First the facts:
1) A blog integrated into your business website can help your search engine rankings:
a) Search engines like regularly updated content. Many business sites are informative but not updated very often so are hard to keep at the top of the rankings. Blogs can and should be updated on a regular basis with fresh content.
b) Bloggers typically link to each other in their ‘blogrolls’ so once you start to exchange links with others, you will gain new traffic as your site is exposed to a new audience. Additionally the more relevant inbound links you have (ie other sites linking to you) the more the search engines will like you.
c) The variety of content you post on your blog will naturally expand the number of keywords and phrases that will lead people to your site. On a purely informative business site, you don’t always have the opportunity to target keywords outside your direct focus but a blog gives you more range.
Now the fuzzy stuff:
2) A blog can give your business a more personal voice and give a potential customer a taste of what your company is all about
a) A blog is a great way to add to and enhance your brand. It allows you to craft a more personal voice for your company, which is engaging to the reader. If a reader likes what you have to say and reads you on a regular basis they start to trust you. You can’t build that type of dynamic relationship with a static site.
b) A blog allows you to share success stories from your customers, engage with them, and get feedback through comments. Once you’ve built a decent readership a blog can be a great way to do free consumer research – test out product ideas and poll your audience.
c) You can use your blog to increase your credibility and authority in your field. By sharing your knowledge and insight through your blog you can become an established voice. You may also be able to pitch yourself as a guest blogger on other popular sites and blogs, further increasing your profile and credibility.
3) A blog allows you the opportunity to network with other people and bloggers in your field or related areas in a new way. Being part of the blogging community allows you a way to network with others in a friendly fashion, without having to push a hard sell. It’s easier to make friends with people when you have something to offer (a link exchange, good content), rather than something to sell. Bloggers often ally with each other to help cross-promote each others products.
Enough about what the blog can do – here’s what YOU have to do
1) Be willing to share and contribute free information, insight or value of some kind through your blog without expecting an immediate payoff. Blogging is not a short term strategy to win new business. You will have to give, without really knowing exactly when you’ll receive. For some people, this is an unsettling idea, but it helps if you are passionate about what you want to share through your blog so that the process of blogging becomes enjoyable in itself. Trust me, you will become addicted…
2) Be in it for the long haul.
A blog is not a quick-fix strategy. Although there is definitely a snowball effect once you really get rolling, you have to put in the time to write and promote your blog. It doesn’t happen by itself.
3) Be the master craftsperson of your public persona.
This is an area that should be carefully thought out as far as how you actually want to present yourself and your business. Yes, you want to give a personal tone to the company but that doesn’t necessarily mean posting pictures of your cat doing cute things is appropriate. Depending on the tone of your blog you are trying to portray, it may or may not be the thing to do. ‘Business personal’ (what I call the blogging version of ‘business-casual’) might mean sharing your opinion on news and issues within the industry, or giving insight into an industry conference you went to. It really depends on the type of business you are in and the public face you want to project. Remember that personality does play a part in a customer’s decision to purchase, so be conscious of how your ‘blog personality’ comes across.
I’ve come across some clients who although they ran a small business, were so successful that their customers started to think they were a big corporation. The owners decided a blog would be a good way to showcase their personalities and let people know they are still the same indie-minded gals their customers had known when their business first started.
On the other hand, some small businesses use their web presence to ‘level the playing field.’ A nicely done website coupled with incisive business commentary can give you the appearance of being ‘bigger’ than your company might actually be.
So this is an area for you to put thought into and really craft how you want to present yourself to customers and potential customers.