Lately, flyte’s President, Rich, has been encouraging me to seek out speaking opportunities and I’ve been hesitant. The speaking itself doesn’t really scare me–okay, maybe a little–but what worries me is considering what on earth I would talk about. Or more specifically, what topic could I speak on that would be unique and valuable to the business owners and digital marketing managers I would likely be in front of?
Of course, I could talk about how to perform keyword research for your products. Or how to get into and organize your Facebook Business Manager account. Or how to improve audience targeting for your social media ads. But none of these feel like they have that special sauce. I know there’s dozens (hundreds? millions?) of other articles, videos and speakers who cover these topics. And what all of these have in common is the “how.” It’s a practical way to approach content creation, but it’s also highly replicable. So I started asking other questions…
I know a lot of hows, but one of the biggest challenges of my job is convincing businesses of the why. When I do manage to convince them, that’s when I know they’re fully on board and eager to take an active, collaborative role in the project. Spoiler–those are the most successful marketing projects!
So let me try to convince you of the why on something I do almost every day: business blogging.
What is Business Blogging?
Yeah, yeah, Izzy, I know what a blog is!
But do you know what business blogging is? I find not everyone understands the distinction and how much difference it can make in the impact of your blogging efforts. A business blog is much more than just a diary of your activities, which is typically interesting only to your die-hard fans and stalkers. It’s not about documenting your work, celebrating your company’s 25th anniversary or announcing a new product or service you offer.
The distinction comes down to the purpose of a blog. True business blogging offers your readers something of value. By reading your blog, they answer a question, learn a new skill, gain an insight that informs a decision, and more. Your company blog is where you leverage your expertise to help other people–for free. And it can be so powerful…
1. Blogs Position You as a Leader
You can’t fit all your expertise on your website’s homepage–nor should you. But blogs are an ideal place to get into the nitty gritty of your industry and really show off your knowledge. These long form content pieces give you the platform to talk about the latest trends and innovations, reveal behind-the-scenes processes, publish and analyze interesting survey data, or provide your perspective on relevant, sometimes controversial topics.
Business blogging sets you apart from your competitors by creating content that they don’t offer, jumping on a topic before they get to it, or just doing what they’re doing but better. They demonstrate that you are tapped into the forces shaping your market.
Over time, consistent thought leadership can transform you and your business into a trusted source of news, how-to’s, and inspiration for both your customers and your competitors alike. This in turn, increases your visibility, digital traffic and sales.
There’s a certain ripple effect to high quality content. Say an existing customer reads one of your blogs and thinks it’s so great that they share it on LinkedIn. Someone in that customer’s network sees the post and, although they haven’t purchased from you, reads the blog and enjoys your writing style and insights. A few weeks later that same person has a question or problem related to your industry and they head to Google to start searching. If they see your brand among the results, they’re more likely to choose you. Or they might even go directly to your website and use an internal search to answer their question.
There are certain people or brands you probably already look to when you need information about a specific topic. For example, I’m frequently checking what Andy Crestodina is saying about content marketing. And even when I’m not using one of their recipes, I trust America’s Test Kitchen for advice on ingredient substitutions, baking equipment and more.
The key here is quality. True thought leaders make content that is different, deeper, and pushes the status quo in their niche.
2. Blogs Rank Well (And More Easily)
So far, I’ve been referring to this marketing tactic as “business blogging,” but there’s another term that’s arguably a synonym if you’re doing it right: SEO blogging. In my time performing search engine optimization for business across a vast range of industries, blogging for SEO has some of the fastest and most noticeable impact on search visibility and organic traffic. For example, in just a year of SEO blogging, this motorcycle handlebar company increased their organic search traffic by 95% and blogs accounted for 15% of their total search impressions. This happens for a few key reasons.
How does blogging help SEO?
For one, blogs target a different type of keyword than your homepage, product or service page. Most target keywords for a blog are informational, meaning the intent of the searcher is to answer a question or learn more about a specific topic, rather than find a product or make a purchase. According to an analysis by Semrush, 52% of all keywords have an informational intent. That’s compared to only 21% commercial and only 14% navigational. Additionally, blogs use long-tailed keywords, which have lower competition and higher click through rate than broad keywords.
The best part is that if you’re doing thought leadership well, blogging for SEO should come quite naturally. Each blog will focus on one unique and specific subject, going deep into every nook and cranny to ensure that you’re answering your customers’ questions. In doing so, you’ll instinctively hit on those informational, long-tailed keywords. It helps to know some SEO best practices like using headers throughout the text and optimizing for featured snippets, but we know plenty of bloggers like Mike Foti, president of Innovate Building Solutions, who consistently rank well with no formal SEO training. The trick is that Mike really loves what he does and wants to pass on as much of his home reno knowledge as he can to his customers.
3. Blogs Are a Doorway to Your Customer Journey
So far in this blog, I’ve used 10 hyperlinks, half of which point to other pages on our website. I’ll probably double that number by the time we’re done, plus we’ve got navigation items, links in the footer, and CTA buttons that are part of every blog page. I’m not trying to be sneaky! Everything I link to is relevant to the topic of this blog and points readers in the direction of other helpful resources, data or new paths of inquiry.
This is what I mean when I say blogs are a doorway. On the customer side, reading a blog comes with few expectations and pressures. If I’m trying to figure out what type of insulation to use in my attic, I’m more inclined to read a blog about insulating your attic where I’m mostly guaranteed not to run into “sales-y” content. Which is part of why blogs tend to have a higher CTR than other types of web pages. Motivated by the quality of the content and a curious mindset, I might open a few more doors while I’m at it.
Used strategically, internal links on blogs can lead potential customers through different steps in your journey, building their trust and awareness of your capabilities. No, these links probably won’t get clicked all the time, but they connect different pieces of your digital content together to tell a greater story.
4. Good Blogs Earn Backlinks
Let’s talk about the other half of those hyperlinks. For all the other websites to whom I linked in this blog, they earned a backlink. You’re welcome, Semrush. Backlinks are a little like customer reviews in the eyes of Google. It’s basically one website saying they trust another website. The more backlinks you get, the more Google sees your content as trustworthy and authoritative, the more likely you are to rank well for your target terms, and the more traffic you’ll get.
In the SEO community, backlinks are like fishing for tuna (I know, very Maine of me). It takes hours for fishermen to travel to the right spot, more to hang out dropping lines, and often they go home empty handed. But once in a while, they make a catch and it really pays the rent. There’s no “easy,” guaranteed way to get backlinks, but they have a big impact. If you’ve learned anything by now, it’s that good business blogging will organically gain authority. Focus on writing something amazing and the tuna–I mean backlinks–will catch itself. Plus it has a compounding effect. One backlink can lead to another and another until your domain authority is up there with Wikipedia…okay maybe not that good.
5. You Can Leverage Blogs Through Other Marketing Channels
If you haven’t noticed, content marketing is a huge part of winning customers in today’s digital marketplace. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute found that content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing. But we know creating content is time consuming. So when you do put in the effort to write a high quality article for your business blog, you should squeeze every drop out of it!
Blogs are a great source for social media content, where you can pull relevant tidbits and takeaways to create dozens of individual posts. They also make good highlights or secondary items in your email newsletters. You can even take main points from a blog and turn them into video content, like how John created this video about the impact of proximity in search results after writing a blog about local SEO. They can jump start a webinar or podcast episode, help onboard clients, or be used as sales tools in cold outreach. Leveraging your blog content to its maximum will give it more visibility, make your content marketing more efficient, and bring cohesion to all your channels.
6. Blogs Show Your Customers You Care
Ah, we’re back at the beginning. Don’t you remember? What separates a digital journal from business blogging is that it “offers your readers something of value.” Everything else aside, this should be reason enough to start a blog. Because in the end, the most successful brands want to help their customers. To blog well and gain trust, you need to understand your audience, their challenges, needs and goals. Anything you can do to help them in their journey by leveraging your expertise will win you good business. Listen to them and you’re sure to create some amazing blogs.
One last thing. If you’re all in on the why but still unsure of how to create a business blog that boosts your SEO, reach out to me! Or subscribe to our email newsletter… I’m sure I’ll blog about it eventually.
Izzy joins flyte after moving to Portland in 2020, a city that is affably similar to her beloved Burlington, Vermont, with the added benefit of ocean air and fresh seafood. With a degree in English and a background in the nonprofit sector, she carries a curiosity for all things communications. From social media and email newsletters to website management and SEO, Izzy is involved. Reach out to Izzy today!