It's good to step back and review the basics every now and then. We've been writing about inbound marketing for quite awhile now, and it's easy to forget that everyone still has to start somewhere. So, rather than discuss more high-level SEO strategies, let's sit back and talk in general about how small business blog marketing works and why you should get into it.
Obviously, if you're an experienced SEO pro, you may not see anything new here, but we'd still love to see you pitch in your own ideas in our message forum!
How Small Business Blog Marketing Works
If you were on the Internet ten years ago, you probably remember how lousy the marketing was - nothing but annoying pop-up advertisements and distracting banner ads that, half the time, tried to put malware on your computer to boot. (And let's not even talk about email spam.)
It didn't work, and the Internet at large responded by coming up with a variety of tricks to block these advertisements from appearing.
What marketeers figured out is that people on the Internet wanted marketing that was relevant to them. People don't mind advertisements so much when they involve products they're interested in. So, inbound marketing was born.
Inbound Marketing Basics
Even today, the majority of web searches are for information. So, the theory went, if you put information that people want on your website, they'll be grateful to you and stick around to see what your sales pitch is. This is where small business blog marketing comes in.
By maintaining a blog on your website that addresses issues that are relevant to your customers, you're putting information out there that people want to see. It's a little like giving away toasters to new customers at a bank, except you're giving away content rather than gizmos.
That's the basic theory, but it still leaves a challenge to be resolved: how to bring people to your website in the first place. That's where SEO comes in.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Because of the nature of the Internet, the search engines - especially Google - are effectively the gatekeepers to the Internet. Since less than 2% of visitors actually click past the first page of search results, you have to make your site rank highly in searches to put it in front of potential customers.
Strategies aimed at boosting your results on search engines are called, appropriately enough, Search Engine Optimization.
Most of SEO revolves around the use of keywords. These are words and phrases that relate directly to your business, which people use to search for information relevant to you. If you ran a pet food company, terms like "dog food" and "healthy coat for cats" might be among the keywords you'd want to target, for example.
So, having found some keywords, you just have to sprinkle them around your blogs where relevant. Generally, this should only be around 1%-2% of your total word count. You should also look at including variations on your keywords as well, like using "food for dogs" and "dog kibble" alongside "dog food."
Lastly, you want people sharing your content and linking to it. Shares and links boost your website's rankings further, so you want to make sure it's easy to share.
Bringing It All Together
So, this is what a basic small business blog marketing plan looks like:
Research your market and discover their interests.
Pick keywords relevant to your business that your market will search for.
Write blogs with good, informative content that includes these keywords.
As you attract people who visit, enjoy your content, and share it, you'll see better search rankings and attract more people.
The more people who visit, the more become leads or sales.
Blogging for business is easy, inexpensive, and it brings in leads. If you're unsure of how you want to market yourself on the Internet, it's the best place to start.
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