By Alan Byrd
One of the most underused tools in the marketing toolbox is the blog. It’s something every business should do often as it’s one of the best ways – and cheapest ways – to build your online presence and make your company look great to your website visitors.
After all, even if your marketplace is just a small select group of customers, a blog can show that one key contact that you are truly an expert in your field. Just a group of headlines on a page of articles written by your company can help generate sales for your business.
A few years ago, I often encouraged business owners to write a book. At that time, if you were a “published author,” you were the expert in that field. Of course, there were plenty of ways to self-publish books without finding a publishing house to tackle all the costs.
I was fortunate to write a book on Spring Training baseball about 15 years ago. I still get calls every now and then asking for interviews about Spring Training even though most of the parks I wrote about are gone.
A book had that power.
Today, a blog can be even more powerful than a book as it drives website traffic to your business as well as being the expert in your field.
And, as a bonus, if you want to see your name on the cover of a book, you can use your blog posts as chapters!
Here’s a good article from Hubspot on seven reasons why you should blog!
Why don’t businesses blog?
Too many businesses don’t blog, or don’t blog regularly. They miss the opportunity to help grow their business because they “don’t have time” or “I don’t have a good writer” or plenty of other excuses.
How much time do you devote to sales? If spending 30 minutes writing about something you know could generate one sale, would you do it? Of course, you would.
And if you’re not a great writer, there are content writers available for a low cost throughout the world on sites such as Fiverr.
One thing to avoid is companies that sell content for a specific industry. There is no exclusivity for your business and, if you buy this content, chances are some of your competitors will have the same content. You want to find ways to have original content on your site.
Often, businesses start blogs and then just stop producing content. This is often because the “schedule” set up by the business is not enforced or not extended. It’s almost impossible to set up a year’s worth of blogs in advance, but you can schedule topics for each month and then determine monthly the subjects that are relevant to your customers but are also current topics.
There will be times of writer’s block. Even the most professional writers sometimes stare at a screen waiting for inspiration. My advice is to find the time and atmosphere that works best for you. I write best in the mornings and struggle in the afternoon. Some people can crank out blogs at 2 a.m. You’ll need to find your sweet spot and understand that sometimes you just need to step away and refresh.
There should be no reason why you can’t produce a blog for your business if you give it priority.
What makes a good blog?
There are a few questions that get asked about blogging regularly, often centered around how long a blog should be and how often should a company blog.
For those questions, you want to get back to the main reason you are blogging. Is it to grow your search engine presence or are you just wanting to be an expert for a few potential customers you send to your website? If it’s the latter, there is a lot more leeway. You want it to be regular – so it doesn’t look like you started and couldn’t continue – and you want it to be more reader-oriented instead of trying to please Google.
For this piece, however, let’s focus on pleasing Google. Google, and all search engines, want to push relevant and current content to potential readers. That means a few things.
First, Google likes to see current content on your website. If your last post was in 2020, take it down. But, if you can get as many blogs as possible on your site, Google will love it. It’s probably best to get a couple of blogs up per week but doing one blog a week would be ideal.
If that seems like a struggle, aim for what you think you can produce and start there.
As to length, people prefer to read shorter stories, but most search engines are looking for pieces between 1,000 and 2,000 words. That seems like a lot, but there are ways to help meet that total. For instance, put a boilerplate about the company at the end. That can add a couple of hundred words and can be written with great search terms.
Of course, it is better to have short pieces than no blog, so if you can just get a few paragraphs together, do that and build into longer pieces.
Most people understand keywords. It’s important to put those keywords in your blog often.
But another way to build length is to add geographical terms to your writing. For instance, the UCF Business Incubation Program provides entrepreneurs with resources to help grow their businesses in Orlando, Orange County, Winter Springs, Kissimmee, Osceola County, Daytona Beach, Volusia County, Seminole County, and Lake Nona.
That is not the most readable sentence to most people, but it’s gold for Google. As people write long search terms – or dictate them – the most common search is about something near me or in a city. By talking about your geography, you’ll get a leg up on your competition and you’ll add a ton to your word count.
Finally, work to get inbound links to your blog. Let your site manager know you have a great blog piece to share. Include it in your newsletter. Share it on LinkedIn. If you are part of a chamber, let them include it on their website, like the Seminole County Chamber’s page.
Inbound links are extremely important to search engines. The more you share, the better your results will be. Of course, providing links in your blog shows others you can be a partner as well.
It’s time for you to start thinking about the best way to do this. Maybe you have someone on staff who could take up this project, or you just want to give it a shot. Don’t put a lot of stress on yourself to do it, just take a few moments to try.
Of course, the UCF Business Incubation Program is here to help you as well. If you are a client company and need assistance getting that start, reach out to your Site Manager about getting a meeting scheduled with me and we can help put together a few blogs for your site to get you started. We can also help plan and direct you to resources for long-term solutions.
Now, for that boilerplate…
The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training, and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth/impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has provided vital business development resources resulting in over 300 local startup companies reaching their potential faster and graduating into the community where they continue to grow and positively impact the local economy.
With eight facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Kissimmee, Orlando, and Winter Springs. For the 2017/2018 fiscal years, the activities of these participating firms have helped to sustain more than 6,725 local jobs and have had a cumulative impact of over $725 million on regional GDP and over $1.3 billion on regional sales. During the same period, the program has returned more than $12.00 in state and local taxes for every $1.00 invested in the program. In addition, for every $1.00 of public investment, the firms also produced $118 of additional regional GDP and $226 of regional sales. For more information, visit www.incubator.ucf.edu.