Sunday, September 24, 2017

Does your small business website need a blog?

The best business blogs drive business growth

Almost every small business today has a website – but a common question that business owners ask is whether they should also have a blog. The best business blogs will help you to achieve two things – firstly, attract traffic to your business website and secondly, convert traffic to actual customers.
best business blogs Australia

A blog, like other forms of social media, allows you more opportunity to interact with both your customers and importantly, your potential customers through the “Comments” section of the blog. This interaction enables the beginnings of building a relationship and making a connection with visitors to your site. Through such interaction – and particularly if there is an opportunity for questions to be answered – then trust can be built. And people prefer to do business with those they trust.

The best business blogs in Australia not only gain traffic but retain visitors on the site for a reasonable period of time because they are offering quality content that readers find helpful and informative. Visitors will not only read one article but quite often look at other articles posted on your blog.  Google measures the amount of time visitors spend on your site. A longer period of time is interpreted by the search engine as signalling that you are providing “a good user experience”. This in turn will benefit how the search engine ranks your site for future search results.

A blog also offers you the chance to write content on emerging and current “hot topics” of the day - which of course, still need to have some relevance to the nature of your business.

Keep in mind the difference between your blog and the usual business website. Most business websites are a bit like a promotional brochure – they list the range of products and services offered, together with “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages. Of course your website must be able to grab and maintain attention; it has to be able to convince the reader that your business offers the best solution to their problem. It must show them that you offer something different and superior to other competitor sites. (Often a consumer will visit up to three sites before making a decision as to which business to contact).

So whereas your website has a sales and promotional focus to it, the best blogs tend to be seen as having much more of an educational and informative focus to them. A blog will usually have more of a human touch to it – with tips, stories and experiences being shared. Websites contain pages – and blogs have “posts”.

There is one other point to consider about where blogging might fit into a broader social media marketing strategy for your business. If you have a Facebook page, each post is usually short, no more than 100 words, with an image accompanying it. A blog post is generally written to convey much more information – from anything between 400 to 1,000 words for example. If the post is less than 400 words, chances are that Google may see it as lacking depth or substance and therefore not see it as worth indexing for any meaningful search ranking.

A blog can help improve the search ranking of your website

From a search engine optimisation point of view, it is generally recognised that Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo, love blogs. The reason is that typically, blogs provide fresh content. Mind you, it is also known that the content should be reasonably unique and original in form – you will be penalised for duplicating and copying mass content that comes from other sources. The idea that you write about does not necessarily have to be original, but how you describe and express it certainly needs to be.

By having regularly updated and fresh content your blog reflects that it is part of a site that is alive and growing, more likely to be relevant to “today’s” search enquiries and offer visitors new and current information. A site that fails to do this may be seen as a “dead” entity that has become old, stale and outdated. Your site will gain the benefit of search engine robots more likely dropping by to review the indexing of your site when it has regular updates and new information being added to it.  

The other important benefit is the more you are seen to publish good quality content on a particular topic, the more you will come to seen as an “authority” or expert in that field.

So how can you develop content for your business blog?

Remember, the best business blogs have been designed to drive traffic to the main website. So look for opportunities to link back from your blog articles to relevant pages on your business website.

For example, I run a corporate training consulting business called Performance Development . One of the training courses we offer to organisations is  “Leadership  Skills course”.  There is a page on my website describing this course – however in the blog attached to the website I will occasionally write a blog post on some aspect of how to effectively recruit, lead or motivate staff. The posts will be informative and contain ideas and tips, but I will then include a link back to the Leadership short course page in case readers are interested in attending training to improve their actual leadership skills.

The articles that you post to your blog do not have to be limited to the written word – they can also have audio, video or slides embedded in them. But basically, your article topics can be on anything that is likely to add value to your reader and be of interest to your target market. So if you were a plumber, you might have articles in your blog on topics like how to fix a leaky tap or how to seal a bathtub. If you were a handyman maybe topics like how to plaster a crack in the ceiling or how to change the lock on a door. Posts could be written using case studies, describing different types of issues you have resolved for various customers for example.

Another source of ideas for blog content can come from your customers themselves. Consider some of the common questions you have been asked - or simply ask them what are some topics they suggest you might write about.

Ideally, the article shouldn’t take you a lot of time to write. It’s a topic that will be simple for you to talk about because it's in your area of expertise. The key is to ensure it will be relevant to the interests of your readers and written in a language they can understand. In other words, don’t get too technical!

Blogging platforms

If your existing website has been built using a Wordpress platform, then adding a blogging capability is really SIMPLE with an easy plug in

Alternatively, Google itself has “Blogger” which is another easy, user-friendly platform that is free – unless you decide to add a customised domain to it.

Final words – you can always outsource it

Yes, blogging takes time. And time is money for anyone running their own business. However, keep in mind another option - there are copywriters available who can write or prepare draft blog posts for you. Their fees vary, but $50 an hour is an approximate guide. And maybe 3 – 4 hours for a 500 word post is another rough estimate – depending upon how much research they might need to do for your topic. 

Although there are business blogs that post something every couple of days, at a practical level if you can aim to publish a quality post every couple of weeks then you could be well on the way over time, to building a community of followers and becoming recognised as an authority figure in your field. 

Oh, and by the way, if your blog over time succeeds in building a significant following in a niche space, then you might even consider commercialising your blog and opening it up for other businesses to advertise on it (obviously not competitors, but businesses that offer services or products that complement your own range)

Other relevant posts -
How to write quality content for your blog