Do you currently have a small business website which you update occasionally or make minor changes to a couple of pages every now and then, but essentially remains the same from one year to the next? If so you need a blog.
What is a Blog?
Firstly let’s define exactly what a blog is and isn’t. There’s a common misconception that blogging is just for kids who want to complain about their school dinners, disgruntled employees to have a whinge about their boss or for big companies who have big news stories, “but not me, I don’t have anything to write about”. Wrong!
Of course all the above examples do exist, but that’s just the tip of the iceburg. All a blog really is, is an easy way for people and companies to write something and publish it to the web, that’s it, how you use it is what defines your blog. It also offers an easy way to update any social profiles with your latest news, product launches, testimonials, new hires, the list goes on (but I’ll come to that later).
Three of the most common ones are WordPress, Blogger and Typepad, most hosting services offer an easy way to install at least one of these, although you will need some additional security and features once it’s installed, so if you don’t know how to do this, ask your web designer or seo company to do it for you.
The SEO Benefits
Also, on it’s most basic level, it’s a DIY SEO tool. Imagine someone does a search for something very specific, let’s say “black dog collar with red dots”, if you are the only site which uses this exact term on your site, guess who is likely to appear in top position? (I’ll give you a clue, it’s not the site which sells pink collars with orange dots!).
As soon as you publish a new post, your website pings the search engines too, I won’t bore you with the technical description but basically it tells them you have added a new post, so they know to come and index the new page. If you update fairly regularly, they get to know this, so for example, when I add a new post it’s usually indexed by Google in about 10-15 minutes!
From a user perspective, they can also see that your website is up to date. Even if you only post once a month this is better than your next competitor who doesn’t have a blog at all. And once they are there, they can click on one of the links you included which leads through to your sales pages on the main website.
Oh, and Google likes blogs, well, to be more specific they like regularly updated sites, blogging just happens to be a really easy way to do it.
But I Don’t Have Anything to Write About !
Whenever I have the blog conversation with a client, or prospective client, I seem to come up against this, so here are a few ideas to help you get started. Once you get started, you’ll have more ideas related to your specific industry. I often think “I can’t elaborate on that point too much or the post will be too long”, if that’s the case, jot the idea down and there is the next idea for a post, then you can link to it from the previous post as a point of reference too.
Just remember that a blog shouldn’t be a series of sales pitches, it’s information to attract and engage prospective clients which also offers them the opportunity to follow links to your main website (the pages which are selling).
Lists– Like this one…….
Testimonials – The various blogging software offers a way to put all your testimonials into their own category, which groups them all together in one place.
Success Stories – If you have achieved something which makes you stand out from the crowd, shout about it.
Discuss and Comment on Someone Else’s Posts – If a popular blog in your industry is discussing something and it’s getting a lot of attention, write your own perspective on the story and link to them.
News Stories – If something is happening which will have an impact on your industry, writ about it and explain why.
Answer Common Questions – If you are customer facing in your job, you will know the questions which come up time and time again (if not ask someone who is), then answer these questions in a post, you can bet if you are asked them in person, even more people are asking the questions online.
Industry Trends – How are things looking overall in your industry? The global recession has had an impact on a lot of businesses, you can appear as an industry guru if you write about the bigger picture (although never claim to be one).
Looking Forward – Are you planning to expand, move offices, take on a new product line in the coming year? If so and it doesn’t need to be kept quiet from the competition, write about it.
Book Reviews – Read a good book recently? Why not review it?
Make a Video – If you have products which you demonstrate in any way at all, why not make an informative video and post it up on your blog? Guided tours of your factory or packaging plant can also work well.
Conferences and Seminars – If you have seen a public speaker from within your industry you can write about them, it doesn’t matter if you think they have great ideas or spoke a load of old tosh, it’s your opinion on the topic which matters here.
Staff Profiles – Write about your staff, what experiences they have, success stories in their career, charity events they support and add a picture too, a nice one though, not that one from last years office party!
Support A Charity? – OK, so tell everyone about it.
Series Posts – If you want to write about something particularly technical, break it down into several posts and make sure you link to the previous and next ones.
Predictions – Know something that other people don’t? Something which is going to have an effect on your industry or the people within it? So tell them! Remember when it happens, you can write about it again, linking back to your original post to gain further credibility.
Dispel Common Misconceptions – There are usually myths around most industries and the way they work (believe me I know, SEO is rife with them) explain why they are not true and what the situation really is.
Milestones – Had some major successes in the past? Old news can be just as relevant and helps readers understand how your business got to where it is today.
What’s the Competition up to ? – Reading your competitors blogs can give you an insight to their company and ideas for new posts. Just remember they could be reading yours too.
How To’s – You would be amazed at how many web searches start off with “how to”, so write some articles which explain how to do something.
Tips – Do most people only use a fraction of the features available with your software or product, or not know about additional benefits of your service? Write about them.
Events– If you are holding a seminar or speaking at someone elses, this provides an opportunity to both announce it in advance and to review it afterwards, 2 posts for the price of one!
This should have given you a few ideas, if not perhaps you’re just not cut out to be the company blogger and should consider passing the baton over to somebody else within the company, remember the more you write, the better your chances of attracting that next big customer. So bookmark this page and every time you can’t think of a suitable topic, come back and it should give you some inspiration.