Are you still doubting the power of blogs, even for small businesses? Hubspot’s study of over 7000 businesses titled “Marketing Benchmarks for 7000+ Businesses”, shows just how powerful blogs are when it comes to increasing website traffic and generating leads. The study also analyzes number of content pages and social media use – you can download the report here.
Let’s take a look at a few graphs from Hubspot’s study:
The number of new leads greatly increases the more you blog. Look at how much of an increase you can get by just posting once a month!
Having more monthly blog posts benefits large companies the most. But even smaller companies with 1-10 employees can greatly increase the amount of inbound traffic they see.
No surprise here either, more blog posts per month means more inbound leads. This means more potential to convert these into sales!
You can see a sharp increase in inbound leads after 15 blogs a month. Is this enough motivation to get you to blog?
Some other notable findings:
– Companies that blog 15 or more times a month get 5 times more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all.
– Companies that blog 3-8 times a month almost double their leads
– B2B companies that blog only once or twice a month generate 70% more leads than those who don’t blog at all
Blogging can greatly increase your business’ success and it doesn’t take much. If you don’t have time or ideas, blogging a handful of times a month is better than nothing at all. This strategy can only benefit your company in the long run. So, don’t forget to download the study and take advantage of small business blogging today!
Should I have an on-site or off-site blog?
This age old question has been revisited, dissected and criticized! Let’s take a look and the positive benefits and potentially negative effects of having an on-site versus an off-site blog:
+ Update new, relevant content. On-site blogs are an efficient way of adding fresh content to an otherwise static site. Google will crawl your site more often because blogs are crawled more frequently than regular web pages. (Google Freshness update, anyone?)
+ Benefit from social media signals. If you have Facebook, Twitter or even Share functions on your blog, your site will get to benefit as a whole every time a reader interacts.
+ Attract relevant traffic and bring clicks to your site. More traffic and time spent on site means more clicks and that will hopefully translate into more conversions. The argument here is why would you want to take that away by diverting that traffic off-site?
+ Talk about your business. Hopefully, you’ll talk about more than just yourself on your on-site business blog but this is the perfect platform to link to your content, social media profiles, awards, new videos/commercials and anything else that’s relevant to your company. If this is your plan on an off-site blog, it could be perceived as suspicious to visitors, as well as search engines. If you’re blogging about something relevant to your site, why is it hosted on another site and not the same one?
- More content to manage. Depending on how often you update, your website could grow at an alarming rate. Remember that quality matters over quantity and old or over-optimized linking practices on an on-site blog can come back to haunt you.
- Writer’s block. Writing for your on-site blog might be hard if you run out of relevant things to write about. It can be difficult to maintain a professional tone if you start posting about off-topic subjects. Of course this depends on your your industry but if you want to post about personal topics, an on-site blog might not be the place for it.
+ Leaves from for off-topic posts. An off-site blog means that you’re not expected to talk about just one certain topic or business all the time. You have more creative freedom and can use it to leverage the content on your main site.
+ Diversify search results. Since search engines are more interested in providing a variety of results, an off-site blog can help you target the same keywords/phrases while not coming from the same domain.
+/- Linking opportunities to your main site. Remember, this is a benefit but it can quickly diminish. Incoming links from off-site blogs can look suspicious or spammy if your posts are over optimized and always link to the same exact match anchor text. This is also the case if your off-site blogs are the only place that your main site is getting back links.
- Divert traffics from main site. Like we mentioned above, blogs are a great way to attract attention but it’s no good if that traffic isn’t harnessed to your main page.
- Reputation management. Even though off-site blogs aren’t directly affiliated with your main site, it’s important to be in control and aware of how your professional image is portrayed. This isn’t the place to go way astray and post pictures of hot girls in bikinis just because you want to.
Either way you choose to do things, blogging is a great strategy for a small business. There’s great potential to grow your brand while increasing SEO visibility. Let us know your take on on-site vs off-site blogs.
Blogging is an important part of a content marketing strategy but sometimes, it’s hard to get around the fact that your business is “boring”. Whatever you do, don’t get into this train of thought! Remember, there’s always a way to give your content a boost. It just takes a little self-analysis and adjustment to see how you can make your blogs a little more interesting!
Things to Ditch
Information That’s Way Too General - Are your blogs just written to take up space? Content that’s too general isn’t very interesting or helpful to anyone. Spun content is also a red flag for spam, which can lead to penalties. Instead, you can focus a post on one specific topic or question. This gives you an example to showcase your expertise and will hold real staying power. This can lead to followup questions and related topics so you’ll never run out of things to write about.
Detailed, Jargo Filled Content – At the end of the spectrum, detailed content can be just too much for a reader to digest. It’s important for a business to remember to use terms and topics that are easy to understand. At the very list, make sure to explain confusing topics and not to assume that readers know as much as you do. Finding a balance between being too general and too detailed can be tricky, but this is what practice is for – and blogging is the best way to get there.
Long Blogs – Have you ever scrolled past a long blog post that failed to hold your attention? Some companies may feel that quantity means quality. Long content doesn’t necessarily mean that readers are taking something useful away from your blogs. Remember, you don’t have to cram content in a small post. Take some time to organize your thoughts in more concise bullet points. The goal of business blogging is to effectively and efficiently get your message across and length isn’t necessarily a requirement.
Cold, impersonal language – The appeal of blogs are that readers can find out more about the personality and culture behind a business. Every once in awhile, it helps to update about company news, employees, neighborhood events, to show the human side of your business. These blogs will stand out and your words won’t feel as clinical and emotionless.
These are just a few problems that business blogs can encounter. Feel free to share your pet peeves and make sure to stay tuned for our next post on what you can do to improve your business blogs.
Sometimes, your small business blog needs a helping hand. After all, you want as many locals as possible to get their eyes on your content. While social media marketing does its part, it’s very time sensitive and the clicks you’ll get are likely to bleed out over time (per post) – that’s why blog content is more useful in the long run.
Local news/blog sites are important for small businesses and their blogs. Patch.com is a great example of a community-specific news site that you can use to directly and indirectly promote your blog. You can participate on relevant news stories by commenting or just browsing to learn more about your customers and what they do and do not like. Each neighborhood Patch has a section where you can promote your events and invite others. Patch sites give local businesses the best of both worlds in terms of online promotion and the opportunity to meet with customers face to face.
Placeblogger.com is another site where you can submit your local blog. Let’s say for example, that you’re a real estate agent looking for a place to submit your local blog. Straight from their FAQs section, it states, “If your blog is simply new listings, there are many sites for you to use to spread the word — but Placeblogger is not one of them.” Simply put, this is a place for community driven news that’s actually helpful and interesting to people, not just search engines.
Check out these other location based sites and let us know what you think of “hyperlocal” sites:
How was everyone’s Labor Day weekend?
Getting back from a looong weekend can be hard, especially when it comes to thinking of new blog topics for your business. If you start to feel tired about blogging about your business, chances are that your readers will feel it too. There are only so many ways to keep content fresh, meaning blog topics and the format that you use. Don’t worry, your business has more to work with than you think!
- Use different media – Slideshows, podcasts, videos, and Twitter chat transcriptions can all serve as a great alternative to a “normal” blog post.
- Show your audience how a recent event is related to your industry. Discussing current news can help increase the social media shareability of your blog post.
- Case studies: Highlight a successful client and show the problems you helped them overcame.
- Linking out and name dropping too much is never a good thing. But you can always come up with a small list industry-specific blogs that you keep up with.
- Debunk a widely believed and incorrect myth within your industry
- Showcase your staff or have an employee spotlight. You can also go on to explain how your business is different from competitors.
- Talk about what you love about your business. While you’re at it, you can also talk about things that you don’t like so much. The key is to tie it into a positive at the end. For example, sure the social media industry is always changing which can be confusing, but on the up side, you’re always learning new things.
Business blogging doesn’t always have to just focus on your products/services. No one likes a straight up sales pitch and blogging is not meant to be that way. Thinking of these other ideas will help bring more readers to your blog and website so that. If those topics don’t do it for you, feel free to brainstorm some more until you’ve found the right one that you can elaborate on.
I attended a webinar today on advanced business blogging by Hubspot. Don’t let the advanced part in the title scare you away. Hubspot, an online marketing company similar to emarketed, does a great job on providing webinars. Today’s webinar focused on blogging and can be viewed here. A few notes about the actual webinar that really made this interesting. First they had a powerpoint of the webinar that can be accessed here through SlideShare and a live video feed of the presenter that was being pulled from Mogulus. You can view Hubspot’s channel here. Mogulus provides a free service and a paid version which removes the advertisements. There were no advertisements on the webinar but when I viewed the video on Mogulus there were advertisements. So I’m assuming that Hubspot is using the free version. They have over 800 viewers on the webinar today! You can view all of their shows on their Mogulus channel or here on their site. Hubspot also integrated their Twitter account into the presentation so you could ask questions through Twitter during the webinar. There were also links to Facebook and LinkedIn as well from the webinar page. These are all free tools that any one can use. The use of these social media tools was very impressive and is definately something that we’re looking to integrate into our next version of our emarketed site. They were able to utlize these free services which can be used by anyone: Twitter, SlideShare, Facebook, & Mogulus
Ok, lets get into some of the key points from the webinar. A lot of the content which I’m proud to say has been discussed by emarketed in past blogs. Hubspot goes into why you should blog with 5 keys to a successful blogging:
1. Pick your target personas
2. Create a mix of posts
3. Write great posts
4. Sustain it
5. Spread it
One of the great take aways from this webinar is that your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts can start from your blog. You should write content that relates to your products and/or services. One thing to remember though is that SEO takes time and this is the same for writing blog posts. You will not see the direct results of your blog writing for several months. You also have to promote your blog once it’s up. It’s the same for your website which our clients are starting to understand. People will not just magically stumble across your blog when you write content. It must be promoted. Some of the methods Hubspot discussed were the following: post to twitter, comment on other blogs, post to facebook, start building a list of subscribers to your blog. They also had a great tip about using images through Flickr so I took their advice for this blog post. We do not always uses images in blog posts but I can see how it makes the blog easier to read with an image.
For more information regarding the webinar you’ll have to watch it at the following link.