Everyone understands the importance of driving traffic to their website. And, although there are many things you can do that will increase traffic to your website, maintaining a blog is at the top of the list. There are several main reasons for this.
Benefits of Business Blogging
First, if done correctly, a blog will provide more useful generic information than a product/service specific page (an advertisement) on most websites. Today, consumers don’t want to be sold. They prefer to do a little research and chat with their friends before buying. Based on research and recommendations from their friends, they will make their buying decision. Your blog can accomplish this.
Second, a blog allows you to build a community around it. Current and prospective customers who find your articles interesting will follow your blog (RSS and email feeds) and often comment on your articles. This interaction allows you to build relationships and trust which are important factors in purchasing decisions. Most people seldom return to a website unless they are ready to buy. Of course, your blog will contain links to your website so that when readers are ready to buy it will be easy for them to visit your website.
Third, posting articles on your blog positions you as an expert on that subject. Then, when prospects and/or customers need help, they will turn to you. In this way, blogging helps build trust and credibility for your brand.
Fourth, search engines love blogs. It is often easier to secure top search engine rankings for keywords on blogs than on websites. Of course, this requires frequent posts with popular keywords in the title and throughout each article to secure top rankings. It also requires links to your blog from other sites just as it does with your website. However, people are much more likely to link to a blog full of great information than they are to link to a website.
Fifth, there are many features and plug-ins to help drive traffic to your blog that generally are not available for websites. These include RSS and email feeds, Twitter buttons, sharing and bookmarking buttons, etc.
Objections to Business Blogging
As a small business advisor and self-professed blog-advocate, I frequently hear objections to creating and maintaining a blog. Allow me to share the top three and the solution to each.
The most common objection to blogging is the amount of time it takes to frequently write and post articles. This is a legitimate objection as it is time consuming. However, there ways you can minimize this burden. The first is to use “Guest Bloggers”. If you follow my blog, you will note that I frequently use a guest blogger. The content is written by an expert and it saves me time. There are several places to secure guest bloggers who will write articles for you in exchange for recognition and a link to their blog/website which helps their search engine rankings. If you have a LinkedIn account, you can join “The Guest Blogger” group comprised of bloggers looking for opportunities to write for blogs or seeking guest bloggers for their own blog.
If your business model relies on partnering with other businesses, and those businesses don’t have blogs of their own, you have an excellent opportunity to expand your online presence and lower the cost of producing content while deepening relationships with your partners. Neicole Crepeau has just written about this in her article “Leveraging Your Business Partners for a Better Blog.” She offers many great ideas.
You can also hire freelance content writers to write articles for you. One place to find someone is at oDesk. There are over 800 writers listed there. Another is Guru which has over 40,000. There are also many other places where you can find writers for hire.
The second most common objection to maintaining a blog is that only the small business owner has enough knowledge about their industry or topic and s/he does not have the time or skill to write the article. If true, this objection can be over come by simply doing a “brain dump” on paper and hiring an editor to clean it up. Many bloggers (myself included) are subject matter experts in one or more areas but may not be skilled writers. An editor can really make you shine. In comparing the benefits of having a blog and the minimal cost of an editor, it is well worth the money.
Also the more you write, the better you will become – “practice makes perfect”. If you have a LinkedIn account, you can join “The Blog Zone” group where you can meet and discuss blogging with thousands of other bloggers.
The third most common objection is that there is only so much that can be written about your widget or service. Although that may be true, I recommend that you broaden the theme of your blog. For example, if you market a specific automobile “part”, you can broaden your theme to automobiles in general and even find others in the automobile industry to write articles for your blog. Or, if you market biodegradable cleaning products, you might expand your blog to all things green. The point is that as long as you are familiar with the topic you are writing about, it doesn’t need to be limited to your product/service. When you broaden the theme of your blog you have so much more about which you can write.
After considering all of the ideas above, if you are still reluctant to create your own company blog, at the least, make a practice of reading other company blogs about your industry and comment frequently using a signature that includes a link back to your website. This will bring traffic to your site, increase your search engine rankings and help you build brand recognition and relationships.
Posted by: Mike Clough