4 Feb 2016

Ashamed of your business blog? Here's what to do and how to do it »

Today, I want to share two presentations to help business owners looking to 'crack' search. They both focus on website-hosted content, i.e., blogging; one's a presentation, the other a video.

First, there's a concise presentation embedded below from SlideShare. It's entitled 6 Business Uses for a Blog, put together by Social Media Hat. The deck's pages offer business owners half a dozen ways to use their blog.

Second, there's a Google Webmaster video from Matt Cutts dating back to 2013. It looks at how businesses can compete in search against marketing-savvy competitors, entitled:

How can a legitimate business compete online?

The argument forming the basis of the Webmaster video is this. A business owner with real world experience struggles to find customers online.

Their website or blog competes with brands who have more SEO/marketing acumen - or budget. And while the competition outranks our entrepreneur in search, offline, the role's reversed.

Now, our business owner has earned their stripes at the sharp end, getting their hands dirty. Is it fair that a fledgeling company should rank higher because they know how search engines work?

How, then, does our business owner turn their real-world authority into online discoverability? That's what both the presentation and the video cover.

Getting found online: the marketer's perspective

It’s funny. We can forget that most people outside the digital marketing arena are blind. They're yet to see or realise the power, reach and engagement capabilities of content.

To combat this, Mike Allton's presentation takes us through the basics of business blogging.

The advice herein stems from his vast experience in his professional capacity. Not only has he leveraged social media to grow a loyal (and huge) following himself. But that's one field of his speciality, too.

Mike, through social media, helps businesses to engage and grow their personal brand online. Yes, blogging's at the core. But one's activity on social must have a hub, i.e., a website or blog at least.

Here’s a quick overview of what Mike covers in the presentation before you dig in:

  • the difference between using a website and a blog;
  • using blogs to answer faqs (saving business owners a bundle on repetitive man-hours);
  • putting your customers in the spotlight by reviewing them;
  • review industry news or your own products/services to keep your audience engaged;
  • show and tell potential customers how to get the best from your product/service;
  • list how-tos, best industry resources/websites/practises, new additions to your range, etc.;
  • push press releases to announce upcoming events, networking opportunities, product launches and industry shows.

What should you use your blog for?

Not everyone has the time to maintain their blog as often as they’d like. Often, that’s because they’ve no clear idea of what they’re going to use it for.

Realise this: your website or blog are just other ways of advertising your business. To begin optimising the opportunity the blogging platform presents, think of:

  • questions real-world customers ask;
  • the benefit(s) your service provides;
  • the problems you look to solve and reciprocal solutions you offer;
  • satisfied customers who've taken a different view of your service from the one you have in mind;
  • the type of people who'd have genuine cause to use your business.

These are all ideas that can (in theory) embellish your blog without a second thought.

Plus, these are all the traits that your target audience and Google want to see you share. The knowledge-hungry surfer wants actionable advice that provides a solution to their query.

Your business blog is an advert, like any other promo

By approaching your content thus, you can reach new, relevant audiences. Or maybe you just want to reaffirm your mission statement to an existing customer base.

Go ahead. Re-address your service pages. Yes, it's important to optimise your About us page, contact page and services, too.

Tweak them to match your current strengths, then share those pages on social media. Remind people what it is you do and the problems that your business solves.

Think of real-world advertising campaigns for a second.

You know your budget; you know (roughly) what goals you’d like them to achieve. You must approach blogging in exactly the same way, as a business tool.

Many make the mistake of choosing between a blog or offline advertising. In reality, businesses who get the most relevant blog traffic are those who unite the two.

Your blog must adopt your voice and tone

You can have as many people visit your blog as there are people connected to the internet. But if they’re not converting into customers, what’s the point?

Use your business blog to exhibit the personality of you, your staff and your business.

People are human. Well, in the main; I know of a few exceptions. But the point? People much prefer to interact with other people than with faceless corporations.

By taking ownership of the direction of your blog content, you can find that magic blend.

Highlight the benefits and you won't need to revert to hard sell tactics. Combine those benefits with quality goods and a matching service that adds value? You’ve found the perfect mix!

Write for your audience, edit for search engines

As a business owner, you've built your reputation by honing your service. And now you're supposed to be an expert copywriter, too?

What's wrong with outsourcing the content? There are plenty of freelance sites out there.

Well, there's a real shift in the marketplace. Google's latest algorithms are looking for real expertise, not a cheap, generic rewrite.

All the content we publish today must achieve three goals (at least):

  • add value over and above anything of its ilk in your niche;
  • resonate with the target audience to garner trust;
  • enable search engines to work out:
    • what you do;
    • who your target audience is;
    • how your copy is relevant to the search queries you're targeting.

That sounds like a lot of work for the layperson. And here's the option many savvy or time-strapped business owners are plumping for.

They know what they want to say from their unique viewpoint. But rather than try to meet these exacting requirements, they're draughting out content.

Only when they have all their key points bullet-pointed do they engage a copywriter. Or, if they've had a decent stab at writing the content themselves, hire a search editor.

This way, it saves the business owner both time and a huge learning curve. And it's not like the learning curve ever gets less steep. Search engine technology is in a constant state of evolution.

Trying to keep pace with Google is a full-time job in itself. So instead, they hire copywriters who specialise in semantic search. They can take the draught copy and with a variety of data extraction techniques, optimise it for search. As Matt Cutts explains, letting Google understand your relevance is paramount:

Wrap-up and further reading

My additional content notwithstanding, I don’t want to steal Mike’s thunder. Nor Matt's, for that matter.

The extra tips I've included above should complement the other media. Please drop a note in the comments for clarification on anything herein.

And if you've not yet slaked your thirst for image-based media about blogging, try two more:

They're 21-slide and 18-slide presentations on Slideshare, respectively. Search is going semantic, with relationships and connections at its heart. Make sure your blog content structures even the unstructured data using crystal clear content.

Google wants to find businesses that add value to its index of the web. You can feature as long as you don't hide your USP behind ambiguous, rambling copy. We all clear? Awesome!