Blogging is critical to the online success of your business. Is that a surprising thing to hear? Some of the small business owners we’ve spoken to are skeptical when we tell them something to that effect, but it’s true.
Small businesses that do their thing out of a brick-and-mortar store or location often get caught with their pants down when it comes to their online presence. If they have a website (and a surprising number of Seattle businesses don’t), it’s outdated, doesn’t convey their image well online, and is rarely – if ever – updated. That kind of ‘web presence’ isn’t really a presence at all; it’s more like a forgotten sock under the bed, since it’s there but it’s not doing its job or bringing you any benefit.
Technorati Media released their 2013 Digital Influence Report back in December 2012. According to that report, 10 percent of brands’ total digital spend goes to social media (more than half allocated to Facebook), with much less spending for blogs and influencers. However, blogs “rank high with consumers for trust, popularity and influence. When making overall purchase decisions, for consumers, blogs trail only behind retail and brand sites … Blogs are more influential in shaping opinion than Twitter, and when it comes to affecting purchase decisions, more important than Facebook.”
Yet businesses continue to spend more on Facebook and social media campaigns than getting updated, fresh content on their blog.
I get it. It’s a lot easier to tap out a quick note here and there throughout the day, and create a regular social media following than it is to hammer out a 300- to 500-word blog post about why your skincare service is better than the norm.
But your small business blog is critical to your success online, and off-line – and not just as it relates to influencing your potential customers’ purchases. Here’s why:
- Getting Found Online: Design an awesome website? Check. Fill it with all the essential bits of information and content? Check. Maybe even have an expert optimize your website for search engines? Check. That’s where a lot of small businesses stop, when they should be asking “What next?” instead. The next step is to create a blog and make sure to keep it updated consistently with new content. Why? Because regularly updated content (once every other week at minimum) is what keeps Google and other search engines coming back and crawling your site on a regular basis. And that matters because the more regular your content is, the more value and rankings those search engines will give you when potential customers are looking for places like yours.
- Getting More Customers or Clients: As you write blog posts about your new product line, or maybe some special recognition your store got in one of the local magazines, you’ll be intuitively popping ‘keywords’ into your posts. Keywords are words or phrases that search engines use to recognize what kind of business or services you offer. Then, when Sally Smith searches for “Seattle hair salon” in Google, your website will come up higher in the search results if you’ve used that phrase a few times before in previous blog posts. Ms. Smith will then head to your salon. But if you haven’t put in the time with blog posts and keywords, she might not see you until the 5th or 6th page in Google’s search results – long after she’s found a different salon (who probably blogs).
- Influencing Customer Purchases: I’ll be honest and say that for many small Seattle businesses – particularly the restaurants, spas, gyms, and professional service providers we partner with – an active blog is more valuable from a search engine perspective than for engaging with customers. However, the more transparent information you provide, and in-depth communication with your business’ online community, you can still strongly influence your customers’ purchases. A blog brings personality, expertise, and more information than the back of a label to your brand online. Customers or clients can understand the history of a certain treatment, or the unique process for making a certain product – all of that information they could only receive otherwise if they were face-to-face in your store with you. A blog allows you to take your unique brand and personality online, setting up that relationship long before they become a customer or client.
My apologies for the long-winded post, but I hope it has helped you see the value in your business’ blog – no matter how small or techno-un-savvy your business is.
Featured photo from Acceleration-Partners.com.
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