For those running small businesses, or for in-house marketers working across the entire marketing mix, time is a commodity in short supply. Add to this, a common lack of confidence in command over the written word, and a lack of understanding of blogs and their benefits, and it’s easy to see why many businesses neglect to harness their power.
While blog writing is often tackled by Copywriters, it’s the opinion of this writer that in order to get more businesses involved, copywriting and blogging should be considered separately. Bringing us to our first point, and one of the many benefits of blogs.
You Don’t Have to Be Sartre
(Insert name of your preferred authors here)
Your blog is where the voice of your brand lives!
While brand voice should of course be considered carefully across all copy published by your business, your blog is where it can be amplified, and where it can exist its rawer form.
We’re not aiming for genius prose here.
This doesn’t mean you should necessarily take to your blog writing as though you’re chatting to Dave ‘down the pub’. It means your blog is where you can pull back the curtain a little, lending a genuine, authentic personality to your brand and business. For small business owners, who better to do this than you?
This is one of the many benefits of blogs! It doesn’t take a novelist to engage your readers (existing and prospective customers/clients), with interesting pieces about things happening within your business and industry, helpful pieces related to your products/services and the problem your business solves etc.
So, put your concerns on ice, get tapping on that keyboard, and let the voice of your business flow from your fingers.
“But I haven’t the time to be writing lengthy pieces, and you really do overestimate my wordsmithery”, I hear you say. Read on!
Rules? What Rules? – Approaching Style and Form
Okay, full disclosure, there are some rules, especially if you want to optimise your blog (more on this later), but when it comes to getting started, just start.
Don’t want to write lengthy paragraphs? Then don’t.
Want to write in short snappy single line sentences? Go for it!
These choices will begin to develop your style, and content with an engaging style and voice is far more likely to engage your audience.
However you want to approach it, weave your passion for the business and the work you do through your interesting, insightful, or helpful blog content, providing a clear call to action, and you’ll begin to generate engagement, leads and drive conversions.
Which brings me onto my next point.
From “Copy” to Conversions
All copy published by your business should have a goal.
Website content, if written effectively, is crafted to not only inform but to drive conversions.
Email newsletter copy and format must be carefully considered to lead the recipient towards the desired goal or conversion point, whether that be clicking a button that takes the user to a page of your website, or watching a video etc.
The same is true of well-crafted social posts, and of course blogs.
It’s not enough to just come up with a nifty blog idea and an ‘angle’ that you think will generate engagement from your audience, each piece must have two goals.
- What do you want the piece to achieve for the business?
- What action is the piece intended to drive the user towards? This is usually the conversion point.
For example, for businesses selling products online, a blog about your latest product would likely have a goal of driving conversions (driving users towards that product and clicking the buy button).
In this scenario, you’d need to ‘write to sell’, with copy that intrigues, inspires, and informs, giving the reader all they need to know to follow through to your product page to read more, before converting.
But how are you going to lead the reader to your product page? With a clear call to action!
End each blog with a clear action that you want the reader to take.
In this example, that might be, “Discover the sensational smoothness of our new silk balm face cream today.” Linking “Silk balm face cream” to the page where the product can be purchased/the conversion point. (Can you tell I’ve neither purchased nor marketed face cream?)
To increase conversion opportunities, you could also add this link a second time, in the same way, within the blog copy.
Let’s use another example. For a business providing services, a blog about happenings within your industry would likely be intended to position you as a knowledge leader in your industry.
In this scenario, you’d need to write with a little authority, weaving your knowledge and expertise through the piece to inform, influence, and engage, solidifying your business’s credibility in the field.
What would be the call to action in this example? What is the conversion point? While it’s less clear, there are a number of options.
- Perhaps you’d lead readers to a page where they can sign up for a consultation to see how your services might help them.
- Maybe you’d direct readers towards a related case study to encourage lead generation.
So much more than “just content”, if you think strategically and bring the piece to life, blogs can be silent salespeople and excellent profile building tools.
Add cash register DINGS to the many benefits of blogs!
From Copy to Communities
It doesn’t stop there. Producing blogs in a consistent way will help to not only raise your profile and increase lead generation, but help to build a community around your business too.
These communities change enormously from business to business, dependent on the size and nature of your organisation.
If you’re selling products, communities can grow to include brand-loyal consumers and influencers not only sharing your content, but creating their own, featuring your brand and products.
If you’re providing services, online communities may look more like a large growing network of existing and prospective, clients, suppliers, partners, and industry professionals, engaging with your content and sharing it into their networks.
No matter what these communities look like, they are of enormous benefit to the businesses that take the time to develop them, and blogs written to convert, with an engaging style and voice, could play a central part in the development of your own.
Blog Content = Credibility
Okay, another disclaimer! While there’s a lot of truth in that rather clickbaity subheading, your business’s credibility clearly doesn’t hang on your blog content.
But the two are certainly connected.
Landing on a business’s website, hitting the blog, and seeing a single post written 2 years ago, doesn’t fill a user with confidence.
For businesses guilty of neglecting their blog section in this way, you not only risk presenting a poor image of your business, but one that is likely far removed from the busy and exciting organisation you are.
Guilty of having a tumbleweed blog section? To a user, a busy business is a credible business they can trust. So look busy!
To ensure you’re establishing your credibility effectively, blogging about industry happenings can be a great tool, and help to expose how knowledgeable your business is.
Build Credibility with Guest Blogging
Guest blogging can also be a brilliant way to further position yourselves in this way.
By reaching out to other knowledge leaders or notable figures in your industry, asking them to write a guest blog on a topic within their specialism and relevant to your business and its audience, you can provide hugely valuable content, and ramp up your credibility. Content you don’t need to write – Bonus!
But the many benefits of blogs don’t stop there!
Optimise, Optimise, Optimise
If optimised effectively, using a key term that your prospective customers/clients might use in search, your blogs could rank in the search engine results pages. That’s right, they can generate organic traffic too!
Optimising your blogs for these likely search terms, or questions people may have related to the problem your business solves, the kind of services or products you offer, the industry you’re in etc, can be a fantastic lead generator and another great way to get those blogs ranking.
We advise that optimisation is considered, along with the topic and goals of the piece, before you begin writing, so the key term can be weaved through the copy naturally. However, pieces can be optimised after the fact.
Blogs exceeding 300 words can be optimised effectively, but we suggest aiming for 500+ to give yourself the best chance of producing content that Google deems valuable, and therefore achieves greater results.
This isn’t the place to delve into the nitty gritty details of the entire optimisation process, but for those with WordPress websites, we can provide a very basic outline to get you on your way.
Start by downloading the Yoast plugin from WordPress, which will help guide you.
Key Term – Think about searchable terms likely to be searched by your prospective customers/clients to find a business or products and services like yours. Even common questions related to your field. Invest the time to do a little research yourself, testing different search terms via Google.
This search term will need to be weaved through your copy regularly, in a natural way. Optimising your blog involves a number of other page features, which we’ll explore below, but at the heart of the process is your copy, and how well it’s optimised for your chosen key term.
Avoid key word stuffing, as pages guilty of this are penalised in the rankings.
In WordPress, select “New Post” and copy and paste your blog content into the page, ensuring the Yoast plugin is activated.
Add the key term to the Focus Keyphrase element, include it in the SEO Title, and weave it through a description of the blog in the Meta Description box. Incorporating Key Terms into headings and subheadings is also a great optimisation trick.
Images – In order to effectively optimise a blog, you’ll need to source images to insert, and optimise them via their Alt Tags. Simply insert your chosen key term into the Alt Tag element and format your images to taste. Don’t forget to add and optimise a Featured Image.
Links – Your blog must include both internal and outbound links to be optimised effectively. That means a link to a page on your website, and a link to an external site, perhaps the website of an industry governing body, or a related organisation you’re not in direct competition with.
URL – It’s also key to ensure that your URL features the chosen key term. Add this to the Slug element.
Let Yoast be your guide as it marks your efforts, providing pointers on how to improve your blog’s optimisation, to make your efforts pay in the form of glorious organic traffic!
See! You’d be mad not to harness the many benefits of blogs, and we’re sure you’ll discover many more for yourself as you begin your blogging journey.