Having an active blog on your company’s website can make a big impact on your bottom line. It provides shareable social media content, allows you to point to lead gen forms, positions you as a thought leader in your industry, and helps you rank higher and improve your site’s SEO.
Blogging is so effective that according to a study done by HubSpot, companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5x more leads than companies that published 0-4 monthly posts.
And guess what? You don’t have to be an expert to start blogging for your small business. Just follow the six steps below to get started.
Step One: Choose a Host & Platform
Chances are if you already have a website, there’s a blog feature you’re not using.
If you’re just starting out, I recommend using WordPress for your website/blog. It’s user-friendly, cost-effective and easy to set up. No matter what you choose, make sure to do your research. Changing platforms with an existing website in the future can be a pain.
I would also recommend hiring a professional designer to build your website. (Nobody likes a Frankenstein website!)
Here are some of my favorite WordPress hosts:*
- WP Engine
WP Engine is the best platform for WordPress hosting. It’s wicked fast, has great customer service, staging capabilities, automated SSL certificates and a bunch of other great add-ons. Cons? It’s a little pricey (but so worth it if you’re thinking longterm). Click the link above and save 20% on your order.
GreenGeeks comes in second because it offers easy setup at a great price AND is environmentally friendly. Click the link above and get a free domain, 1-click WordPress install, and web hosting for $3.95 a month.
- Blue Host
Blue Host is probably the most well known if you’ve been researching WordPress hosting. They also easy setup and great customer service. Click the link above and get a free domain, 1-click WordPress install, and web hosting for $3.95 a month.
Step Two: Get to Know Your Audience
Before writing your first blog post, it’s important to know who you’re writing for. Getting to know your audience is one of the first steps towards a successful content strategy. That way, you can write content that speaks directly to them instead of just screaming into the void.
One of the easiest ways to gather this information is by sending out a customer survey via email. SurveyMonkey and Google Forms are great free tools that allow you to easily collect responses and export them into a spreadsheet.
Step Three: Brainstorm Article Topics
Brainstorming ideas for blog posts is no easy task. Especially if your goal is to write content that people actually want to read (which it should be). Your content should be educational, entertaining, and effortlessly tie back to your product in some way. Not. Salesy. ?♀️
So how do you come up with article topics that keep readers coming back for more?
Try these five ways to find content topics:
- Join social media groups that cater to your audience, listen in, and join in the conversation
- Engage your social media followers with an online poll
- Look at what your competitors are writing about, fill in the gaps, and do it better
- Use websites like Quora and Reddit to see what people are asking about online
If you sent out a customer survey, use your response data. That stuff is marketing gold! ?
Step Four: Write Your First Blog Post
Now that you’re all set up and know who you’re writing for, it’s time to actually start writing. The point of your blog is to provide a resource to your readers, not to just talk about your product or service.
The goal is to educate your readers so that they learn to trust your business and keep coming back for more content. That trust and assurance will help push them in the right direction when it comes to deciding whether or not they should buy your product or service. Make sure to end each article with a strong CTA (Call-to-Action).
Have multiple proofreaders review your article. Grammar is so important, and it’s easy to glaze over mistakes as the writer.
Step Five: Do Your Keyword Research & Hit Publish
The topic of keywords and SEO is VERY dense. So for the sake of brevity, here’s a light overview.
Keywords are terms and phrases that define your content. Search engines use those keywords to validate your content, which impacts your search engine rank.
But moving up isn’t as simple as stuffing keywords into your posts and hitting publish. In fact, keyword stuffing is a big no-no.
Understanding Long Tail vs Short Tail Keywords
There are two types of keyword phrases: long tail and short tail. And knowing the difference can make a big impact on your site traffic.
Here’s a quick overview:
- Long tail keywords are longer search phrases that help you reach a narrow, more qualified audience.
- Short tail keywords are shorter, broad term search phrases that receive more traffic, but that traffic is less qualified.
Using long tail keywords allows you to target your posts to your specific audience and cut out the fluff. Plus, when you use short tail keywords you’re more likely to compete with companies that outrank you. Which means you’ll just be wasting your time and energy.
Here’s an example of how I would brainstorm keywords for this blog post:
- Long tail keywords could be: how to create a blog for a small business, setting up a blog for a small business, small business blogging
- Versus short tail keywords like: how to set up a blog, starting a blog, business blog, blogging
By using one of the long tail examples above, my potential for traffic volume might be lower, but the amount of qualified traffic will be higher.
I want to attract readers who want to start a blog AND work at a small business. Attracting people searching how to set up a blog or, blogging, probably aren’t my target audience. So even if I get a lot of traffic to my site, they’re most likely not the people I’m interested in talking to.
SEO Tools Are Your Friend, Use Them Often
There are a lot of tools out there that can help you find the right keywords for your content. Start with the Keyword Explorer by Moz, it allows you to explore keywords in relation to your topics, audience, or competitors.
A Couple of Other SEO Tips
Setting up a blog for your business has a lot of components, making it easy to feel like you can skip this step for now and get back to it later. Don’t!
Optimizing your posts is essential to generating organic traffic and increasing your rank. And if you do it from the get go, you’re setting yourself up for some huge organic search gains.
Another tip: don’t use the same keyword phrase for every post. You should be using keywords and phrases particular to each article and page on your site.
Step Six: Analyze, Optimize, Repeat
Once you start generating valuable content, your blog should be increasing your organic search results and therefore positively impacting your lead generation efforts. How do track your progress? First, make sure your site is connected to Google Analytics.
Analyze: Use Google Analytics
This is one of my favorite tools and is essential to any business. Google Analytics gives you insight on just about everything when it comes to website traffic including demographics, user acquisition, website referrals, top pages and real-time website users. If you don’t have it set up, do it right now.
Once you’re all set up and your traffic starts to trickle in, pay attention to what your customers are doing on your website.
Ask yourself questions like this:
- Are they looking at one article more than the others?
- What is the topic of that article and how can I create more content like it?
- Do I have a lead generator on that page?
- Does that piece of content end with a strong CTA?
Optimize: Review, Refresh, Recreate
Once you’ve reviewed your traffic’s activity on your website, it’s time to use that data to create even more amazing content.
Get into the habit of actively doing these three things:
- Review: Look at the data and figure out what resonates best with your audience.
- Refresh: Go back to your most popular pieces and give them another read. Make sure the information is as accurate as possible. If it’s not, give the article a refresher to keep it current. Also, make sure your CTA is solid.
- Recreate: Now that you know what’s resonating with your audience, create more content around that subject.
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What’s the Point?
Having a successful blog for your business takes work, but it’ll pay off in the long run.
Blogs help your business establish credibility, gain the trust of potential customers, educate them on new products and product benefits, and give them an inside look into your company culture.
Having an active blog is one of the first steps to nurturing prospective clients into customers who keep coming back for more.
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