Today, adding a blog seems like the first step for any company with a website. I would have expected that everyone knew about blogs and made use of them by now; yet, I still find some businesses that are not sold on the idea and end up missing out. This could be for any number of reasons – “It’s too much work.” “What do I write about?” “I am already successful without a blog” - Whatever the reason, this article is for those businesses and organizations (of all types) that do not have an active blog on their website.
Let’s start at the beginning: The word “blog” is a blend of the words “web” and “log”; therefore, it’s a place, either on your website or as a standalone site that gets updated frequently, like a log or journal. Blogs are platforms that enable regular communication with followers and visitors. For business applications, blogs should focus on the needs of your customers and the industry in general.
The Benefits of Blogging
As long as the blog is located on your website or domain (EX: www.domain.com/blog), all the content that is posted to the blog becomes quality content for your site as a whole. Blog can host any type of content, including but not limited to:
All the content on your blog is crawled and archived, making every post eligible for coming up in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).This type of exposure is huge for bringing more traffic to your site, boosting engagement with followers, generating leads, and converting into businesses. If you still aren’t convinced on creating a blog for your site, take a look at these statistics:
- Websites that have blogs get twice as many inbound links as websites without blogs.
- Small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads than those without a blog.
- 61% of US consumers made a purchase based on a blog post.
- Websites with blogs typically own 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links!In other words, it’s easier for big search engines (or potential customers for that matter) to find you.
- Blogs are more effective than traditional ads; 70% of people learn about a company from a quality blog post, instead of an advertisement.
- 81% of US consumers trust advice and information from blogs.
The stats above should tell you that a blog is extremely important from a marketing and sales perspective. Simply put, having a blog provides you with one of the easiest ways to publish content on a routine basis. This great content goes on to grab the attention of search engines and possible customers.
Preferably, new visitors will find your blog so interesting that they will be compelled to follow, comment, and share your posts. Dedicated followers generally love User Generated Content (UGC); they love to interact with the ideas or knowledge posted on blogs. This type of following is a great one to have as it creates a great community atmosphere on your website. But almost more importantly for business, the Search Engine Giants (Google/Bing/Yahoo!) love User Generated Content, too, and will quickly boost your websites ranking if relevant, informative, or engaging content is posted on your blog.
Blog posts are a fantastic way to address the pressing issues your customers face. When you regularly post content on your blog, your content portfolio will expand and give the website numerous opportunities to incorporate new long-tail terms into your content.
Tips for Starting a Blog
By constantly posting quality content on your blog, you will benefit your rankings in the SERPs and work towards establishing your brand a valued resource in your industry. I generally recommend posting on your blog 3–5 times every week. Promote these posts on social media to reach a broad audience and generate the maximum amount of engagement. Remember, whether you post twice a week or twice a day – it needs to be consistent. Existing followers or new audiences LOVE consistency with posts – so choose a time and day – stick to it!
Establish your Target Audience
Seems obvious, but if you are just starting out on your blog it’s crucial that you establish a target audience. Otherwise, how would you know who the content is speaking to? Some marketers call it, “finding their personas”; others call it “target demographics.” You can think of a target audience or persona as a marketing concept with a human face, human personality, and human needs and wants. You can identify this market by:
- Researching various blogs in your industry.
- Observing who engages with the content.
- Studying how the audience is finding your existing content or the content of your competitors.
- Monitoring your web analytics to view useful data about your potential target audience.
This should tell you a lot about where your customers are coming from. Do you have Company Social Media Accounts set up? Check out your current social interactions. If you do not have much engagement on your social channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), take a close look at how the audience communicates with your competitors' social channels. You should be able to get a clearer view on what type of content your audience likes to comment on and share, and this will be valuable information to have when starting your own business blog.
Every social media site has its own community culture and etiquette. Each site brings a different kind of demographic data. Even if the same person is active on multiple social media sites, they behave differently on each site. Therefore, it’s valuable for your business to approach social media in a similar way. The top three social sites can help you answer these questions:
- Twitter: What #hashtags or trending topics are booming in your industry? What are people talking about and asking for?
- Facebook: What type of content gets the most Shares and Likes in your industry? Are you posting as much content on Facebook as your competitors?
- LinkedIn: How is your company viewed compared to your peers? Do you contribute or publish content that establishes your brand as a thought-leader in the industry?
Social media channels have the power to reveal in real time your potential customers’ interests. This can be enormously valuable to your business. Research through social media is an effective way to better understand how your potential customers think. When you get to know the dynamics in your potential customers’ conversations, you can develop rich answers to their most pressing questions, delivering those answers in terms that make sense to them.
Answer Customer Questions
It turns out that one of the easiest ways to generate great content ideas happens to be right under your nose. Who better to ask than your staff and customers, themselves? I strongly recommend you identify all the people on your staff that connect with prospects or customers, and poll them. All you need to do is ask them one question: “What do they get asked all the time?”
Regardless of which department they work in, their answers will help generate ideas on what type of content your audience is looking for and would find useful. The questions your employees are asked will be the same ones those potential clients are searching for online. They are exactly the questions you should be answering with your content.
Another strategy for uncovering what your customers are asking is utilizing Answer Sites. Sites such as Quora, Yahoo! Answers, and even LinkedIn offer a forum for users to ask questions and receive the best possible answers.
Yahoo! Answers is still one of the biggest answer sites today, receiving hundreds of millions of questions and answers. With Yahoo! Answers, you can browse by category and see what kinds of questions are most popular, newest, or have received the fastest answers. In a way similar to polling customers and staff, these questions and answers can help you better understand the audience’s needs and generate endless content ideas.
Brad Kuenn is a Content Writer, Editor and Strategist living in Nashville, Tennessee, and he provides research, content topics, writing, editing, and content development expertise to clients. He has a passion for writing as well as art, which shines through in his work. His creativity and attention to detail makes him a valuable asset for a wide range of clients. During his time off he enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and his two dogs Brutus and Kane.
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