Many of my small business clients ask me if blogging can improve their online presence. The answer is Yes. In fact, if done properly, a small business blog can help you get more local customers. In this article, I’m going to share a case study on a successful small business blog as well as some ideas on how to make your blog more effective.
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Small Business Blog Case Study
One of my clients, The Sign Authority in Wheaton, has turned an anemic website into an effective lead generator by blogging. The WordPress blog is integrated with their website; a slideshow on the website’s home page features recent articles. To aid local SEO, the articles often mention the type of signage and the town where the sign was installed.
Leanne Tampier, owner of The Sign Authority, and her staff write the articles to highlight recent projects. Since their products are signs and banners for businesses, photos of their work are included in each article.
This article, Truck Banners are Rolling Billboards, not only highlights The Sign Authority’s product but also how they helped their client advertise their new location while it was under construction. This approach is a win-win for both The Sign Authority and their clients who get mentioned in the articles.
At the time of writing this article, the website integration with the blog is still a work in progress as only the home page is fully integrated. However, with some SEO training, the staff at The Sign Authority have created blog posts that act as landing pages on their own domain to highlight their products.
I’d like to share a bit about the background here. When I started working with The Sign Authority, the blog was already in place but not optimized. It was also hidden at the bottom of the homepage. The static pages of the website were not optimized either.
After talking with Leanne, we decided on a phased approach that would optimize the main static web pages first and the remaining sections of the website later. I also worked with their website designer, Spire2 Communications in Naperville, to discuss how to update the home page and better integrate it with the blog.
While we’ve only just started the optimization and blog integration for this website, I like to share results from an SEO review done 3 months after the first phase was completed. These stats indicate the improvements from before the website/blog was optimized to afterward for the first phase of the SEO project:
- Overall visits to the website increased 39% with organic search engine visits increasing 59%.
- Time per visit increased 32%.
- Pages per visit increased 14%.
- The number of different keyword phrases used increased 63%.
- Overall organic search traffic now accounts for 62% of all traffic, an increase of 14%.
While these stats show the effect of SEO and blogging on website traffic, a more important stat is that the blog articles and SEO changes have led to an increase in phone and email inquiries about different types of signage.
Tips for Effective Small Business Blogging
The most important thing to remember when blogging for business is that you’re writing to impart information and not to sell your products or services. Leave the sales part for your business website. Of course, your blog should include appropriate links to your main website and vice-versa.
And don’t forget to optimize each blog post with meaningful keywords in the title, content, and meta tags.
THE ADVANTAGE OF PROVIDING USEFUL INFORMATION ON YOUR BLOG
When people are searching the Internet, they are looking for an answer to solve a particular problem or for advice that empowers them to make a better, more informed decision. So, if you present information that helps them solve that problem or make that decision, you’re online reputation increases in their eyes.
They may share what you wrote with others, they might visit your website to see what you products and services you have, and most importantly they may become a prospect or customer just because you wrote that article.
Of course, all of the above happens over time and builds momentum as you get more content. For example, my SEO Tips and Strategies blog tripled the number of monthly organic search visits in its first 6 months of operation.
Right now, I only write about one blog post a month and traffic has steadily increased over time. To accelerate the organic search traffic increase, I could write more articles every month.
PROMOTING YOUR BLOG PROMOTES YOUR BRAND
Blogging is marketing for your business. When you are ready to start blogging, you should have a plan just as you should have a marketing plan for your business. Your blogging plan should answer these questions:
- What is your budget for initially creating and then maintaining your blog, including writing articles?
- Where will your blog be hosted? It can be integrated with your business website (using software such as WordPress), be hosted under its own domain name, or use a 3rd party blogging platform such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com.
- How will the blog look and what features will it have? Will it have a photo gallery, featured articles, search feature, etc.?
- What will you write about? Create an initial list of topics/categories and some ideas for articles in each category.
- What format will your articles be in? Text, Photos, Video, Podcasts? Generally, a mix of different formats creates a richer blog experience. The mix will depend on what you are posting about, the type of information you are sharing, and the technologies available to you.
- How much time do you have to devote to blogging? Be realistic. This may affect your answers to the following questions.
- Who will write the blog articles? You, your staff, a freelance writer?
- How often will articles be posted to the blog? Be realistic. To be successful blogging, you’ll need to post articles on a regular basis.
- How will you promote the blog? You can send out e-blasts, share posts on social media, integrate your newsfeed with your website, etc.
Ideas for Business Blog Article Topics
- Tips and how to guides
- Industry news
- Product/service news
- News about your company
- Benefits of individual products/services
- Case Studies
- Testimonials and Interviews