“The essential benefit of content marketing is simply… survival”(Katherine Kotaw, CEO).
True indeed, but there’s better reasoning behind a company’s blog: communicating with customers and readership, voicing the opinions of employees, collaborators and management, showing latest releases, services, and products. And more.
Research shows that blogging replaced SEO as top traffic building strategy and 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company’s voice through blog posts rather than targeted ads (source: Digital Marketing Resource Center). With these facts in mind, here are a few ideas and examples for what to cover on your company blog.
Structure Your Company Blog Like a Course
One of the main counterarguments of blog posts is if you publish very often, the old posts tend to slip the readers’ eyes, unless they rank top in social or search-engine search. But if a visitor clicks your homepage, chances are he/she will most likely access the latest blog posts.
To offer the best information to your readership and customers alike, structuring your blog as an online course can be just the thing to make it work. One example is AcuityTraining.
On their blog, they cover how-to articles related to Excel for business intelligence, MS Office and Adobe. As well as how to prepare for interviews or tips and guides for first-time managers, which breaks away from the traditional “company blogging”.
Add Icons and Gifs to Outline the Subject
Why stick to boring preview images, when there’s so much more out there? Besides adding gifs in the posts and setting up a casual voice for their articles, RavenTools has recently started to add icons just side to the article title.
An article that talks about mobile UX will display a smartphone icon, for example. As opposed to images and videos or gifs that require additional CDN subscriptions to compress files and ease the page load, icons occupy as little as a few kb per image and do not impact site speed. This works not just for a marketing tool business, but for any type of digital services or online products or apps.
Beyond Professional: Personal Advice for Your Customers
A company blog doesn’t always have to stick to company products or services. You can do so much more, such as promote the stories of your customers as blog posts, share life at headquarters beyond Insta stories.
Or why not simply discuss overcoming difficult moments in life, like WP Diamonds does on their blog? The company blog covers important aspects such as recovering after a divorce, what to do with jewelry as inheritance, lifehacks for readers, and more. All using a positive voice as empowerment to men and women worldwide.
More than a Health Directory
Directories have existed since forever, but what if yours could go beyond? GreenGoodnessCo is a fine example of a health directory exceeding limits.
Their blog section is filled with recipes, how-to articles, wellness and health resources, experts highlights, user stories, local best healthy meals, restaurants, juice bars, and more. This approach does not only help businesses with local listings, but also aid visitors looking for more than just a place to eat, drink, hang out at.
Remember that 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company’s voice through blog posts, which means business blogging is still highly relevant. How you do it, it’s only up to you. You can go beyond the typical approach by
- a) structuring your blog as an online course, like AcuityTraining;
- b) using icons side to article titles so people understand the overall topic before they click, following RavenTools’s example;
- c) going beyond professional, and addressing pressing issues of today’s society such as divorce, marriage, lifehacks, like in the case of WP Diamonds; and,
- d) reinventing a concept such as GreenGoodnessCo’s health directory into a new place for users to find inspiration, information, and motivation for a better, healthier lifestyle.
During the past three years, desktop internet usage has declined from 90% to 60%, while mobile internet usage soared to 40%. If this trend continues, and it seems that it is likely to do so, mobile internet usage will soon surpass desktop internet usage.
The general approach used by most designers when designing for mobile devices is to create a responsive smaller version of their desktop website. This approach, however, is not the ideal strategy for designing mobile sites. Instead of merely scaling down a website, it is best to assess the client’s business and how important mobile accessibility is for their users.
The challenge for web designers nowadays is how they can design for various mobile devices which come in various different sizes. Here are a few best practices in creating better, more intuitive, and user friendly mobile user experience:
Provide Clear and Concise Content
Mobile users are typically on the go. This, combined with relatively smaller screens, makes it necessary to feature web content that is easy to read. Minimalism is key, with each web page having just one central focus.
For atypical gestures, such as a swipe to go to the next page or a horizontal scroll, make it easy for users to use these features by adding a small arrow or a hovering message.
Keep Menus and Navigation Simple
Unlike desktop websites with a menu bar at the top of their pages, mobile sites need something more compact to fit in the smaller screen. Instead of a menu bar, use a drop down accordion or icon on the top left or right of the mobile screen as your menu.
Refrain from having multi-level menus with sub menus that appear on hover and ensure that everything is accessible to mobile users.
Consider All Mobile Device Layouts
Image source: bradfrost.com
Always keep in mind that mobile devices come in several different dimensions. Don’t just design for a 320-pixel width, design for other sizes as well, like 176, 240, 320, 360, and 480 to 600 pixels for landscape.
You will need to make sure that your web layout is flexible and fluid so it displays properly on various screen sizes.
Focus on Touch Inputs and Gestures
Today’s mobile devices no longer come with a keyboard and a mouse, and the primary mode of interaction is touch so you will need to design for touch.
In doing so, it is vital that you consider the different sizes, shapes, and pressures of fingers to mobile device touch screens and ensure that buttons, forms, and other elements that require touch input are large enough so there would be no overlap with adjacent elements.
Product management training instructors from Product School stress the importance of users in determining product design and the same applies to mobile web UX.
By keeping these things in mind as you design for mobile users, you are then able to provide a more efficient and positive experience to your mobile users which will also help your clients in building trust among their target audience.
Google Introduces A New Travel Update, But Will It Affect SEO?
Changes to Google’s destination search has got the travel industry in a spin, but does it really affect the way we do SEO?
It seems as though a week cannot pass by without another report about a major change at Google that has the potential to shake up the establishment. At first glance, the latest in a long line of such announcements looks set to hit a bunch of travel related sites right where it hurts most, in the pocket. But is that really going to be the case? Let’s take a closer look.
What Are The Changes?
Late in January 2016, Google announced changes to the way its mobile search interface would look with regard to travel information. Dubbed as Trip Planning, searchers looking for info on terms such as ‘where to go in Mexico’ or ‘Mexican destination’ will now be served with Google-controlled content rather than the standard organic results of old.
This is triggered by a knowledge-graph result that summarises relevant information into neat little boxes listed above the normal search results. The fear is that this new addition to the now four-year old knowledge-graph that everyone has grown used to will further demote organic placements whilst promoting sites that Google want to receive clicks – namely AdSense paid search material.
Will This Harm User Experience?
The jury is still out on this one, but the majority seem to be swaying towards an enhanced UX rather than an unwanted nuisance for those looking to make a straightforward search. For digital publishers, however, the response is likely to be a little different, but it’s not as much of an attack on the little man as it may first appear.
Who’ll Be Affected?
As we touched upon above, it’s likely to hurt the big players in the travel industry rather than the smaller travel blogs out there. Sites such as Lonely Planet, Yelp, Trip Advisor, huge news corporations and the larger travel sites are likely to be worst hit by these changes. These brands have totally dominated the destination search market for a long, long time, and this shake up is going to come as somewhat of a shock.
For those with smaller sites, however, the impact is likely to be minimal at worst. Think about it, if you’re not already ranking for top-tier keyword terms such as ‘where to go in Thailand’, what have you got to lose?
Travel companies and airlines may see a change in number of referrals coming from Google and this could hit profits. Some airlines and package holiday companies work very hard behind the scenes on complex digital marketing campaigns that help improve their search positions. This change has the potential to turn the industry on its head. In January 2014 we reported how one Google update saw Expedia dramatically lose traffic from Google. However, a drop of traffic from Google of around 25% was not enough to cause a major drop in revenue, and Expedia share prices continued to rise.
What Does This Mean For Google?
Naturally, Google is on to a winner with this move as more clicks on paid advertising means more money for the company. The change will also make Google’s other products more prominent too, pushing the likes of Google Maps and YouTube to the fore every time someone searches for these short-tail terms.
Until the changes have full rolled out we cannot really predict the long-term effects, but once again, Google is controlling how we obtain information from the Internet, and to some extent, who will win and who will lose.