Blogging for your business (An introductory guide)

Want more visitors to your website? Of course you do! Including a blog on your website is an extremely effective way to increase visits.

Let’s start with the basics. What is a blog, really?

‘Blog’ is an abbreviation of ‘web-log.’ It’s a chronological series of web posts, similar to an online diary. If you’re using your blog for business purposes, however, it will be so much more than that. It will be a constantly growing, carefully constructed log of fresh content which can become a powerful inbound marketing tool.

Inbound marketing is a fancy way of saying that you make your customers come to you by sharing content that engages and attracts them, rather than having to go out into the market and fight for their attention.

So where does blogging fit in with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

There are two main techniques that drive visitors to your website, that when combined with blogging, make for one pretty formidable inbound-marketing strategy.

Search Engines

Every time you add a page of content to your website you’re adding another ‘indexed page.’ Search engines use indexed pages to track the content on your website and decide how relevant it is to your potential customers. You’re providing more opportunities for search engines like Google and Bing to find you and you need to then persuade them to put you near the top of search results (the holy grail of SEO).

Search engines love fresh content and keywords, and blogs are the best way to update your content constantly and plug your keywords.

Keywords definition: A keyword is a particular word or phrase that describes the contents of a web page. Keywords are intended to act as shortcuts that sum up an entire page. Keywords form part of a webpage’s metadata and help search engines match a page to an appropriate search query. Think of all the words and phrases a person might type into Google to find your website. These are your keywords. You can pepper them throughout your website to improve your SEO ranking.

Social media

If you want to get discovered by your potential customers on social media, you need to share lots of unique content. Ideally it will be compelling enough to make people want to share it and distribute entry points to your website across the web. Blogging is arguably the most effective way to do this.

Even more reasons to add a blog to your website

A blog can help establish your authority in your particular industry or area of expertise. If you keep posting useful, valuable information that is relevant to your business, you will build a reputation as a ‘go-to’ resource,’ thereby increasing your brand credibility.
A blog has huge potential to convert your traffic into leads by adding calls to action to every post. Examples include asking your customers to: subscribe to a newsletter or email list; share your post on their social media channels; visit your product pages; or enter a discount code at checkout. Once they’ve visited your blog page, the aim is to squeeze as much value out of that visit as possible.
A blog helps you to build relationships with your audience. Use your posts to ask your readers questions, encourage comments and reply to them. By encouraging customer interaction, you can build rapport and trust with them, which will hopefully lead to brand loyalty in the future. Sometimes the benefits of blogs are not always immediate – but are effective over time.

Create a business blogging plan

Don’t just start flinging keywords around – here’s how to get optimum results from your blog, with minimal effort.

Look at examples for inspiration. Start with these great ones from Evernote and Squarespace.
Research your target audience and address your blog to them. Who are they? What do they need to know about? These are the people who need to find your posts interesting and relevant.
According to benchmark data from com, it’s likely that the more blog posts you publish, the more traffic you will see. Companies that published more than 16 posts a month saw more than 3 times more traffic than companies who posted 0-4 monthly posts.
Decide on the type of blog posts you will publish. These can include, among others:

How-tos – these are good at answering your customers’ questions directly
Lists – ‘top tens’ are effective because people like to get their information quickly
Company and industry news – this adds to your brand credibility
Multimedia – just make sure you surround your images and videos with nice keyword-loaded copy
Interviews and reviews – to keep your content current
Series of linked posts – to keep them coming back for more

Create a blogging schedule and stick to it. Regularity and frequency is key. Think about co-ordinating posts around key events in your industry or holidays like Christmas so you can be on-message all year-round. Also, don’t be over-ambitious. Make sure you’ve got the time to write and post them when you say you will.
Start writing!

How to write a blog post

Everyone has a different writing style, and you’ll soon develop your own way of doing things, but these guidelines will help you optimise your inbound marketing.

Your title will help you focus your writing and attract readers. Search engines prefer 65 characters or less to fit in the results page.
Clearly organise your content with subheadings.
Remember your call to action at the end.
Employ basic SEO

Use keywords throughout your post
Fill out your meta description – this is the bit that goes below the title in Google search engine results. It provides a summary of the post and should be around 150 characters. There will be space to insert this in most blogging platforms.
The page title and headers should contain keywords and clearly explain what the blog is about.
Add anchor text (words which link to other pages on your website)

Finally, a word about generating ideas

It’s inevitable that you’ll run out of ideas for your blog posts at some stage. Nothing beats a good office brainstorming session, but also make use of resources like Google Trends to see what people are talking about on the web, and Quora, which helps you see what questions people are asking in your industry.

Now go forth and blog!