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Why Blogging is essential for getting people to visit your website

You'll see it mentioned in many online marketing articles:

Thou Shalt Blog!

Sadly, many people in small business' don't. Which is sad because they are missing out on a really good way to attract visitors to their website.

A blog is a useful, flexible mechanism for adding new content to your site without having to shoe-horn it somewhere into an existing site structure. You can call it 'articles', 'resources' or something similar if you want to. The ability to comment and/or share your posts makes it easier to promote your content and engage with people on the topic.

So, Why don't businesses blog?

1. They don't know what to blog about

The idea isn't to share your views on politics, your frustration about slow drivers or views on how the economy should be run (unless it's relevant to your business of course!).

When people think 'Blog' they often think it's an opinion piece – and it is, but the idea is that you are sharing your professional opinion in order to demonstrate that you know what you're talking about.

And the simple way to find out what your customers want to know is talk to them. Take a survey, hold a focus group, ask your sales team or simply take note of the questions that come up time and time again.

2. Lack of time, skills or resources

This will always be an issue for small businesses, but writing a blog post once in a while shouldn't be a big ask and if you can't do it – pay a writer to do it for you.

And if you want to do it but are worried about the quality of your writing there is only one way to get better – practice. Then practice some more.

Get some feedback from people you know so you can hone those writing skills. There is a lot of good advice out there that you can read up on for free and incorporate – try CopyBlogger as a place to start.

3. Thinking it doesn't work

I've heard comments along the lines of “I wrote an article for my website once, and it didn't do anything”.

This is probably a case of the content not being targeted correctly or promoted enough. Or maybe it simply wasn't very good.

If your target audience (i.e your potential customers) have needs, then you have something to tell them – you just have to find out what that need is. And from there it is simple - you will most likely have the answer to the question already - if you have any expertise in your field.

If you answer a question that other people in your field don't - then it's an opportunity to give people something that other companies aren't, and impress them in the process.

It reflects well on your business and encourages your audience to think you will be equally helpful if they work with you.

4. What won't work so well

A quick mention of what to avoid when blogging - because there are things bloggers can do that, while may be fun, is less likely to contribute to the business:

  • Write about irrelevant topics - they came to your website for a reason. If you are an accountant why would you talk about the colour of socks. It might be funny but it won't add to your business' reputation
  • Be mean, demeaning, sarcastic. Even if someone or something deserves it. People will just think you will treat them the same way.
  • Be boring. It's hard to make dry subjects entertaining, but if you stick with giving people information you know they want, then dry might just become useful. And it doesn't have to be witty to be exactly what people are looking for.
  • Write about things you don't know anything about.  Not only do you risk some pretty pointed comments about your lack of knowledge, you can damage your reputation. You are probably not fooling anyone.

A case study from our own website.

One of the most common questions we get asked – in fact EVERYONE will ask us this at some point and in some form is “How much will it cost”.

So, about in early 2013 I wrote a post “How much will that website cost?”.

I mostly wrote it so I could point people to it instead of explaining it all in another email or in conversation – I could just send people to it and we could get on with talking about what is really important (i.e how to make that website really HUM...!)

There are no particularly insightful industry secrets, little known insider intelligence or in fact all that much detail in the article. It's not even a subject I find particularly interesting, and the answer to the question is always the same...i.e 'it depends'.

At first only few people looked at it and admittedly I didn't really promote it. So the page view numbers remained small. But if you look at what has happened over time things get a lot more interesting:

post-growth

Without much promotion of the content at all (only a couple of tweets), the page was viewed by more than 500 visitors last month. The average time spent on the page was three times the site average.

Pretty good for content that has been left to it's own devices – imagine what it could do if we shared it more aggressively? Or used as the basis for a guest post. Added an info-graphic even!

Why does it get all these visitors?

Because it answers a question people ask all the time.

And the content is 'evergreen' – i.e it won't go out of date. I only have to tweak the figures and perhaps add features as they become common.

Why has visitor numbers been increasing?

This is harder to answer. 90% of the visits to this page come via search. But most SEO practitioners will tell you that you have to promote content and get other people to link to it before it will get a high ranking.

I haven't been tracking historic ranking for this particular page, but if you Google (in NZ) 'website cost' or variations on the phrase, this post is in the first few results. But the number of people searching isn't high for NZ based searches.  And there are a lot of other web companies blogging and writing on various topics who rank higher than we do for more general phrases.

In Google.com the search volume is a lot higher, and increasing over the last couple of months. Here the post is on the second page - typically people will tell you if you're not on the front page you're no-where. But clearly this isn't the case. Engagement can't be a factor because there are no comments.

However, a page like this can appear for a whole variety of long-tail (low volume, multi-word phrases) searches that cumulatively can add up to quite a few people and visitors.  And if the question is a common one, you don't need to get a high percentage of people clicking on the search result for it to add up to hundreds of visitors.

It could be a case of time – although the content isn't 'fresh' it's still a) there and b) getting visits. The slow increase in visits could also be self-fulfilling because the click through rate on the search results would be increasing (CTR being a SEO ranking factor).

So what does this all mean?

Regardless of why, I think it shows that if you create quality content – i.e content that people want, content that solves a problem for people, a problem in the form of a question, it will attract visitors to your site.

It might take a while, but it will happen.

The next challenge is of course turning those visits into sales!

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Client words...

We asked the team at Essentee to look at our website and advise the best way to optimise our website so we ranked higher on a Google search.

They suggested we arrange a competitor analysis and the end result is that it told us exactly what we had to do to improve the hits to our site.

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