* Affilitate links are marked with an asterisk indicating that I receive a small share of the sales made through the related link. All opinions relating to affiliate products are that of my own and not of the affiliated party.
If you came here from Instagram, there's a good chance you run your own business or are in the process of starting up an enterprise. When getting your business online, you will want to set up several web pages with which to direct your customers to different services or information around your site. Here is why you should make sure one of those pages is a blog.
Blogging is key for SEO rankings
Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the secretive element that goes on behind the scenes to get you noticed online. SEO is essentially a language search engines like Google use to determine how useful web pages are to people making the search. It puts the sites it determines as 'most useful' at the top of the search lists. If you can push your site up the search rankings, you can guarantee to have more traffic.
Given the extensive search engine pages based on even the most specific of terms, it is clear that we need to be doing a whole lot more to boost our presence on the internet, but SEO is still an important factor to consider in getting your website noticed. It is in the search engines' best interest to find the most helpful resources to solve a search query, so take heed of the little things you can do to bump up your rankings. By blogging, you can ensure your keywords and headline information is more easily visible to search engines by slipping the important bits in as much as possible. Don't overdo it on keywords to the point of compromising the quality of your text, but pick the most important words to summarise your subject and use them wherever you can to boost your visibility and credibility as a helpful resource for someone's future Google search.
Connect with your customers
When people consider purchasing something from somewhere, they pay more attention to the company and its persona than you might first realise. You probably do it yourself. We all know multinational companies like Amazon and Spotify are reputable but when it comes to buying from a company we are not familiar with, we quite often do some deeper research into the business before parting with our hard-earned cash. We like to check that our money is going to be well spent with a credible seller and that depends on the level of personal connection we get from digging deeper.
Why? Because people prefer to do business with people. If we don't know where our money is going, we become suspicious of the intentions of the other party and pocket our cash again. Running a blog alongside your business enables you to create an environment that says 'approachable', 'relatable' and 'personal'. You can use it to tell your own story, what inspired you to start your business and provide customers with bonus information about what you offer. This kind of interaction forms a steady buildup of trust between you (the business) and the reader (the potential customer).
Another way to sell
Having said all that about building up a relationship between customer and supplier, the blog you run still needs to earn you money and leads. You need to have some kind of return on your investment into producing content for your blog. If you are selling goods or services, the blog needs to be money-driven and it needs to be profitable. If you blog about a certain topic but do not explicitly sell a product of your own, let's be honest, you would still like readers to return to your site with more traction, to click affiliate links or purchase through advertisements in order to earn you money and a growing social media following. So if you're supposed to be genuine and likeable, how do you do all of this without the customer feeling like they are being sold something?
The answer? Blog content is, at large, produced by you! This means you have complete control over when and how you sell. Be mindful of your wording when you pitch to sell your products, just as you would in person. Nobody is going to want to buy from you if they get the impression that you're being pushy. They might then start to question your integrity, which could compromise the 'community' aspect you are trying to portray with your site.
Make any affiliate links or sponsored material clear in the title or at the start of your post (like you see in this one) or ensure that disclaimers are displayed in an obvious manner. Too many online influencers get caught in spirals when their followers see them constantly pushing products simply because they are being paid to. In this situation, honesty is the best policy and so is abiding by the Advertising Standards Authority rules when it comes to publishing paid content on your blog.
Showcase industry leadership by sharing information
Whether you are a car dealership, a printing firm, an accountancy or a freelance graphic designer, there's a good chance you'll know some trade secrets or handy hints and tips that people could do with the knowledge of in their daily lives. Obviously, there's no point in giving away the trade secrets to your success but generosity is an important and valuable virtue. Sharing information with people reading your blog, even if it is just the latest trade news or a DIY project, earns you respect as a business. Again, people like to buy from people.
So sharing information on a blog can really affect the way a customer sees your company and your values. It positions you in their minds as a business that genuinely loves and cares about what you do. If you are busy enough at work already, you might be thinking that you've really got no time at all to be writing blog posts and keeping up to date with industry developments. If that's the case, first make sure that you do keep up with industry developments. You should be doing that anyway, given that the future of your venture depends on it, but if writing blog posts about each and every new update seems too time-consuming for you right now, consider employing a dedicated blog manager or freelancer to help you; if your blog is rarely updated, it won't be doing anything to help increase your sales and customer relationships.
A free marketing technique
Having read this far, you've probably already gathered what blogs do and how they can help you gain exposure. They're not just online journals, diary entries or news articles. They, collectively, are a marketing technique. The good news, if you've already got a website or are trying out a blogging platform, is that they are virtually free. Platforms like Blogger, Wix and Wordpress all have the option of building a blog for free. Sometimes this means you have a domain name that features the platform you're using (i.e. 'www.yoursite.[platform].com').
If you are a paying web hosting member or have a website already set up, you'll have registered a domain name unique and personal to you. This gives you the freedom to personalise your site in many ways and deliver your unique message. Just like a billboard or newspaper advertisement, however, make sure your content and site as a whole are attractive and coherent. A tidy website makes navigation far easier for your reader. If you're not a genius with extensive coding knowledge but you want a website that stands out and reads all-over very professional, try looking for a theme out there in the marketplace that fits your online persona. I personally use Theme Forest* for my web design and get excellent support from them if I have any theme or design queries.
Publishing your blog posts is free to do and free to share, which means you can spread the word about your product, share your message and interact with readers by barely touching your marketing budget. Blogging comes with such a low risk that you might as well give it a go and see how it works for you.
In a world that seems to depend on gleaning information from websites and social media, a blog is an important asset to marketing, building relationships and making sales, so you should really give blogging a try. As before, if you don't have time to create posts for your blog, get help from a freelance writer or marketing agency. It will be an investment well spent to dedicate time and money to market your business to a broader range of customers.