A question that a lot of clients have asked me is “Can I have a blog?” Generally, the answer they expect me to say is “yes” and then send them the invoice and the sign off sheet however if I or anyone else was to give them that kind of answer would be doing that client a disservice.

Ever the inquisitor, my first answer would be a question - Why do you want a blog?

A common pitfall that I’ve seen time and time again on all kinds of different websites from the one-man band to multinational heavyweights, are dormant or even empty blogs.

Provide a purpose

As with any channel selection process there needs to be a business reason for making this. Typical reasons include a desire to be known as an authoritative source on a certain subject by sharing and creating insightful opinions, increasing brand awareness by evangelising about your products or services or even simply driving people to your website using the blog as a carrot to dangle. One of the most frighteningly common motivations for a blog is purely because a competitor has one and they want to be seen to be “keeping up with the Joneses” which is a risky move considering you may be fully aware of their justification and rationale behind their blog - you never know, they might have got one because someone else has too!

Realise your resources

Once you’ve justified a reason for the blog the next step is to work out who is actually going to be responsible for keeping your blog up to date. If that person is in your company, think about how they’re realistically going to be able to fit this new responsibility into their time. There’s no point in launching your blog with a bang only for it to lose momentum and be left dormant. Internal resource isn’t necessarily a block to a blog. For example, a good number of our clients hire our content marketers to assist in writing, editing and optimising their content.

Talking the talk

The next consideration is who do you want to reach and what do they want to read. Think like an author, planning a book - do you want to play it straight and speak in a formal, matter of fact manner or do you want to inject some personality into your writing. Obviously, this is industry and sector specific as adopting an inappropriate writing style could actually land you with a whole load of negative publicity which may drive all the wrong kind of traffic to your site.

 To make sure you attract the right kind of visitor you should be thinking about your brand guidelines and specifically the brand voice as this can help form your writing persona. If you don’t have brand guidelines perhaps this ideal time to create them so that there is consistency across all blogs.

Originality Only please!

Another pitfall that you don’t want to encounter is duplicating or plagiarising content. If the search engines spot that you are repeating content from either your website or another, you will be penalised by the search engines in a number of ways from being demoted in results to complete delisting altogether. Ideally content should be original and have been optimised by using search engine research tools to influence your word choice. This isn’t always possible and there are ways of dealing with this but these should only be used when absolutely necessary. For exampe a canonical tag could be set up to proactively advise the search engines of the duplicate content and flag which page should take prominence and appear in search results.

If you have the commitment, content and confidence to add a blog to your website it can make a significant impact in raising your digital presence. Don’t forget that every single time you write a blog, it’s another page that search engines are crawling and using to help direct traffic to your website. The more diverse and interesting you can make your content, the better in the long run as this will increase your organic keywords. Whilst I appreciate I may have rained on the parade of a few protégé bloggers in waiting, I promise my portent exists to make sure that people are really going to benefit from having a blog. Something to remember is - a blog is for life, not just for Christmas!!