There was a time when blogging, or “web-logging,” was reserved for the meandering thoughts of software engineers and tech-savvy adolescents.
No longer. In a few short years, blogs have mushroomed on every topic imaginable, and in every industry.
Anybody with an Internet connection can now set up their own cyber-soapbox in a few minutes — and for free on sites like Google-owned Blogger.
There are numerous reasons why it’s in your interest to maintain a blog for your business. Here are the top five:
- Establish your expertise. By writing about what your business does and how you do it on a semi-daily basis, you “show” that you’re the expert in your field much more convincingly than stating on a brochure somewhere, “I’m the expert.” Instead, you’re proving it over and over.
- Establish “real” credibility. Your blog allows you to loosen your tie and be yourself. You can be a real human and share your knowledge and opinions with the world (just be careful what you say — kids’ MySpace rants are keeping them out of college). Think of your blog as the online equivalent of casual Fridays. You show the world that your business is run by real people — and cares about real people — and that you’re not another Enron hiding behind a slick corporate web site.
- Build a professional community. The best blogs create a network of people interested in similar topics. They comment on each other’s posts, and though they may disagree at times, the controversy increases the “buzz,” attracting more readers to their blog community. This community can serve as a source of referrals as well as a cheap (if not free) way to test new products or ideas and get feedback. Smart bloggers share their business secrets with this community — and whomever else might be following the discussion — increasing their perceived expertise and credibility, advancing their entire industry while sky-rocketing their own reputation.
- Create relationships with your prospective clients. Your blog can invite prospective buyers “behind the curtain” and create a personal relationship with them long before they step foot on the sales floor or visit the next open house. They can ask you questions in the comments section of your blog posts, which you should answer. Others will join in. Eventually your blog starts to act like a fishing trawler, hauling in prequalified traffic that is looking for your product or service.
- Drive targeted traffic to your main web site…
The latter is the biggest reason to blog. After all, the more traffic to your site, the more sales.
How does it work? Well, I’m sure by now you’ve heard of SEO (search-engine optimization). Basically, SEO boils down to making your site rank higher for certain words or phrases on search-engine results pages.
In other words, you want your web site to show up when someone types words related to your business into a Google, Yahoo or MSN search. The higher you rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs), the more traffic you get. The more traffic, the more potential sales.
Now don’t get me wrong — I’m not suggesting that traffic from your blog will send thousands of hits directly to your regular web site every month. Blog-readers are a small (but growing) minority of web users.
What I am suggesting, however, is that your blog could cause your web site to be listed higher in search engine results pages.
Here’s how it works:
Search engines love fresh content. Good blogs are written daily, so they are constantly full of fresh content., even if it’s just a paragraph or two.
Not only that, but the people in your blogging community will likely have links to your blog from their own blogs. Search engines also like inpointing links (links from other sites pointing “in” to yours) from related sites. It is incredibly easy to get these high-quality inpointing links from related blogs or web sites to your own blog.
The more inpointing links you have from related, quality sites, the more search engines consider you an “authority” on your subject matter.
And, since your blog points to your main web site — preferrably as part of your own domain name (for instance, http://www.mybusiness.com/blog or http://blog.mybusiness.com) — your entire web site benefits from this increase in “authority.”
Your pagerank increases. You show up higher in the search-engine results pages. You get more traffic, which you then convert into more profit.