There was a time not too long ago when people thought of blogs and websites as two distinctly different things. The purpose of a website was to promote products and services and provide static information. A blog was a type of website that featured articles or journal-like entries that people would bookmark or subscribe to and read periodically.
Today, websites and blogs have a much closer relationship, and frequently occupy the same space. A blog has become an invaluable tool for driving traffic, and therefore has become a permanent fixture of an increasing number of small business websites.
And while many small business owners are aware of the growing popularity of website blogs, they are unsure how to approach their own, and how exactly they would benefit from the effort of maintaining it.
Why should I add a blog to my website?
There are 3 main reasons to host a blog on your site. They are, in some order of importance:
Search optimization. Even if you only have time to post to your blog once a month, that is still more often than you might otherwise go in and make updates to your website. Search engines like Google give preference to sites that are updated frequently and have new content each time they are ‘crawled’. So having a dynamic website can really help you rank more highly, and be seen by more web users. Another way your blog helps your search ranking is by giving you a reason to have lots of keyword rich content relating to your business or industry on your site, with phrases that people who you’d like to reach will be searching for.
External links. When you put helpful, unique and relevant content up on your blog, it’s likely that other people in your space will find it, and possibly share and link to it. This can be customers who are sharing your content with friends on social media, or industry experts who refer to you on their own blogs and websites. Not only does this expand your chance of social discovery (reaching a larger audience through amplification and virality), it can also be a great boost for your search ranking. Google views your site as more relevant when other sites link to it — especially sites that have lots of credibility. So when credible sources link to your site, it’s like their vouching for you to search engines.
Customer engagement. A somewhat more romantic reason to maintain a blog is to engage in an ongoing relationship with your current and potential customers. Transparency is one of the most influential characteristics a business can have. Allowing visitors ‘behind-the-scenes’ access to your industry, and a glimpse of your personality, is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition and inspire loyalty.
So, are you ready to start blogging yet? The good news is that as blogging has become more and more common, it’s become progressively easier to add a blog to your site. If you’re a Webs user, you simply have to add the free Blog app to your site, adjust a couple of preferences and you’re ready to start blogging.
A few key things to keep in mind when you get started:
– Don’t be promotional, be helpful and informative. Post about things that your potential clients would find useful and relevant.
– Integrate seamlessly with social media. Use tools like ShareThis to make it super easy for readers to share your content.
– Post regularly. Even if time is limited, try to post at least once a month. Once a week would be better, but do whatever you can realistically maintain.
– Be sure to allow commenting. A blog is much more effective when it functions as a conversation. Feel free to moderate comments before they post to your site, but if you choose this feature, make sure you check your comments often and don’t let them get stale.
From our How To Make A Website series:
How A Blog Can Make Your Small Business Website a Success
Five Commandments For A Great Contact Page
How To Make A Great Website Homepage
Dos and Don’ts of User-Friendly Website Navigation
How To Make A Website: Breaking Down The Pieces
Prepare Yourself: What You Need to Start a Website
Checklist: 10 Steps to a Successful Business Website in 2013
Building a Website: Do It Yourself or Hire A Pro?