As both graphic & web designers, we create a lot of websites for small businesses. We are frequently asked if, in our opinion, the client should include a blog in their new website. Of course, there is no blanket answer for this question; each client and each site has different needs. However,outlining the benefits of blogging will help you (or your clients) make your decision: should I blog or not?
There are questions to consider before jumping into blogging. While there are downsides, the benefits of blogging can be huge – benefits that range from social to SEO. Let’s explore them in a bit more detail.
Sticking to a frequent posting schedule, which I’d suggest, will automatically give you a more active online presence. Your clients will see that you’re thinking and working on sharing your (useful & effective) articles; you will (hopefully) use social media to share your articles, and if they’re good, other people will share your articles too. All of a sudden, you’re more active on the web – and the more active you are, the easier it is for people (and potential clients) to find you and your business.
Writing well-written and researched articles that are read by your clients and peers can go a long way in establishing your expertise in your field. When buying goods or services, clients like to know that the business they’re buying from is well-versed and knowledgable – this is easily helped along by writing blog posts that are helpful and related to what your business offers. As well, freely giving away information establishes the author as someone who is confident and approachable – two characteristics that are appealing to potential clients. So do your research, write your articles, and be confident and approachable in your tone!
Realistically, you cannot post frequently or have an active online presence without staying relevant and aware within your field. If you’ve set yourself a blogging schedule of one article per week, you will be constantly looking for sources of inspiration for your next article. What’s cutting edge in your field that your clients/readers will want to know about? What shifts and changes are going down in your industry? You will be on top of these things – it’s almost a given, if you commit yourself to frequent, focused blogging.
Blogs can provide huge SEO benefits when approached properly. It starts with writing quality content that others want to share: stick to your niche; write articles that solve problems in your field; encourage others to share them. If you take these steps and promote your writing, people will be inclined to share your articles. This generates links back to your site – not only are these additional avenues for potential clients to find your business, but these links are important to Google as well. Part of Google’s PageRank algorithm uses these backlinks: the links are viewed as “votes” for the validity of your site. The more votes, the more valid, the higher up your site is shown for specific keyword phrases. Finally, as you stick to your posting schedule and write a variety of articles focused on your clients & your field of business, you will garner a large amount of content with keywords related to your field. Google also takes this – keyword phrases, amount of content, etc – into account when determining your PageRank. All this additional content has a positive impact on your SEO rankings.
As you can see, blogging provides direct SEO benefits along with the more direct, social benefits we’ve previously mentioned.
The benefits of blogging are great, but there are downsides to blogging to be aware of as well. A few quick examples: poor writing can cast you in an unprofessional light and have a negative impact on your business. Quality, effective blogging requires some sort of schedule – this can be demanding and draining (not to mention tough to do when client project deadlines are bearing down on you). Ideally, your blog will be self-hosted within your website (not an on outside, free service) in order to gain all the previously mentioned SEO benefits – there is usually a higher cost that comes along with using WordPress as a CMS, or another related CMS with blogging capabilities. As well, some clients have difficulty writing to their audience and fall into the trap of just writing about their business, which is a surefire way to lose readers fast. With regards to this last point: I use the Party Analogy to clarify this. Say you’re at a party and you sit down next to a guy you’ve never met before and introduce yourself. Said guy proceeds to talk your ear off all night… only talking about themselves. If you use your blog to only write about your business, you’re that guy. Don’t be that guy.
It’s important to think specifically about your clients, your business, and whether or not the pros of blogging outweigh the cons mentioned above. As I mentioned, there is no blanket answer – but I do know blogging has benefitted Paper Leaf greatly for the time we’ve put into it. What are your thoughts & experiences?