blog word cloud on digital tabletYou have probably heard by now, to rank well in search engine results, you need a blog to publish fresh content and attract traffic. Whenever you publish new content, search engine crawlers score your site and rank it accordingly.

You therefore need to be publishing content on a fairly regular basis – at least twice a week is sufficient, although more is better obviously. New content also attracts readers and increases you chances of conversions.

So how do you go about setting up a blog and building it up into a readable online magazine that raises your brand profile, boosts your search engine rankings and increases conversions? Here’s how!

Decide what your blog will be about

Your blog should be relevant to your business and products. It’s sounds obvious, but in the past blog owners have been known to publish content because it is a popular subject and will rank better than their product.

Make a list of all the subjects you can cover in your blog that are relevant to your business. These will be used as categories in your blog which you need to organise content so your blog is easily navigable.

When brain-storming content ideas, be creative. The more categories you have, the more opportunities you have for ranking pages. You should also bear in mind that any one page of content should focus on one particular subject, rather than a broad overview search engines cannot index.

Choose a platform and host

There are several blogging platforms to choose from. WordPress is the most popular and is easy to use. Blogger also gets good reviews.

You also need to choose a host. If you are bolting your blog to your main website, which is recommended for businesses, you will probably use your existing host.

If you are purchasing a standalone blog and do not want bells and whistles on it, a standard wordpress.com for example (this is different to wordpress.org which enable you to build in attributes) you do not need a host.

It is important that you know what your content will be about before you purchase a url. You may want to go with your business name, or your own name which is advisable for freelancers and companies. If you are writing about a specialist topic, ideally your url should bear some relevance to your main topic.

Have a content strategy

Determine the goal of your blog. Assuming you are a professional or a business, the main purpose of your blog is to generate interest in your content, drive traffic and boost search engine rankings.

Go back to your list of content ideas. How can you present them? You should be looking to vary the type of content you publish on your blog. Word-based articles are the obvious choice, but can you put anything into an image-based post such as a photograph or infograph?

Distributing content

Now you have dedicated time and resources to producing content, you need to reach an audience. For new starters (and old hands) the best way of finding an audience is through social media networks.

The downside is that social networks need maintaining. You have to engage with your audience otherwise they lose interest in you work. Therefore only select one or two social media networks.

The two obvious choices are Facebook and Twitter as they are the most popular and have the most number of users. However, it can be more difficult to find the right target audience.

The alternative is to use one of the up and coming social sites such as Medium or Quora that allow you to publish content in specific categories that have a ready-made audience specifically fishing for content they want to read, rather than what appears in their newsfeeds on other social sites.

Blogging does have its rewards on both a personal and professional level, but it is hard work, time consuming and, at first, can be deflating. Patience and persistence is key for beginners. Once you build up a relevant audience you will reap the benefits.