In an internet landscape that seems dominated by short-and-quick social media marketing, you might think blogging is becoming obsolete.
You would be wrong.
In fact, blogging is still at the heart of social media. A twitter post may be brief, but very often its purpose is to share more substantial content.
That content may come from major news sources and online magazines, but very often the content — content that is seen alongside major news sources, comes from regular small business owners like you.
Your social media accounts should be seen as tools to bring people to your website. Your blog is the gateway and the launching pad. Without a blog, your website is the one thing it should never be: static.
Static vs. Dynamic, and Why It Matters for Your Website
A static website contains just the facts about your business. Generally, it will have a Home page, and About, product/services descriptions, and contact information.
Since sometimes the information on a static website is exactly what visitors are looking for, some business owners choose the simple route. It’s cheaper and less time-consuming.
The problem is, static websites depend on visitors to seek them out. If someone wants to buy some flowers, they search for florists in town, go to the site, and get the address or call the number. That’s one purpose of a website.
But what if someone isn’t thinking about buying flowers? What if they see pictures of your flower arrangements around a holiday not ordinarily associated with flowers like Halloween on Facebook, and wind up buying some?
That is a customer you would not have had, because she never would have searched for you, or searched for flowers in October at all.
This is the real difference. With a static website, visitors have to look for you; with a dynamic website, you reach out to potential visitors.
A dynamic website means that it changes frequently. New content is added, and there is a level of interactivity.
In most cases, that means a blog.
Blogs increase website traffic in several ways:
- Search engines love fresh content. You may have tried all of the SEO tricks out there, but the bottom line is, search engines want to put websites with fresh, high-quality content at the top. By updating a blog a couple of times a week, you’re keeping yourself visible for people who are searching for the kind of information, products, or services you offer.
- Social media integration. The major blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger make it extremely easy to connect your blog to your social media accounts — and they also make it easy for your visitors to share your posts on social media. This feature is crucial: it means that by simply sitting there, your website can be shared with thousands, even millions, of people. Of course, you need to bring them in in the first place.
- Sharable content. A blog creates a sort of circle of marketing: You create the post, share the post, then, if the content is compelling, see its reach expand as visitors share the post, until it cycles out in a day or two, after which content can be found by search engine. Realistically, you probably won’t be seeing lots and lots of shares at first, but remember, even 1 share can put a link to your website in front of thousands of people.
- Credibility. Providing that your blog is decently-written without a lot of errors, the platform allows you to share your expertise, which makes you a voice of expertise in your field. The more people see and share your blog posts, the more credibility you’ll get.
- An increase in Index Pages. Naturally, keeping a blog updated means you will be adding pages of content on a regular basis. The more pages you have, the more pages are indexed by the search engines — meaning more traffic for your site.
Clearly, a blog adds a huge amount of value to your business. When business owners are considering going static anyway, it usually comes down to concerns about content creation.
We’re not going to tell you creating content is simple. It doesn’t have to be a nightmare, but it does require either time or money to do right.
A blog is really only as valuable as the content it offers. For some businesses, that might be long-form posts, articles, or tutorials. For others, graphics or photos might be what works. No matter what, you will need content in the form of text.
If you’re committed to doing it yourself, there are a few things that can make it easier.
Readers respond to a “real” voice, especially on the internet. The good news about that is that you can write the way you talk, as if you were speaking directly to a customer, as opposed to, say, the dread 5-paragraph essay style from school.
Once you get used to writing how you talk (including humor, when appropriate), sitting down to create a blog is less overwhelming.
A little bit of pre-planning can go a long way to simplifying things when it’s time to write. Even something as simple as a list of blog titles to choose from helps.
If you want to get really organized, you can use a tool like Evernote or Pocket to parse ideas.
If a long, essay-style post feels too intimidating, do a top 10. Readers love lists — the more intriguing the title, the better. As a business owner, you know your industry — lists are a simple way to express that.
“The 10 Scariest Flowers for Halloween,” “5 Photo Editing Filters that will Change the Way You Edit,” “8 Reasons You Should be Wearing Sunscreen on Your Face,” are all pretty easy to write if you happen to have expertise in one those fields.
Blog Your Tutorials
Tutorials are hugely popular — people will seek them out without even really thinking about it when they need help with something.
Create tutorials with an engaging intro (you can even get a bit anecdotal, but not too personal) and a numbered step-by-step. If you make video tutorials, incorporate them into the blog as well — but don’t leave out the step-by-step text.
The words you write tell the search engines what the post is about, so you should never post just a video or just a photo.
Blog Your Specials
Have a special sale or offer? Talk about it on your blog. That way, readers can easily share it with family and friends who may be interested. The link will bring people right to your website.
You can use plugins like InviteBox or Comment Contest to hold your own little sweepstakes that gives visitors entries for referring friends, sharing on social media, or commenting.
Obviously, the more attractive the prize, the farther a blog contest will reach, but you don’t have to break the bank. A free product or eBook can draw attention.
Blog Industry News
While planning ahead is best, sometimes something big happens in your industry that has everyone buzzing. You don’t have to be rigid about your blog schedule — if you have something timely to say, say it! It won’t get as much attention later.
Posts such as tutorials are “evergreen,” as in they can be just as useful a year from now (or more) as they are today. While you do want your blog to be fresh and current, remember to blog about things that will retain value over time.
Forget most of what you know about the rules of blogging and SEO. Yes, you want to write enough to get your keywords out, but if you’ve heard about blogging tricks (especially if you heard about them a couple of years ago), forget them. T
here is no gaming Google — just produce good, solid content that is relevant and has value.
The time, effort, and sometimes expense of maintaining a business blog is well worth it. Static blogs may be an option, but if you’re serious about marketing your business, there is really no choice. A dynamic website with a blog is the only way to go.
Got business blogging tips? Let us know in the comments!
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