Blogging has been on the scene sine 1999 and you’ve probably heard countless times that as a small business owner you should be running a blog. The problem is… why should you even bother? And if you do decide to try, how do you even do it anyway?
What is a blog?
A blog is just a simple website, or a section of a website, where the owner of the site posts usually short but regular updates that are visible across the Internet. Every blog is different. Some choose to post several times a day, some once a week, and many just post intermittently throughout the year. There are lots of different set-up’s including entire websites dedicated to keeping a blog, small sections of a website where a blog plays just a small part in the overall mission of the site, and some blogs are hosted for free on worldwide platforms dedicated to keeping a blog. An example of such a site is Blogger.com – a blogging portal owned by Google.
Why and how will keeping a blog benefit my business?
The Internet is a massive place, and for smaller local business’ having a presence on the web can allow you to compete with your stiffest competition. The web allows you to reach both your existing customers and potential new ones. A blog is a great way to strike up a conversation with these customers, it allows you to create a relationship and build strong bonds, even before potential customers have actually spent any money with you. When you have a strong bond and a great relationship you can guarantee that YOUR business will be the first they think of when your services are required.
Interestingly, Google has recently applied a series of updates to its search algorithm which have been aimed at penalising overly-optimised websites. This means that all those sites that have previously held high search listing places stopping YOUR business from ever getting a look-in are now starting to find themselves falling down the rankings. Beautifully, it means that the tables are now turning, and small business’ everywhere are able to start competing for those much sought-after top spots on the search listings. All that you need to do is ensure that your website contains quality information that is specific to the kind of business you are in. And this is where blogging comes in…
Keeping a blog will help you improve your search engine rankings
By keeping a blog and posting content that is relevant to your business you are simply showing to your site visitors, potential and existing customers, and search engines, that you are an authority on your specific subject, and by engaging with your visitors you are actually proving that authority. It is this authority that will move your existing search engine ranking higher, and of course the more blogging you do and the more visitors that engage with you, the better your search placings will be. Hopefully we don’t need to tell you the benefits of achieving a first page search result!
So how do I get started?
The quickest, simplest and most cost-effective (FREE!) way of getting started is to sign up for a free blogging platform such as Blogger.com. You will find simple step-by-step instructions and you can even monetise your blog using simple plug-ins that are on offer at no extra cost.
If you would prefer to self-host your own blog you should look for a web hosting service that offers simple one-click install of platforms such as WordPress. The WordPress project has its own dedicated resource pages which will show you how to customise your installation and start blogging within minutes.
A few blogging tips
First, make sure that you are consistent. Choose a specific topic, which should really be something you are passionate about, as blogging isn’t a “quick-win”. Blogging should be a long-term marketing strategy, so don’t be down-hearted if you don’t see amazing results right away. Make sure that you post at the same time every week. If you are going to post every day then make sure you do. If you are going to post once a week then do it on the same day and at the same time every week. Make sure that those visitors who choose to follow your blog know exactly when they should be checking for new content.
Finally, keep each blog post to the point. Make it easy for people to read. Think about how you are going to engage your readers… using pictures is a great way of grabbing someones attention, whilst asking questions that will get your readers responding using the comments box is a great way to help influence your search results.
Simple… get blogging! And let us know how you get on using the comments box at the bottom of this post :]