You’re at a critical juncture. You’re not sure whether your business should enter the blogosphere, or continue roaming a blogless path.
To blog, or not to blog. That is the question.
To answer it, ask yourself three more questions:
- Is your website a source of business?
- Does your website get enough traffic without a blog?
- Do you want to drive more traffic to your website?
Let’s look at these in turn…
Is your website a source of business?
Most but not all businesses want or need their website to be a source of business. A handful of small businesses will answer no to this question, because their website is just there to provide an address, contact details and some general information if a customer wants to Google them. It could be that the bulk of their business comes from referrals, networking, social media, word of mouth or print advertising. It could be that they have a shop in a prime location on the high street and they’re quite happy with the amount of footfall.
But the majority of businesses will answer yes, because they see their website as a means of growing their customer base. That’s not surprising. In less than 10 years, time spent using the internet has nearly tripled among young adults, from 10 hours, 24 minutes each week in 2005 to 27 hours and 36 minutes in 2014.1 And online spending in the UK hit a whopping £114 billion in 2015, up 11% from 2014.2 This is thanks to the increasing use of iPads and smartphones to search for and buy the things we need, and it means high street shopping is falling.3
So if your answer is no, i.e. you have a website that’s barely seen and doesn’t generate leads, consider this: as the majority of businesses are now concerned with online growth, how long do you think you can you stay competitive?
Does your website get enough traffic without a blog?
If your answer is yes, normally that’s because you’re paying for internet advertising such as per-per-click and social media ads. Problem is, this kind of advertising can be prohibitively expensive for a small business and is not always effective anyway. How many of us skip past the paid ads in Google search results and go straight to the organic listings? I know I do. Plus, clicks and hits don’t always mean leads and sales. An online ad is like any other ad. It can’t engage an audience like a blog article can.
Do you want to drive more traffic to your website?
If your answer is yes, then blogging is a proven means of doing this. I can use my own experience as an example.
My old copywriting website didn’t have a blog. I didn’t pay for any advertising and I didn’t engage with people over social media. The website got, well, hardly any hits at all.
My new website, the one you’re on right now, is just over a year old. I’m building the audience by blogging semi-regularly, and I’m getting a lot more hits than my old copywriting site.
And I have another website, Behind The Curtain, dedicated to my fiction books and short stories, where I blog about unsolved murders, disappearances, ghosts and government conspiracies on a weekly basis. This website has been going for over two years and is now getting 1000+ views per day. Last month it got 33,000 views.
Because of the time I’ve dedicated to Behind The Curtain, it’s built a following, one that’s still growing. It’s also getting attention for the most interesting of places. A few months ago, I was contacted by a Canadian casting agency to take part in a documentary-style TV show about a troupe of amateur sleuths travelling across the States investigating conspiracy theories. (I didn’t get the part, I was told, because of my ‘youthful appearance’!) Later this month, I’m scheduled to appear on Canadian radio (the Canadians seem to love me 😉 ) to talk about some of the weirder theories out there. It’s all because of my blog.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Have a look at these blogging statistics from Activeblogs.com.
- Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that don’t. (Source: ThinkCreative)
- Companies that blog 1-2 times per month get 67% more sales opportunities than companies that don’t blog at all. (Source: Inside View)
- Companies that blog get 97% more inbound links. (Source: Hubspot)
- After you write between 21 and 54 blog posts, your blog traffic generation increases by up to 30%. (Source: TrafficGenerationCafe)
Why does blogging work?
Let’s start with the technical stuff. Blogging for businesses is an SEO tactic. SEO is short for “search engine optimisation”. Search engine optimisation simply means increasing the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s organic, unpaid results. When we talk about boosting a website’s ‘search rankings’, it means we want the website to appear higher in Google’s results when a person searches for something relevant to it. SEO is about doing it naturally, rather than paying for ads.
A blog boosts your website in two ways. Firstly, each blog post you write is one more indexed page on your website, one more opportunity for you to appear in search engine results, and one more chance to drive traffic to your website. Secondly, using keywords in your blog posts (words and phrases you expect your customers to be searching for), Google will find your posts and list them in the results. If you’ve used keywords, Google knows that your website must be useful to the searcher. (Have a read of my previous blog, Copywriting tips — how to write better SEO, for more detail.)
But blogging works in other ways too. It allows you to engage with your customers and potential customers, to spark a useful discussion about your services and your industry. It allows you to offer advice and insight that your customers will come to rely on.
It also helps you get discovered via social media, because each new blog is a piece of content that can be shared on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, exposing your business to an audience that doesn’t know you yet.
The best business blogs provide answers to common questions customers have. This leads your readers to identify you as a reliable authority on a subject, boosting your standing and reputation in your industry.
And most importantly, blogging helps generate leads, turning your website visitors into customers.
A few key features of a successful blog
Since I turned my back on the law (no, I’m not a meth dealer in my free time — I used to be a solicitor) and became a freelance copywriter full-time, I’ve learned three main things about building a successful blog:
- Try to blog at least once a week. More than once a week is better. This is why my copywriting site is not growing as fast as I’d like—I’m not following my own advice. That’s a time issue for me, like it is for all of us. (More on this in a moment.) By contrast, Behind The Curtain has grown much faster and is performing well, thanks to the time I’ve invested in it.
- Try to produce blogs that are long and detailed. Google is a fickle beast and its preferences have changed. Gone are the days when a 200-word article stuffed with keywords and offering little useful advice or information could boost your Google rankings. Google prefers to see longer articles of 1000+ words these days. (This doesn’t mean you should produce long articles for the sake of it; most of the agencies I talk to advise a minimum of 300-400 words to get noticed by search engines.)
- Make sure you include keywords, outbound links and calls to action. Keywords and outbound links are SEO tools which help Google find your blog article and establish its authority. Calls to action are for your customers. If you include a call to action at the end of your blog post (i.e. “come to our event”, “download a free e-book” or “start your free trial”), you create an opportunity to turn your blog traffic into sales leads.
There’s one last thing I’d like to talk about. Time. Blogging takes lots of it, and if there’s one thing most small businesses lack, it’s time. This is a big reason why they don’t blog, or don’t blog enough. As I mentioned earlier, I know what this is like. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to balance all my writing commitments, so my blogs on this website haven’t been as frequent as I would’ve liked.
If time is an issue, consider investing in some help. Think about hiring a dedicated blogger to write for your business. They could be an in-house employee on a salary or a freelance copywriter like myself, committed to writing one or several blogs per week. Trust me, it’ll be worth it in the long run.
For more information about how I can help you enter the blogosphere, contact me on 07411 331721 or firstname.lastname@example.org.