You heard a rumor that you should start a blog to score higher in Google’s ranking system, so when customers search for your business category you pop up in the first-page results.
Yep, it’s true.
Other than paying exorbitantly high prices for ads, creating a lot of searchable content is key to getting your business or hobby website noticed locally and worldwide.
However, money isn’t the only pay-off and return on investment (ROI) you need to think about when deciding whether or not to start a blog.
Authority matters as well!
Brand yourself as an expert in your field
When you publish frequent blog posts, your content marks you and your company as an expert in any given subject.
So when people want to know something about a subject, like dog grooming or how to create awesome colored pencil artwork, who do you think customers are going to contact in their local community? A. a company they know nothing about other than the White Page and Yelp rating, or B. an actual person who took the time to educate and entertain potential clients about a topic that matters to them?
I would argue the answer is “B.” Consumers are going to click on the most relevant blog post first, scan through it for free content that benefits them, and then click on the contact or call option at the bottom.
Boom! You, owner of XYZ, just put your foot in the door with a potential client who hopefully will share your blog post on social media to their hundreds of family and friends online.
Organic verses paid content
Here is another reason. Small businesses are already at a disadvantage when it comes to their marketing budget, which for many is little to zilch.
Ads are considered paid content, and they are expensive. The average cost per one person clicking on your ad is $1 to $2 out of your profit margin, according to Wordstream.
However, you can create organic content on a subject you are already passionate about for free. The only expense is your time.
What is organic content? It generally refers to information that individuals search for like a fajita recipe or an article on the best laptops under $1000 versus ads and sponsored articles fed to consumers via a newspaper, website or other traditional media.
According to creator and owner of BlogMutt Scott Yates, more than 80 percent of the clicks for a Google inquiry land on the organic side.
Engagement, sharing and a sense of community
Saving money on ads isn’t the biggest reason you should blog though.
Blogging creates a genuine sense of community. Whether you are a carpenter, writer, therapist, baker, dog walker or a jewelry shop owner, people will naturally gravitate to other people who like the same things they do. These newly-formed contacts will become your tribe or social network, and they will not only buy products and services from you they might become your allies and friends.
Since I started blogging in 2012, I have connected with people all over the world.
Bloggers and artists from India, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, England and more have found my little blog through targeted Google searches on topics that matter to them. You could never reach this same audience through traditional media or attract them through local ad placements.
To learn more about Tribe engagement, listen to Seth Godin’s Ted Talk.
Now that I have thoroughly pontificated about why blogging is important to doing business in today’s worldwide marketplace, here are some key strategies and tips to create blog posts people want to read!
Consistency matters – blog at least once a week
I am guilty of breaking this rule myself, but I do try. So should you!
The bottom line is any company or individual who wants to establish themselves as a local, national or international expert in any given area really needs to blog at the minimum once a week.
So if you are a company that hasn’t updated their website for years, who do you think is going to rank higher and appear more attractive to potential customers?
The answer is your competitors who understand the importance of blogging and write about the products or services your potential consumers want to buy.
Your customers are your business partners in a sense, so you need to engage them at every opportunity you can to sustain a thriving relationship. Blogging does that and it reminds customers you have an online presence beyond your brick-and-mortar storefront.
As you might guess, the more in demand you are as an expert in your field the more you need to create and publish content. So someone who attracts an international following might want to blog or vlog (video blogging) two to five times a week versus once.
Really it matters how hungry your audience is for your content, and how much time you can devote to blogging.
You need to FEED your customers WHAT they want to eat
In fancy marketing terms, this is called identifying your target audience.
If you run a pet store in the middle of nowhere Kansas that only specializes in fish and aquariums, then it doesn’t make sense for you to blog about the best food to feed thoroughbred horses in Saudi Arabia.
You need to stick to blogging about subjects that matter to your consumers’ unique niche and interests.
You need to FEED your customers WHERE they want to eat! Social media is a must!
Let’s face it tons of people aren’t going to remember to check your little olde website for new blog posts, and that probably includes your mom and significant other.
However, people do spend a large chunk of their time perusing social media nowadays. They read news aggregated from various sources on their Twitter and Facebook feeds. I am one of those people. You probably are too.
According to Journalism.org, 63 percent of people read news on those two social media platforms versus all other traditional media. That was about a sixteen point jump from 2013, and I am sure the current 2016 stats are much higher.
If you don’t post your blog’s weblinks to your social media sites, I dare say don’t even bother blogging at all. No one is going to read it, and it is not a wise use of your time and effort.
You need to FEED your customers WHEN they are hungry
It might be convenient for you to write a blog post at 3 a.m., but your readers and future customers are asleep.
I know it is tempting but don’t publish your blog posts as soon as you write them. You need to employ a specific strategy for posting your content on social media.
Coshedule.com created this nifty social media publishing guide that tells you which days of the week and what hours are most advantageous to post on several of the largest social media sites.
For instance, the best time to post on Facebook is on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. On the other hand, Twitter followers check in around 12 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Really if you think about it, following these set time guidelines makes sense.
Are you more inclined to read a blog post on Monday after you get home wasted from a hard day of work, or on humpdays, Thursdays and Fridays?
What happens if you post on Monday or Tuesday? Nothing really. There aren’t any hard and set rules to blogging just guidelines that are proven to work.
However, here is what is going to happen. As other friends and family members, and competing experts that individuals follow post their information, your single blog post will probably never see the light of day at the bottom of these long news feeds no one sees.
Note: Having said all that don’t stress too much over posting times and dates when you first start out blogging. You need to focus more on consistency and then fine-tune your processes. Just stick to publishing your blog post later in the week and you will make out fine until you gain a larger following.
Key word searches and SEO
Since you are taking all this time to write weekly blogs, you need to make sure people can find you through key word searches and search engine optimization (SEO).
According to blogging specialist Brian Dean at BackLinko, Google uses over 200 signals to rank you and your competitor’s sites.
Before you go into brain melt mode like I did when I read his detailed-report, here are 10 factors you need to focus on: 1. Place relevant key words in the beginning of your title tag, 2. Content length, page loading speed, keyword prominence and positioning, page authority/page rank, domain authority, link relevancy, dwell time, responsive design and thin or duplicate content.
Click on his link to learn more about all 200 factors. I double-dog dare you!
Go long to achieve a higher page-ranking
As a professionally-trained journalist for years I have heard, keep it short. Very few published news articles are over 1,000 words and many news sites are posting around 300 to 500 words per article.
However, I will tell you Google doesn’t operate that way. You will actually get ranked higher on page searches for in-depth blog posts around 900 to 2,000 words, according to Orbit Media Studios.
Sometimes new bloggers think the blogsphere is the wild wild west and anything goes.
To a certain extent yes you can write whatever comes to your mind, but there are still tried and true practices that attract and keep readers. So let’s talk about creating an actual blog post.
Keep it conversational but not overly personal
Blogs are not scholarly articles, so don’t aim to impress your English teacher and write a book report.
In general, you want to communicate the way you normally would when telling news to a friend or colleague, but make sure your grammar and spelling are on point.
You want to write a blog post in a conversational tone, but you don’t want to be that creepy uncle who recounts his entire life story to anyone who looks his way for half-a-second.
For instance, if you are a new online bank startup, you don’t want to flood your blog posts with cringe-worthy personal information about your honeymoon to Tahiti. Stick to information that informs you readers about new banking and investment opportunities.
However, there are exceptions to the rule.
I am a colored pencil artist, and I maintain a colored pencil blog called The Colored Pencil Enthusiast where I inform my CP tribe about other artists, new products and techniques.
I occasionally share information about myself and my personal life because I am selling myself as the expert and I am also selling my “personality.” I’m not selling products. Therefore, my blog is more informal and personal than a blog for someone who sells walkie talkies or raincoats.
It really goes back to understanding your target audience and what they like to read about.
Create sub-heads for more readable text
An easy way to make your blog more searchable is to create sub-heads or bullet headlines inside your blog post like I did in this article.
Sub-heads serve two purposes. One, sub-heads breaks up large amounts of text that make the reader’s eyes bleed red scanning down a page, and two, it makes it easier for the consumer to find exactly what they want by scanning through your text.
So you are saving readers time by formatting your post to their needs.
Awesome graphic by Mike Litcht, Flickr commons
A picture is worth a thousand words
People connect to pictures more deeply than they do to sterile text on a screen. So it is smart to include graphics and pictures that draw readers in and break up large chunks of text. Blog posts without pictures tend to get overlooked.
Picture placement and finding common use photos is a subject onto itself, and I could fill an entire 2,000-word blog post with details about it. For now you can check out this short, informative video on how to find and insert images into your blog posts.
If you want to create your own personalized graphics and banners for your blog posts, a great free graphic manipulation site is PicMonkey. I use it all the time. You can also pay $4.99 a month to access some serious design capabilities, which is it worth to me versus paying $1,000 plus for Adobe PhotoShop software.
Play tag with your readers
Make sure to use blog post tags in WordPress and other blog hosting platforms. These tags are kind of like categories in a library and help readers and Googlebot crawlers find and interpret your blogs content more efficiently, which indirectly helps your site rank higher in Google, according to SEJ.
Ask for feedback
Blogging isn’t about one-way communication. You really need to think in terms of engaging your tribe. A great way to do that is to ask questions at the end of your post like “Have you ever encountered XX problem and how did you solve it?”
Ask your readers to comment on your blogs and tell you what they would like to read from you in the future.
Comment, comment, comment
If you want to be known as an expert, one easy way is to get noticed is to make comments on other tribe member’s blogs and social media.
In turn, some of them will check you out and potentially read your blog posts.
So comment away by leaving relevant, thoughtful information and encouragement on other bloggers sites. You should like and share other people’s blog posts frequently. They might return the favor and share your blog posts – widening your reach and influence.
Subscribe to other bloggers
Once you found your tribe, you want to locate other industry experts and follow them on social media, websites/blogs, YouTube, as well as subscribe to traditional trade magazines.
Millionaire Digest is a great free blogsite to learn more about blogging and writing tips.
Don’t stress and try to have fun
I know this is a ton of information, and writing is a scary proposition for many people.
My advice is start out slow! Write a 300-word blog post on a single topic you are an expert on. Then write a 500-word blog post where you include information from other industry experts. Then keep on rolling and never look back.
Write about solutions to your tribe’s problems. Write about what inspires you. Just start writing.
Before you know it you might just enjoy blogging for the sake of engagement with your tribe versus trying to solicit more customers or sales.
Blogging still sounds like too much trouble?
If you feel like you are going to turn into a skeleton thinking of something to blog about weekly, maybe you should think about hiring a professional.
You hire an accountant and other specialists, right? Why not hire a professional writer?
I provide personalized, boutique blogging services. I specialize in health, art and Christian inspiration; however, I am open to inquiries on other subjects.
But, I am not a scientist or a cardiologist. If you need someone to blog for you that is current in a very specialized niche industry, you might want to check out crowd-blogging at these sites: BlogMutt, Constant Content, Text Broker and Upwork.
No one will know you hired a professional blogger, and you can provide detailed directions to tailor each post to your specifications.
If you have any tips you would like to share about blogging, please leave them in the comment section below so we can all learn from them. If you would like me to blog more about blogging in the future, leave some topic suggestions as well.
Happy writing, Melissa
Melissa LeGates is a professional writer and retired Air Force journalist. She specializes in long-form features and loves to write about living a victorious Christian life, art and health.
She and her husband live in Delaware.
In her free time, she is a student of colored pencil, watercolor, acrylics and oils.
She is also an avid blogger and currently maintains three blogs:
– PTSD/my first book “Set My Captives Free” launch at https://setmycaptivesfree.wordpress.com
– Her writing career: https://melissalegates.wordpress.com
– The world of colored pencil art and artists: https://coloredpencilenthusiast.wordpress.com.
You can contact Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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