Are Blogs Dead? Does Your Small Business Need One?
Blogs are old news, right? Have they gone the way of the dodo? To start a blog now may feel like a lot of effort — and you’re busy running your small business. But the truth is, there are a number of good reasons to have one.
Posting consistent content on a company blog sends positive signals to others in your industry, even if your goal isn’t to get leads through your site. Blogs can serve many purposes, and producing valuable content regularly can increase trust and credibility with your audience.
If you’re a small business owner getting into digital marketing, you probably know how important it is to have your site optimized for search engines. But if you’re used to doing most of your business the traditional way, it can be difficult to figure out what exactly to put on your website — and why.
The Problem with Most Small Business Blogs
Many professionals seeking an online presence for their business know that they need a blog. They may not be entirely sure why, but the advice to start and maintain a blog is all over the Internet. Seems like a good idea.
And yet: A blog without a purpose is just another mysterious appendix embedded in your vague digital marketing strategy. You want to play along with the online trends, so you spend a little time and money throwing it together, and then you just hope it works toward… something. Your overall goal of getting leads, perhaps.
But it’s hard to justify that spend — or the time it takes — if you aren’t sure what the ROI is.
This is why most business blogs end up being a grab bag of press releases, random interviews, and short topical pieces. And the more scattered they get, the more useless they seem to be.
After a while, your small business blog simply gets neglected into inexistence or becomes a petrified archive of old news. You’re not even sure you want new visitors to see it, but you’re afraid to delete it for fear that it will tank your SEO.
What Should a Blog Really Do for Your Site?: 6 Key Results
So what should a blog really do for your business? Let’s think of a blog not as a place where you have to post information (like a bulletin board), but a place where you can elaborate on your philosophy, values, and expertise. This is a stage — a soapbox — where you can discuss important topics and answer the questions your clients are asking.
But let’s get real about results. Even if you post quality content, how do you know if a blog is even useful for your business?
The answer is, you have to start with the end in mind: What do you want to happen? What results do you most want to see from your blog? You can approach this from both a conceptual and a practical level.
Here are three conceptual results that a blog can give you:
- Authority. When you publish articles about your industry and your approach to different problems, you establish authority and credibility with your customers.
- Reach. By creating interesting articles that your target audience would be interested in, you’re able to bring more potential customers to your website.
- Goodwill. This is often overlooked, mostly because it’s misunderstood. When you create great content that people want to read, you are giving them something of value for free. This showcases your company’s goodwill and invites a response from your readers.
Since authority and goodwill are tough to measure (reach is a little easier since you can check your traffic analytics as well as likes or comments on social media), you will need more concrete ways to see if your blog is actually getting ROI.
So here are three practical results that a blog can give you:
- Funnel Entry. When you write a piece of content, include something at the bottom that the reader can act on — a link to download a PDF, a webinar they can sign up for, etc. You want them to take action after reading. You can track link clicks with services like Bitly to see if you’re getting traction, but you can also track things like email signups. The reader who takes action after reading a blog post has just become a lead.
- Website Traffic. Posting regularly to your blog section signals to Google and other search engines that your site is getting updated and is therefore more useful to searchers. When you post an article and then link to it in a social media post or in an email, you’re bringing readers back to your site, driving more traffic. Building your traffic — legitimate traffic — is key to getting ranked higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Backlinks. Backlinks are another great way to improve your search engine ranking and site credibility. A backlink is when someone who reads your article posts something of their own and links back to your site. Not only does this have the potential to drive more traffic to your site, it’s another signal to search engines about your site’s legitimacy and importance.
There you have it. Those are the six key results that a blog can provide to your small business. So now you may be asking...
What Should You Post on Your Small Business Blog?
Once you’re clear on the results you want to see and how to determine whether you’re getting them, the question remains: What should you post on your business blog?
One idea is to make your blog a “News” section instead of an actual “Blog.” Not only is “News” more formal and professional, it is favorable to search engines. Search engines want to give people news when they’re looking for it. A blog, however, could be just about anything.
So here are some ideas for what to post in your News section:
- Industry News. You’re keeping track of what’s going on in your industry to make your business better; these things matter to your audience, too. Why not write about them? Explain what’s new, what’s changed, what’s complicated, and how your company is approaching different trends and innovations. (But be careful not to make it all about your company. A paragraph at the end of the article will do.)
- Product News. What products are available to your target audience to solve their common problems? How would you explain their features or rank their value? Focus on your audience’s interests and keep your company promotion to a minimum.
- Business News. Yes, you can definitely post things about your business as long as your readers know that’s what the article is all about. Highlight new client benefits. Announce new personnel or products. Make sure that whatever you talk about, you emphasize that everything your business does is about serving the client.
- Research Reports. If you run the kind of business that does any type of regular research, compile it in a PDF and make it available to your clients as a download (when they submit their email address). You can post an article in your News section to let readers know when a new report is available and give a brief synopsis.
This content can keep your current customers engaged and help new leads understand your business — and why it makes sense to work with you or buy from you.