Q: I'm interested in creating a blog for my car rental company website. What tips can you offer to help me get started?
— John Leadingham, Carolina Rent a Car, Charlotte, N.C
A: A blog is an effective tool for online brand marketing. By putting out informative content, a blog could ultimately lead to an increase in website searches. For a car rental company, blogging should be part of its social media strategy. Blogging helps get your company name out there.
If shared through social media channels, blogs can be a cost-effective way to drive traffic to your website. For example, if your blog is synced with your Google+ account, it will increase your company’s chances of appearing high in Google search results. You can also sync your blog to your other social media pages, such as Twitter and Facebook.
Photo via Wikimedia.
To set up a blog on your website, it’s easiest to use a content management system like WordPress.com. This hosting platform can be implemented into your company’s website.
Once the blog is set up, what topics should be discussed? As a car rental operator, you aren’t limited to only writing about topics within the car rental industry.
Most rental car companies will blog about things happening in their local community. Then if someone is searching local events while on a trip, he or she could find your car rental blog during a Google search.
Also, try to focus on keywords that end-users would use to search. For instance, a traveler is likely to search for “great restaurants in Phoenix.” Therefore, a possible blog topic could be “5 Best Restaurants in Phoenix.” By reading your blog, the user will not only learn more about restaurant ideas but will also be exposed to your car rental brand.
At a minimum, rental companies should aim to write one blog per week. Don’t go overboard at first. Start with once a week and then find a regular pattern.
Keep an “editorial calendar” to make note of which topics and keywords you are discussing. This will keep you on schedule and help you avoid writing about the same topics over and over again.
When writing, keep content as original as possible — be sure to attribute any writing that is not your own. Even if you aren’t a journalist, you can’t plagiarize content and could be penalized by Google for doing so.
Unless you own a photo or have rights via creative commons, do not use them for your blog. As easy as it is to save a picture and upload it, it is considered stealing. There are plenty of horror stories of small-time blogs getting sued for this.
If you outsource your blogging, make sure the company does not steal images. It is better to err on the side of caution.
As a regular blogger, try to establish yourself as an “expert” in your local market — a resource that people come to when needing specific information in your industry. You can become a hub of information.
In addition to sharing a blog on your company‘s social media channels, use your existing customer list. When sending promotional material, provide a link to the blog within the email. It can help get the word out about your new blog.
Remember that a blog is more about building brand awareness than driving direct sales. Blogs can be used as a tool to get potential customers to your website to make the transactions.