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Guest column: The power of a blog

BY BOB KNIGHT

When you think about a successful blog, names like The Huffington Post and Perez Hilton come to mind.

And it’s no wonder: with topics ranging from politics to celebrities, readers flock to these blogs for the same reasons that anyone stops to read anything. The posts are relevant, timely, actionable, short and graphically appealing. The key to a good blog is content.

Say the word “content” and many companies struggle to figure out what that really means. How, they wonder, is content relevant to their brand or business? Usually, they wind up taking the path of least resistance and skip blogging. But by not blogging, you won’t enhance your online presence and that is a big mistake.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, blogs are weighted heavily by Google in organic searches and can improve your SEO pickup. Companies that blog 15 times a month or more get five times more traffic to their websites, according to Hubspot. And Google’s new Enhanced Search gives extra weight to fresh quality content – and a blog is an ideal way to do that. Why is the online search so important? In 2011, consumers consulted over 10 sources online before buying anything. This doubled over 2010. (Google Zero Moment of Truth)

Here’s a good example of the power of blogging.

RTK Environmental Group, an environmental testing company with offices in White Plains, in conjunction with Harrison Edwards, accepted the challenge of creating and maintaining a blog. This has paid off in several ways. Today, nearly 60 percent of traffic to the RTK website, www.rtkenvironmental.com, is driven through organic and referral traffic from the blog, www.rtkenvironmental.com/blog. With more than 1,000 unique visitors monthly, RTK has become the go-to source for environmental and homeowner consumer information – not just in its service area in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut but throughout the country.

RTK has never been hesitant to leverage technology for its business, notes Robert Weitz, managing principal of RTK. “We’ve always emphasized using technology to make field inspections and testing more efficient. Creating relevant content on the RTK blog is proving to be another great way to profit digitally.”

You may be wondering what a company that tests for mold, lead, asbestos and other environmental toxins could possibly write about on a regular basis that would get attention, drive traffic and more important, click-throughs to their main website. The answer is: information that can help consumers when they need it.

Using data from paid search (also known as “pay per click”) campaigns, optimizing terms, and monitoring current trends, Harrison Edwards carefully crafted a plan that included blogging about relevant, useful topics. For example, after Hurricane Sandy, consumers wanted to know how to deal with flooded basements to prevent mold growth. We responded quickly. And, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered the “acceptable” level of measuring for lead contaminants in the blood, RTK explained the implications to parents on its blog what this meant with respect to lead-poisoning.

Safety, too, is a main focus on this blog. We offer tips on everything from renovation and hurricane preparation to allergies and medical conditions caused by environmental hazards.

So before you dismiss the idea of starting a blog for your company, think about what it could do for your bottom line. Spend time and do the research to find out what would be most meaningful to your customers. In most instances, content should be left to professionals who can tailor content and react quickly to the public’s interests. A thorough understanding of search engine optimization is essential, too. Then watch traffic to your website and sales will follow.

Bob Knight is executive vice president of Harrison Edwards PR & Marketing, an award-winning public relations and digital agency based in Bedford Hills.

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