Blogs started as personal online diaries written to entertain, keep friends posted on activities, cogitate, and for many other reasons. Then businesses discovered them. Years later, bloggers and businesses moved on to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. But blogs are still valuable; here's why.
As Stoney deGeyter explained on Search Engine Guide, Twitter and Facebook are like live TV, but a blog is like a DVR. Unless someone is following you very closely, they may miss your Facebook updates and your tweets. As far as they're concerned, it didn't happen.
Blog entries are easier to get back to, and you as the writer have more room to talk about the full picture. Web surfers may be more focused when they're reading a blog than when they're checking for tweets or comments and status updates. You should still use social sites like Facebook and Twitter to promote your business, of course, but you should also blog. Each form of contact serves a different purpose.
So what are some of the things you can gain from blogging? Let's start with increased traffic. That works well as long as you have something valuable to say, or in other words, something that visitors will look for in the search engines and want to read about regularly. Most blog readers find blogs by searching on their chosen topic in the search engines. To take advantage of this, make sure you do your keyword research and stay on topic in your blog. This will help bring in targeted traffic from the search engines. If you do really well with your blog, you'll build up a readership that receives your posts through an RSS feed – because they don't want to miss any of your words of wisdom.
As you share your knowledge with others through your blog, you'll build a reputation for yourself. Remember, as deGeyter points out, “In any industry, those that are viewed as the most knowledgeable tend to be the most trusted.” Nobody will know how knowledgeable you are unless you share what you know in some way, and a blog is a great vehicle for this.
Those who read the great information you post on your blog will want to share it with their friends. This is where social media can help you, as a good blog post can start making the rounds on various social media platforms. Online, people share information by passing along links. They don't just do it on sites like Facebook or Twitter, either; they'll blog about your post, or mention it in a forum thread, or even put a permanent link to it on their website if they think it's an important enough resource. As your posts collect these links, they'll become more visible in the search engines. So blogging contributes to your site's SEO in ways that sending out tweets doesn't do nearly as well.
So what happens when you've created and maintain a useful, helpful blog? I've already mentioned the loyal readers, increased credibility, and improved visibility in the search engines. All of that leads to trust. Trust, in turn, can lead to sales.
Before you jump to any conclusions here, keep in mind that increasing your sales is NOT the primary purpose of your blog. As deGeyter points out, your blog will certainly have a lower conversion rate than the main areas of your website. But as you continue to maintain it and post helpful information, it will bring in more links, more readers, and more visitors who keep coming back to read more entries. “The more links you get, and the more your blog posts are passed around and/or read, the larger your reach becomes. As your reach grows, your sales grow,” deGeyter explains.
Anyone who has ever tried to maintain a regular blog will tell you that it's hard work. If you want your blog to bring you loyal readers, links, and possible customers, you'll have to put in the effort to make it the best blog you possibly can. You'll find that the rewards are worth it. Good luck!
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