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We’ve been fans of using a website as a first port of call for visitors for many years now – we were blogging way back in 1991 or so and have been doing it on and off ever since. But in the days of Social Media, is using a website with a ‘blog’, still a valid form of online promotion?
Back when the likes of Facebook were just another thing on the interwebs, unlike the soul sucking juggernauts they are today, if you wanted to be online, you generally did it in the form of a blog of some description. The were a few platforms available and if you were serious, you had your website with a blog, powered by the likes of WordPress, Dupral, or by one of a raft of paid systems trying to make their mark (and subsequently fail). The idea was simple, you wrote stuff, posted pictures, and if you did it all correctly in terms of SEO at the time, you generated organic traffic. And it worked too, many bloggers went on to big things, and many businesses created a very successful online presence. But as social media engines began to take hold, many abandoned blogging and in return, started to dump what they were doing into the likes of Facebook. While still prolific, blogging eventually took a distinctive backseat as the tool of choice.
It is not hard to see why. Social media channels offered a direct line to an enclosed audience, for what seemed the same amount of effort, or less, than blogging. So in a relatively short period of time, individuals and businesses alike redirected their efforts, opting for the audience abundant social media ecosystems; and the landscape of the internet changed in ways we could never have predicted.
But as they say, ‘nothing is free’, or, ‘if it’s too good to be true…’
Before anyone knew it, the platforms everyone sunk their efforts into suddenly became games of diminishing returns; social media sites began returning less and less, yet demanded more and more, both in terms of content, and cash, in order to be ‘seen’. That the rules started to change on a constant basis has not helped and once, where once a well crafted social media channel returned somewhere between a reasonable to a healthy return for the typical user, today the returns are far from that for the typical user.
Naturally website blogs still exist, they never went away, but more often than not they are seen as a source of SEO ‘juice’, rather than an important part of what it is you do online. As a result, there’s a dearth of truly awful ‘blogs’ out there, with regurgitated, keyword riddled content that reads like a machine wrote them (or worse, an SEO ‘expert’); some of it is utter tosh. This has degraded the perception of blogs amongst many, reducing them to nothing more than a mechanism to generate traffic, rather than an extension of yourself or your brand/company, which is a shame.
But in this seemingly grim landscape, we think it’s time to rethink the SME ‘blog’, or personal site, as not only a viable source of traffic generation but as the first port of call for your business’, or personal project’s, visitors. Here’s why…
1: Ownership. First and foremost, any content you post on a blog is, and always will be, yours. Even if you use something like WordPress.com, which is a WordPress site hosted on your behalf by Automatic (the owners of WordPress), the content is yours and can be transferred to your own dedicated site without too much fuss, or pulled down and stored offline. Content on social media (SM) sites is supposedly yours but if you have ever tried to pull it down, you’ll soon realise it’s not. What’s more, in the fine print of most SM entities is little clause that states they can use what you post to promote themselves whenever they like, and you can’t do a thing about it!
2: Search Engine Growth: There’s no doubt that Google, like all the online giants, has been moving the goal posts over the years and in terms of search engine rankings, it’s no different – results are not what they are used to be. That said, a well thought out article with good SEO practice can still yield results within a relatively short period of time. The best part being the article can have an endless burn time, unlike social media; we have articles on sites that keep on ranking, and are being clicked, years after they were first posted. And the more you post, the greater your reach, as every post that ranks is a link back to your site!
And remember, Google is not the only player in the search engine game. Engines like Duck Duck Go are gaining ground in their market penetration and deliver far more ‘honest’ search than those of Google (Duck Duck is actually our engine of choice).
3: Controlled Messaging: To us, this is a big one. With any SM platform, you are not only constrained by their ‘system’ but also by the attention span of the audience, which, depending on the platform, can be really quite bad! When you post to your own site, you can write as much as you like, include as many images and link as you see fit, all with no penalty. Not only that but you can control its delivery, cross link with other articles on your site and also include CTAs . Chances are, if someone’s come to your site through a search, they will take the time to at least skim through what you are presenting, if not read it all and/or explore further.
And they can also bookmark it for future reference!
4: Cross Pollination: Social media can not be ignored and in no way are we suggesting this. But we don’t think it should be the first port of call for your content any longer. There are numerous tools available to cross pollinate your site content with SM channels, directly from your website. With a little bit of work, you can re-post your content to the likes of Facebook, Instagram and a fair few others (or you can simply do it manually as we choose to do). The upside of this strategy, if you are clever about it, is you can serve up ‘just enough’ to your SM assets but not give away the whole lot – if it’s interesting, people will click through to your site, which should be the aim of any SM asset you have. The added upside being that your SM channels remain ‘active’ and fresh.
5: On Site = On Brand: This is our number one. When your content is on your site, it’s under your brand umbrella and works to strengthen, and enforce, your brand (or yourself), not that of whatever SM platform you are using. And that should be the aim of all your content, if it’s not, you might as well be sipping a drink under a tree somewhere.