Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Small Businesses
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Connecting to your customers on a deeper level
- Starting a small business blog
- Your customers “Google” for answers to their pain points
- Avoid pitfalls and maintain your small business blog
- Enhance and optimize your small business blog
- We’ve got the time and expertise to help you blog
- Strategizing and measuring blog success
Introduction: Understanding the power of blogging for small business
Blogging isn’t a fad; it’s a potent tool to establish both industry authority and a rapport with search engines. Consistently adding relevant, optimized content to your website is your passport to Google’s first page.
Blogs serve as lighthouses, guiding searchers through a digital landscape brimming with information, illuminating answers to their specific questions. Hence, your blog content should be more than a masked advertisement; it must be a beacon of relevant, educational and valuable material aimed at your prospective customers.
We know running a small business requires that you draw on a wide array of skills and knowledge. When it comes to marketing that business, and being found online by your ideal customers, a small business blog is a potent tool.
However, a small business blog is not without its challenges. Navigating the world of blogging can be overwhelming for the uninitiated but—fear not—we’re here to help! This ultimate guide to blogging for small businesses is here to guide you, providing in-depth and practical insights on how to start, maintain and enhance your blog, empowering you to engage with your audience in a meaningful and powerful way.
“Your blog posts should be educational, helpful to those who have a question and add some value to the topic at hand.”
~ Stephanie McLaughlin
Connecting to your customers on a deeper level
Consistently adding content on your website is the key to capturing Google’s attention and blogging is a great way to keep fresh, relevant content flowing. People who are looking for a company just like yours have questions that need to be answered and a blog is the perfect vehicle to answer those questions. Not only will you answer your prospect’s question, but you will also show Google that this is your area of expertise — a twofer special!
Blogging not only helps small businesses like yours gain visibility online but also establishes them as thought leaders in their prospective industries. By sharing valuable information, educational material, tips, tricks and insights, you can attract broader audiences and educate your prospective customers as they move through their purchase process. It’s also a platform that provides the opportunity to share brand stories and values, connecting businesses with their audience on a deeper level.
Keep reading to learn more about:
- Starting a small business blog: Learn how to kick-start your blog, selecting the right platform, designing user-friendly layouts, and developing a content strategy that aligns with your business objectives.
- Maintaining a small business blog: Understand the tactics of regular blog posting, idea generation, content curation and the importance of consistency in your blogging routine.
- Enhancing your small business blog: Dive deep into the world of SEO, social sharing, engaging with your readers through comments, and harnessing the power of guest blogging.
- Analyzing and adapting: Discover how to use data analytics to measure the effectiveness of your blog, adapt your strategies based on insights, and continually improve your blog’s performance.
Each of these aspects of blogging plays a critical role in making your blog successful. Implementing them strategically can dramatically increase the visibility of your small business, driving more traffic to your website, generating leads, and giving you the opportunity to convert those leads into new customers. So, let this guide serve as your trusted companion on your blogging journey, assisting you in leveraging the power of content to grow your small business.
Show up in a prospective customer’s research stage with blogs
Blogs excel at catering to the “awareness stage” where potential clients are researching their challenges and looking for solutions. They might not know (or care) about your brand yet, but they’re seeking answers. It’s your job to present these answers without overtly selling. Your primary aim? Position your company as a credible information source.
Frequency matters: A common query is, “How often should I blog?” While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, starting with a weekly post is beneficial. Consistency and frequency are key to making a mark with both Google and your human audience.
Crafting quality content: Google’s algorithms are becoming increasingly human-centric. This places a premium on well-crafted content that’s easy to read and understand, and answers a question clearly. Ensure each blog post has a coherent narrative that aids readers in their research. Incorporate elements like headings, sub-headings, and bulleted lists where appropriate to enhance readability.
Whether you’re launching your company or initiating a blog for an existing establishment, mastering the art of a small business blog is a game-changer. However, some small business owners encounter hurdles when kicking off or restarting their blogs after a period of inactivity. This guide aims to take you on a step-by-step journey to forge a successful small business blog.
Starting a small business blog
A small business blog is not about you; it’s a platform to provide valuable content that answers your audience’s burning questions and solves their common problems while also demonstrating to Google your areas of expertise.
Beginning a successful blog involves multiple steps, each crucial to your success. From identifying your audience’s needs, to crafting useful content and implementing a consistent blogging schedule, the elements of great blogging demand attention to detail.
Understanding your audience:
Before starting a small business blog, it’s critical to know who your audience is and what information they’re looking for. Dig deeply into their needs, wants and pain points to create a blog that delivers solutions. What are the several things people ask you before becoming your customer? Answer each one in a blog post. What educational information do they need to confidently become your customer or client? Provide that on your blog. Your content should align with your business and be something your target audience genuinely cares about.
Creating engaging content:
Great content is the backbone of any successful blog. It’s your job to create captivating, valuable content that keeps your readers coming back for more. For those people who don’t consider themselves “writers,” we suggest using a voice recorder and transcription to capture your answers to commonly asked questions or information you explain to your prospects and customers. Once you have the transcription, all it will need is a little polishing.
Maintaining a consistent schedule:
Consistency is key in blogging. Draft a blogging schedule and stick to it, ensuring regular updates. Put processes in place to help you maintain the schedule.
Success with content creation lies in its capacity to inform and educate. When brainstorming topics, direct your focus towards addressing queries from your customer base and the wider digital community. Regular reading, both within and outside your niche, combined with a reservoir of topic ideas, guarantees you’ve always got something relevant to write about.
Embarking on this blogging journey may seem overwhelming, but it’s a rewarding venture. In the subsequent sections, we’ll navigate each of these components in detail, breaking down the complexities and making small business blogging a breeze.
You have probably come across a variation of this headline in numerous business publications: “Why aren’t you blogging yet?” The immediate reaction may be an exhausted eye roll, collecting all your doubts into one dismissive gesture. However, the headline is merely posing the question, “Why exactly should I be blogging?” Let’s delve into that!
Your customers “Google” for answers to their questions
The way people shop and make purchases has changed dramatically in the past decade. No matter what we’re shopping for, the Internet has changed how we decide what to buy. Google designated this the Zero Moment of Truth. It’s an online decision-making moment when you grab a device or belly up to a keyboard and type a question, a challenge, a need, a desire, and start looking for a solution to your problem. This is why you want to show up in search results
The algorithm is how Google decides the best answer to a question someone typed into the search bar or asked their digital assistant. Your goal is to have your blog posts served as the answer to the relevant questions someone is typing into their search engine query box.
Thus, a blog becomes a powerful asset when your goal is to expand your business. Concentrating on topics related to your business, a well-crafted blog becomes a magnet that attracts potential clients. Keep in mind that customers are increasingly relying on search engines (mainly Google) to get answers. These answers might be embedded in the multitude of services you offer, begging the question, “Does your client base know the full scope of what your business does?”
“Dynamic content on your website is the key to Google’s heart and blogging consistently is a great way to keep fresh, relevant content flowing.”
~ Stephanie McLaughlin
We like to argue that not just your customers, but also your potential clients often use Google to seek answers. Having a strategy-driven blog on your website increases your chances of showing up in relevant search results, thus paving the first stone down the path of a new business relationship.
Google’s algorithms are becoming smarter as you read this. It relentlessly searches for fresh, engaging content on websites. To satiate this thirst for dynamic material, a blog proves to be a tried-and-true method. The era of “set it and forget it” for websites is ancient history.
Your business functions within its own unique niche or area of expertise. Therefore, it is crucial that your blog solidly establishes authority in that area in Google’s view, which continually assesses websites for fresh content. The more good content you produce in your niche, the higher your chances of ranking in Google’s results. Ascending to the rank of an “expert” in Google’s eyes ensures you become a top result for relevant searches, driving new visitors to your site, and giving you the opportunity to turn them into customers.
Writing style matters
More and more, Google is optimizing for human beings. This means that what’s important to humans is also important to Google. So, a well-thought-out and well-written post is going to be valuable for both audiences.
Make sure that you have a clear point and that your post follows a thread from A to B so your readers can easily comprehend what may be new information to them. Remember that your readers are likely in the early to middle stages of their research process, so help them along by explaining industry topics in as close to a lay-person’s language as your prospective customers typically use.
Use headings, sub-headings, bullets and lists in your post to make it reader friendly. Break up long swaths of text with visual cues that help the reader. As a bonus, some of these elements have SEO value as well.
Yes, you too, can blog
“Hold on,” you may be thinking, “I need to be a writer to blog effectively? I’m not a writer!”
It’s not uncommon for non-writers to feel daunted by the idea of writing a blog. The anticipation of facing a blank screen and a blinking cursor is enough to send shivers down the strongest of spines. However, if you are holding the reins of a business, you’ve no doubt found yourself educating customers and potential clients about your services. Surprisingly, business owners often underestimate the knowledge they possess. This insight organized and presented to readers can serve as invaluable content.
Time constraints for transcribing? There are free and low-cost transcription services available online. We have used TranscribeMe with great success. Some voice recorder apps now have transcription baked in.
Seeing your thoughts on paper might surprise you. You’ll realize how smoothly you speak about your area of expertise and that a blog post is essentially a conversation rendered in text.
Used repeatedly, this method can support you in producing blog posts consistently.
- Aim to publish at least twice a month.
- Never shy away from seeking help.
- A fresh perspective from a co-worker can only improve your content.
“This is a relationship. You have to earn visibility online by posting regularly, posting quality information, and having best practices and guidelines in place.”
~ Stephanie McLaughlin
Avoid pitfalls and maintain your small business blog
Even the most successful entrepreneurs stumble along the way. At Savoir Faire, we believe that these mishaps are simply stepping stones towards growth. Let’s guide you through a few common blogging pitfalls, equipping you to sidestep these snafus and skim past dead ends on your digital journey.
Approach the point with precision
Finding the sweet spot between generalization and specialization can be tricky. Broad topics tend to be less engaging for readers and fail to hold their attention for long. Drill down. Refining your topic can help you attract an audience that’s interested in what you have to say. A brainstorming session can illuminate the path to great content. Take big topics and break them down into understandable pieces.
Unscheduled and erratic blogging can lead to declining readership. Your audience craves predictability and if they’re left questioning when your next blog post might arrive, they might shift their focus toward a more reliable source. Further, Google’s algorithm favors consistency, potentially impacting your ranking within search results. A steady blogging cadence can resolve these issues.
Failure to provide clear directions to your readers
Once you have your readers’ attention, how do you guide them? How are they supposed to know your intentions: to purchase, download or subscribe? Clear, obvious calls to action are the stepping stones that pave your audience’s path. Lead them in the right direction and watch your conversions soar.
“Educational and informational blog posts attract people to your website who are looking for what you do.”
~ Stephanie McLaughlin
Enhance and optimize your small business blog
Here are a few points for consideration when optimizing your blog content:
Targeted approach: Determine the question you are addressing. Figure out which keyword this post should rank for if it is crafted perfectly. There are free keyword research tools available, including one from Google.
Quality content: Google is rewarding longer content these days. A post needs a bare minimum of 450 words to be recognized as content by Google. However, aim for 1,000 words and go for deeper insights in your posts.
Relevance: Research and dive into all the potential questions your audience might have relating to your area of expertise. Do not resort to keyword stuffing. You want to use one or two keywords per post, which gives you the opportunity to write additional posts to utilize related keywords. Also, consider semantically related terms to strengthen the post’s relevance.
Active voice: Opt for active voice. Too many passive voice sentences can lead to Google penalties.
Editing: Follow proper grammar, punctuation rules and incorporate editing in the process. We suggest you do not edit your own work. Is there someone else at the office who can give your writing a once-over? Hiring an editor or virtual assistant might fill that need.
Small business blog optimization tips
- Blog post URL: Ensure the URL for the post includes your target keyword. (A target keyword is a specific word or phrase that you want your blog post to rank for in search engine results. It is the main keyword for that post that you optimize your content around, aiming to attract organic traffic from people searching for that term.)
- Title tags: Incorporate the keyword into your blog post’s title tags. If not, ensure the title is highly relevant to your topic. (Title tags appear in a browser tab and are also displayed as the clickable headline in search engine results. Optimizing title tags is crucial for a small business blog as they help improve search engine visibility and attract more organic traffic to the website.)
- Interlinking: Add relevant internal links to your website pages and to other posts.
- Images: Include images with relevant alt text. (Alt text is used for search engine optimization, as Google cannot “see” or interpret images. It uses alt text to und erstand what the image is. By using descriptive alt text that includes relevant keywords, you can improve the chances of your blog post appearing in search engine results when users search for related topics.)
- Social sharing: Share the post across social media and any other promotional avenues (perhaps industry-specific?) to earn backlinks, which Google values highly. (Backlinks are like recommendations from other websites. When a reputable website links to your small business blog, it signals to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy. This can lead to higher rankings in search results, increased visibility and more organic traffic.)
- Indexing: Ensure the post is fully indexable for all major search engines. (Indexing for a blog is the process of search engines adding your blog post to their database. When a blog post is indexed, it means that it is now included in the search engine’s list of web pages, making it eligible to appear in search results when relevant keywords are searched. Indexing is crucial for ensuring that your blog post can be discovered by potential readers and customers.)
- Algorithm update: Keep an eye on Google’s updates, like the BERT update which focuses on content quality. Some updates require a shift in your blogging (or website!) strategy.
- Consult with experts: If the above bullets are scaring you away from starting a blog, reach out to the experts at Savoir Faire. Did you know we offer a Small/Independent Business Partnership? (Psst, this is an example of an interlink.)
Remember, timing is often a significant factor in success. Quality coupled with quantity over time can make a difference in Google’s eyes. Don’t expect to post once and make it to the top of Google’s rankings. Regular, quality posts coupled with best practices and guidelines are what earn you visibility.
“Your business has a niche or area of expertise. The goal for your blog is clearly establishing that area of expertise for prospects — and Google.”
~ Stephanie McLaughlin
We’ve got the time and expertise to help you blog
Despite all this insight, you might be thinking, “I don’t have the time for this!” Partnering with Savoir Faire could be your solution.
Generating captivating and original content for your small business blog may at times feel like a demanding and wearisome task. This is particularly the case if you perceive your industry or business to be on the drearier side. It’s not outlandish to get the impression that there simply isn’t enough to explore to maintain a regular blog as an element of your content marketing program.
According to Hubspot, “to spur the growth of a blog, you need to routinely publish content that keeps your readers engaged.”
What do I blog about? Here are 15 paths!
In a recent study, it was discerned that the best results were fetched by communicating four posts a day of varied quality and dimensions. However, success doesn’t mandate that volume of production; only huge companies with large full-time writing staffs can maintain that pace. It’s not reasonable for the rest of us. And remember, not every post needs to boast the depth of a college level dissertation. There is an array of post types and paths to unearth fresh topics.
- Use Google’s search autocomplete tool: it provides insight into what your audience is searching for and what questions relevant to your business need answering.
- Dissect what you share on social media. Elaborate on those posts to build longer blog posts; or, comment on the articles you share.
- Offer context, opinion, analysis or insight to industry-specific or general news articles.
- Closely monitor your competition. What subject matter are they exploring?
- Talk about the obstacles your business has wrestled with and how you overcame them.
- Share a success story from a client (names need not be disclosed).
- Reflect on the questions your customers and prospects frequently ask. Answer those in a post.
- Address industry myths, breaking them down in an informative post.
- Discuss how your product fits in with other aspects of your purchaser’s lifestyle. Consider connected goods or services for blog post fodder.
- Repurpose existing content: Translate a recent presentation, a case study or even an insightful email into a fresh blog post.
- Bust industry myths: use your post to clarify misconceptions about your sector.
- Explain how your product or service fits into a broader context: Build stories around related products or services.
- Create an informative how-to post or a tutorial: Remember, informational content resonates highly with certain audiences.
- Revisit successful blog posts: Consider further developing popular topics or approaching them from a different angle.
- Conduct brief interviews with your employees, particularly sales people who interact with customers and prospects. They might offer valuable insider perspectives.
These are just a handful of routes to a successful content production journey. The gravest challenge may be creating engaging questions. But bear in mind, different types of content resonate differently with varied audience groups. Be patient, persistent, read widely and be always ready to jot down ideas. Look beyond just blogs related to your business, as you never know what might trigger a bright idea.
“Writer’s block is a phony, made-up excuse for not doing your work,” said Jerry Seinfeld. Meanwhile, plenty of us find ourselves laboring over the task of conjuring up fresh and engaging blog post ideas. Crafting captivating content can sometimes feel like a daunting challenge, especially when your business might be in an industry that you perceive as mundane or “uninteresting.” But let’s shift perceptions.
Trust, there are potential customers out there who find your business absolutely riveting. Why? Because you have the solution to their problems. Here’s how to generate blog post ideas without giving yourself a headache:
- Be a helpful guide: When hitting a mental block, strive to answer relevant questions from your customers or even those queries people are typing into search engines. Your blog could be the platform for these answers.
- Be patient and read widely: Make it a habit to consume other blogs and articles relating to your industry. You never know where inspiration might strike!
- Jot down your ideas: Whenever an idea surfaces, no matter how big or small, write it down. Though it may not seem relevant now, it could become a blog topic later on.
“A regularly-updated blog is a great place to provide relevant information that answers questions and shows your would-be customers how you’ll solve their problems.”
~ Stephanie McLaughlin
Strategizing and measuring blog success
Defining your blog’s purpose and its goals is the cornerstone of its success. While blogging can serve multiple objectives, aligning it with specific, measurable outcomes ensures that you know when your efforts bear fruit.
Establish clear blogging objectives
Blogging without a purpose might be cathartic for individual expression. However, when tied to a business or content strategy, it demands a well-articulated vision. What are you trying to do? Attract more visitors to your site? Provide your sales team with links to send answers to FAQs during the sales process? Clarify for yourself what you’re working towards.
Blogging for lead generation
Aim to convert readers into leads? Track form submission rates over time and examine how your blog steers visitors to landing pages. Embed strategic calls-to-action and text links and monitor lead conversions.
Blogging for search engine optimization (SEO)
To elevate search rankings or organic traffic, monitor unique visitor counts and their sources. An effective SEO strategy should reflect increased organic visits. If not, it’s time to revisit your SEO tactics, ensuring you’re working the right keywords, and have optimal title tags, meta descriptions, categorization, post tagging and keyword integration.
Blogging for link building
Monitor inbound links – these are external site links linking to individual blog posts. Such links gauge your content’s value in the eyes of search engines. Identifying post types that attract high-quality links can guide you towards creating even more impactful content.
Blogging to foster community
To cultivate an engaged readership, track metrics beyond subscriptions. Monitor active commenters, social shares and repeat visitors. Metrics like time spent on your blog and bounce rates offer insights into content relevance and engagement. Particularly, scrutinize bounce rates of social media visitors and those from emails, as they often display higher brand engagement.
Blogging for content sharing
While virality is elusive (and not a valid goal), increasing content shares is achievable. To gauge your blog’s shareability, monitor metrics like shares, retweets, and referrals from platforms like Reddit. A strategic approach here amplifies your social reach.
While data abounds in digital marketing, avoid drowning in metrics. Focus on key indicators aligned with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) goals. This approach ensures you craft resonant content, appealing to the right audience segments, driving your blog towards its defined objectives.
“Blogging for the sake of blogging is great if your purpose is to practice your writing or to simply expose your thoughts to the world. But as part of a business strategy or content strategy, your blog needs to have a more clearly defined vision and set of goals.”
~ Stephanie McLaughlin
Remember, when it comes to blogging, the most important thing is to get – and stay – ahead of post ideas. Idea generation is the key element to stay on top of if you want to be successful with your blogging.
Effective blogging requires foresight and planning. To truly succeed, prioritize idea generation and stay attuned to your audience’s needs. By offering genuine value, you’ll not only captivate your readers but also win Google’s favor.
Don’t forget, Savoir Faire is here with blogging services for small business to help you strategize, energize and mobilize.
Let’s tackle your most perplexing marketing problems together
In our Small/Independent Business Partnership, you’ll get direct, one to one access to Savoir Faire’s Principal, Stephanie McLaughlin, to work through your marketing challenges in personalized coaching and consulting sessions, all through individual Microsoft Teams meetings. Think of Stephanie as your personal marketing coach or executive sounding board.