From the humble beginnings of Links.net and LiveJournal, blogging has burst into the mainstream over the last two decades. According to WordPress, more than 400 million people view more than 20 billion blog pages per month on its sites. This is just one of a plethora of blog hosts, suggesting that these numbers are just the tip of a very large iceberg. With all of these page views and engagement, small business blogging has become an easy and important way to increase site traffic and, when done well, to convert site visitors into leads and customers. Simply put, small business blogging is something you can’t afford not to do. It is made easier by the fact that it is generally a cost-effective marketing strategy.
How to Approach Small Business Blogging
- 1 How to Approach Small Business Blogging
- 2 Why Small Business Blogging Matters
While blogging may seem straight forward enough in and of itself, when blogging for your small business there are some key strategies to follow.
Have a Content Marketing Plan
Don’t start blogging without a content marketing plan. The entire purpose of having a small business blog is to help you turn content into sales, which is the province of content marketing. This may involve writing about specific topics your clients will be interested in or specific fields your business is an authority on. You’ll need to choose a few content buckets or silos to begin with. Content silos are relatively static parent topic areas relevant to your business or to your potential clients that can contain many sub topics. They help to push a particular marketing message by focusing on aspects of your company, be it products, customer needs or education around topics in your sector. They also help keep you focused and organized so that your article content is not created at random. Choose a few main content buckets or silos to begin with and branch out from there.
A Content Marketing Plan Example
Our client SOLOS Lifting Solutions, a local crane service company, wanted to break into an established local market with a limited budget. We used content marketing as part of their overall marekting strategy, creating three content silos.
- Niche content based around the product and main keyword: mini cranes. We used keywords associated with the product and niche service areas, such as “mini crane for glass installation” and “portable crane.” Longtail keywords such as these focus on getting around your competition and in front of very specific customer bases.
- Content pertaining to the local business area. We created articles that connected SOLOS to the local construction and development community and showed their understanding of local industry without being a hard sell on their service. This approach develops the type of thought leadership and human connection that build trust with a local audience.
- Content connecting product and service features with global concerns. One of the client’s natural advantages is that their equipment is extremely low in emissions compared to their competition. As such, we wrote a thought leadership article for SOLOS about the global and health and safety benefits of low emission worksite machinery.
This content strategy for SOLOS was effective and they gained top page Google rankings for several keywords. Your content strategy will be specific to your business and desired demographic. However, this should give you an idea of the direction to work in.
If you have blog content you have something to share on social media with your followers. If they love it, they will share it and any shares expand your audience and draw more traffic to your site. In addition to putting information out to your existing followers, you are leveraging your followers’ followers as well. While the dream here might be to have a post go viral, any shares and exposure help you reach an audience that you didn’t already have. And you can do this without having to buy ad space or email lists.
For example, our client BuildDirect, a home improvement ecommerce site, shares a lot of knowledge and DIY articles on their social accounts. This lets current and prospective customers know that they are there to support them with their home improvement projects and not just as a supplier.
Keep an Eye on Competitors
You probably know your market competitors, and there’s a lot you can learn from them. Are they blogging? What are they writing about? Can you expand on that? What marketing strategies are they using and are they successful? What elements of their products or services are customers complaining about in the comments? Reading competitors blogs helps you to keep up with the cutting edge in the field. It also helps you address the types of problems that your customers will be facing that your competitors are not
Reading other blogs lets you see what types of marketing techniques other business in your industry are using. You can determine what are, or are not, drawing in customers or site views. And, while the old cliché that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery may be true, keeping an eye on competitors can also help you to differentiate your own product or marketing strategy from theirs. This will allow you to go after customers they potentially aren’t pursuing or allow you to poach customers that simply aren’t happy with your competitors.
A simple way to keep an eye on your competitors is to use a social listening sevices like Zoho Social. While it’s a social media management platform, you can use it to monitor branded hashtags and page follows for market comeptitors. We regularly use this for ourselves and our clients.
Leverage the Whole Team
Your company likely has different departments with different knowledge about your products and customer base. Having your team members provide ideas, notes or articles for your blog is a great way to leverage these different aspects of your company into a compelling marketing strategy. Everyone will have a different insight, depending on their department or speciality. It’s important to utilize that knowledge and expertise.
Why Small Business Blogging Matters
Aside from the cost efficiency, small business blogging has a number of benefits.
Stay Current and Increase Site Views
With most business websites, updates or changes are few and far between. Unless you have a new product or service to offer, it usually isn’t necessary to add new pages or change existing ones. Yet, this makes your site static. The failure to add new content is a missed opportunity to draw in new customers. Publishing regular, high quality blog posts helps to keep your site fresh and leads search engines to crawl your site more frequently. In fact, websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages (i.e. pages found by search crawlers). Google actually introduced a freshness algorithm in 2011. It recognizes both page freshness and sitewide freshness.
Adding new topics also casts a wider net for search engine hits. You’re adding new keywords and topics that people might be searching for, bringning new users to the site. All of this can help improve search engine ranking, allowing your business to be organically discovered by more people.
Become an Authority
Blogs have become one of the most trusted types of sites for online information. Valuable and informative blog posts can help you become an authority on topics in your industry. In essence, it’s your chance to show that you are a thought leader in your target field and market. People often find websites when searching for solutions to problems they are experiencing. If your blog offers a solution to these problems, it shows not only your knowledge in the field, but that you have a ready-made solution for a potential customer’s problems.
Furthermore, other sites will be more likely to link back to your articles. This shows Google that your site is trustworthy. Your ability to answer common questions and solve common problems also builds trust with site visitors. All of this can help increase web traffic. While this may not have immediate results from a sales perspective, increased traffic should increase leads.
For more information on SEO and creating relevant content, we recommend reading the Search Engine Land SEO Periodic Table.
Keep People Coming Back
Whether you are providing a service or selling a product you want to instill brand loyalty for repeat business. The same goes for small business blogging. If you produce good content, people will come back for more. This means they will return to your site and for longer periods of time. Encourage people to stay on the site longer through internal linking. Internal linking can help people migrate from a generic blog post about a given topic to more specific information. This will familiarize readers with your company. To learn more about the importance of internal linking, we recommend this piece by Ahrefs.
Catch People at the Top of the Sales Funnel
Blogs can be useful for generating new leads that aren’t quite ready to buy. If you offer them valuable information, they are more likely to keep you in mind when they are ready. By offering free content, including white papers and other downloads, you can get contact information to keep them in your marketing loop. Even when traffic doesn’t immediately become a lead or a customer, your knowledge about topics will imprint your name in the memory. People will know you as a source for important information when they need services down the line.
For more information on how RFDM Solutions can help with your marketing needs, including small business blogging and content marketing strategy, contact us and book a free consultation.