Should You Have a Blog?

A business colleague of mine recently asked me what I thought about the value of a blog. Seems a vendor she was working with was recommending a blog and she really didn’t see the value. There are, though, two very important reasons that those wishing to build an online presence should consider managing a blog (and a few other, secondary, reasons).

The big benefits to a blog are:
  • Keeping your content fresh and searchable by the various online bots and spiders that crawl around looking for new content to index — many web sites are fairly stagnant in terms of the content they contain; blogs are a way to keep content fresh.
  • Boosting organic search results. Search engine optimization (SEO) has taken on many forms since the onset of the Internet and search tools like Google, Yahoo! and others. Blogs have long been touted as a great way to make your site visible to those who are interested in what you have to offer.

I’ve seen the big benefits of blogs recently with a client who I’ve been working with to improve web site traffic and organic search. In this case, the client is interested in attaining new visits–and ultimately clients–through organic search. In other words, she wants people out there, anywhere, who have never specifically heard of her business to be able to find her through the use of generic search terms related to what she has to offer.

When we began the process of attempting to boost this organic traffic, the vast majority of visits to her web site came through either the direct entry of her URL address into the search bar, or the use of variations of her business or personal name as search words and phrases. So, we’ve done a number of things to attempt to boost this traffic, including becoming more active on social media sites (in her case, Twitter and LinkedIn), and generating regular (2x/week) blog posts.

Through the beauty of online analytics we’ve been able to see a significant boost both in the number of visits to her site and the number of visits coming through the generic search terms she was hoping to use to drive traffic. We can see specifically where, and how, social media is driving some of this traffic; we can also see the boost in the use of generic terms to get people to the site, as opposed to visitors already knowing her company name.

When writing a blog it’s important to not be solely focused on SEO. In fact, SEO isn’t “rocket science” (although some firms/consultants try to make it seem like it is)! You basically need to think about who your target audience is and what types of words/phrases they might be using when they’re seeking what you have to offer and then just make sure that you’re using those words and phrases in your copy (web content, blogs, etc.). Note: this is exactly the same thing that you would be doing if you were writing copy for any channel–print, direct mail, etc.!

In addition to the top two “big benefits” of blogging, there are some side benefits as well:

  • Establishing yourself–or your company–as a thought leader on a particular topic. These days, you don’t need to attract the attention of an editor or publisher to get your thoughts out there; you can publish them yourself! Do it well–meaning you are reporting useful, accurate information that is not full of self-promotion–and, over time, you can develop a following.
  • Generating content that can be used for other purposes. Blog posts can serve as a foundation for content that can be multi-purposed in various ways. You can pull “snippets” of your blog posts to use in social media posts (and, in some cases, you may want to link back to the blog). You can pull sections of your blog posts to use in eletters or newsletters. Once you’ve built up enough copy, you can pull that copy together to create white papers, or even full-length books that you either self-publish or pitch to an editor.

In short, the answer to the question of “should you have a blog?” is “yes”! You should. But when you do, make sure that you are committed to posting regularly (at least once a week) on topics of interest to your target audience. We’ve been doing that for several years now and while it is sometimes hard to get the motivation to keep it going (especially when client work takes precedence), being committed to a schedule is important.

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