Effective small business blogging can take your online presence to the next level. A well-written and frequently updated blog can augment an otherwise static website, and provide your customers with insightful updates that keep them engaged and coming back for more.
The first thing you’ll need to determine is the overarching intent of your blog. Who is your target audience and what do you want to share with them? Avoid hammering readers on the head with repetitive sales pitches and stay away from personal musings about your dog or recent trip to mexico. keep it business related and offer real value that will keep people coming back.
Serious blogging requires committing ample time and resources. For the sake of efficiency you’ll want to appoint a blog manager, who will be responsible for overseeing content creation, editing, posting, monitoring comments, etc.
Your blog should maintain a consistent tone of voice, and carry through a coherent look and feel. Draft a simple set of guidelines that dictate things like font size and style, pixel dimensions for photos and rules of thumb content. Once you have a set of guidelines, they can be given to contributors (including employees or guest bloggers), to ensure they deliver articles that require minimal formatting.
The frequency of your posts will be largely dictated by your resources and budget. Sure, posting every day is ideal, but certainly not realistic for most small business. As a general rule, shoot for twice a week but definitely no less than once per week if you want to garner real value from your efforts. Keeping your blog updated will engage users and keep them coming back, and also let search engines know your site has new content to crawl (Google loves fresh content).
Tapping internal resources should be your first option, as they know your business best. However, if your in-house resources are limited, have no fear. There are droves of talented (and affordable) freelancers who can write articles for you. One popular option is a website called Text Broker, which allows you to select from several price points depending on the quality you’re looking for. If you’re worried about 3rd parties not knowing what to write about, give them a list of potential headlines and associated bullet points. Writers love to research and learn, and will do their homework to fill in the blanks.
While your blog should steer away from being overly salesy, it’s encouraged to end each post with a strong call to action. If you’re writing about the benefits of a new product or service that your company offers, end with a strong sentence or two asking readers to call for more info, or provide a link to a page on your website where they can learn more.
Most companies have troves of archived information that can easily be repurposed for a blog. White papers, case studies and training manuals all make good fodder for content. You should not, however, copy and paste every document you find without carefully considering how the material translates into a blog post. Be concise and to the point, making use of bullets, lists and visuals where possible.
Blog commenting shows users and search engines that a piece of content is popular and worth paying attention to. There’s no better scenario than a post that sparks chatter among site visitors. Keep commenting functionality enabled and ensure that you monitor and moderate often to ensure recent posts are enabled.
Similar to comment threads, social shares send signals to users and search engines that content is being engaged with. Google’s search algorithm factors in social sharing when determining placement in search results, so ensure your sharing tools are highly visable.
Since blog posts are time and date stamped, you’ll want to keep content current and topical. Do research, read industry news and follow great blogs from competitors to gather inspiration for new content. Talking to customers and/or employees is also beneficial, as they see your business from unique perspectives that may be worth writing about.