Like many small business owners, you've been told that small business blogging is essential for establishing your company's web presence and raising your search engine ranking. However, Google rankings are only the first step. Has a customer ever walked into your store, poked around, then wandered out without making a purchase or asking a question? Window-shoppers are just as disappointing online as they are in your store. Just having a blog gets readers in the proverbial door, but engaging, quality content will make them stick around and become paying customers.
Increasing Web Traffic – Show People You Exist
When shoppers go online to search for a product or service, they usually turn to a search engine to find it. Let's be honest; when was the last time you looked past the first page of search results on Google? If your company isn't ranked near the top, no one will ever find it.
Small business blogging raises your search engine rank in multiple ways. By incorporating SEO keywords into your blog posts, you get a higher ranking when customers search for topics within your industry. Your blog articles should also contain links leading to pages on your website, which also drives up your site's search ranking. Research by HubSpot demonstrates that companies using blogging to improve their web presence generate 97 percent more inbound links and have 434 percent more indexed pages on search engines, resulting in 55 percent more website visitors, than businesses that don't use blogs.
Turning Readers into Customers
So you've got more traffic coming to your blog and website. How can you stop those new readers from losing interest and wandering off? By providing interesting, engaging content. Your blog needs to be focused on the customer – it should answer his questions, offer him incentives, and give him a reason to care about your business.
One of the best things that business blogging can do for your business is humanize it. Giving your company a name and a face makes it more trustworthy and accessible to customers. Enhance this impression by using the comment section of your blog as an open forum for customer feedback and questions, and responding to their comments personally. This also provides customers with a reason to keep coming back. While it's important to get readers to visit your blog, the really important thing is to get them returning to it.
Holding Their Interest: What Brings Readers Back
When readers keep returning to your blog, they develop a sense of investment, membership, and loyalty in your online community. If your company offers online sales, you can build that community well beyond the reach of your home neighborhood, dramatically expanding your customer base. But how can you cultivate that community?
Provide reliable expert knowledge in blog posts relevant to the interests of your readership.
Don't be afraid of humor. Small business blogging should make your company seem friendly and fun as well as informative.
Keep readers updated on your website, with posts showcasing new items or previewing upcoming changes.
Offer contests or promotions, especially ones that encourage readers to submit content (like a photo) or share your blog with their friends on social media.
Speaking of social media, use it! Have Share/Like buttons on your blog, and maintain a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Allow readers to subscribe to your blog through an RSS feed.
Find out what your readers care about. Ask for suggestions for future blog topics, or pose a question to get a discussion going.
Most importantly, update regularly! Blog content is like water: when it dries up, the community dies.
Because social media is vital to any company's web presence, it's important to know where most of your readers spend their time. What's your favorite social media site? Do you tweet about your day, play Facebook games, or find ideas on Pinterest? Share with us.