‘Why blog?’, you ask. Busy small business owners often over look the multiple benefits of blogging.
The basic answer is that search engines and humans love content. We simply never get bored of it.
Humans use the internet to consume content – we learn, are entertained and are influenced by web content every day.
Therefore search engines rank good content well.
When people think about a blog they often only think about written content, but a blog is so much more. It’s a place to host photos, illustrations, video and sound too.
Although I suggest writing – the written word is one powerful medium.
Everybody Writes is a book by Ann Handley, which I highly recommend if you’d like to learn to write blog posts and articles well.
How blog content helps a website
A domain name is just another word used to mean ‘website address’. The word domain encompasses everything that is hosted there – website, blog, shop and media.
An up to date, well used, popular and trusted domain is ranked higher by search engines.
The way a search engine calculates this is through SEO factors such as backlinks (incoming links from other sites), click through rates, value, security, longevity, social shares and consistency.
To grow a business online it is necessary to expand the reach of a domain. The best way to do that is using an extension of a website – a blog.
Keep the website and the blog on the same domain name so the content supports each other. Link frequently between them – called internal linking.
Make the domain truly visible by targeting more and more key phrases within one industry.
Create and host worthwhile, original content to teach, entertain or inspire an audience. With each valuable article the domain will become stronger and stronger.
Search engines recognise the domain as authoritative in a field. Rank just gets better.
A blog is a way to reach out to people and convert them to clients. This is known as inbound marketing or search engine marketing.
Not convinced? It sounds like hard work, but blogging will be truly beneficial to your business.
Let’s look at more reasons to blog.
Why a blog will help a business
Blogging for business will:
- Support a website by providing search engines with the quality content they crave.
- Improve the overall SEO on a domain.
- Gain meaningful backlinks which will improve the domain authority.
- Build a trusting audience and form relationships with strangers.
- Develop a voice to influence an industry.
- Grow brand awareness.
- Provide valuable content to share across social media networks.
- Become an online customer service hub.
- Help to find out more about an audience using analytics.
- Build an email list.
Content marketing with a blog
There are subjects and topics related to a business that people look up every day. Businesses must capture that user on the search path.
Let’s look at an example – a simple guesthouse that would like to sell rooms.
The guesthouse creates a website and optimises a page for ‘Accommodation Oxfordshire’.
There are hundreds of guesthouses and hotels in the Oxfordshire area, all competing for that same phrase.
It’s a high competition phrase.
What would work well for the guesthouse is to rank highly for other searches first, ones that are less difficult to rank for like ‘farmhouse bed and breakfast Oxfordshire’ or even answer a question like ‘what is there to do in Oxfordshire with children’.
The posts would do better on search result pages, as there is lower competition.
Posts that do well on search engines support other posts and pages on the domain, allowing them in turn to be ranked more highly.
Overall, search engines rank sites higher if there is valuable content that their users want to consume.
Google will also recognise a domain that provides good content about a local area. The domain will rank better on local searches.
That gains even better reach because the brand is now visible outside of its own industry but in front of people interested in the area.
Use a blog to build brand awareness
Business owners use a blog to write about their industry, influence and show personality and knowledge.
Back to the guesthouse used in the example.
A simple search term could be ‘What to do in Oxfordshire with children?’.
Coming across the post, written by our guesthouse in Oxfordshire. The user finds what they are looking for and disappears.
High bounce rates are actually quite common, as we live our busy lives.
The purchase process is more complicated.
Competition is high, we all know we can find whatever we want at the click of a button.
What happened here is that the guesthouse helped the user. By providing the audience with fantastic content that gave an informative and friendly answer to a question, the brand sticks in mind.
Users will have visited a website multiple times before they think about purchasing.
The conversion from looking to buying takes time and consistency. The job of the blog is to reach them and build awareness of the brand.
Gain meaningful backlinks
Search engines see natural backlinks as a powerful reason to rank a website higher. Why?
Backlinks are like recommendations, they help build a good reputation online.
The website that provides the link says to its audience ‘go here, it’s good, it’ll help, entertain or inspire you’.
That triggers a search engine – if content is worth linking to, it is worth ranking.
But worthwhile backlinks are incredibly hard to achieve. Don’t encourage backlinks from low ranking websites that have no value – they are more likely to drag your domain down.
Trustworthy, accurate websites won’t link to inferior websites – why would they? They’ve spent time and effort to provide for their users. You need to provide for yours.
The difficulty in accumulating natural backlinks makes them a mighty SEO factor.
Trust building using a blog
One of the advantages of using a blog is in trust building and creating new relationships.
Buyers no longer pick up the phone to discuss what is best for them. They learn it all online.
Their mind is 57% decided before they even contact the business.
Consistently help the audience during their decision making process.
Visitors explore a blog or website more than once before they trust the brand. Once they trust the brand, they return and eventually buy.
Develop a voice to influence an industry
You might be the most well equipped, knowledgeable person in your industry, but if people don’t know that, they won’t get in touch. Use a blog to be heard.
Write down your opinions, facts, and insights in blog posts. Video and images will strengthen that. Show the audience the depth of your knowledge.
By keeping your expertise to yourself, you are damaging your business.
Find a passion for your business and find your voice. Inspire, entertain, or teach your audience.
Advantages of using a blog alongside social media
With valuable blog content, you’ll finally have something interesting to share on social media which drives traffic back to the domain.
Remember – a popular site ranks better and there are signs that social shares count.
Producing good content and providing it to followers builds trust, increases brand awareness and makes your networks a lot more interesting.
Take snippets from your blog posts and use them across platforms.
Build content into e-newsletters and share it amongst a subscribers list.
A customer service hub online
Use a blog to answer clients’ questions – it really does save time in busy periods and makes you look ultra organised.
I answer questions directly on my blog. I then send the questioner a link to the post.
It’s a way to drive traffic and appear on more searches.
Send the link to the next potential client, creating a customer service area.
Blog posts helps people to plan the next steps of their journey whilst involving your business in the task.
Your own connections already trust you and by answering their questions you strengthen that.
Find out more about your online audience
No business starts an online presence knowing their exact audience. Some may have an idea of who to target or the outline of an ideal client, but solid results often bring surprises.
Track demographics, geographic locations and visitor interests with Google Analytics and MOZ search tools.
Tools like this can open up a whole new client profile to a company. Knowing an audience can help you produce material that is more accurate and interesting for them.
- Search engines strive to produce the most relevant, beneficial search results possible for the person doing the search. Inspiring, entertaining, informative and valuable posts, written for humans rank highly.
- Take time over each post – make each one original.
- Do not write short, invaluable posts without researching search terms that your audience would use.
- Research key terms first so that you produce content around a topic that people are searching for.
- Write opinion posts, but support your opinion with evidence.
- Write well and be to the point.
- Optimise each post for search engines.
- Use media like images, info-graphs and video to support written material.
- Get started and keep going! Improve posts over time.
My post on ‘Brainstorming for blog post ideas‘ will help you find topics.
Is a blog a website?
Kind of. They are programmed in the same way but structured differently.
A website gives specific, easy to find information on products and services.
It’s built for users to find direct information about a company, its products or services. It’s critical that a website is clear and easy to navigate.
A blog is an information hub with multiple entries called posts. It is an area in which potential clients can read informative industry articles written by someone knowledgeable about the topic, or a ghost writer.
The blog can be extensive and can capture potential customers using a myriad of posts on searchable subjects relevant to a business.
That way lots of related key phrases can be utilised; ones that aren’t used within the website.