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Add Value Often: Maintain a Blog, Knowledgebase or Learning Center

knowledgebase illustrationSo, your website is populated with informative pages. They answer all the basic questions any conversion-prone visitor might come searching for. You’ve honed your titles, descriptions, and other Meta tags to the point of perfection. You’ve added alt text to your photos, and inserted infographics to break up your text blocks. In other words, you’ve run out of directions to improve.

What’s left in the race to make the softest, most lucrative landing for any number of web surfers looking to partake in your special service or product?

“No – please don’t say it,” you’re thinking. “It’s too much work to maintain a … B-word.”

It isn’t, though. That’s right: It’s time to bulk up your blog. Behold the Metablog: a blog entry about how to write blog entries.

But What Do I Write About?

To finish off 2014, we offered suggestions to steer your blogging in the right direction. That advice is as timely now as it was then, so if you missed its debut, go and read it now. We’ll wait. Then come back here for further direction.

While many business owners know that maintaining a blog is a strategic way to be more visible than the competition, they also balk at the commitment of continually updating the thing. And it’s true that if you start a blog and only get around to writing three or four entries before letting that menu link lie fallow, it’s going to do you more harm than good.

That said, the thing that will keep your website from being buried under the weight of newer, more relevant web content is to keep your own website new and relevant.

But a blog doesn’t have to be a harrowing scavenger hunt for weekly essay ideas. Here are a few ways to make the process easy and practically automated – not to mention highlight the strengths of your voice and your business.

Lay Out a Calendar

Rather than trying to overcome writer’s block two or three times a week, write up a month’s worth (or more) of ideas all at once. First, brainstorm the topics; then, write two or three paragraphs on each one. Some could be short, thought-provoking questions to get readers involved in the comments section; others might be anecdotes of things that happened in your shop, unusual case studies, simple advice, or helpful information that isn’t easily searchable elsewhere.

None of these have to be long. You may find, however, that once you start on a subject you are interested in, you’ll have more to say about it than you think.

Now you have a bagful of entries that you can schedule for future posting. You may have to interrupt your publication calendar when something timely happens, but many blog entries aren’t about up-to-the-moment topics. A mix of timely and timeless entries is a good thing: Discussions that are relevant to the right-now get more immediate attention, but they are also buried more quickly. Evergreen lessons whose wisdom will still apply years from now will continue to draw readers indefinitely, so long as they are inviting and audience-accessible.

And if, even with our helpful guidance and moral support, you nevertheless look back on your blog six months from now and have only managed to write three entries –that’s not the end of the world. Pull the plug for now and remove the link from your menu so you don’t look like you’ve abandoned your own website. Maybe even continue to add entries, and when you’re finally in the habit and the “recent posts” number is respectable, stick the link back up.

Infrequently Asked Questions

While some type of continual addition to your website is crucial, a traditional blog isn’t the only way to achieve this end. Your industry or service might lend itself even better to a knowledgebase-style repository.

Many websites benefit from a frequently asked questions summation. But there is always more to know. If you want targeted traffic, you have to offer enough information in one place that once a prospective customer lands on your website, he or she can gather all the data necessary to make an informed purchasing decision without ever leaving.

Step back from your professional expertise and brainstorm a list of general questions that people ask you all the time or things that you didn’t know when you first got into the business. This is the outline for your knowledgebase. Start by publishing the most basic five or six. Then add one or two per week to keep the content on your website fresh – and freshly indexed by search engines.

This approach has the benefit of sorting your information by topic rather than publication time. If most of what you write is going to be useful for a long time, it’s a great way to go. This also makes it less glaringly obvious when there’s a week or two that you don’t post. But don’t let that safety buffer lull you into complacency and out of the posting habit, or you may see your search rankings take a nosedive.

One drawback is that when you do want to provide timely information, there is no perfect niche for it in your Learning Center. This is why people often resort to blog formats instead, even when the majority of their entries aren’t time-specific.

Our suggested fix: Add a “News” section on your website where timely information goes. This can include press releases and mentions in the news, but also anything relevant to the present or immediate future that you want your customers to know about. You can link to upcoming items from your homepage as they come up.

If a traditional blog seems like a hassle or a chore, try these tips to make the process easy and fun – not just for you, but also for information seekers who stumble across your site. If these approaches don’t seem suitable to your style of website, consider using them to give your social media presence a boost on your Facebook or Twitter page. (You do have those, right? What are you, stuck in 2002?)

It takes regular content refreshers and added value to stay at the top of the search results and stay relevant to readers. It doesn’t have to be a chore that consumes as much time as a part-time job. But it might take adding a few good habits. Once you have a procedure in place, your blog or knowledgebase will practically write itself.