salon, I would put the name of my city in front of that because I know a lot of people search for that. If i’m looking for a hair salon, I might type the name of my city and then the words hair salon, because that’s where I’m looking, the other thing I might do is actually register my site on google maps.

Now there everybody – you actually hurt mine ring a few minutes ago, but we’ve all got iPhones and other types of mobile devices, and many of these now have GPS in them. So literally, when I do a search on my phone, Google knows where I’m searching from and they’re going to give me results, even if I don’t ask for them. They’ll try to give me results that are within 10 or 15 miles of where I’m standing.

So they know that that’s exactly where I want to find goods and services close to me so registering with Google Maps is another great way, but I would say primarily in terms of writing, and that’s really. My focus is on the writing side of this and creating organic search rank. Adding your address components to your blog and modifying your keywords with your location is one of the most important things you can do.

So how would you work in your address, though you just say, hey, be sure to visit us at at the end of your blog post or yeah yeah. There’s there’s a couple of ways you know and you can get pretty creative with it, but that would be the basic just throwing your contact information along the bottom and important to to maybe mix it up a little bit. Don’t just create a signature stamp and at that every time I would write the information differently as often as you can and and of course, modifying your keywords and also incorporating it into a sentence.

You might say if you’re looking for a hair salon in orem utah, come visit me at my name of shop. So you can incorporate your your city and state and even your zip code right into the content and that’s where it’s important. It’s a good idea to block it down at the bottom, but if you can work it into the content, that’s even more powerful! Okay and how important our comments? You know it becomes like this popularity thing.

People spend so much time writing a blog post and any this has been having to me I’ll write, a blog post and absolutely no one will comment on it, but they’ll say to me, via Facebook or via Twitter or via email, personal email. That was a great black buzzing, like my god, please put that juice over there. You know if that’s a tough one, it’s it’s tough to get people to engage because we’re all busy – and you know, we’ve got things to do, and it’s not always easy to just go and make some comments.

One of the ways you can help kind of prime the pump a little bit is to have a culture of people that you rely on to to get comments. Going so have some friends make some comments? Some might regard that a little bit as cheating. But if you work with a community of people that are that are kind of in it with you, you can generate a conversation and that’s really what you’re trying to do. The other thing is there.

There are a lot of ways to block or kind of restrict comments, and every small restriction you create is one more barrier to getting comments. So a lot of people put CAPTCHAs on their comment window so that I have to type in some strange yeah. You know word to get access to the blog, I’ll, probably avoid it. In fact, I myself I’ve even written comments, and you get to that point. You think I don’t have time or I’ve got to move on right.

So every little barrier you put in place means you’re going to get fewer and fewer comments. You’re. The first part of your question had to do with how important comments are and there’s there’s a kind of a yes and a note to that question comments can be very important because it’s kind of free content right. It’s it’s additional content that goes on your blog and the more content that you have and the more frequent that content is posted.

The more popular your blog will be in the search engines, so comments can be extremely valuable. They are not the end of the world, though there are lots of very popular blogs out there that do not allow comments, so you know that it becomes a moderation issue. In some cases you may not want to do that either. So comments can be extremely powerful, but they are not the end of the world. Okay. So to really look at the effectiveness of your blog or the traffic you’re.

Looking at what to line up Google Analytics or what are you using? I use google analytics it’s free. It’s tied right into Google, I mean as soon as I light as soon as I start up. My google account you know or push a blog into google analytics. Google knows who I am and they’re starting to analyze. My account it’s kind of a window into what google can see about my site and that’s important to me because I like to what Google is thinking right.

I I don’t get. I don’t have a lot of time, so I don’t study my google analytics for hours and hours and try to make modifications every day and that sort of thing there are some people who do and google it analytics will allow you to do that for a free, App, it does just about everything you could ever want. I pay attention to just a few basic things, though, really kind of three things: one is overall traffic.

How am I doing, and if you’re familiar with Google Analytics, you know it gives you a big long chart right up at the top and it shows your traffic, whether it’s going up or down, and you can usually see exactly where the weekends are or things like That so I pay attention to how many people are visiting my site. I also pay attention to where people are visiting from so I have some blogs that are local community blogs and it’s very interesting when I see traffic coming from outside of the state and then I have blogs that are more nationally oriented and it’s very interesting to See where you know which states are more heavily involved and what those aligned with the other thing I look at is what key search terms are bringing people to my site, and I think that’s probably the most important of them all is to understand what content is Bringing people to your site and that’s where you start to refine your search terms and refine your elevator pitch a little bit to match what people are looking for and if I could revisit that first point we made a few minutes ago when you first start, don’t Be afraid to just put a stake in the ground and get moving and pretty soon you’ll you’ll start reading your analytics and you’ll start getting feedback from people and you’ll see where you need to steer your company a little bit to to meet up with the largest Number of customers, or or to meet your goals whatever they are, so you have this blog.

How do you use it for your across-the-board branding like how are you connecting your blog to your social sites to your? If you have a static website? How do you personally recommend decline and to have this be an effective tool? That’s working for you, 24, 7. So a lot of things that you can do there, so I use wordpress wordpress is my favorite blogging software. It’s very easy to install and it’s very robust and is very popular.

The neat thing about wordpress also, is that there are thousands and thousands of plugins that extend the you know the versatility of my blog. Many of those plugins will automatically repost my content to Twitter and Facebook, for instance. So I have a few of those installed so that whenever I put a post up and I hit save it automatically reposts to the favourite places that I wanted to go so then I’ve got my facebook audience seeing my new posts, I’ve got my Twitter audience seeing My new post and I’m taking advantage of those social networks without wasting a lot of time.

Reposting and you know you could literally spend hours and hours taking care of a single blog post or with the right plugins. You can do it all in half an hour. This is some other social things that are important to do, dig and stumble upon are two of my favorite post sharing mechanisms and you’ll see some traffic come from those sites as well, so there you know. Obviously, there are a couple of neat places to repost your content.

There are also mechanisms that are kind of the old standbys, using email, for instance, to re-distribute a blog post, and let people know that i’m still active on a particular blog. So, there’s a lot of things you can do there, but primarily whenever I I use my blog is 10 of my home base. I go there first, that’s where I’m putting my content, so everybody has a home that they can come to that I’m managing and then from there.

I share links out to all the social networks to point people back to the block. Okay. How often do you repost a blog post link on twitter? So if i’m really trying to be active, I might do it four times through the day. If i’m really trying to generate some some activity, you know if it’s an event or something I might do. It may be a few more, but typically I’ll. Do it once or twice and then, if I really want to try to get some attention I’ll, do it three or four times and it all kind of depends on the audience as well? But you don’t want to redo the same one all the time you might want to add a new twist, and maybe even do some experimenting on what kind of headline is attracting the most people.

So typically you’ll add a question right. I’ve posted a new blog out there and I might ask a question as to whether you know what might be in my blog. You know: did you know that saddles are made of leather? No, of course you did, but you might be compelled to visit my website to learn why that’s important. You know as an example a bad one. Maybe I love you period. Ok, so we’ve talked pretty much about all the highlights that I wanted to get to you, because I know that you have you need to go soon.

So I don’t remember if I told you that I wanted you to come up with an assignment for both me and my viewers, an assignment. So what it be. One of the important things about blogging is frequency, especially when you’re dealing with with search engines, but also very important for your readership for your audience. In fact, you kind of caught me earlier today when we were discussing this interview.

You mentioned that one of my blogs didn’t have a post for quite a while now, and you kind of you taught me – and it’s got me thinking about that yeah, oh so frequency is, is probably one of the most important things you can do with a blog. When you start a blog, you really have to commit to doing something with it. Some form of activity at least once a week, if you’re a business blogger once a week is really the minimum.

If you really want to keep your audience attention twice a week, if you are a crazy, rockin news website, you know – and we all know of these there – you can post two or three times a day and, and that is great stuff, but at a minimum once One to two times per week – and that would be my tip verb tip / assignment – is to recommit to a frequency schedule that you can manage. You don’t want your blog to take over your life, but if you want your blog to work for your business, commit to at least once per week for your business blog so that the search engines recognize who you are and your audience doesn’t lose you okay and Should you mix that up, should it be a article blog once and or give you off all written content for yourself it so there’s there’s a yes to both of those.

Whenever I add article to my blog, it has to contain a written explanation. The search engines don’t care about article; they can see that article is there and they recognize that that’s important, but article is really for your reading audience to capture their attention and give them something to read. If you’re, not posting text content on your blog each week, the search engines won’t be finding you with the keyword, strength that you want them to.

So so I would say it’s always text and especially when you post a article, don’t forget to explain the article. It only takes two or three sentences to satisfy the requirement, but you always need to include some text. Okay, and you also offer people the option of listening to your blog posts. Do you record an audio version you make? I do. I have a podcast actually at business, blogger tips, com, and you know it’s it’s less frequent now, but for last year I did one per week and I recorded that using GarageBand here on my mac and there’s pc versions of that too, that you can use to Record your track, convert it to a podcast.

I use a blueberry press to post that up to my blog and yes, I give people the option to listen to my my blog as well, and the neat thing about that. Is there a lot of people that ride trains or bicycles, or you know, commuting to work and they don’t always have access to the internet, but they can download it to their phone, their ipod or whatever, and listen to your blog on the way? So it’s a great way for people to double up on their time on the way to and from somewhere and listen to you while they’re on the go.

Okay. So that’s that’s been a lot of fun yeah! I, like your site, I’ve visited it’s great um, so you’re, let’s just wrap this up by your three most important tips when it comes to blogging. What do you tell your clients from the Gecko these? You must do so it and that’s just going to be kind of a review of what we’ve already talked about. Most important is going to be frequency at least once per week of your business blogger, otherwise, you’re wasting your time to is really relevancy, maintaining focus on a handful of keywords, and I usually tell people to pick three keywords that we’re going to focus on and then To make another list of about 15 that are sort of peripheral keywords, so frequency keywords and localization is really big right now, especially if you’re a brick-and-mortar type shop, that services a region and if you’re in a region, use your city name and don’t be afraid to Use city names from a few other people around you too and I’ll add a fourth really quick and that is linking don’t be afraid to link to and from your competitors or other people’s sites, so that you will be seen as a hub to the community and Not just a dead end, okay and is one of the services that you provide is if someone has a blog and they just want you to look at and tell them what they’re not doing perhaps most effectively.

Is that something that you do you know it’s something I do kind of as a friend? So if anybody has some questions about blogging, I’d be happy to answer them. A lot of the advice that I would give can be found on my podcast site, which is business, bloggers, tips com, so there’s some great information up there or send me an email through that site as well. I’d be happy to answer some questions. Okay, thank you.

Carry this is your bubbles. Thank you so much for joining me. You know what there’s a lot of fun and good to see you again.

Content is King! Bloggers are the best! Add more content to your digital world!


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