It is surprising when many business owners and entrepreneurs question, “Do I really need a blog, when I already have a website?”
If you are running a business website without a blog, you are missing out on some big opportunities to engage your prospects and increase website traffic. In today’s social media-driven world where engagement with your customers is expected online, blogs are essential to marketing your business.
For some small businesses, their blog has become the de facto public relations department. For B-to-B companies, blogs are solving a big problem: bridging the feedback loops between end customers and channels. A blog allows more people in the loop.
Businesses that blog regularly get 55% more web traffic and 70% more leads.
Let’s say you own a consulting business. Consider what happens when prospects visit your static website. They can review some information about your services and perhaps read a few yawn-inducing testimonials. There’s not much to set you apart or convince a prospect to take action.
But when they click over to the blog, they discover a wealth of information. They gain a better understanding of what you’re about and who you are. They can post comments and immediately engage with you. No yawns here, just a follow-up phone call to schedule a meeting with you!
Not only does blogging provide a way to engage your site visitors, it also brings more traffic to your website. Google likes blogs because content is updated often. While there are millions of websites that remain unchanged each day, blogs offer up fresh new information—and Google recognizes that by giving that content higher placement when users search for related topics. In fact, blogging is the most natural way to optimize your site for search engines.
Google Authorship gives a real advantage to small businesses that continuously create fresh, high quality content online. Businesses that are continuously creating valuable content that’s getting social engagement from fans and followers are going to have an advantage when it comes to getting discovered online.
Authorship really levels the playing field for small businesses, in the sense that now it’s not as much about gaming the system by generating links to your website. Instead, it’s now really about putting a face behind who’s creating that content and that will help bring your business up in the search rankings.
And that means it’s really about the quality of your content and the stuff that you’re creating and less about the links. Inbound links are still going to play into it but it also helps break away from those content farms that are just trying to churn stuff up and build links.
Choose Your Niche
Decide what are you going to blog about and the frequency you’re going to do it. That is really as simple as figuring out what questions your customers are asking, answering those questions, and staying conversational.
If your site doesn’t yet have a blog, start by talking with your website designer or web hosting provider to see if there’s an easy way to install a blog on your existing site. Options include WordPress.org,Typepad.com, or Blogger.com. Ideally your blog should be hosted on your current domain. If you set up your blog under a different domain your main website won’t benefit from the added traffic.
For many businesses, getting started is really the hardest part. Blogging often seems like this distant thing that requires you to be tech-savvy to do. But it really isn’t the truth.
Start thinking about the things you may want to be talking about and who your audience will be. That’s going to guide a lot of your decisions going forward. Once you understand who you’re speaking to — you can develop content that speaks to them. Consider providing helpful tips, industry research, before and after photos, video demonstrations, client success stories, and how-to guides. Your blog should also reflect the culture of your company and should be infused with personality.
Writing about the topics that matter within your industry and answering the relevant questions your customers have will help you to get people to know, like, and trust you before they have made a phone call or clicked a button to buy something.
As we know, people buy from people they know, like, and trust. And in addition to helping people get to know you, having a blog lets you show your expertise and your thought leadership, and gives people another way to really understand who you are before making a purchase decision.
When you share great blog content, site visitors will notice. They will be able to post comments, which opens up an important two-way conversation where you have the chance to carry on dialog and even set up a rapport.
Blogging should also be at the heart of your social media strategy. Each time you publish a new post, share the title and a link to the post with your social networks. This drives traffic back to your site and creates a snowball effect as readers then share your content with their social networks. As you share more content on a regular basis, you will inevitably watch your website traffic numbers increase as a result.
Integrate Social Media and SEO
It’s no longer enough to have a popular website with good content. If you want better search results for your business, it’s time to look at how social media influences those results.
It used to be that SEO revolved around two things: using the right keywords, and the number of authoritative sites that linked back to your content via inbound links.
Then social media came along and changed everything.
The fact that social media is critical to your online presence (and your search engine rankings) is often a tough pill for small business owners to swallow. It can be a difficult marketing strategy to measure, and it can seem like a strange way to grow their business.
But the days of easily measuring your SEO strategy are long gone. It’s no longer about building X amount of links and creating Y amount of optimized content pages on your website. These old approaches to getting search engine attention are very static. The new strategy is about being dynamic, engaged, and interactive within your marketplace. Social media is the only place you can make that happen.
A major shift has taken place that alters the way you’re doing business online — and offline. It has to do with social media and SEO. Ignoring their impact on your marketing is suicidal. Weaving them into your strategy can be transformational.
For most small businesses, a blog is at once a powerful yet under-used customer connection tool. Small business owners must appreciate the power of these three facts:
- Small business owners are experts on what they sell, how it’s used, the industry, etc.
- Customers want access to what experts know.
- Increasingly, customers expect a closer connection to experts.
Small business blogging will deliver all of this, and more.