James Parsons is the founder and CEO of Content Powered, a content creation company. He’s been a content marketer for over 10 years and writes for Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, and many other publications on blogging and website strategy.
The Benefits of Business Blogging and Why You Should Start
If you’re a business owner and you’ve been at all curious how to grow your site with marketing, chances are pretty good that you’ve seen one piece of advice shouted from the rooftops. It’s recommended by friends, colleagues, and just about every article you’ve seen on how to grow a successful website:
“Start a blog!” “Build a blog!” “Grow a blog!”
The majority of businesses online believe the advice, which is why nearly every business site these days seems to have a blog. Then again, it’s always people like me, the marketers and the people who run content marketing agencies, telling you to blog. Are we telling the truth, or are we just trying to push our services when you don’t need them?
If you run a Google search for “how to market your website” or “how to grow your website”, just about every single one includes blogging on that list.
Having grown hundreds of businesses myself, I’m here to tell you, it’s not hot air – blogging works. It’s a valuable investment for any business, large or small, and all but the largest global companies can find some kind of benefit from doing it.
- Is it hard? Of course.
- Is there a lot of competition? There sure is.
- Can you enjoy the benefits of a thriving blog if you grow it properly? Absolutely.
Let’s go over all of those benefits. First, though, you need to know how blogging works in general.
The Content Marketing Framework
Blogging is part of content marketing, which is part of inbound marketing.
Sorry, that might be too abrupt.
1. Inbound marketing is one half of marketing as a whole, the other half being outbound marketing. Outbound marketing is like TV commercials; it interrupts the user with what they’re doing to try to sell something. Inbound marketing is the opposite; it’s all about creating compelling and valuable content on your website, to draw people in and make them interested in what you have for sale. Hubspot has an excellent guide to the topic here.
A large part of inbound marketing is content marketing. Content marketing is all about, you guessed it, producing content. Blog posts are a large part of it, but YouTube videos, live streams, webinars, podcasts, infographics, and social media posts are all part of content marketing as a whole. The Content Marketing Institute has a great overview here.
2. Blogging is, of course, all about your blog. You perform research into topics that your audience wants to read about and write content about those topics. When your audience searches for those topics, they find your content, and they visit your site to read it. Now they’re in your orbit, where you can ply them with calls to action, entice them with offers, and convince them to buy your products.
The primary mechanism here is Google. Google indexes as much of the internet as it possibly can, compiling not just a database of links to content, but a cognitive index of what all of that content is, how it’s related, and how valuable it is. The algorithm they use to do that is insanely complicated and has over 200 known factors that it considers.
Google has a huge amount of market share, and when most people want to find something online, they Google it. Your goal with blogging, then, is to be one of those results in Google that your audience finds. You do this through a combination of careful research to identify topics, research into what content already exists, and the creation of content that out-does what already exists. This – plus the manipulation and growth of search ranking factors like backlinks – allows you to appear in the top results in Google. From there, you draw in users, convince them to join your mailing list, and eventually cajole them into buying your products.
Here’s an example I wrote on my primary page about why you should blog:
Here’s an elementary example: a company that sells WiFi-enabled gardening products. Instead of only focusing your efforts on a primary search phrase like “smart watering system”, a fairly competitive search term with a finite amount of monthly searches, we start writing informative posts that explore new topics, such as:
- “How to Take Care of Your Garden During a Heatwave”
- “15 Benefits of Using Mulch in Your Vegetable Garden”
- “How Often Should You Water Plants in a Zone 9 Area?”
If you consider the user’s interest in these topics and their search intent, they likely have plants that they take care of and are researching some best practices to keep them healthy. If they land on a site that sells products that detect moisture levels and water plants automatically and at the right time, these individuals who carefully tend to their gardens will be much more likely to show interest in this product than most.”
Every new blog post you write is a piece of content that represents an opportunity. It’s a chance to show off your knowledge. It’s a chance for a user who is interested in the subject to find your information, discover your brand, and get pulled into your orbit. They might not become a customer right away, but they’ll be aware of your brand. In the future, when it’s closer to the time that they want to become a customer, they’ll think of you. Many will purchase your product or services on the spot if your site is properly optimized for conversions.
That’s how blogging works.
Now, it’s one thing to lay out an elaborate plan and say “it gets you customers”, but what, specifically, are the benefits blogging brings to you?
Let’s dig in.
Blogging Brings Users to Your Site
Who doesn’t want more people to visit their website? Pretty much nobody. If you have a website, it exists because you want people to find it and use it.
Sure, there are some uses for websites that don’t need more traffic. HOA announcement pages, family blogs, wedding announcements; each of these has a specific purpose and were never intended to be websites that are expecting large amounts of traffic. Business websites, however, could almost always benefit from more visitors and customers. It’s pretty difficult to run a successful online business without first having eyes on your web pages and products.
As you start to grow your blog, many things will happen. You build up a roster of content, making your site larger and more prominent. You answer more questions and cover more topics. You build more and brand awareness and links from other sites. All of this plays into Google’s search algorithm and makes your site more visible in the search results.
Think about your business’s products or services. Do your customers have common questions about them? Put yourself in their shoes – are there things you would research before signing up with your business?
Remember what I said above; every single blog post is an opportunity. Every single blog post is a question you can answer, a piece of information you can present, or otherwise something that people are actively searching for. These blog articles are each a new chance for someone looking for information to stumble across your site when otherwise they would find that information somewhere else (usually your competitors). Trust me, you’d rather have them reading that content on your site instead.
Moreover, every new blog post is also a resource. You can link to that blog post from other blog posts you write. You can promote that blog post to other bloggers who might be interested in the topic. You can mention that blog post to a person you meet at a trade show when the topic comes up. You can post a link to that blog post on social media for people to find and read. In a lot of ways, blog posts also promote themselves and will naturally attract links, but more on that in a bit.
Blogging hits many of the channels people can take to find your website. Without it, what are you left with? Primarily, paid channels. You can pay for ads to promote your products, you can pay to promote social media posts that promote your products, you can send messages to your newsletter subscribers (however few there are without a blog to help grow it), and so on.
Blogging Builds Brand Awareness
People can’t buy from your store if they have no idea who you are.
It sounds simple, but a lot of business owners forget it. One of the key benefits of blogging is awareness. You’re reading my blog right now, but how did you find out about me? My guess is, you were looking up some topic about content marketing, and you found my blog in the search results. My title was sufficiently compelling, so you clicked on it to read more. Maybe it was this post, today, and you had never heard of me before. Maybe it was a different post, a month ago or a year ago.
Now, awareness doesn’t mean familiarity. If I ask you who your favorite content marketing companies are, would you remember my name? Maybe, maybe not. But, here’s the thing; you don’t necessarily need to know my name, yet. All you need to know is that next time, when you’re searching for something related to content marketing and you see my blog pop up in the search results, that you remember liking something I wrote before.
Maybe you’ll eventually grow to recognize my name. Maybe you’ll recognize my author bio, and you’ll see my writing on Forbes, or Entrepreneur, or Search Engine Watch, and you’ll associate me as someone who writes valuable content.
Perhaps weeks, months, or even years from now, you’ll be working on growing your business website. Maybe you’ll decide you’re tired of writing blog posts on your own. Maybe you’ll wonder why your blog isn’t doing much for you, and you’ll think, “maybe I should have someone else help me grow this thing.” So you look up content marketing agencies, and there it is; my name. So you reach out to me, and we talk, and you hire me to handle your blog for you. After all, you know from what I’ve written and you’ve read that this is a subject I’m very knowledgeable about.
That’s how I gain new customers from blogging; through familiarity and brand awareness. You can do it too.
Now, awareness is a benefit that you get directly from the minds of potential customers and readers of your blog, but it’s not something that benefits you in the Google search results. Luckily, blogging benefits you there, too.
See, there are a lot of people who run blogs out there. There are thousands of new blogs popping up every day because people read articles like this one and are convinced they too should start a blog. One of the key elements of a blog post is links. I have a bunch of them in this post; some to other websites, and some to my blog posts.
Google runs on links. Way back when Google was founded, in fact, the only thing they cared about was links. Of course, it is possible to game and manipulate links, so they had to get more sophisticated with how they evaluate them, but that’s a longer discussion for another day (if you’re curious, research Google Penguin). The point is, links – and the web they create of interconnected passages between sites – is a key, foundational element of how Google ranks sites. In fact, they tested a version of their algorithm that ignored external backlinks, and search quality dropped drastically.
Without links, Google’s search results would not be as accurate or helpful. Links pointing at your site help your site grow more visible in the search results. The better the link, the more value it holds for you. I’m not going to go into great detail on how links work in this post – you can find that information elsewhere, or talk to me directly about it – but suffice it to say that having more (quality) links is generally better than fewer links.
How do people like me who are writing blog posts decide what posts we want to link to? We know what subject we’re touching on – like how I just linked to a few articles on backlinks – and we know we don’t want to cover it in detail, so we decide we need a link there for readers to read more if they want. If we don’t have a post of our own covering the subject, we look for someone else who has already written one.
How do we look for that link? We search Google for the subject. From there, we browse the results and find a sufficiently high-quality post that covers the information we want to be covered. If we have sites we recognize, we’re more likely to link to them over sites we don’t recognize. That awareness breeds more links. The links make the site more likely to appear higher in the search results, so more people can build awareness of it. It’s a feedback loop – and one that you can benefit from if you’re the one who’s putting valuable information out there.
I own websites that have dozens of organic links from massive household names, and I never had to buy, ask, or build them. Not bad for a passive link building strategy. I don’t even focus on links anymore. We write great quality content, and high-quality links are a natural byproduct of that hard work.
Blogging Converts Visitors into Leads
Sometimes, people want to know more. Maybe I’m enticing you with my post, convincing you that starting and growing a blog is a great idea. You may have only just found me, but you might browse other blog posts on my site, or reach out to contact me directly or sign up for my newsletter.
That’s another of the primary benefits of a blog: people get drawn into your orbit. Where recognition breeds familiarity, familiarity breeds deeper relationships. In my example, people who might not have known they needed a blog are now convinced they should have one and might be interested in my services in running one. They aren’t yet ready to become customers, but they have the seed of the idea placed in their minds.
The same goes for other brands. A carpet cleaning business can write posts about how to clean carpets, what tools are useful for carpet cleaning, how to use those tools, and, of course, how much better a professional cleaning service is than a DIY option. Anyone with carpet stains can then decide if they want to hire this company to do the job. So it goes.
Blogging Builds Relationships
A key part of all of this is relationships. There are a lot of different relationships that are fostered by blogging.
- The relationship with the reader. By fostering this relationship, you can convert readers into leads and leaders into customers.
- The relationship to the customer. Just because someone has converted doesn’t mean they’re going to stop reading your blog. Some portion of your content should be targeted at your customers to help them succeed, regardless of whether or not they’re actively using your product or service.
- The relationship with other bloggers. Building links is just part of the relationship you can foster with other bloggers. You can exchange guest posts, you can network with each other for mutual benefit through trade shows, you can exchange sponsorships, you can build a partnership and package deals together, you can set up affiliate relationships, and more.
- The relationship to influencers. Influencers are generally more respected and have greater audiences than you have, but as you build a relationship with them, you can use that to mutual advantage. Social media takeovers, sponsored posts, and other influencer marketing techniques are all valuable marketing options.
- The relationship to powerful editors. The people who run columns or sections on sites like Forbes, Entrepreneur, HuffPo, and other major publications aren’t operating in a vacuum. They read blogs, and they examine blogger reputations when those bloggers want to write for the publication. The bigger and better your blog, the more likely you are to get – or to be invited.
From fostering a community to opening up opportunities for business growth, blogging can benefit every facet of business relationships.
Convinced? I can help you with everything from getting a blog set up to running it. Whether you want to just read more of my posts on the subject, or talk to me directly to leverage my expertise, I’m here for you. Just drop me a line and we can chat! If you have questions or comments about anything in this post, please let me know in the comments below.
Are You Blogging? You Should Be.
I wrote a 6 part article titled “Why Blog?” that breaks down the stats and facts on why blogging is one of the best marketing investments, period. I guarantee you’ll learn something new.Read Article