Why your business website needs a blog
Does your business website have a blog? If it doesn't, it should. If it does, do you blog regularly? If you don't, you should.
Because effective content marketing is now the best way to achieve long-term competitive advantage in your chosen markets. And blogging needs to be at the centre of your content marketing strategy.
What is Content Marketing?
Wikipedia defines content marketing as "any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers".
For most businesses, this means creating more and better content for their websites, although it can also include any content that you create online for the purposes of marketing your business, including posts on social networks such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn, comments posted on other business websites, and online advertising via Google's and Facebook's advertising networks.
Blogging is an Incredible Content Marketing Tool
Of all the content marketing options open to you, blogging is by far the best and the most effective medium- to long-term content marketing tool.
An effectively managed business blog can do the following things for you:
- Increase your position in search engine rankings that drives more and more traffic over time, until you have an unassailable online lead in your market - one that will not disappear overnight.
- Position you as an expert in your field. Whether you are a sole trader or a large business, it's hard to buy the perception of expertise - you have to earn it.
- Establish your credibility as someone your customers trust and want to do business with.
- Establish your personality and your voice. Remember, people do business with people, not businesses.
- Generate more qualified leads by allowing customers to do most of their research on your business, products and services before they call. Your leads are warmer, and the sales process is shorter.
- Drive traffic you don't need to keep paying for (i.e. Facebook and Google AdWords)
Business Blogs Help Drive More Traffic
Think about your website as a fishing net. Each page on your website is a part of that net; the more pages your website has, the bigger your net, and the greater the chance your website has of being found in Google's search results for keywords relevant to your business.
So, having a blog on your website allows you to create new content on a regular basis that is separate but related to the more formal marketing content on your website.
Here's how it works:
- Your website should have a page that describes each product or service that your business offers. This page will be written in "marketing speak", and is aimed at converting potential customers who are ready to buy.
- You can't write more than one page about each product or service (unless you break each one down into smaller elements and write about each of those elements on a separate page). So, you write a series of related blog posts about your products and services
- You make sure that these pages contain links to each other (i.e. service <-> blog post). This tells Google that these pages are related, and increases Google's perception of the depth you offer in that area.
- Google then ranks all of those pages in its search engine results. Now, customers searching for relevant keywords are more likely to see one of your pages in the search results.
Business Blogs Help Establish Credibility
Most businesses win business because they are perceived to be credible, and experts in their field. Often this comes through word of mouth - your existing customers tell good-news stories about you to to their friends and colleagues. These people trust them, so they are more likely to trust (and buy) from you.
A business blog can help achieve the same thing. Here are some ways that your blog can increase your perceived credibility:
- Well-written blog posts show that you know your subject.
- The more write, the more you demonstrate your range and depth of expertise, which reassures potential customers that they should buy from you.
- Answering the "difficult" questions in your industry shows that you are honest, and that people can trust you to talk straight. This is the bedrock of all long-term relationships.
- Think about the top 5 questions potential customers ask you when you first meet them, and write a blog post for each.
- Answer honestly and openly - even if these answers don't always flatter you. It's highly likely that savvy customers have already googled these questions before calling anyone
- Chances are yours is the only website in your industry that address these questions - meaning you've got an excellent chance of being near the top of Google when potential customers start their research.
- Allowing people to comment on your blog posts, and then engaging with them, shows you are willing to listen.
- For many, this is a step too far - they worry about being flooded with spam, and about people posting unpleasant content about your business.
- Spam can be dealt with. I run a website that gets over 120,000 hits a month and I get only 1 or 2 spam comments a month. My antispam tools stop hundreds more from getting through.
- Unpleasant comments can be dealt with by taking the high ground and providing sensible and honest responses. After that, your responses are there for everyone to see - and judge you on.
- For extreme cases, you have the power to simply delete those comments.
- By giving away information that you could conceivably charge your customers for invokes the law of reciprocity.
- The law of reciprocity says that if you give someone something, they're more likely to buy from you.
- Not everyone who visits your website is going to buy from you. This is a face. Some of them are competitors, some are tyre kickers, and some are they're looking for free information to help them do it themselves. Helping these people is unlikely to hurt you, but it helps establish your credibility as an referrable expert.
- The more valuable the information, the more likely it is to be unique on the web - and therefore the more likely it is to generate significant search traffic to your website.
- By sharing your secrets, potential customers realise how complicated they are. For many, any thoughts they have of doing it themselves go out the window - followed closely by a phone call to you.
I'll be honest - convincing most business owners to include a blog on their website is like pulling hens teeth. But - as this post should make clear - if you are going to bother building a website for your business, then presumably you want it to be a success. Regular, relevant blogging on your website will help ensure that.