Walk before you run! Some of these are immediate, some are long term. Take this and create a short-term plan that you can pull off and grow and improve from there. I'm assuming you have a company website and that it makes sense to integrate BUT you might keep it separate (for example WordPress) depending on your situation.
This will give the greatest SEO value to your website if you can do this. Here's why:
If you're going to use WordPress, here is some information on integrating with your website:
Potential additional plug ins for SEO and other benefits (All in 1 SEO Pack?):
http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/ (This is a process over time too.)
Lots of capabilities to evaluate: blogroll, share (Twitter/Facebook), Twitter feed waterfall,
Make it visible on homepage.
- Start once a week and go from there.
- SEO: Include search terms in post’s titles when appropriate
- Apply tags to posts.
- Have the poster’s picture with their posts even if just you at first.
- Link link link to outside sources as well as link to previous posts.
- Try to hit 300 – 350 words for each blog post.
- Create appropriate categories – not too many.
- Create author pages for contributors.
- Have a brand voice and personality for your company.
- Nice article about crafting a post: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/08/12/how-to-craft-a-blog-post-10-crucial-points-to-pause/
- Be honest – admit mistakes when you need to do that.
- Be conversational with readers not a marketing pitch.
- Ask questions.
- Funny or enticing or SEO-oriented titles.
- Create a general editorial calendar to think of when to focus on particular topics e.g. holiday, announcements of companies in your space, events, etc.
- Emphasize your thought leadership and the expertise you can bring in value to readers.
- Incorporate graphics and visuals and multimedia when it makes sense.
- Mix it up in types of posts.
- Look to tell the story in different ways. Infographics are really popular these days as well as video, slideshows…and can be as easy as creating a PowerPoint slide.
To your point about positioning vs. competitor's blogs, ask people in the space what they would like to read that perhaps doesn't exist currently. Having the editorial calendar with a clear content subject roadmap will point you in the right direction then over time you'll find out if that's resonating with readers or if you need to keep probing elsewhere.
Search for relevant blogs (blogsearch.google.com / technorati.com / icerocket.com) and link, reference content.
- List of 5 ideas, trends or thoughts
- Publish a list of links
- Take a recent experience and share it
- Answer customer questions you receive
- Comment on other blog articles
- Turn press releases into blog articles
- Check out Viddler for video, DailyBooth for photos.
- Tap into real-time conversations on Twitter
- What’s coming up from your company / major players in your space / industry
- Events review
- Predictions, especially engaging readers
- Aggregate industry information – industry statistics, images, videos, etc.
- Interview your users
- Interview influencers you have relationships with.
- Guest columnists
- Write about one of your user’s business / user of the week/month
- Gossip column
- Statement from the community
- Reader opinion pieces / reader submitted posts
- Top 10 list of something!…
- Summarize latest news of the week
- Social commerce
- Mobile commerce
- Coverage of your company
- Post “inside your company” periodically to give sense of active, vibrant company, what you're working on, etc. But be careful about too much crap that people won’t care about. Make it personal but not too personal.
Monitor competitor’s and industry key blogs and Facebook pages / Twitter pages for ideas and approaches, reference relevant posts when appropriate:
- Seek out bloggers (see above re: relevant blogs) who already produce content around your space. Comment on their posts. Get noticed by those bloggers as well as their readers. Get links back to our blog from them.
- Email all your company's friends and family
- Trade guest articles with similar bloggers
- Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon
- Facebook and LinkedIn
- Automatic Twitterfeed
- Guerrilla assault on forums in your space: …list top ones
- Sign up on those and do unrelated posts to build a reputation.
- Take your best posts and spread those across the forums.
Monitor metrics and comments closely to understand what readers like to see and performance of marketing efforts. Metrics include: subscribers, visitors, # comments, etc. HubSpot has analysis tools.
This is a really nice compilation of tips and articles relative to blogging: