What’s great about blogging is that, if used strategically, it can allow you to generate additional firm awareness, present your firm leaders as thought leaders and can reveal ample cross-selling opportunities. In my own experience over the years, I’ve revealed some best practices and, you know what they say, sharing is caring!
Best Practice 1: Unification
When I started at my firm, we were publishing articles on our website and operating a separate blog, offsite. After much discussion with others in the industry, digital specialists and internal stakeholders, we decided that this strategy didn’t align with our strategic direction. We ultimately made the move three years ago to shut down our external blog (or rather, stopped updating it and classified it as archived thought leadership) and proceeded to move ALL our content to our official website.
I mean, think about it, why would you want to take users off your website if your ultimate goal is to increase time on site and entice them to check out more of your services or learn about your firm?!
So, that leads me to my first piece of advice – if you are going to start a blog, I would encourage you to incorporate it into your existing web presence.
Like you, we serve a wide variety of clients and industries. And at first glance you may question we would want to house all of your content in the same location.
- It keeps the cost of operating different websites and SEO down.
- It keeps your entire audience on your website so they can easily learn more about your services.
- It improves time on site and click through rates.
- It ensures a consistent message and overall brand alignment.
- It illustrates the robust service line of the firm and the breadth of expertise you can offer.
- It encourages cross-selling of services.
- Constant website/blog updates improves the overall status of your website and improves traffic.
Yes – we publish tax updates alongside nonprofit insight, but our ability to keep the insights section of our website consistently updated provides so many more benefits than operating a handful of different blogs. Even though all our content is housed in one centralized location, we still effectively segment the content by utilizing categories and tags. This allows each audience to filter the type of content they want to consume.
Best Practice 2: Think Smarter, Not Harder
Then there is the question of how you will be able to even produce enough content to regularly populate a blog or insights page. It’s really not as hard as you might think. In fact, I’m looking forward to presenting on this topic at ENGAGE at 9:30 on Thursday, June 13. The session is AAM1926 | No Time, No Problem: How Content Creation Can Compete (And Win) Against The Billable Hour).Check it out and register!
What I will tell you is that your firm leaders are producing content every single day. They just don’t know it yet! It’s your job to effectively extract it. Here’s how:
- Don’t ask them to write a 500-word blog post.
- Do ask them if they answered any questions for a client lately via email that they could forward to you.
- Don’t ask them if they know of any pressing issues in their practice area.
- Do ask them if they have 15 minutes to speak to you about a news story in their practice area you heard recently.
- Don’t try to produce a scholarly article.
- Do conduct low key interviews with them (seriously, 15 minutes is all you really need) for the purpose of pulling out about three great nuggets of information.
- Don’t ask them to research a subject to help you write a series or a whitepaper.
- Do ask them to share the slides they put together for a presentation they recently gave and use them to create blog content.
See what I mean? Your people are treasure troves of information. You just have to tap into their expertise in a way that makes them feel comfortable. Once you figure out the right tactic for the right person … BEWARE … they will probably start sharing more than you can push out with your existing publication schedule.
Best Practice 3: Anything Goes
When you think of managing a blog, you’re probably thinking about populating it regularly with short articles. Of course that will be the meat and potatoes of your effort, but it doesn’t have to be the only type of content you produce. A lot of people will check out your blog because they want to read; but others would probably enjoy getting their information other ways. Go ahead, break the monotony!
In addition to written content, consider providing your visitors with:
- Podcast episodes
- External articles (those written by other publications that mention your firm or one of your team members)
- General firm updates
- Quizzes & Surveys
- Graphs & charts
When it comes to blogging, literally anything goes.
People are visual creatures so any time you can incorporate images or interactive content – DO IT! This will make your blog more engaging and visitors will likely return to consume more of your kick-ass content!
Best Practice 4: Strategy Is EVERYTHING
Saying that you are going to produce a blog is great, but if you don’t back up your initiative with a solid strategy, it really won’t benefit anybody. Here are some things to think about:
- SEO – even if your blog post almost solely consists of an embedded slideshow, you can still optimize it. Take the time to write a brief description of the content. Explain why it aligns with your existing services. Talk about the team members who specialize in this particular area. Explain why the slideshow is important and why you are releasing it now. Let the slideshow take center stage, so that it’s the first thing people are seeing, but then follow up with your written explanation, which will keep Google happy.
- Mind the back end – In addition to on-page SEO tactics, you will want to be sure to spend time on the back end of the post. Your meta data is crucial. And I’m not just talking about the post. Make sure to optimize your photos as well.
- Headers – Be sure to create headers for each section of your blog post and use them consistently. When Google crawls your site, it pays special attention to your headers. So also be sure to sprinkle in some key search terms.
- Research keywords – I could go on and on about keyword strategy … but for our purposes, I would simply encourage you to find out what keywords are bringing people to your site and which keywords and terms you want to start ranking for. Then, do everything you can to incorporate those keywords into your blog posts – both on the front end and the back end.
- Consistency – Don’t just update your blog whenever you feel like it. Create a schedule and stick to it the best you can. People are creatures of habit. If you say you are going to release a new post every Tuesday, they will come to expect it and then they will anticipate it. Setting a schedule will also help you train your team members when it comes to producing new content. Eventually, they will learn that content creation isn’t just a nice extra, it’s essential to their ability to engage with current and prospective clients.
Like I said, I’m pretty passionate about content marketing and I could literally keep going … instead, I will encourage you to check out my session in June at ENGAGE to learn more. Or, you can always reach out to me personally to learn more or to ask questions. I’m always happy to help!
By: Abbey Kanellakis
2019 AAM Summit Pre-Conference Post
Make sure to check out Abbey’s Summit Session at AICPA ENGAGE 2019: AAM1926. No Time, No Problem: How Content Creation Can Compete (And Win) Against The Billable Hour
About Abbey Kanellakis
Abbey Kanellakis is a content development specialist at Rea & Associates, a regional CPA and business consulting firm headquartered in New Philadelphia, Ohio. With more than a decade of content development, marketing and public relations experience, she is responsible for supporting the firm’s content initiatives across a variety of mediums. In 2016, Rea’s podcast, Unsuitable on Rea Radio, earned Marketing Achievement Awards from AAM for Video and Multimedia (Program Budget Above $10,000) and Member’s Choice. It was also a finalist for the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Content Marketing Award for Best Podcast/Audio Series. She can be reached at [email protected]