In the new world of the Web, content is king, and the road to the crown lies in making sure you’ve got a great business blog.
Business blogging has taken off in the last several years, with 65% of respondents in a recent Hubspot survey stating they have a business blog, up from 61% in 2010 and 48% in 2009. In just two years, there has been a 17% jump in the number of business blogs on the Web, and while companies agree that other avenues of attracting customer interest such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are important, blogging remains by far the most versatile and most popular form of electronic communication for companies.
What’s interesting is that almost every year, a publication or news agency will do story about how “blogging is dead” and that it has been replaced by a combination of SMS alerts and social media. A New York Times article in March 2011 claimed that “with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they (blogs) are losing their allure for many people.” But while personal blogs may not be the vehicle of choice for Web users any longer, businesses can still receive significant benefits from getting onto a reliable blog hosting platform – considering that 57% of respondents in that same Hubpages survey stated that they acquired new customers from their blog in 2011.
For many businesses, the question isn’t “why” they should have a blog, but how best to go about it and what to post. According to Universal McCann, 77% of Internet users read blogs, but they can be very particular about what they like to see on Web pages.
The first rule of blogging is to blog about what you know. For a business, this means demonstrating that they are an expert in their field and that they have both the knowledge and qualifications to deliver the services promised. A blog can also be used to engage customers, so long as it is done in a way that is accessible and doesn’t take on too much of a “sales” tone – the key is reliable, pertinent information.
The second rule of business blogging is to blog about relevant topics, and to do so in a way that is both in-depth and that has value. This has a number of benefits, the first of which is customer attention and retention. If current and potential customers can find what they are looking for on your blog quickly and easily, they will come back often and bring friends.
Deep and valuable articles also grant the benefits of referral traffic from other sites, and indexing by large search engines like Google. Referral traffic comes from other Web sites that have linked to your content, either because of a link you have paid for, or because they like your content. Great content can mean free advertising in the form of free traffic, which can often lead to sales.
High-level content can also avoid issues with the so-called “panda/farmer” update performed by Google in April of 2011. This update is meant to search out high-quality, non-repetitive content and index it high on search lists, while simultaneously lowering the ranking of those sites that duplicate or spam content. For a business blog, search engine optimization (SEO) using keywords targeted to your niche is important, but overuse will not provide instant benefits – and can lessen your ranking overall if “keyword stuffing” is used.
Business blogging doesn’t need to take any particular form in order to be successful. Information about products and services can be useful for visitors, as can Q&A type articles or news-related articles about things that are happening in your industry. No matter what you blog about, however, make sure that your writing is polished and that your tone is consistent – your blog needs to feel organic, not canned.
It’s also important to choose your blog hosting platform wisely. There are a number of free options currently on the market, including the ever popular WordPress, as well as other blogging platforms like MovableType, and others. WordPress hosting is fairly streamlined and user-friendly with a large and helpful user community to back it up, and offers easily customizable sites that your business can quickly update with new articles and design to meet your specifications.
With something like a WordPress hosting blog up and running, along with high-quality articles and regular content updates, a business can start to reap the benefits of blogging, and ensure that they have a viable, effective, and long-term Web presence.