getFound SEM

Why Businesses Blog

And how you can too.

     If you've been too busy running your business these past few years to make the most of online marketing, it's understandable. When you spend every waking moment helping current customers, ordering inventory, handling paperwork, paying the bills, etc., you don't have much spare time to teach yourself about search engine optimization, paid advertising, press releases, social media marketing, etc.

     Of course, if you want more customers and more business, you have to do something online these days.  Even if you're paying someone else to handle Web design and online marketing, you can do your part in building your online presence with blogging.

Why Businesses Blog

     In addition to costing next to nothing, blogs provide benefits you can't get any other way (unless your marketing budget is unlimited).

  -Blogs done right can attract tech savvy readers to you, and readers can turn into customers. The more readers you can attract to your

   blog, the more opportunities you'll have for eventual sales.

  -Blogs can make sales reps out of your readers too. When you write a post on your blog, you "open it up for discussion," inviting

   participation from your target market. When readers comment on your blog, they spread the good news about your products or services.

   If handled right, blogs can be great for customer feedback. Instead of expensive market testing and surveys, you get real time responses

   from real people.

  -Finally, blogs can function as central hubs. Since they're a stable venue in a world of fickle social media marketing, they can be your

   business's home base. From your blog, readers/customers can venture off to any social media tools you use, like Twitter, Facebook,

   forums, Digg, etc., and your Website. They can see how involved you are and what you're about.

How you Can Too

     When you choose a blog, make sure it can grow with your business. Whether you create a custom blog or use a hosted blog (Blogspot, Wordpress), you will want it to be able to accommodate features like comments, archives, feeds, widgets, plug-ins and anything else that the tech geniuses come up with down the line. One piece of advice encourages businesses to host the blog on their domain, in a sub-folder or page, since this is most direct and makes the most of SEO benefits.

Blog Start-up Guide

Here are some things you want to consider before your write your first post.

1. What are your goals for this blog? - This is something you may want to flesh out even before you look for blog hosting. Having clear

    goals helps your blog stay consistent in its messaging and provides useful topic parameters for the blogger.

2. How will you brand your blog? - Look at the competition and differentiate yourself. Make sure your blog's appearance mirrors your

    website and other visual projections of your company.

3. How often can you commit to adding posts? - Regular posting will keep readers coming back. A stagnant blog reflects poorly on your

    business since readers might assume the worst about your company if you haven't posted in a while.

4. Who else will be on the blogging team? - Many hands make light the work, and more than one "voice" is refreshing.

5. What will you put on the "About Us" page? - You may be surprised to learn that the "About Us" page is one of the first places readers

    look when they arrive at a new blog. Make sure yours is ready to go (see below for help on this).

6. Did you provide a way for readers to contact you? - If your readers can't reach you, that's a missed opportunity. Make sure to provide an

    email address or phone number.

7. What about post delivery? Is there an RSS feed tool available to those who want it? Is there also (this is important) a way readers can

    provide their name/email address so new posts can be sent directly to their inboxes, in case they don't want to bother with RSS?

The One Rule: Your Blog is not Your Website

     One of the hardest things about blogging is >getting your head around the genre. Lots of very accomplished business persons have blogs that just don't do what they should.


     Understanding what blog readers visit blogs for is half the battle. Blogs are supposed to be a place where real conversations can take place. They should always be about:


                    Open dialogue (must go two ways)

                    The chance to network and share valuable information

     This is important to know, because if you have a blog that isn't about these two things, you won't really have a blog. You'll have another website, set up to sell and visitors will click away from your blog fast.

Elements Common to Good Blogs

1. Open to readers' thoughts - You can turn off the comments feature on a blog, but "on" is preferable. It establishes the back and forth,

    transparent feel essential to engage your readers.  (Don't worry: You can review comments before letting them onto your blog to make

    sure they're not offensive, spam-ish or irrelevant.)

2. Relationship-centered - Posts should invite readers to join in on the conversation. Think in terms of building relationships. Selling must

    always come second. Always. If it doesn't, your readers will smell it and leave your blog.

3. Transparent - Your "About Us" page identifies the authors and provides the basics about your company. Include information that builds

    your professional credibility.  Include pictures of the authors.

4. Chock full of delicious, nutritious content - A good host serves up attractive, substantial posts that don't look too good to enjoy:

  -Provide new information that is relevant and timely (old news makes you look uninformed about your industry)

  -Let your readers know that you're listening and interested in their thoughts. Invite them to respond. Be direct and ask,

    "What do you think?"

  -Make your posts easy to look at (break up text with sub-headings and add images, etc.) And never shout (all caps).

  -Take the plastic off the couch: Don't subject posts to the editorial department's red pen. Fresh content in sentence fragments and

    run-ons is preferable to dry, grammatically correct corporate-speak.

5. Reciprocal - Another part of blogging is commenting on other people's blogs in your industry.  Make sure your comments add value to

    the blog. You can include a link to your blog in the comment if what is on your blog adds to the conversation, but don't be a "user."

    Also, you can add a summarizing type of comment on someone else's blog and then continue that thought on your own blog.

What Should I Say?

     As you start posting, remember #1 in the Blog Startup Guide. Though you will want to stay within your area of expertise, you can and should infuse your posts with information and references to events, trends and information outside your industry. This keeps things fresh and connects your business to the

bigger world in the eyes of your readers.

     Also, for the most part, be concise. Sometimes you'll need to write a longer post. But usually it's best to remember that most readers are busy and will appreciate something that is short and sweet.

Here are a few ideas for posts:

  -Create a helpful guide related to your industry

  -Conduct a poll or write about a recent poll

  -Report on an event or conference you've recently attended, including what you found helpful, comment-provoking thoughts

  -Host a guest writer: invite an industry notable to write on your blog

  -Review a related book/article/document/film

  -Embed podcasts or video clips, and add value by providing informed comments or transcripts

  -Provide lists of helpful info, how-to, etc. Readers like lists.

The Beauty of the Blog

     As you read this, you may be thinking, "If I didn't have the time to take care of my online marketing, I certainly don't have the time to create a perfect blog for my business." But that's the beauty of blog, and maybe it's why so many small business owners have started them and kept them going: Blogs are like pencils; they come with erasers.

     You can get started, add posts when you have a free moment here and there, and edit, delete, tweak and build your blog gradually. You don't have to open it up to the public until you feel it's ready. Once you are comfortable with what you have going on your blog, push it out into the world and watch what happens.

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