One of the most valuable things you can do for your career is to become a thought leader. Those considered thought leaders receive greater visibility and credibility, which leads to more opportunity and business. While rising to this expert level isn't easy, one tactic can be particularly effective - blogging. Writing blog articles is one of best ways you can start blazing a trail to thought leadership.
Quality blog articles that offer a unique viewpoint are fast becoming one of the most consumed sources of news and opinion. There has been a huge increase in the amount of website traffic going to original, quality content in recent years. Here are five innovative ways you can use blogging to boost your personal brand and become a thought leader:
1. Focus on Your Audience
Blogging is big because it generally focuses on the audience instead of the brand. Major companies like Coca-Cola have begun deeply embracing this content marketing approach in recent years. Telling stories and offering guidance to the target audience is much more powerful than self-promotion. Make sure your blog articles are focused on the reader. Sharing original, "how-to" tips or your thoughts on a recent industry study will generate more traffic, higher placement on search engine result pages, and more social shares than an article which promotes one of your products or services.
An image from Coca-cola's content marketing plan
Make your blog articles unique! Fresh content is an incredibly effective way to capture the attention of people and search engines. Simply reporting on what others are saying or copying the same idea from another article is far from creating true, quality content. Thought leaders give their audience original ideas, so make yours original! Take the time to truly consider news, an event, or a subject within your industry. Think creatively and share your thoughts. According to a recent study by Content Plus, 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading unique content on its site.
One of our most successful recent content pieces was a simple blog article using Star Wars quotes to convey digital marketing tips that can boost website performance. The article immediately became the most visited page on our website and the corresponding Facebook post immediately received 225 Likes and over 100 shares.
2. Stay Up-to-Date
Let's face it; you're busy, and keeping apprised of industry trends is no simple task. While it's easy to focus on your daily to-do list, staying up-to-date is essential for any thought leader. You must not only understand your industry's direction, but be able to anticipate what is coming in the next few months and even years. Commit to spending at least 10 minutes each day reading blogs, talking with other professionals and consuming anything else relevant to your industry. Acquiring this daily knowledge adds up fast! You will more easily generate ideas for your content and write with more confidence and authority. In the end, your blog articles must reflect that you are an up-to-date and informed expert.
3. Blog Early, Blog Often!
We are often asked, "What is the best thing that can be done to boost website traffic and search engine optimization?" The answer is simple - frequent updates with quality content. Both people and search engines like to see that regular activity is happening on your blog. Visitors will recognize that you are informed, full of ideas and dedicated to sharing your expertise. Search engines will also take notice of new content. All search engines send out bots to index websites. In general, the more often a website is updated, the more often bots will be sent out, and the more frequently your blog articles will be indexed and ready to appear in a search. Search engines also prefer new, fresh content and therefore can give preference to blog articles over web pages. In short, the more content you write, the more frequently the articles will show up in SERPs and the more impressions you will receive.
Once your article is posted, make sure you promote it! Get co-workers and friends to share and comment on it, push it out through social media, include it in newsletters and alert influential websites or other blogs that may be interested in your content.
Statistics for Content Plus also show that a well maintained blog on a company website will result in approximately 55% more visitors. This is fairly consistent with our findings. We recently launched a new blog for one of our larger non-profit clients, supported it with regular quality articles and saw an impressive increase of about 250% more traffic in just a few months.
4. Optimize Your Blog
Make your blog easy to find! Following all the best practices for content marketing won't benefit you if your blog can't be found. First, ensure that your blog is located on your website, within the same URL. Adding content to a website boosts domain authority, which is one of the reasons that large websites with many pages often rank higher than similar, smaller sites. We often see brands with a separate website and blog, but having a blog that's separated from your site essentially splits your digital marketing effort.
Ensure that your blog is mobile friendly! Visitors won't spend much time on your content if it's difficult to read on their phone or tablet. Additionally, Google now judges your website's mobile-friendliness and uses this as a ranking factor. If you're blog has an old-school, non-responsive design, you're missing out on visitors.
Keyword research is another valuable optimization tool. If you are trying to establish yourself as a thought leader in a certain industry, use terms common to that industry. Using free keyword tools like Google Trends, you can easily compare similar keywords and see which is used in more searches, and even target terms geographically. Don't stuff your articles with too many keywords, which can make it appear contrived. Write naturally and use a healthy mix of synonyms for your keywords.
5. Enter Your Audiences' Brain!
Understanding your website's visitors is essential! Your blog's statistics provide a daily focus group and usability testing rolled into one. Website analytics are typically easy to install and use and most are free. Review the info regularly to see what type of articles are most popular, how visitors found your blog, how long they stayed on your articles, and more. Use this information to tweak your articles to better serve your visitors and connect with your industry.
We use Google Analytics every day to view the stats on our clients' blog articles and have used this information to change content, modify the page layout, and generate ideas for future articles. Analytics let you look inside your audiences' head! Don't miss this opportunity!
Set Your Blogging Action Plan
Thought leaders are considered experts, and expertise is invaluable. However, you'll never be considered a thought leader if your voice isn't heard. Put together a plan to write regular, original articles that focus on aspects of your industry that people will find interesting and helpful. It won't happen overnight, but eventually your audience will take notice, consume and share your content, and start to follow your unique expertise.