Many site owners and businesses start a blog on their website because they heard that blogging is a great way to attract visitors and increase conversions and sales. This is true, but only if you do it right.
One problem is that these people leap into blogging without realizing everything that it entails. Writing a blog for business purposes is a major commitment. If you're not willing or able to commit the time and effort it involves, you're better off doing something else to improve your business.
Carrie Hill writing for Search Engine Land talks about some of the effort involved in starting and maintaining an effective business blog. As I go over the points she discusses, think seriously about whether you can commit to doing these things. Blogging isn't for everyone.
First, you need to set up analytics on your blog, and check the numbers frequently. You can use Google Analytics on your blog. You need to do this so you can rate the effectiveness of your blog. Effective blogs get organic search traffic that converts – so you need to know where your traffic is coming from, and where it's going. As Hill notes, “Blogs should drive traffic and engagement, traffic and engagement should drive sales.”
Second, you'll need to set up an editorial calendar, or at least some kind of plan that states what kind of content you want and need to write for your blog. I covered editorial calendars for SEO Chat. If you want to know how and why to set one up, you'll find that piece helpful.
Third, you need to make sure that your business is healthy before you start a blog. Is your main website functioning well? Do you add new content regularly? Do you update your descriptions when needed? Have you been running PPC campaigns? Have you tested the buying paths on your site to make sure they work – and do you continue to test them regularly? The point is, blogging is part of a whole set of things you need to do to keep your business running smoothly, and it is NOT your highest priority. Take care of the stuff that's more likely to bring in money (or cost you money if it's not working properly) before you start a blog.
Fourth, if you're going to start a blog, you're making a commitment to post regularly – and if you can't follow through on that commitment, you probably shouldn't be blogging. Posting regularly is very important – and by “regularly,” I mean more than once a month. I would consider once a week to be the bare minimum. You might be able to get away with less if you're an industry guru. Three to five times a week is better, if you can manage it.
Fifth, you want to bring social networks into play. You don't want to spam social sites, of course, but you want to see some involvement there. Hill notes that you're doing it right if “people in your network and audience [are] reading your stuff, leaving comments, liking your blog posts on Facebook and tweeting and retweeting” your blog posts.
Finally – and this is hard for many business bloggers to understand – you're not finished once you've made your posts. Engagement is key. If you've done your job, visitors will want to make comments on what you've written, and they're much more likely to come back and become loyal readers (and eventually customers) if you reply to their comments. As Hill notes, “I'm more likely to read a blog if I know a question or comment is met with an answer or a simple 'Thanks for the comment!'”
Clearly, this level of work represents a real commitment in time and energy. There's no use pretending it doesn't, and as I said in the beginning, it isn't for everyone. Not everyone loves to write. If you're looking forward to writing entries for your blog with the kind of enthusiasm you'd normally muster for scrubbing your bathroom, maybe blogging isn't for you. But that's okay; there are plenty of other ways to promote your business. Good luck!
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