Over the last five years since I have been blogging, I have dispensed my fair share of blogging advice. Though I never describe myself as a "social media blogger" who solely talks about social media in terms of adoration, I do get asked often to help those who may be starting out or trying to build an audience with their blog. To answer, I have shared many different forms of advice on what to write about, how frequently to write and other techniques to help build a better blog. One technique that I realized I use all the time is also one that I have seldom written about: using "content time bombs."
Content Time Bombs are pieces of content that are written to remain online until someone needs to know about that specific topic, and then they "explode" as those people find them (usually through search engines). They are the social media equivalent of land mines, but in a good way. The reason I believe in them is because they are inherently valuable because they are always meant to be written for the long term. Not only that, but on any given day, nearly half of my blog traffic will come from older posts that are being found through search or passed along from person to person. These are not fleeting posts about how Facebook's latest privacy guidelines have people up in arms. They are not posts about how the iPad will save the world. Instead, they bring different pieces together to answer a common question that some people may ask.
Here are a few recent examples:
- What All PR People Should Know About Journalists
- 5 Non-Obvious Marketing Trends To Watch In 2010
- The Rise Of Gaming In Healthcare
- 5 Things Customer Care Teams Wish Marketers Did Differently
- 5 Marketing Techniques Luxury Real Estate Agents Use
What do all of these posts have in common that makes them what I call "content time bombs?" Clearly I am a fan of the numbered list structure for blogging – but this alone is not what distinguishes them. Numbered lists may be a format that I choose because it fits my blogging style, but this is not required. Instead, these posts all have four features in common that make them ideal fits as content time bombs:
- They target a specific audience or need. Each of the posts above either features a specific target audience, such as luxury real estate agents or PR people, or customer service people – or else they talk about a specific topic in broad terms, such as trends for 2010 or gaming and healthcare.
- They use keywords frequently. A key for search engines is to title the posts correctly using keywords and then to repeat them throughout your post. This is a basic search marketing technique, but also helps from a reader's point of view to reinforce that what they are reading is truly giving them the information they were seeking.
- They can remain "dormant" until needed. The problem with many blog posts is that the dated nature of each post and the format of having your newest posts at the top means that anyone who gets to your homepage may not always see the content most relevant to them, they will only see the content that was posted most recently. That works for world news where you care most about the news right now, but for a blog you want your older content to help drive engagement. By writing your posts in a format that is likely to be found, you can bring more incremental traffic to your blog by driving people to content you have already written rather than just to your latest post.
- They engage a broader audience. I understand that the core audience for my blog are people who either work in marketing or are dealing with some type of marketing challenge. By writing posts focused on real estate agents or librarians or journalists, I can help bring a wider audience of people to my site, and also learn from the insights they share back in comments as they are reading.
So I'll continue to try and write these "content time bombs" and build an archive of hundreds of them. To me, that's the ultimate way to create a great blog because you are writing content that is not just interesting or current for the moment, but also something that will be useful and answer a need in a relevant way a year from now.