Gaining a foothold online within your market niche may be a challenging task, but its importance cannot be underlined enough in our fast-paced world. Because of the diverse range of benefits it provides, a small business blog done right is one of the best ways to make an impact online.

Small businesses these days are already aware – and should be if they aren’t – of the big part that online and mobile search traffic plays in how they establish their brand, generate new leads and sales, and engage with their customers. But, maintaining a successful online strategy and all of the various components needed to make it work is a time intensive commitment that may be out of reach for some. Small business owners may either be too busy to do it all themselves, or the cost of employing or outsourcing the work may impractical.

In comes the blog

It’s simple to implement, fairly cost-efficient (read: zero with a little bit of know how) and can be scaled to meet your schedule. Although it’s not something that will run itself, with a good plan and some dedication, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to start letting it work for your business. And when it does begin to work for your business, it does so in spades. Here’s just a few of the ways a well balanced and regularly updated blog can help your small business get noticed online:

1. It strengthens your website SEO and drives traffic to it

Search engines are constantly weighing in on what search results are most relevant to their users and use extremely complicated algorithms to make those decisions. The size of your website, how relevant the content it provides is, and how often it is updated are some of the key things search engines like Google and Bing look at. A blog expands the size of your website, increases your reach with each keywords or topic you cover, and is updated more often than your website. This directly impacts your overall page rank, especially if you’re writing your blogs with SEO in mind. But, more importantly, it increases the likelihood of a wider range of users finding your blog when searching online. And more search results equals more traffic.

2. It builds reputation within your market niche

Whatever your specialty may be, providing useful and informative information on your blog will help build your brand reputation. Users are more willing to purchase from a company that they feel is an expert in the services and products they provide. Especially if they land on your blog posts time and time again when researching related content.

3. It provides rich and shareable content

Well written blog posts that give value to users are more likely to be shared, whether interpersonally or via social media. This means new users discovering your content, and in turn, your business. It’s a very effective way of passively generating leads. Additionally, if you are also actively engaged on social media, blog posts offer rich content you can share on your channels, and in turn drive engagement and attract new followers.

4. It creates lasting returns

Since blog posts are almost never deleted, unlike content on your website which is often-times changed, they provide a long lasting method of attracting users. Relevant blog posts can show up in search results for years after being published, and will continue to drive traffic to your website long after you wrote them.

So many birds with just one stone

If you haven’t realized it yet – the above mentioned points cover a huge portion of what an online marketing strategy intends to achieve. And that’s just looking at the blog from an online marketing perspective. We shouldn’t forget to mention that it can also function as a direct means of engaging your existing users, making them aware of any promotions or events you are running or taking part in, as well as strengthening your relationships with them. All key factors in increasing the likelihood that existing customers return to you, time and time again.

What makes a blog good

Now that we’ve gone over what it can do for you, we should focus on what you should be doing to make sure that it gets the results you want:

1. Do your research

What is it you sell or provide as a service? How are users searching for it? You’ll need to find out the best way to reach your customers, and research the topics and keywords they are most likely going to be looking for. This is critical to making sure your blog posts will actually appear in search results.

2. Make each blog post count

Be passionate about each blog post you write, and make sure that it is relevant, engaging and worth reading. It should be written for humans, not machines (there are many blogs that focus on keyword density and search results too much). Your end user is human, and they are the ones that will make a decision of whether to purchase your service or product, or share the blog post with their friends. Write for them, not for Google, because that’s what Google is looking for.

3. Be consistent and regular

How many hours can you realistically dedicate to your blog per month? Find out and make a schedule around it. But whatever you do, do not neglect your blog. Keep to your schedule and make sure you are posting regularly. An active blog not only looks good to customers, but it also looks good to search engines.

4. Diversify your content

You don’t need to be chained down by what you write, feel free to explore and experiment with new topics and approaches – as long as it’s within your market niche and productive to your business. Not only will it make you happier, it will keep your audience happy. Try integrating current events, hot topics related to your business, images and videos. Make your blog and exciting and engaging place to visit.

Now that you get it, don’t wait, start today

There is no better time to start than now. Take a moment out of your day, do some research and start planning your blog today. You should have no excuses on why your small business website is missing a blog. None. And if you need help with getting started, don’t be afraid to contact us. We can help you figure out the best ways to make your website work for your business.

Photo Credit: Flickr user Takashi Hososhima – The Art of Social Media CC BY-SA 2.0