Starting Your Company Blog
Once you’re convinced that you want the increased authority and SEO benefits of a blog on your company website, you have some decisions to make.
We’re getting a blog started for 8th & Walton, the top Walmart supplier training company located across the street from Walmart corporate headquarters just north of us, so this seems like a great opportunity to walk through this process. Join us!
The first decision is choosing a platform for your blog. If you have a WordPress site or another site with a built-in CMS (content management system), your decision is made for you. If not, choose the platform you or your blogger find most comfortable. 8th & Walton went with WordPress, and our friends at SharpHue built it for them. It will be integrated into their website so they’ll get the maximum SEO value.
If you don’t have a designer doing this for you, you’ll need to make a number of design decisions at this point. We’re going to assume someone with design skills is taking care of this.
Now to the strategic decisions.
At the top of your post, you may choose to show dates and author names, or not to. If you aren’t sure you’ll blog regularly, don’t add dates — there’s nothing that makes your blog less appealing than having the most recent post look outdated. If you post often, go ahead, since people will often choose to click through from the SERPs to a recent post.
Giving the name of the author can seem more friendly, more human, and even more trustworthy. One of our clients writes some blog posts herself, has staff members write some, and has us write the basic Monday-Wednesday-Friday posts. She likes having names, since that makes it clear that a lot of people work on the site and shows the size of the organization. In the absence of a good reason to include the author’s name, you may choose to remove it. When we (or our clients) choose to give an author’s name, I usually just use my first name. There could, after all, be a team member named Rebecca; often, as in this case, I feel like a team member, and we can have the friendliness of a name without being very specific. Some clients also like to have their own names or a general term like “Team Companyname.”
With the metadata settled, you should make a decision about images. Generally speaking, its’ better to be consistent with your images. It therefore makes sense to think about these factors when you start your new blog:
- Will you have images?
- Where will you place them?
- Will you use photos, drawings, infographics, or a variety of media?
- What image or style will you use?
- What size and shape of image will you use?
- Will you use borders, captions, or rollover effects?
We’ve used everything at blogs from travel photos to company snapshots. In general, we prefer to stick with one genre unless there’s a good reason to do otherwise. We also usually go with a consistent size, shape, and placement. We certainly make a point of suiting the style of our illustrations to the visual style of the blog.
We also think about things like ethnic diversity, up to date machinery, and the overall mood and tone of the images. 8th & Walton is distinctly corporate, but with a modern, playful feel. They’re in Bentonville, not New York, so we’re not going to have skyscrapers in our pictures, but they work with major players in the consumer goods field, so we’re going to be businesslike. We have a client who prefers fierce looking people in photos, and we honor that preference, but 8th & Walton has a more open, friendly vibe, so that’s the way we’ll go with their pictures.
We know from testing that all the factors we’ve listed are things that people pick up on and comment on when looking at a website, so we take these things seriously. These things are about communication, not just design.
However, we also pay attention to color. We try to avoid using pictures that clash with the blog. We also make sure that any extra color we use in fonts or response buttons are appropriate. In general, these things are up to the designer, but there are cases where we have some control or the client does, so it’s worth thinking about your preferences on these points when you set up your blog.
Next, create your editorial calendar or list of blog topics. 8th & Walton keeps a document in Google Docs so everyone can add to the list as ideas occur to them. We also have specific keywords (we use Google Webmaster Tools, Analytics, and Insights for Search to gather data, along with strategic decisions from the client) to work on. We also write posts very specifically to support our linkbuilding and social media goals for the client — and so should you.
With all these decisions made, you’re ready to go!