For small business owners, it’s often difficult to get started blogging. Scary, even. What will you say? What will people think? And, how do you know if you’re doing it correctly? Worse yet, what if your efforts actually hurt the business, rather than help it? This is cyberspace, after all – everything is indexed and saved somewhere, right? Valid questions, each and every one.
In this article, we won’t get too far into discussing the business value of a well-executed blog strategy. The many benefits and types of value delivered from a properly organized and professionally curated blog have been proven and reported on for years by trusted experts. For example, check out these crazy stats on the value of business blogging. Additionally, B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month on average than organizations that choose not to blog. Still not convinced? Forget about those stats for a minute and think about sharpening your sword.
Instead, we’re going to assume you’re ready to rock, and jump right into helping you author your first, original, authentic, enticing business blog with confidence, focus, and yes – even a little swag.
We constantly revisit the importance of ‘Starting With Why’ in everything we do here (kudos and a big tip of the cap to Simon Sinek and his work which has had a major influence on our own), and approaching a business blog should be no exception. To begin to calibrate the focus of your business blog, it’s simple – start with why. Ask yourself these questions to get started establishing goals:
- Why am I in business, or why does my business exist?
- Why are we different, and where is the value to our customers in our differentiation?
- Tip: think bigger than merely describing what your business does. Challenge yourself to think about why you exist in a market full of competitors.
Example: MJGuilfoyle exists to help small businesses thrive online. We intend to provide levels of quality, service, value and professionalism normally reserved for enterprise-level customers (and budgets) to startups as well as small and mid-sized businesses that are ready to switch gears and truly compete online.
Because of this simple exercise of starting with why, I now understand ways in which my blog should be aligned with the purpose of the business, existing to help those same target audience members thrive online. The blog needs to provide valuable information related to Internet strategies that will help the clients I serve. It needs to function as the voice of MJGuilfoyle when a human being isn’t involved, and it must perform well in this capacity.
Goals. Gotta have ’em. We’ve heard it since we were little kiddlings from our parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors. You need goals to succeed, young man (or woman), and your business blog is no different. To create goals for your business blog you might ask yourself these key questions:
- What are a few pieces of value you’d like to offer readers of your blog?
- What would you like to get out of your blogging efforts?
- Tip: think on both business and personal levels. It’s okay, you deserve a cookie, too!
Examples of business blog goals:
In order for any blog to become a success and provide value to a business, it needs to be read. It needs to be packed with killer content; content the audience enjoys so much they subscribe to be alerted of each new edition, content that is so interesting they are compelled to comment, engaging in a two-way conversation with you (and your brand). If you know a few details about your target audience, your ability to create cherished content, and the probability of gaining an interested community of active subscribers increases dramatically. To begin to better understand the audience for your business blog and post content they will truly care about, ask yourself these questions:
- Who is your customer\audience, really?
- Can you describe your customer\audience using various personae and demographics?
- What sources, and what type of content do you anticipate your customer\audience currently consumes?
- Tip: make a list of these sources as they will become trusted influencers you can lean on for future blog inspiration, referencing\linking within your articles, etc.
Even though this item appears as step 4 on our list, establishing (and committing to) a realistic posting frequency for your business blog is of primary importance. Why? Ever have an anticipated snail mail letter, or parcel, fail to be delivered on the expected day? Man, what a jip, right?! Now imagine that happening again and again, playing-out sporadically each week in the coming months. Eventually, you’ll stop checking your mailbox and your feelings toward that sender (or carrier) are most likely tarnished forever.
The timeline you use to publish your blog articles will set expectations with your readers, and you’d better believe they like their routine – especially after you pack your blog articles full of amazing content you know they’ll love. Here are a few tips and guidelines for new business bloggers:
- Monthly blog frequency is a good entry point for solo bloggers and small teams without full-time content creators.
- Those lucky enough to have more resources available for blogging should consider twice monthly, or even weekly blog articles.
- Share the love – identify blog writers
- Many organizations are finding ways to allow employees to contribute to blogging efforts. Consider how a ‘divide and conquer’ blog authoring strategy may help your specific blog posting goals, as well as improve the culture of your organization.
- Don’t over-commit
- Tip: good blog articles take time to create, and bad blog articles shouldn’t be published as they can damage the reputation of your brand
Your business exists to be different than the competition, and the voice of your blog should not be afraid to represent this. Be original and authentic, while always remaining professional in your approach. Within the boundaries of good taste, don’t be afraid at times to experiment with grammatically imperfect passages to emphasis statements, creative pauses, and even humor that connects with your audience. Don’t shy away from blogging in the native tongue of your brand, sharing internal terms and mantras that help your business and teams succeed. If you are proud of your brand, your people, and your processes, show them off to your blog audience.
If executed properly, while your grade school English teach may freak out with that darn red pen, these endearing techniques leave a lasting impression on your audience, searing your ‘voice’and company culture more effectively within the minds’ of the readers of your blog, tempting more engagement activities as well. So, remember – you be you, always, within the boundaries of good taste, remembering your are creating a professional business blog, and you are representing your brand.
While all business blogs are unique, each can benefit by adhering to the simple strategy for blog success that has been described above. MJGuilfoyle specializes in WordPress website development and online presence management services for small businesses. We create comprehensive digital strategies, each uniquely crafted to support the business models and budgets of our clients. Contact a member of our team to begin creating your Internet Technology Plan today.
When most business owners think about using the Internet to help their bottom line, they generally focus on search engine optimization – being discovered through major online search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Since the advent of Google in 1998, and continuing well into the modern days of the maturing Internet we enjoy today, developers have been able to use various tactics such as back-end programming techniques to ‘trick’ major search engines into ranking their website higher than a competitor’s. For years, even continuing today, developers and agencies have made a fortune selling traditional ‘SEO Optimization’ offerings to customers, but the effectiveness of their solutions have experienced sharp decline.
Why the decline? Great question.
The world of online search has long been dominated by Google, and the industry pioneer reported having 67.5% global market share in April, 2014. This means that when Google makes a change to the way their search engine algorithm functions, everyone should pay attention.
Since the release of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm in August of 2013, and continuing with the Panda and Pigeon updates of 2014, modern online search mechanics have changed significantly in ways that require action if businesses hope to establish, retain, or improve the Google PageRank of their company website. As Google continually reshapes the online search landscape, they are innovating in ways that are intended to support a better overall Internet by benefiting those who regularly manage, maintain, and post new content to properly engineered websites. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think this is great news since I prefer the best websites and most accurate items are featured highest within results when I research using the web.
To have success in today’s ultra-competitive world of online search, you must start by having a strategically engineered website designed with modern search mechanics in mind. Pair this with a simple content creation strategy to grow the site over time, and leverage blogging, as well as online social media channels, to help stake your claim in cyberspace.
MJGuilfoyle LLC is a Portland, Oregon-based strategic web agency specializing in WordPress website development and online presence management services for small businesses. If you are someone managing a dated website, or if you currently pay someone to perform traditional SEO services, please contact an MJGuilfoyle Technology Strategist today to review the online health of your brand.