If you run a business, regardless of size, you probably have a website. These days, it’s just bad form not to.
But what does your website do for you beyond sharing your contact information with potential clients and displaying your expensive, shiny logo? Well, that depends on how you’re using it.
Your company website is your lifeline on the internet. Like it or not, it plays a huge role in how you market yourself and your product or service. So, are you harnessing your website for all it’s worth?
Maybe. Or maybe not.
How do you know if you’re making the most of your online presence? The answer is simple:
Start a blog.
Why does your business need a blog?
You might be asking yourself this very question. You may have asked it numerous times in the past and never felt like you got a good enough answer to justify the time and effort.
Let me help you understand the importance of keeping up with a business blog.
First and foremost, a blog will help your “people” find your website. There’s a time and place for word-of-mouth and referrals, but for those folks who have few “6 degrees of separation” connections to your business, your blog is what’s most likely to get the right interested parties there.
Your blog is also a way to offer your audience free value. People like getting stuff for free. (I mean, don’t you?!) People reallllllly like getting stuff they need for free. Your blog can give that to them without giving away the farm.
Moreover, a blog allows you to communicate with your ideal audience. Sure, it’s pretty one-ended most of the time, but when you publish new content, it lets your potential customers know your business is alive and kickin’. That’s pretty important, wouldn’t you say?
More than these things, though, your blog allows you to become a thought leader within your industry. Not only are you speaking to your people, but you’re giving them good reasons to heed what you’re saying. If you want your audience to take you seriously and to truly value what you’re offering them, you need to be open about what you know.
Blogging 101: How Google Works
Now that you know why your business needs a blog, let’s talk about how it actually helps you when someone searches the depths of the interwebs.
All search engines operate the same way: They “crawl” over all the information out there – websites, links, PDFs, images, you name it – and then store and index everything they find based on certain parameters.
These parameters, also called “algorithms,” are constantly changing and are thus impossible to master for very long. For example, Google makes changes to its algorithm as many as 600 times in a single year. Yowza!
When someone types a series of keywords or questions into the search engine, that index is combed for the best-possible matches and then arranged from best match to worst match in a list of search results. This is where that “search engine optimization” (or “SEO”) buzz phrase comes into play.
Ideally, you want to somehow land on the first page of search results because – let’s be real – how often do people check past the first page of results?
Rarely. Most web users assume (usually correctly) that their best bet to finding helpful answers is to poke around the results on the first page. And the higher on the page your link appears, the more likely folks are going to click on it.
You probably use Google, so you know these things, but it helps to put it in perspective of how it can work for your business.
Planning a Blog Strategy
Blogging can be fun, but it’s also hard work.
There’s no getting around it: You’re going to need a solid plan before you can hope to see any major results in your writing. It’s absolutely a long-term game and doesn’t give instant gratification. Here’s how to prepare:
1. Create a timeline.
To get started, decide how often you’ll publish to your blog. If you’re crazy-busy all the time, aim to publish at least once a month. If you’re feeling really ambitious, publish once a week. The key here is to make a decision and stick to it. As you work to build an audience, they’ll learn to expect fresh content at certain times and you need to be ready in the wings to give it to them.
2. Start a list.
Next, plan out what you’re going to write about. This can be intimidating, especially if you feel like you’re not “a writer.” Trust me, that doesn’t matter.
You’re the expert, remember? So think about the things your clients and potential customers ask. What questions do you hear the most?
Start there and before you know it, you’ll likely find you’ve got plenty of ideas to keep you going.
3. Organize your topics.
Look at your list and start organizing them into a sort of hierarchical order. Which topics are the broadest or most basic? Which ones are more specific and detail-oriented? Which topics are related to one another?
These questions will be important to answer as you begin to organize your blog content.
4. Get out your calendar.
Think back to the first step – how often are you going to publish your content? Now that you’ve got a list organized, you need to make a concrete plan of when you’re going to write and publish your stuff.
Make note of the two keywords above: Write and publish.
I highly recommend setting two dates for yourself each and every time you’re creating a piece of content.
Writing can be challenging. Things come up and distract us and before you know it, your publication date arrives and you’ve got nothing to share on your blog. Whoops!
By giving yourself a few days leeway, you’ll always know that you need to write something by a certain date and then edit and post it by your publishing date. Work smarter and stress less.
At some point, that original list you wrote will cease to have fresh ideas. Don’t let that scare you! It just means it’s time to go back to the drawing table.
Look at your existing pieces of content and think about how you can expand on them. Ask yourself some questions:
- Can I dive deeper into some topics?
- What new things have I been learning that I can share with my audience?
- How are things changing in my industry?
- What topics did I possibly leave out of my initial list?
If you’re still stuck, ask your audience! Your “people” will gladly tell you what kinds of things they’re interested in learning about from you if you simply ask for their input. You’ll have a new list of topic ideas in no time flat.
Getting Technical: Publicize Your Content Like a Pro
There are lots of cool things you can do to give yourself a boost with the search engines when publishing content on your blog and tools that can help you identify what you’re doing well and what you need to work to improve.
- You can create custom images to go along with your blog articles and share on social media.
- You can purchase paid ads on social platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
- You can reach out to other businesses in your niche and discuss doing a “content exchange” – you write something to be published on their site and they write something for you to publish on their behalf – that will link back to your respective sites.
- You can set up email newsletters to be sent with a link to your freshly-minted content to everyone on your email list.
When you’re first starting out, these things are far less important than simply writing your content. If you don’t have anything to publish, you have no need for the things above.
Worry about the writing first and then you can get to the “cool stuff” afterward.
Every business with an online presence needs a blog, there’s no doubt about it. Don’t let the “writing” side of it scare you – the most important thing is that you’re boosting your chances of getting found online and positioning yourself as an industry guru.
So what are you waiting for? Quit reading this and get started on your business blog!
Like the idea of a blog but hate the idea of researching, planning, writing, and publishing content? No worries; I’ve got you covered. Schedule a free 30-minute content strategy call with me to help you get on the right track.