Many small business owners have considered blogging, and many wonder whether it is worth the time, effort and expense. Maybe they are intimidated by technology they don’t understand, or prefer to do things they way they have always done them.
No matter what the reasons are, small business owners are wise to consider blogging as part of an overall marketing strategy. More and more small businesses have blogs, and with good reason. A whopping 81% of businesses indicate that their company blog is useful to critical to their business.
All those business owners can’t be wrong!
Get the highlights in this Slideshare presentation, or keep reading below for the full post.
Below are the top five reasons small businesses should be blogging. Not convinced yet? Keep reading!
1. Tell Your Story
While an “About Us” page is a great tool for helping customers understand your company values and purpose, blogging makes your work even more personal. Customers love to purchase from “real people,” people they feel like they know and understand. Blogs are a great way to explain the why behind what you do and how you do it, how you got started and what it means to you, so customers can get to know you and trust you.
People like stories. It keeps us engaged and our brains active. The best ones have simple story lines, interesting words, and conflict. Your response to the conflict in your life makes you the hero of your own story, and people love to cheer for a hero!
Most great companies have a visionary leader, a great product or service, a passionate and skilled team, and most importantly, a purpose. Tell your story and share your life’s mission with your readers. They will love getting to know you, and will feel loyal to your brand.
2. Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization helps customers find you online, and search engines love new, fresh content. To keep your website from getting stale, add regular blogs to let Google know you are still around and you care about your website and its content. Additionally, people might find you by searching for more specific phrases than your regular website might cover. Those in-depth blog posts are a great way to find a very targeted customer.
A little keyword research can go a long way. Finding topics that your audience will be searching for is the best way to start. Do your customers and potential customers ask questions of you that they also might ask Google? You should be writing about those. Do you have blog posts that are currently doing well? You should expand on those topics. Have you ever shared your expertise with anyone, including those in forums or Q&A sites? These topics can be great for SEO.
There are a few things to keep in mind to get the most bang for your SEO buck when writing blogs.
- Write a strong, concise, keyword-rich title. Think like your readers. Are they searching for “What I’m Doing Today” or “My Dog is the Cutest?” Probably not. Get their attention by writing a title that gives them exactly what they are looking for, like “5 Artisan Bread Recipes” or “Traveling with Pets.” Remember that if your title is too long, the entire title will probably not get displayed. For best results, keep it to 65 characters or less (including spaces.)
- Use your keywords in your content. Let Google know what the blog post is about by putting your keywords in the first paragraph, or even better, the first sentence, of your content. Then use it a couple more times in the body of the post, wherever it feels natural. But be careful… too much keyword usage gives search engines a bad taste in their mouth, and that will never help you.
- Use an SEO plugin. For WordPress, our favorites are All-in-One SEO and WordPress SEO by Yoast. Both these plugins will help you with the technical stuff, like writing meta descriptions and tags.
3. Establish Yourself as an Industry Leader
Let people know that you know what you are talking about, by talking about it. Blogging gives you a chance to show your knowledge, educate your customers, and position yourself as a leader among your peers. Think about it, have you ever had a customer turn you down because you “know too much” about your industry?
Well-written blog posts on topics related to your industry gives customers confidence in you. It tells them that you are an expert, and that you use your expertise to produce the products or services that they purchase from you. If you’re worried about making sure the posts are grammatically correct and organized, you can always hire a freelance editor to help you.
You might also consider contributing some of these well-written and topical blog posts to other blogs in your industry. Guest posting on respected sites gives you more credibility and visibility, and may result in some fun and interesting opportunities. Don’t be afraid to reciprocate, and let other respected authorities in your industry guest post on your blog as well. Your customers will appreciate the added level of authority you give them when you bring in more experts to corroborate what you are saying.
Another great technique is to periodically publish some extra-long blog posts, that can be used as “pillar content.” This content should be as evergreen as possible, so you can use it and return back to it for a long time. You can also turn these super useful, long-form educational pieces into ebooks or free downloads to give your prospects in return for their email addresses. This will give potential customers some added confidence in your ability to produce the results they are looking for.
4. Answer Concerns
Most business owners find themselves answering the same types of questions again and again. Answer concerns in a clear and comprehensive way before customers even ask, by writing a blog post about it! This helps establish trust with potential customers, and lets them know that you understand their concerns. It’s especially helpful when dealing with prospects who are shy or won’t ask the questions they really want answers to.
You can brainstorm questions that are unique to your industry, but you might find it helpful to start with the questions that are common to almost all industries. The main concern for most prospects is why they should choose you over your competitors. A blog post on this topic allows you to shine! Let people know what makes you unique. Do you have better prices? Better warranties? A faster turn-around time? More expertise? Offer extra add-ons? Blog about them! A blog post can be a blank canvas to fill with reasons potential customers should feel comfortable choosing you.
Another question common to most industries is about buyers remorse. What if they regret their purchase? They don’t like the product or service, or it doesn’t do what they expected? Especially for more expensive purchases, it is important to alleviate those fears. A blog post can outline exactly what will happen in the event a customer has a regret and chooses to return a product, or is unhappy with a service. This does the job of alleviating fears, even when you are not physically present with the prospects.
No matter what questions you choose to answer, be sure to keep your demeanor polite, calm, and confidant. Use stories, metaphors, and analogies to communicate complex concepts. Let your expertise shine, and customers will come to trust you quickly!
5. Part of a Marketing Strategy
Inbound leads cost FAR less to acquire than outbound leads. HubSpot’s 2012 Inbound Marketing Report tells us that 57% of small business owners have gotten a customer from their blog, and 92% of those who blog multiple times a day have gotten a new customer from their blog. Blogging might be the cheapest and easiest method of gaining new customers you can find!
Blogging increases traffic to your website. In can increase it by 55% or even more! More traffic means more potential customers for you. Use these strategies to help turn prospects into loyal customers:
- Keep them reading. Most people will read at least 3, and as many as 7 or more blog posts before deciding if they trust you enough to hand over their hard-earned cash. Keep them engaged by making the content interesting to read, personal, even a bit comical. More importantly, add links to other similar posts in the body of your content or at the bottom, and in the blog’s sidebar. Make it as easy as possible for people to navigate around and find what they are looking for, but also suggest topics and blog posts that you think are relevant.
- Capture their contact information. Offer a free ebook or download in exchange for an email address. Offering something useful makes people feel more comfortable about giving you their information, and more importantly, if the freebie is delivered via email, it ensures they don’t give you a fake! You can then send newsletters or special deals to these prospects to help them remember and get them to come back. There are other ways to capture leads, too, like a contact form or live chat feature. Experiment to see what works best for your business.
- Always give them something useful. Ask yourself what’s in it for your customer, and make sure you give it to them. Don’t trick them with misleading titles or thin content. Be good to your readers! Why did they come to your post in the first place? Be sure you know, so you can be the valuable solution they are looking for.
- Use a call to action. A call to action is generally your final word to your reader, and your last opportunity to entice them to take action. Ask readers to share on social media, to comment, to contact you, or to consider an offer. Whatever it is, just ask! The best calls to action include these 3 ingredients: a statement that removes or reduces risk (free trial or money-back guarantee), an action for them to take (click here or fill out this form), and an encouragement to act immediately. You can find some great examples here.
Do What You Do Best
In today’s day and age, the importance of having a strong web presence cannot be overstated. The best websites and blogs take time and effort to nurture. SEO and blogging strategies are more of a long-term journey than a quick ride, so it’s best to add it to your regular list of tasks that are important to your business success.
If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of writing and publishing regular content to your company website, you’re not alone. Many small business owners prefer to hire professional SEO companies like Be Locally to manage their blogs for them, so they can spend their time doing what they do best… running their business!
If you’ve considered adding blogging to your business strategy, contact the SEO specialists at Be Locally for a free, no risk consultation.
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