I want to address this question in the context of a small business.
This article is aimed at people who run small businesses - it does not matter what kind. They could be selling physical items, selling expertise, providing education, or providing a service. At this stage of the discussion, what type of small business they run does not matter.
What does your business provide? Does it sell
Although it might sound daft, some people start businesses without really being clear about what it is they are selling. I am sometimes asked to quote for a website by potential clients who have not thought this through properly. They have not thought about what the website is actually for. Make sure you know exactly what you are delivering.
First please know that a website is just a collection of individual pages that are held together under a domain name. You can put what you like on any of those pages, and you can have as many or as few pages on your site, as you like.
Some people choose to display information about their business, opening times, prices, product details, service details, case studies, free tutorials, company goals, company information, company history, location, contact details, etc. This is all the normal sort of stuff you'd expect to see on a website.
But some people choose additionally to add a blog section to their websites. The question is, should you?
One day you are talking to a friend about your business and they suggest that maybe you should start a blog. You have no idea why you would want to blog, and at that moment you're not clear why they would suggest doing such a thing.
Despite not knowing exactly what's in it for you, you decide to give blogging a go. It doesn't take you long to realise that blogging is tough and will require consistent effort. You sit staring at the screen, agonising over your latest attempt at a blog post. Then it suddenly feels like too much trouble. You start to question why you're even bothering. You ask yourself,
What is the point of blogging? What's in it for me?A new blogger who is on the point of giving up
Blogging, is the process of writing articles related to the topic around which your small business is centred, regularly. This means you would blog ideally once per week, or twice per week, or once per month. Whatever it takes. For example if you :
But do you need to blog? Not necessarily. For example, the list of businesses I have given above would certainly not all need to blog. Blogging is about
If you already have an audience, if you already have credibility with that audience or you can easily attract paying customers by placing an ad somewhere, you do not need to blog. You would only blog in this situation if being a blogger, made you happy.
I can't imagine that a cleaning service would need to write blog posts. Cleaners are usually in great demand and they operate within a local area. A good website that answered the questions of prospective clients and gave a good account of the business, its pricing, its trustworthiness, a number of credible testimonials and employed good search engine optimisation, would not need to create regular blog posts. In other words, in a small locale, a small well-optimised site might be enough.
But what if your services are not potentially required by almost everyone (think cleaning, think pizza)? What if your product is somewhat niche? What if you are unknown and you have no useful contacts? What if your audience is difficult to reach? What if despite being hugely talented and experienced, the people who might buy your products or services have never heard of you? What if your product or service has no credibility with the very people you need to impress? What if your offer is not on their radar?
Maybe you thought that creating a website would be enough on its own to help sell your product or service. You are correct. In some circumstances a good website without a long-term, on-going blog can be enough to attract paying customers (think local products and services like cleaning, pizza, auto-repair, restaurants, hairdressers, beauticians, dentists).
But you know what? Sometimes, even in these situations, where the product on offer is only competing with other similar local businesses, and is a product that is in high demand, sometimes, depending on the location, there can just be too much local competition.
In this case blogging can help lift a site that normally would be on say, page 4 of Google (i.e. invisible) for a search of "emergency dentist near me" to end up on page 1 of Google.
The reason blogging helps you gain more traction would be the subject of another blog post. But in short, the more you blog, the bigger your SEO net. If you do not blog (i.e add lots of content to your site), then you don't really have a net. That's why many small business websites sit there unnoticed. They don't have a net. Think of a blog as your chance to build a net that grows in size each time you write a blog post.
Further, at the bottom of each blog post you can put a call to action to suggest to people who have landed on your blog post that you have more you can offer them, in terms of your products or services.
But even if that does not work, by regular blogging you increase your industry credibility. If you demonstrate your knowledge and impress them with your ability to explain complex ideas easily, they might remember you later, when they are ready to buy.
Blogging can make the difference and bring in more customers. Of course you can choose to avoid blogging and instead, pay for Google Ads to allow your business to be found on page 1 of Google.
The downside to paying for Google Ads is that you have to keep paying to maintain your position in the search results. It can get expensive because you pay for every click that happens.
However the results are immediate assuming you understand how best to set up Google Ads and you know how to create landing pages that convince the customer to enquire about, or buy your product or service.
With blogging, it costs you nothing but your time. However the results can take months and they are not guaranteed. Google tweaks its algorithms all the time and blog posts that helped a page rank on page 1 last month, may not help it so much this month.
However if you persevere, and keep blogging, eventually you can reach a sort of critical mass where there is a steady flow of traffic. It is always subject to the vagaries of Google, to be sure, but once your site is credible in Google's eyes, once you have a large number of blog posts, you will rank for hundreds of niche terms.
This means you will rank more easily for new terms that you target, because the size of your site matters as does the number of backlinks that your efforts will inevitably attract. Blogging increases the size of your site and the number of keywords it ranks for, over time.
This is a very good question, and is the main reason I wrote this post. You can blog occasionally about anything you like that is in your niche. But if your goal is to build traffic and an audience of people who are interested in your topic, then you must blog about the questions those people ask about your topic.
Every time you write a blog post ask yourself these questions:
You must answer yes to all 7 questions for your article to be part of the your traffic building solution.
You see, if your goal is to build traffic, then you should concentrate on answering questions people are actually asking and write well-structured blog posts that specifically answer these questions.
But how do you know what people are typing when they go to Google or Bing? There are many software tools that provide this information. If you are my client, don't worry, I will find these search phrases for you and give you a list of blog post titles. You should then endeavour to write one or even two blog posts per week from the list of blog posts titles I provide.
If you ignore this advice and write blog posts about whatever you feel like writing instead, then you run the risk of your content not providing the content people want. If no-one is searching for the key phrase your blog posts rank for, there will be almost no SEO traffic.
Alternatively, if you deliberately build up a large collection of blog posts that provide answers to the questions people in your niche actually ask, you stand a chance of generating traffic over time and building credibility.
You can still write opinion pieces, but if traffic is your goal, these should come after you have built some sort of base
When you are writing for traffic and audience building you must write blog posts that
I hope this post goes some way towards addressing the frustration small business website owners might feel with regard to blogging. I have brought up a few topics that require further discussion in this post. If you need more information, just ask.