A few days ago, I was talking with a favourite client and halfway through the conversation, the dreaded word “blogging” came into the conversation. She said that she knew she should keep a blog on her website as part of her digital marketing strategy but she didn’t know why.
I was surprised as I thought that everyone and their dog had a blog now. It’s estimated that 2 million blog posts are written every single day. However, if you’re going to invest the time in blogging, it’s important to know why you’re doing it and what the potential benefits are.
So I’ve put together some questions and answers about why you should have a blog, how to know what to write about and what should be included to help your small business.
Q. Blogging is time-consuming and I really don’t enjoy it. Will I have to do this forever?
Do I have to blog?
A. When you’re as big as Amazon, you can stop blogging. No, seriously, I would argue that blogging is really useful for small to medium-sized businesses but when you become larger with higher domain authority, a fatter backlink profile and you rank for key terms above your competitors, you can slow your blogging activity.
Q. Great… What does that mean…?
Why should I have a blog?
A. OK, here are the reasons you should have a blog:
Having a blog on your website can warm people to your brand and create better customer relationships. If you are a jewellery maker and want to share the process of making a favourite item, people will feel more connected to your products.
Also, giving people free information or advice can help your customers or prospects to see you as an authority in your field and engender greater trust. For example, if you are an accountancy firm and can provide 5 tips on filing your end-of-year tax returns, people will see you as helpful and authoritative.
- Blog posts drive traffic to your website. Creating useful or interesting content gives your social media followers a reason to click through to your website. Whether your business is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or anywhere else, you should be posting links to each blog on these channels.
- Blog posts can increase your ranking (visibility) in search engines. There are two key ways. Two primary elements of SEO (search engine optimisation) are keyword rankings and backlinks.
Keywords: Keywords are the words that you expect potential customers to type into search engines in order to find your business. I’ll show you a couple of handy ways to research keywords later in this article. You should use relevant keywords in your blog posts. Having more relevant keywords across your website (within reason) increases your chances of being found when those words are typed into search engines.
Backlinks: Search engines place an “authority score” on your website. One of the things that makes your site look authoritative is how many other quality websites link to it. A solid backlink profile should make your website more visible to search engines. If you can persuade other relevant website owners to post your blog on their website, you will raise your backlink profile. Warning: this is hard work and takes research and persistence.
Q. Oh no. Hard work. How often should I blog?
How often you should write blog posts
A. When you’re building your brand, the key is to vary your content. How can a blog post tell your audience about you and what you can offer? Churning out lists won’t build any kind of brand loyalty. Mix it up with industry info and an article about the 50th birthday party you threw for Geoff in Accounts. The key is to keep it fresh and interesting.
Search engines like updated content on your website and it’s good to drive potential customers there as much as you can with fresh ideas and information. Ideally, while you’re building your brand, you should post every week. The bad news is that you should do it twice a week. I know, I know – who has time? Just think about why you’re doing it and do it as often as you can.
Q. OK, thanks. How do I know what to write about?
Topics for your blog
A. You should always write about topics that are relevant to your business. However, being current and writing about or around topics that are trending can be really beneficial, if that’s possible. Head over to Google Trends and see which topics are trending. Warning: be careful about jumping on bandwagons, especially when they are political or divisive. You could end up alienating your audience.
Select your country and scroll down to the bottom where you will see what is trending.
Or be more specific and type the topic that you have in mind into the search bar at the top.
In the menu at the top, change “past 12 months” to “past 7 days”.
On the left are related topics and on the right are search terms that people use that are related to digital marketing and we can see how much they’ve gamed in popularity over the last 7 days.
So if I want to write a handy guide for my customers, why don’t I write one on digital marketing strategy, as that’s what people are searching for?
Q. Got that, thanks. Didn’t you say you’d show me some tips for keyword research?
Keyword research tips for your blog
A. Yes I did. Firstly, the google search bar is your friend. Type your topic into the search bar and Google will tell you what search terms people are entering that relate to your topic.
Secondly, Google Ads keyword planner is a great resource even if you never plan to advertise on Google. If you don’t already use Google Ads, it’s very simple to set up. You just need a Gmail account. Please note that Google Ads may ask you for credit card details. However, if you don’t set up any adverts, it cannot charge you.
You will see a window that looks something like this:
Click on “tools and settings” and select “planning” and “keyword planner”.
Select “discover new keywords” on the left, type in your topic and hit “get results”.
Hey presto! Click on “avg. monthly searches” to arrange the results by how often these terms are searched for every month. The results also show how tough the competition is for these words and how much you would expect to pay if you set up an advert using these terms. There is little point in trying to rank for terms that get very little search activity but be aware that the more searches a keyword has, the harder it may be to compete for. You can add terms by clicking on the suggestions along the top where it says “broaden your search”.
So there you have it. At first glance, this may seem like a lot of work but it is a simple process that becomes as natural as any process you may follow in your work day. The hard part is actually writing the blog!
Q. OK, I think I get it. Do you have any other tips?
More blogging tips
- Your blog is most effective if it is at least 1,000 words.
- Your blog should contain links to other pages on your website.
- Include your keywords in headings.
- Don’t “stuff” keywords. A smattering of the key terms is useful but search engines are temperamental and get upset if they think you’re trying to trick them by using too many.
- For information blogs, consider “listicles”. Listicles are the very popular lists with titles like “5 organic ways to eliminate insects from your indoor plants”. These are great timesavers as busy readers can easily pick out the useful bits. Some marketers are starting to get snobby about listicles but I think they can be a great resource.
- Be useful. As a reader of health and fitness blogs, I’m attracted to articles with titles like “10 great ways to increase your energy”. If one of these “great ways” is to get more sleep, I feel cheated This is stating the obvious and everybody’s time has been wasted. Think about how you can really offer value.
- Make sure your spelling and grammar is top notch.
A. You’re very welcome.
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