Blogging for business – why you should
A business blog is a great way of engaging with your existing clients/customers, tapping into new customer groups and building an online brand for your business. It’s also an effective method of SEO (search engine optimisation) pushing your website or blog site up the search results by providing search engines with regular fresh content. Blogging for business enhances your online presence in a way static websites can’t.
How To Blog For Business
I blog for a range of clients. Birthworks hires birthing pools for use in the home. 90% of the content on their blog is about antenatal issues with approx 10% specifically about hiring a birthing pool. Readers of the blog are referred from a variety of sources: links from social media (Twitter, Facebook status updates), the Birthworks website but most come from search engine results. By posting interesting and relevant content on a regular basis, ensuring that posts make good use of keywords, post urls and links the site consistently scores highly in search engine results and therefore attracts new readers and potential customers. Birthworks uses the blog to position itself as an expert in it’s field and engage with parents-to-be online.
Another of my clients is a creative recruitment company called Energi People. I ghost blog for them ie my posts are attributed to members of the team at Energi People. Content is either aimed at candidates or clients (sometimes both). Energi People is already well established in their industry and so the blog provides an online resource for job hunters and recruiters adding value to Energi People’s online brand. It also forms part of their social media strategy and is used for sharing industry and company news as well as targeted client/candidate articles.
Whether you have a product to sell/hire or services to promote a blog is an excellent way of enhancing your online brand, SEO and reaching out to new customers and clients. So how do you get started?
Find a blog platform
If you have a business website you can attach a blog to your existing website. Many businesses use wordpress.org which is the self-hosted arm of the WordPress blog empire. Self-hosting allows you to customise themes, add plugins and display adverts: however this isn’t free and you may need to get someone to set it up for you.
Alternatively there are plenty of free blog platforms out there. WordPress.com, Tumblr., Blogger etc. They offer a choice of themes and a certain amount of customisation. Some, such as wordpress.com, allow you to create a static front page (my site is designed this way), giving it the appearance of a traditional website. However you cannot sell directly from a hosted site like wordpress.com, so if you sell a product you would need an alternative way to make sales or a self-hosted site.
Your choice of blogsite will depend on the flexibility you require and how you intend to use it. Spend some time looking at other people’s blogs, sifting through themes on blog platforms and get a feel for what works for you and your business.
What to blog about?
So you’ve set up a blog and are ready to go, but what do you want to say and how? First think about tone: blogging is a way of showing the personal face of a business so you may want to write in the first person especially if you’re a one person operation, like me. If you’re a bigger business then “we” may be appropriate at times, although many readers appreciate a blog written by an individual. At Birthworks we use a combination of first person “I like the idea of…” and “we believe that” depending on the subject of the blog.
Next you need to think about content. Blogs should not be about hard sell, your website will cover that. I aim to work on 80% good, informative content and 20% sales pitch. What do you think your customers want to read about, and what subjects are potential clients likely to search for? Are there any relevant news stories you could cover? Is there anything in the calendar that you can write about: forthcoming events, Christmas, New Year, Valentines etc.? Have you got any interesting company news you can share: new employee, new range, trade show etc.?
Size isn’t everything
Is this blog is too long? I think on average a blog should be between 500-700 words: enough to be informative, but concise enough to allow readers to quickly scan through. But then Google favour much longer posts: 1,500 + words, this way there are more keyword combinations for the algorithm to ranks the post for relevance. However in some cases a short post is more effective, a blog could consist of a photo or an infographic with a couple of explanatory sentences.
This blog is about blogging for business, that’s also what I do. Therefore “blogging for business” and variations of that are my main keywords. You will see them in the url for this post, in the category, also in the title, first line, first paragraph and throughout the content. When I blog I do so with keywords in mind But too many keywords and your blog won’t read well: jargon laden text and not enough substance. As a first time blogger aim to create engaging, informative content without thinking too much about keywords. Once you’re happy with your tone and content think about adding relevant keywords, particularly in the places mentioned above. Choose your keywords according to what a potential customer/client is likely to search for to find you.
Tip: If you blog using images add keywords to these too. By using the description field you can hide extra keywords in your post.
Don’t forget to tell Google about your blog. You can submit your blog url to Google Webmaster Tools for free, allowing Google to find you faster.
Good quality links enhance your blog by providing readers with additional information. It also helps your SEO by linking to quality urls. A good quality link is not a front page to a website: that’s too easy – readers then have to dig around for the relevant information. Links should take readers directly to the information, for example if you’re linking to a product the url should be for the product page not the brands homepage.
Blogging is a form of social media, it’s about engaging and communicating with your reader. Allowing readers to comment on your posts is a big part of this. Comments also push your blog up the search engine results (Google looks for interaction on pages) therefore you want to encourage comments. Don’t leave it to chance, use a CTA (call to action) in your post to ask people to comment on your post. See Joanne Dewberry’s blog on this subject. What do you think?
Promote your blog
If you don’t tell people about it, how will they know? Don’t just rely on search engine results, advertise your blog in other ways too. Use your social media to tell followers and fans when you’ve posted a new blog. You can also point followers back to old posts (if still relevant) from time to time. If you have a separate website signpost your blog with a link and if you produce a newsletter or any other media advertise your blog there too.