Tips for your small business blog


Ever heard the old line “if a tree falls in the woods and no-one is around, does it really make a sound”? Without getting into any major philosophical debate, try applying that same statement to your small business blog. If there’s no-one around to read it, does it really exist?

small business blog

There’s no doubt that blogging can be beneficial to your business but it can also take up a huge amount of time and effort for little return if it’s not targeted. Spending that time and creative energy on something that then brings little reward can be very disheartening. Hopefully this post will help you understand just what a good blog can do for you, along with giving you some ideas on how to generate content ideas and how to promote your content.

There are lots of advantages to your business having a blog, but there are also lots of things that prevent us from writing them. Whether it’s being unsure about the benefits or not knowing what to write about, the main reason most people give is “I don’t have the time”. Blogging takes commitment and putting a plan in place, along with an editorial calendar, will help to make it a little easier. Before we get into who your blog is for and what you could be writing about, let’s just cover a few of the reasons your business could benefit from having a blog.

Why you need a small business blog

  • Personalise your business – give your company a voice and let potential customers know what they can expect when they contact you
  • Build trust – demonstrate your knowledge, express your opinions and build credibility for yourself, your employees and your business
  • Search Engines – Google (Bing and Yahoo too) love fresh content and regular blogging can help to boost your site’s online visibility
  • Social Media – blogging provides you with fresh content, which gives you something of your own to share
  • Traffic – greater visibility online leads to more traffic to your website which ultimately means more customers for your business

Tweet this – [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”#smrtlcl”]Give your company a voice and build trust with a small business blog[/inlinetweet]

 

Who is your blog’s target audience

blog target audienceIf you don’t have a target it’s hard to know where to aim. Before setting up a content plan for your blog it’s important to know who your content is going to be targeted at. You need to get your voice right, along with the right level of expertise. You don’t need to be describing the inner workings of a Formula 1 engine if all you’re tyring to do is attract more MOT customers.

  • Think about who you are writing for
    • Existing or potential customers
    • Professionals in the same industry as you
    • How knowledgeable is your target audience
    • What jargon and terminology should you avoid

Then look to start building personas. Use what you know of your existing customer base along with analysis of your current website traffic to build a picture. Create a few different personas and try to get inside their heads to better understand what problems they have that you can help to solve. If you want to give them names, job titles and families, etc then go right ahead. What other interests do they have, what car do they drive, where do they live?

What should you blog about

It’s important to research things that people are actually searching for, rather than just focussing on what you think people want to know. For example, if I’m a dentist and I want to target people interested in whitening their teeth I may want to write something about the best tooth whitening product available. From the image below you can see that I’d be better off writing a post giving an opinion on the best teeth whitening kits instead.

Best teeth whitening products

There are some simple ways to figure out what you could be blogging about, so here are a few pointers:

  • Customers and leads are always asking questions (a good thing!), so use those ideas and turn them into blog posts. You could run a series of  frequently asked questions and maybe even some SAQ’s (should ask questions) as well.
  • Online research – there are various tools available to help you research content online
    • What are people searching for – Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, UberSuggest
    • What are people interested in – Social Media, especially Twitter
  • Have a look at traffic to your own site and see what ideas it generates for you
    • Google Analytics
    • Google Webmaster Tools
  • News & events – can be very handy if you’re specifically targeting local customers.

Where to place your content

The basic rule of thumb is that your best content should always go on your own website. That doesn’t mean that all your content should go on your own site though.

  • Repurpose your content – can your blog post be turned into a video or a presentation. If so then you can then place it on sites like YouTube and SlideShare, as in the example at the end of this post.
  • Guest blogs – building relationships with other bloggers can be a great way to get referral traffic to your site, along with a link which can help to boost your SEO.
  • Local newspapers & magazines are often looking for good quality local content. Look to build relationships with local jounalists and reach out to them when you think you have something of particular interest.
  • Industry journals and websites – will help to further boost your authority and credibility, not just with potential clients but withing your specific niche itself.

Promote your small business blog

So now you have a great piece of targeted content you need to promote it. There are literally a ton of ways to get this done. Below are just a few that should be applicable and manageable for most small businesses.

  • Social media – build relationships with people and they will help to share your content. Don’t focus solely on the major social sharing networks, take a look at some of the discovery networks too.
    • Sharing networks – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest
    • Discovery networks – Quora, Stumbleupon, Reddit and more
  • Email / newsletter – send your new blog posts direct to your contacts and continue to build your list
  • Start a discussion on relevant forums and pop in a link to your post if it’s allowed within the forum’s guidelines.
  • Add your post to your email signature can be a simple way to get some views, especially if you have an eye-catching title.

Take these steps and you’ll be building a portfolio of great content that’s aimed specifically at your target audience and will start making plenty of noise for your business.

Here’s the presentation on Slideshare that I mentioned above.

Photo credit: joeldinda via photopin cc

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Nick Rink

Managing Director at Smart Local
Nick runs Smart Local from its base in Wimbledon and writes about local search, social media, the mobile web and other online marketing issues affecting small businesses.

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