You may have heard of blogs, you may even read one or more on a regular basis.
If you’re a business owner, you may have been advised to have one, or even approached by someone offering to run it for you.
But – what is a blog? And why should you have one?
What is a blog?
In the simplest terms, a blog is a writing space on the internet. It is either a dedicated website, or a dedicated page within a website, in which either an individual or group of individuals write.
The “pre-digital” counterpart could be either the personal journal or the opinion piece in a newspaper or magazine. But blogs are a step above both of these, because no-one could read your personal journal, and an opinion piece is only shared with print subscribers. A blog is on the internet, which means literally anyone can read it for free.
Blogs tend to be conversational in nature, and less formal than official print material or content. They can either be about a specific topic or a range of interests. They can be run by one person or contributed to by a number of writers.
Businesses are starting to catch on to the effectiveness of blogs as a business tool. In addition to marketing your latest products or services, blogs can be used to give customers an “inside look” at how the business works and the individuals that run it. This creates a deeper sense of connection between the business and its clients, which in turn increases customer loyalty and net promoter base. Additionally, a business can use its blog to share information and knowledge with the wider market, presenting themselves as a knowledge base in their field of expertise and increasing their credibility. In essence, a blog can create a community around your brand that people will want to belong to.
So now we know what a blog is, the next question is…
Why should I have one?
For private individuals, having a blog is entirely discretionary. You may want to share your thoughts and feelings with the world, you may not. Some individuals have started blogs to practice their writing skills, others have started personal interest blogs that have turned into booming businesses of their own.
But for business owners in the digital age, having a blog is absolutely essential. And there are several very pragmatic reasons why:
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
As a business owner, your website is a vital marketing and advertising tool. This is how you present your product or service to the world. It necessarily follows that the more people visit your website, the greater the chance you will make a sale.
Search engines rank their results based on the number of inbound links a website has. This means that the more inbound links to your site, the higher it will appear in the search results. Websites that blog generally have almost twice the number of inbound links over websites that do not blog. This means you are almost doubling your chances of appearing on the first page (the page most searchers stop at) and reaching the coveted number one position.
Search engines also index web pages, meaning they keep a database of pages with key words that individuals may find relevant, and provide these pages in their search results. Websites that blog have almost five times the number of indexed pages, again meaning that the casual searcher is five times more likely to find your content.
In short, if you want to increase the chance that your website is the number one result when someone searches for your product or serivce, you need to blog.
2. Brand Awareness
Brand awareness, brand loyalty, brand identity – when people think of your product or service, you want them to think of your brand name. There are some products we use that we only know by brand name – think Windex, Glad Wrap, Vegemite, Pyrex and Blu Tack. Your ultimate goal is to bring your product or service into this realm.
When customers read your blog, they are more likely to feel positive towards your brand. They feel a connection with your brand that they don’t feel with others, because in a way a blog is a space for your brand to speak for itself. By allowing your customers to comment on your blog, you are allowing them to converse with your brand, and by responding to the comments, you are giving your brand an identity, a personality, and an attitude, all of which you control.
By sharing information on your blog, you are presenting your business as a knowledge base in the industry, and this increases your brand credibility and brand trust. Customers enjoy reading your blog, and learn more about your business from your blog than from your advertising. Additionally, you can tailor-make the content to suit the exact message you wish to convey to your customer base.
In short, if you want to grow and strengthen your brand awareness, you need to blog.
A great reason to have your blog integrated with your website is that blogging increases sales. When deciding which product to buy, most consumers will research the product on the internet first. A recent survey found that 61% of U.S. consumers made a purchase based on a blog post. If you have an engaging, informative and professional blog post about your product, your new customers are one click away from your store page. Additionally, another survey found that a brand’s blog was the second most influential factor in deciding to make a purchase (the first being your website).
In short, if you want to expand your sales, you need to blog.
4. Cost Effectiveness
Search Engine Optimization, Brand Awareness, Sales – you need money to make money. You can spend your money on advertising, you can pay someone to set up an amazing website, and you can employ gun sales people and business development managers, all of which are essential business tools. Why should you throw blogging into the mix?
Blogging is incredibly cost-effective. If you run it yourself, all it costs is your time. However, if you are running a successful business, you are critically time-poor. You don’t have time to set it up, write content, engage with readers and research your material. Professional bloggers charge a fraction of what advertisers and web marketers do, yet the benefits of blogging, as we’ve discussed above, can far outweigh the cost of paying someone to run it.
If you take anything away from this blog post, take this – blogging is crucial to the success of your business. Start a blog, start one today, and start reaping the benefits now and into the future. You won’t regret it!