As a small business owner, you’re advertising as much as your budget allows, you have a Facebook page, you’re putting in effort on LinkedIn, and you’re learning other social media platforms.
But a blog? Can it really help your business? The quick answer is yes. Blogs take some work, but the benefits are well worth it. Here are six reasons small business blogging works.
What is blogging?
There are many ways to describe blogging, but in general, it is the sharing of insight and information on a consistent basis through your own designated online portal, according to James Parsons, founder and CEO of Content Powered.
“Blogging can be done in many different ways and can serve a number of purposes, but blogging is the sharing of information that can be helpful to others,” Parsons said. “Businesses do it as a way to show their expertise and win over potential customers, and people become bloggers as a way to share their own insight and cement their place in the industry.”
What are the benefits of blogging for small businesses?
Blogging has many benefits for businesses. Here are six reasons blogging pays off:
Higher SEO rankings
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the effort to get your website ranked well when potential customers search for the product or service you offer. To rank highly, you need recent, relevant posts with popular search keywords.
Traffic to your blog – and, ultimately, to other pages on your site – is indexed by search engines. Think of blog posts as seeds that you throw out for hungry birds. The more seeds you throw, the more birds will come. Every post you publish is another handful of seeds for birds to find.
And the more birds that come, the more birds there are to share what you have written. And the more often others post links back to your blog, the more chance there is for your pages to rank for keyword searches that potential customers conduct.
The whole point of having a business is to add customers and increase profits. Data from Marketpath shows that 60% of businesses that blog acquire more customers than those that don’t.
“If you correctly evaluate your market, analyze specific keywords and implement them in your blog content, then you should be able to eventually rank high for the keywords that benefit you the most,” Parsons said.
A huge part of business success depends on developing relationships with current and potential customers. People want to know who you are, how you operate your business, what your values are and what your business adds to the industry.
It’s difficult to do all of that on a website landing page, but a blog allows you to develop a personality for your brand to help, entertain and inspire others, and to put relationships before sales.
A blog familiarizes people with your business, and people trust businesses they get to know well.
“While blogging is vital for businesses to share their story, it’s also an excellent community-building tool, turning your readers into internet neighbors,” said Maria Shriver, TV journalist, New York Times bestselling author, and co-founder and CEO of MOSH. “As people relate with people, it’s essential to include blog posts that are not only for your audience but about them too.”
Shriver recommended using case studies as a way to detail genuine, real-world customer challenges and to show how your product solves them. “You can then paint a complete picture of the scenario for your audience by including images or videos of customers using your products, quotes from them describing how they use [it] and the benefits they receive.”
Then, just add some clever captions that tie the story elements together. “Spotlighting your loyal fans encourages them to share your post with their friends and family,” Shriver added. “It’s a customer-centric content strategy that will expand your audience and grow your business.”
When you have a blog with great content, you can promote it all over social media, with compelling and intriguing teasers, images and catchy headlines. Think of your blog as the hub and your social media channels as the outposts. Find out where your target audience hangs out online, and use those channels to build followings and relationships. Post intriguing teasers with links back to specific posts.
Every click to your blog is important for improving SEO and building brand awareness. When you add share buttons and those buttons are placed correctly, you increase the opportunity for readers to share your posts with their communities, thus creating more brand spreading and opportunities for SEO indexing. That’s why it is important to be on your social media channels every day, promoting the content on your blog.
Built-in email newsletter content
If you are not working on growing your email list, you should be. A blog post is a perfect place to ask for that conversion.
If you have written a popular post, for example, that is the one you should send out as an email to all of your current subscribers. At the bottom of each post, you can urge readers to subscribe to your email and have all of your posts delivered to them automatically.
In an email newsletter, it’s important to give just enough information to keep readers engaged but not so much information that they have no reason to visit your blog. The idea of a newsletter is to engage the reader and encourage them to click through links in the email content to take them to your blog.
An email newsletter is also a great place to share announcements about events or product launches and share fun facts about your business that potential customers will connect with.
Did you know? Every dollar spent on email marketing returns $36 to a business, according to a Litmus survey.
Better conversion rates
You want visitors to your blog to do several things: sign up for your newsletter, share what you have written, like you enough to link to other pages on your site and, ultimately, make a purchase.
“Every blog post provides an opportunity to convert readers into leads with a [call to action] that inspires them to take action now,” said Daniel Tejada, co-founder of Straight Up Growth. “Including a call to action at the bottom of your posts encourages site visitors to sign up, exchanging their contact information for a free offer, such as a downloadable e-book or trial. These allow consumers to understand the benefits of your products better so they can feel confident in their purchasing decisions.”
You can then add these prospects to your customer database so you can market directly to them via email and across social channels. “Once these leads are in your database,” Tejada said, “you can tailor the calls to action they see in the future.”
Blogging can help to establish your expertise in your field.
“Consistently posting value-rich content encourages your audience to continue visiting your website,” said Aaron Gray, co-founder of Agency 101. “If people want to learn something new, your blog will be the first place they turn. This is a great drive of repeat traffic, which sends a signal to search engines like Google that your blog is a quality source of information.”
This is particularly beneficial for small businesses. Establishing yourself as a market authority can place you higher than competitors in search engine results, leading even more potential customers to your site, Gray said.
Blogging is a cost-effective driver of traffic, and by producing valuable content that remains relevant, you’ll convert more customers and generate higher revenue.
Tips for running a successful blog
Now that you’ve learned the benefits of blogging, it’s time to start your blog. Follow these tips for running a successful blog:
- Use the best blog platform for your company, and pay attention to SEO. Add a plugin for SEO guidance (e.g., Yoast for WordPress). When you complete a post, it will give you an SEO score and provide suggestions for how to improve it.
- Get a free keyword search tool. For example, you can use Google Trends to target popular search terms.
- Create engaging content. Publish posts that tell stories about you, your team and your company. Add photos, videos and other media to engage visitors.
- Highlight community contributions. If you support a charity, capture events with photos and write about them.
- Encourage interaction. Ask people to engage with your blog through comments and questions. Respond to each one to keep those personal connections going.
- Add share buttons. Choose two to three that you know are popular with your target market.
- Communicate frequently. Send emails regularly, and write compelling subject lines so recipients will open the emails.
- Try A/B testing. Test different email newsletter subjects to see what tone and voice your audience engages with more.
- Make it fun. Use emails for more than just product promotion. In addition to popular posts, send fun stuff, like polls, surveys and quizzes.
- Keep a regular schedule. Establish a calendar for posting, and stick to it. Readers will come to expect new posts on a regular basis. If you neglect your blog, they will stop coming and you will lose chances to move them into your sales funnel.
- Include a call to action. Ask for conversions at the end of each post. For example, request that readers subscribe to your emails or share the post with their communities.
Blogging allows you to spread your brand, either directly or indirectly. If visitors like what they read, they will share it. Blogs give you the chance to demonstrate expertise in your niche and to establish trustful relationships. Best of all, a blog is free content marketing that levels the playing field a bit between large and small companies.
There is a lot to learn about setting up a blog, including increasing SEO, finding the right topics to discuss, measuring traffic and promoting your posts. Take it slowly; you don’t have to learn everything before you start your blog. Get it up and running, and then learn more along the way while you reap the many benefits of blogging.
Rick Riddle contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.