The Basics of Business Blogging
Writing a blog is a very good way of attracting attention to your website and your business. It provides many side benefits as well, so it’s to your benefit, as a business owner, to take advantage of blogging on your site. Let’s discuss the basics of blogging to give you a good running start.
What is a blog?
The formal definition, from Wikipedia: “A blog (a truncation of the expression “weblog“) is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (“posts”).”
The informal definition: you’re reading one. My definition is that a blog is is a collection of essays about subjects relevant to a specific topic (whether personal or commercial). So for example, a blog may be a collection of links to other websites, or about tv shows, or about a hobby or another interest. And I’ve learned TONS from business sites that feature blog posts about their products, especially those that help me fix things.
How can a blog help my business?
I’ve asked this many times and only recently came to a good understanding of how blogs help businesses. There are quite a few reasons, so let’s go through them:
1. Blogs bring visitors to your site. Each time you write a new post, and share it via email or social media, you bring new visitors to your site. This is great because readers not only learn something, but they accept that you are an expert in your area. And if you’re lucky, they’ll then look around your site and check out your offerings. (This is a good example of what I mean!)
2. Blogs bring Google to your site. Most times when you update your site, the search engines crawl your site again. They take note of your updates, and change the records they keep on your site. If they see that you’ve written on dogs again, they note that. If they see that you’ve written on a fairly obscure aspect of dog ownership, or health, they note that as well. All of these changes help the search engines understand who you are and what your business does. This helps them properly position your business in search results.
3. A blog is a great place to highlight different topics, including areas of specialty. I’ve had clients ask how they can make it clear that they serve a specific town or a specific type of pet. A blog is a perfect place to do that! By writing about an area, and highlighting what you love about it, or what you know about it, you’re proving to the world that you not only know about it, but serve it. You also provide the search engines with more instances of a keyword you want to be known for (always a good thing!).
4. A blog is a great place to address subjects your clients ask about. Do you care for diabetic cats? Do you stay overnight with dogs? What are thundershirts and do they work? What’s your favorite dog game to play in a small area? These are all questions that your clients may have asked but that if written down can really help a wider audience and attract attention.
5. A blog is a great way to start a conversation. It lets clients know that you care. It lets them know that you are interested in what you do and are interested in interacting with them. And if you allow comments, you can keep that conversation going past their one visit.
What are the “best practices” for writing a blog post?
The best thing to do is START. Yup, just start, by writing a paragraph or three about a subject that’s important to you. From there, you should refine your efforts, starting with expanding the length and including images. Then begin to include keywords that you want to be known for (like a town name, or a pet type or breed, or even a specialty, like hiking with dogs). After a bit, you should work on posting consistently, then working with a tool like Yoast that will help you refine your efforts even further. These are the guidelines that most people find most helpful:
1. Post length should be at least 300 words. More is better though.
2. Always include images, always. At least one, but more is better.
3. Always include alt text with images.
4. Post consistently, at least once per month.
5. Use a tool like Yoast to help you refine your efforts. They help with technical issues you might not know about.
6. Use keywords in your title tags and meta descriptions.
To read more about blogging best practices, check out this Moz article. Our friends at Yoast also have a great writeup with more specific tips on writing successful posts, and I’m sure you can find some others that will inspire you to get started, or restart!
Blogging is almost a “can’t lose” proposition. By blogging consistently and about topics your visitors find valuable, you’ll gain interest from readers and the search engines, and of course new clients. Go for it!