What does a successful business blog entail? How can entrepreneurs use it for online marketing? Read on to find out.
By Unmana Datta
For small businesses, maintaining a business blog is a great way to get more visibility and to promote your business. It helps tremendously with improving your search engine results, and if you’re a B2B business, it’s the best way to showcase your expertise and help convince your prospects to work with you.
But what exactly does having a business blog involve? How often should you blog? What else do you need to do? I answer some of these questions below.
How often do you need to blog to get results? The answer usually is “more frequently than you think.” According to HubSpot:
“Companies that blog 15 or more times per month get 5X more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all.”
That’s at least one post every two days, or 3 – 4 posts a week.
You can get results with fewer posts as well (again, from Hubspot):
“B2B companies that blog only 1-2X/month generate 70% more leads than those that don’t blog at all. In other words, blogging even just a little bit can make a big dent on your leads goal if you previously weren’t blogging at all.”
I’d say having 5 great blog posts might help you more than having 15 mediocre ones. But the general rule is, the more often you post, the more results you can expect.
You don’t just want visitors to your blog; you want visitors who convert (buy from you, download your ebook, sign up for a free trial, or however you define this). This is why keyword research is important. What keywords do your customers use to refer to your products? How are they searching online for products similar to yours? You need to find the answers to these questions, either by asking your customers or using Google’s Keyword Tool.
Then use those keywords in your blog posts. You need to not just get people to your blog, but get the right people. So if you are an online grocery store that only serves Bangalore, for example, you need to use Bangalore as a keyword in your blog so that local people get to you.
A word of caution: don’t use so many keywords that your posts don’t make sense or that search engines penalize you. Always remember, you are writing for your customers first.
Make it easier for your readers and encourage subscriptions to your blog:
– Put up a prominent link to your blog on your website and on your social media pages.
– Set up your RSS feed and a “subscribe by email” option.
– Keep your blog design clean: don’t clutter it with too many columns and options.
– Keep the font and colours readable. Dark text on light background is easiest to read. Keep the font size 10 or bigger; don’t use a script font or much italicized text.
– Add alt text to your images. This is great for SEO, and is also a good practice for accessibility and readability (in case the images don’t load).
Start by tracking your blog on Google Analytics or even WordPress or Blogger stats. (Here’s how to set up Google Analytics.) Look not just at visits and page views, but at metrics that tell you whether people are reading or engaging with your content, such as pages per visit, time on site, bounce rate, and so on. Set up conversions on Google Analytics and track those carefully.
Once you’ve looked at your stats for a month or two and know what to expect, set goals for yourself. Don’t just set visibility objectives (visits and page views); set engagement and conversion objectives.
Now that you’ve set up your blog and have started posting regularly, you need to promote it. One easy way of doing this is by posting comments on other blogs. Don’t spam (“read my blog”): contribute to the conversation, but make sure your commenting profile includes a link to your own blog. If you leave interesting comments, the blogger or other readers are very likely to visit your blog as well. Most bloggers love receiving comments (as long as you’re polite, contribute to the discussion, and don’t spam).
After you’ve read and commented on some other blogs and hopefully built a relationship with a few bloggers, try submitting guest posts to their blogs. Guest posts need to be relevant to that blog’s audience, so read some of that blog’s posts to figure out what might work. Posting on others’ blogs is a great way of reaching out to new audiences and also getting quality backlinks to your site.
This is all a lot of work, I agree. But blogging is an effective and inexpensive online marketing medium (except for the vast amounts of time and effort) for small businesses. Start small and slow, expect it to be a long haul, and make sure you always respect your audience and provide something of value.
Don’t forget, the first Step Above workshop by Women’s Web will have me talking more on the topic of using blogs and other online marketing channels to reach your business goals. The workshop, Online Marketing That Gets Results, is in Bangalore on 18th May and in Chennai on 24th May.
*Photo credit: Lotus Head.