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You’re here because you’re a small business owner who’s thinking of expanding their marketing. I know this because:
- Larger businesses use content marketing, and already have blogs.
- Fellow marketers know exactly how important having a blog is, and probably aren’t inclined to read an article about it.
If you didn’t already know, blogging in 2020 isn’t the domain of yoga mums and health fanatics. It hasn’t been for years.
Blogging is one of the most powerful tools in your business’s marketing arsenal, because it most likely forms the core of your content marketing strategy.
What’s Content Marketing?
Before I go any further, I’ll quickly explain what content marketing means. Skip this part if you already understand how it works.
To put it very simply, content marketing involves creating and distributing content (articles, blogs, pictures, graphics, videos and so on) in order to indirectly promote your business.
Content shouldn’t overtly sell – instead, it assists, inspires or entertains readers, and subliminally increases their awareness of your brand. It’s basically a something-for-nothing deal for the reader. You can read more about content marketing here.
So, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering, “why should I blog? I hate writing – surely it’s easy to take some photos or record a video?”
Here’s the thing: for most industries (there are exceptions), nothing works better as a content marketing medium than words. Video is definitely becoming more popular, but blogging still reigns supreme.
I personally like to use other mediums as auxiliary assets for blogs, which means creating graphics, photographs and videos which support the written information.
You’ll also hear a lot of experts like Neil Patel and Brian Dean recommend repackaging your blogs – once you’ve written them, put the same information into a video (or other medium) so people who prefer videos to blogs can still enjoy your content.
There’s a whole bunch of reasons why blogs work so much better than anything else (SEO, accessibility, affordability and so on), but the bottom line is that your best bet for good content marketing lies with the written word.
So, without any more preamble, here are 4 reasons your business should be blogging in 2020.
1. Blogging is essential for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
I’m not going into detail about SEO here – it’s a massive topic, and there’s plenty of amazing resources out there that you can use to learn about it.
Essentially, you’re going to use your blog posts to target keywords that are helpful to your business. You might target keywords that:
- Portray your brand in a positive light
- Get searchers to buy your product/service
- Make new searchers aware of your business
- Position you as an industry authority (and therefore reliable and trustworthy)
I’ll quickly break down the four types of search intent, because they’re directly relevant to which keywords you want to target with your blogs.
Basically, when someone types in a search phrase into Google (or another search engine), they’re doing so for one of four reasons:
- They’re looking for information about something. This is an ‘informational’ search. It roughly aligns with the Awareness stage of the buyer’s journey.
- They’re looking for a specific website. This is a ‘navigational’ search. This one isn’t hugely relevant to business blogging, because it’s not something you’ll normally target as part of your content strategy (there are exceptions).
- They’re browsing a specific product or service. This is a ‘commercial investigation’ search. It roughly aligns with the Consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.
- They’re looking to make a purchase. This is a ‘transactional’ search. It roughly aligns with the Decision stage of the buyer’s journey.
You can read more about search intent and how to interpret the intent of given queries here. It’s worth noting that not every search fits cleanly into a single category of intent. As Joshua Hardwick of Ahrefs notes:
Search intent is not always binary. Many SERPs have mixed search intent.
Let’s go through a quick example. You’re a plumber on the Gold Coast, and you’re just starting your blog. Some ideas might include:
- “how to unblock a bathroom sink” (informational)
- “fibre washers versus rubber washers” (commercial investigation)
- “how to find a good plumber” (commercial investigation)
You’ll notice I didn’t include a transactional search on here. That’s because you should normally be targeting transactional searches with landing pages, rather than blog posts (again, there are exceptions).
You might try to rank for “best gold coast plumber”, and the best way to do that is with a landing page which specifically goes after that keyword, or broader variants of it, like “gold coast plumber”.
If you search for “best gold coast plumber”, you get this:
The top organic results are mostly geared towards commercial investigation – they’re lists comparing the best gold coast plumbers, and they’re all from service comparison sites (excepting that Gold Coast Bulletin article, which would have worked wonders for the featured plumbers).
However, I’d still class this as a mostly transactional query, because the majority of searchers are going to immediately ring a number following a local services-focused search (as opposed to a general product query, like “best body scrub”).
So, if you were a local plumber looking to rank, you wouldn’t try and write a blog post about it – you’d create a local landing page, like “Best Plumbers in [insert suburb here]”.
Informational and commercial investigation (or Awareness and Consideration) keywords are going to be your main blog post targets. Once you start ranking for them, you’ll get more traffic and (ideally) more conversions, as well as the other benefits I’m going to talk about below.
2. Blogging boosts your brand credentials
Let’s say you’re an average person looking to boost your magnesium intake. You’ve heard that transdermal mineral absorption is more effective than orally ingesting tablets, but you’re not sure if it’s just another of those health and wellness fads.
So, while doing some informational searches, you come across this website. It sounds a little bit New Age-y, but then you read their very extensive, science-backed analysis of how topical magnesium works, and you suddenly feel more reassured. These people clearly know what they’re talking about, which probably means their product is effective too.
Essentially, aside from the SEO-derived benefits of getting more website traffic, you’re also building your brand’s reputation with consumers.
Think about the three tenets of rhetoric – ethos, pathos and logos. A good blog post utilises all three (citing established sources, leveraging emotions, using hard facts), but it also goes towards establishing you as an industry thought leader, which means people will trust you more (ethos) and be more likely to buy your product/service.
Another example: you can’t figure out how effectively rewire your air conditioning. You do a quick Google search, and find an article like this. There’s a nice little disclaimer at the top:
Making the electrical connections on a condenser is not a project a DIYer should normally attempt, as it involves high-voltage components and wiring connections that are difficult to access. These connections are usually made at the time an entire system is installed or replaced, and this is really the territory of a professional HVAC contractor or licensed electrician.
The author, Bryan Trandem, then goes on to write a fairly detailed and helpful how-to guide. It’s proof that he knows exactly what he’s doing, at a level high enough to instruct others how to do it.
If Bryan was an electrician in my area, he’s the guy I’d hire to rewire my air con. The same goes for any service. Consumers generally realise if you can teach others about it, you’re good at it.
3. Blogging keeps customers returning to your website
The thing that many companies forget about blogging (lost among complex marketing strategies and too much jargon) is that it’s actually helpful for customers. Or, at least, it should be. A blog that doesn’t assist your target market in some way is a blog that you shouldn’t be writing.
Because your blogs are helpful/entertaining/inspiring, people (customers and others) will be drawn to your site, and they’ll keep coming back. They’re getting something for nothing, which is really the underlying principle of all content marketing.
Obviously, I can’t overstate the importance of having a traffic magnet. If your blog becomes even semi-popular with a dedicated readership, you essentially have a captive audience – you can gently target these readers with promotions and references to your services or products. In my opinion, it’s the best way to keep customers coming back to your website, which, in turn, means you have more opportunities to convert those customers.
I should quickly mention the importance of comments on your blog. I’ve had personal experience with blogs that don’t have comments enabled – one of my clients doesn’t have them on their site, so I know the detrimental impact it has on content marketing efforts. There are content marketers who argue against having comments on blogs, and their reasons are basically as follows:
- It’s too much effort sifting through low-quality/spammy comments
- It can negatively influence the direction of future content
- Comments are a ‘weakness’ because they allow commenters to be hostile
Here’s my take:
- If you’re running a company of any considerable size, you have someone who manages your blog anyway. Regularly reviewing comments can easily be integrated into their role. Anti-spam plugins and apps can filter out most of the bot-generated comments.
- Listening to your readership is never a bad thing. Obviously, ignore the hostile outliers, but if the majority of your readers are telling you something, pay attention.
- Negative comments are PR opportunities for you. If you’ve written your blog properly and fact-checked your information, hostile commenters won’t have a leg to stand on. Also, remember that controversial pieces of writing are often the most widely-read, so some negativity isn’t always bad.
Some additional reasons to enable comments:
- As blogger Pat Flynn said in this article:
Without comments, a blog isn’t really a blog. To me, blogging is not just about publishing content, but also the two-way communication and community building aspects behind it.
People discussing your ideas, critiquing those ideas, circulating alternate opinions … these are all important aspects of creating a vibrant online community, which in turn leads to a more dedicated readership and more committed visitors.
- Blog comments add content to your page, and are often read by other visitors. This increases dwell time, which may be an SEO factor.
- Blog comments can help alert you to mistakes and give you new ideas for content. Nobody’s perfect, especially if you’re churning out content at a high frequency.
Personal example: I recently wrote a blog about Airlie Beach for one of my clients. I made a brief reference (one sentence) to the First Nation peoples who had originally inhabited the area. There was very little information online about where exactly each tribe had lived, so I said something like “X, Y and Z peoples inhabited this region”.
When the article was shared on Facebook, a descendent of one of those tribes commented that this sentence was inaccurate, so I called tribal representatives to get the exact geographic locations of each. The commenter on Facebook was fairly hostile and said we’d been disrespectful, even though the sentence was technically correct.
Rather than saying “oh, we shouldn’t share articles on Facebook anymore” (which would have been ludicrous, but is exactly the same logic detractors of comments use), I viewed it as a learning opportunity. Now, whenever I make a reference to First Nations people or tribes in my work, I make sure I personally contact community representatives to fact-check the specifics.
Moral of the story: try not to make mistakes, but, if you do, it’s better that a blog commenter picks them up and gives you the chance to amend them.
4. Blog posts can be an essential part of your marketing funnel.
Earlier in this article, I made reference to search intent being roughly aligned with stages of the buyer’s journey. When you’re targeting keywords with a search intent, your pieces are going to line up with a certain stage of the buyer’s journey. You can also reverse-engineer this: create funnels using different blog posts.
This Hubspot post explains how to generate content for each stage (they call their stages Awareness, Evaluation and Purchase, but they’re exactly the same).
When I’m designing blog posts like this, I think of them in the same manner I think of an EDM nurture flow – basically, if a customer was to read an Awareness article followed by a Consideration article followed by a Decision article on a given topic, they should, ideally, be inclined to pick up the phone and call you.
You’ve nurtured them with content, but, unlike email sequences, where you have complete control over the order in which the content is delivered and consumed, all your articles are just out there, co-existing together. What’s to stop a potential customer from finding a decision stage article first? Why should they read three articles together, in that order?
The simple truth? There’s no real way to control it. You can, however, channel customers through series or article groupings.
Check out Brian Dean’s SEO Hub, for example. Articles are grouped together in categories that progressively get more advanced. You could use a similar technique for different buyer’s journey stages – Inspiration, perhaps, followed by Guides followed by Case Studies.
Alternatively, have individual series for articles that work well together, so readers can easily click through to the next part of the funnel.
I’ve included this point as a reason your business should blog, but, truthfully, you won’t see results from using content funnels until you’ve built up a decent database of blog posts. How long that takes is completely up to you and your marketing team.
- Blogging is essential for SEO
- It boosts your brand credentials
- It keeps customers coming back to your website
- It can be used to create content funnels
If you need high-quality, professionally written content, get in touch using our contact form on the left. We also specialise in content strategy and editing, so we can develop and implement a content schedule that works while leaving the creation of technical content to you and your team. Either way, we’d love to hear from you, so feel free to send an email or call us on 1300 617 334.