If you're a small business website owner reading this blog post, you've probably read or been told you should consider blogging. You're reluctant to jump on board because you already have too many demands for your time and attention. You also might not enjoy writing or consider yourself a terrible writer. You need someone to give you a really good reason to move forward.
Before you throw your hands over your face and say "forget it", I want to share three really good reasons why small business owners should seriously consider blogging. All of them have to do with building your online reputation and search engine rankings.
1. Blogging Increases Your Chances Of Being Eligible To Rank In Search Results
Think about it. What do people do when they search the Internet? They type words into a search engine. When the words on your website match the words in a search query, you're eligible to rank. The greater the number of unique word combinations on your website, the greater the chance you'll have of being eligible to rank.
It's simple probability. If you flip a coin, you have a 1 in 2 or 50% chance of seeing George Washington's (or, in this case, John F. Kennedy's) head appear on top. If you buy 1 of 100 lottery tickets, you have a 1 in a 100 or 1% chance of winning. If you buy 2, you have a 2% chance of winning. And so on.
Image compliments of Frankeleon on Flickr
Blogging applies the same principle.
The more you blog, the greater the number of unique word combinations you have on your site. The greater the number of unique word combinations on your site, the greater the chance one of them will match a search query being typed into a search engine and you'll be considered eligible to rank.
2. Blogging Gets You Past Google's Quality Filters
Using the same language as your search audience makes you eligible to rank. It doesn't necessarily mean you'll rank on top. If you want to rank highly, you have to show Google evidence that you deserve to rank highly by producing fresh, original and well-received content.
Google Likes Fresh Content
Google prefers and gives a slight ranking boost to fresh content for some queries, for example, news queries. If search engines want to identify the freshest content possible, they have to assess the freshness of all content and there's strong evidence to suggest Google does that.
That doesn't mean you have to publish fresh content every single day. That may not be realistic. Decide on a publication frequency and schedule that makes sense for you and your business. More is better (because of probabilities), so aim for at least once a month, set a discipline, and stick to it.
Google Favors Original, High-Quality Content
Google has a 961-word explanation of original, high-quality content on its Webmaster Central Blog. The short of it is, it needs to be:
- a first-time creation;
- free of spelling, grammatical, stylistic and factual errors;
- credible and verifiable; and
- uncluttered by excessive or distracting advertisements.
Google Penalizes Unoriginal, Poor-Quality Content
Google has been coming down pretty hard on sites with stale, unoriginal and/or poor quality content since 2011.
Starting in February 2011, Google began a series of ranking algorithm updates that have been labeled as Panda. Panda specifically penalizes websites with duplicate and "thin" content.
Image compliments of popofatticus on Flickr.
- automatically generated;
- thin affiliate pages;
- content from other sources (for example, scraped content or low-quality guest blog posts); and
- doorway pages.
Panda is a site-wide penalty, meaning the impacted site's ability to rank for just about anything other than its brand is vastly diminished.
So how does blogging help? Blogging encourages you to produce fresh, original and high-quality content on a regular and consistent basis. It gets you past Google's Panda quality filters and increases your chances of being eligible to rank.
3. Blogging Builds Exposure, Trust, and Authority
I don't know about you, but I really really value content that helps me solve problems, get things done.
If you're writing content that helps someone, there's a good chance they'll like it, link to it, bookmark it, or share it with friends or colleagues on the Internet. All those things earn you and your business more exposure.
Addthis, a media web-tracking technology company and popular social sharing widget maker, released stats in 2011 showing that over a 5-year time period, their widget had been used to expose content on 10 million sites to 1.2 billion people.
All things being equal, the more likes, links, bookmarks and shares your content earns:
- the more exposure it gets;
- the more traffic it earns;
- the more popular it will be perceived to be; and
- the higher it will rank.
According to Hubspot, an inbound marketing software platform for businesses, "the average company that blogs generates 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound links, and 434% more indexed pages".
Blogging also builds trust. It gives site visitors an opportunity to get to know you on a personal level. It gives them the opportunity to assess your communication style, converse and ask questions.
People do business with those they know, like and trust. A blog gives visitors the opportunity to discover who you are, learn how you can help them, and trust that you will follow through on your commitments.
So now we're back to the objections. I gave you three really good reasons why blogging is good for business. If you're still stuck on "I don't like to write, don't have time to write, or am a terrible writer", I have suggestions for that too.
If you don't like to write or are a terrible writer, think about hiring help. There are lots of really good content writers for hire, some that even know how to specifically write so you can appeal to both search engines and audiences. You can provide them with a draft, make yourself available for an interview, or let them take a stab at it on their own if they're already familiar enough with your industry and market.
Same thing if you don't have time to write. You don't have to produce huge quantities of content and you certainly don't have to blog every day. You may also find that blogging takes less time than you think. The more you do of it, the faster it gets.
So let me quickly reiterate why blogging is good for small business website owners.
- Blogging increases the chance your content will show up in search results.
- It gets you past Google's quality filters, and
- builds exposure, trust, and authority with your intended audience.
All these things grow your online reputation and rankings. They increase the chance that people will remember you and want to do business with you when they're ready to make a purchase decision.
What do you think? Do you agree? Can you think of any other benefits? If yes, please share your thoughts in the comments below.