An online presence is no longer negotiable for small businesses: To compete in today’s digital economy, you must have a website. Your website and social media presence ensure that both current and potential customers can find you. They also add to your relevance in your field.
The question has now become, “Does your small business need a blog?” The answer is an emphatic yes. A blog is a priceless marketing tool for your business, and it does more than just deliver marketing messages to customers.
A blog allows companies to tap into SEO wizardry and, most important, establish authority. Let’s look at the several roles of small business blogging and how to ensure you deliver the right message and image.
Marketing via a blog
A blog can help you acquire customers. Over the past two decades, people have relied on online information when making purchase decisions. This won’t change in the future; if anything, the need for more relevant and responsive information will increase.
A blog is a soft way to introduce what differentiates your products or services — to stand out in an increasingly crowded field of competitors. If your marketing activities lead to a prospect visiting your site, how will you capture their attention?
Lists of product features and benefits can be mind-numbing. Today, more than ever before, customers know what they want. They know, or believe they know, precisely what your product or service does, but they may not appreciate its value.
A blog lets you highlight that value through unique discussions and case studies where you can feature customer testimonials. Blogs also increase site traffic organically. When you add useful information on your site, customers and prospects tend to share it.
A well thought-out blog can be a cost-effective solution for driving new visitors to your site. Those looks from visitors build brand awareness, helping you become more relevant and recognized at a time when it’s easy to get drowned out.
Blogs fuel better SEO
Every business, no matter the size, wants to be the first result in a Google search for a product or service. This is one of the key benefits of having a blog for your business. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of leveraging search engine algorithms to ensure your business stands out from the crowd.
Once you post a blog, search engine bots crawl your site and derive information on content, visitor interaction, and engagement. If your site has little or no content, there’s nothing for the bots to grade.
Your content should include keywords that are popular for your audience. A prospective customer of a dog grooming business, for example, might search for “best dog groomers” in your area. You can score SEO points by crafting blog content that showcases the relevant search terms for your field.
Be proud of your authority
A small business blog can establish you and your business as thought leaders in your field. Some small business owners may understandably resist the idea of being an authority. Many successful people are modest about their achievements.
However, claiming the title of expert in your field isn’t boastful; it simply reflects your business’s position in the market. If you own and operate a small business, you should be an expert. You should believe that you offer the best product or service.
If you don’t think you’re a thought leader, take the time to position yourself as one. While customers make shopping decisions based on several factors, such as price and availability, reputation and knowledge can make a huge difference in sales.
With a blog, small business owners can easily claim a role of authority. The blog can showcase a business’s expertise while becoming an online resource for future customers.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to be a master writer to create compelling blog posts. Customers aren’t always looking for highly technical, masterfully written pieces. They want authenticity, clarity, and simplicity.
Create quality content
The final point is creating content that’s worth reading. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget that there’s a reader on the other side of the screen.
If you get so carried away by the fact that you have to blog for marketing purposes and “Google juice” that you write content that’s ultimately unreadable and designed for robots, not people, you’re wasting valuable time and effort.
Here are six benchmarks you can use to write quality content:
- Write for your ideal customer, NOT Google robots. In order to write for your ideal customer, you have to be curious. Talk with a bunch of your customers (as well as prospects) and get to know more about them, their goals, their challenges, and what type of content they’re already reading. If you are actively listening, the chances of your content resonating with this target audience will go up exponentially.
- Offer at least one original insight. While there’s no such thing as completely original content, make sure that there’s something in the content you’re creating that is different than what’s already been said. Don’t create “copycat content,” where you essentially just paraphrase what others have already said. The original insights you share could be some original data, an experience you had, etc.
- Share your point of view. One way to add an original element is by sharing your perspective. Everyone has their own unique experiences. Tie that into the content you’re creating to add a new perspective.
- Follow the WIIFM principle. WIIFM stands for, “What’s in it for me?” Only in this scenario, you’re applying it to your audience: “What’s in it for them?” Why should someone in your ideal customer base take time out of their day to read, listen to, or watch this specific piece of content?
- Demonstrate real expertise. This point applies to informative and educational content as opposed to purely entertainment-based content. If you’re trying to educate people about a specific topic, it’s important to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about. For example, if you’re writing about a new drug for Alzheimer’s patients, it should be written (or at least edited) by a doctor who specializes in treating Alzheimer’s patients, not a junior copywriter who doesn’t have any medical training or certifications.
- Don’t try to “go viral.” The biggest problem with trying to create a viral post or video is that you’re over-optimizing for luck. You can’t control luck. Not to mention, even if you get lucky, there’s no guarantee that the people who read that viral post will take your desired action. In fact, the traffic usually spikes and then immediately goes away in a day or two. A better approach is to optimize for creating consistent content that solves a real problem for your audience.
Showcase your business and use your voice to drive customers and the curious to your website with a small business blog.