According to a recent Information Week survey of 500 top technology companies, 72% have adopted blogging, wikis, or social networking as tools for external colloaboration in 2010. This number is up from 42% in 2009, which indicates people are finding value in these online tools. But what are they really gaining?

Here at Hinge, we regularly hear from owners of professional service companies that want to break into blogging — but they often don’t know why. In fact, a blog can be a great tool for generating new leads. But it is important to understand exactly how. So here are four ways blogs can create interest in yours services:

  1. Referring Traffic – When you create unique and relevant content targeted at your ideal clients, you encourage people to link to your site. An interested blogger may not link to your business home page, but they will link to an article on your blog that is helpful to their readers. Building links this way often produces interested and engaged visitors.
  2. Search Engine Traffic – The more posts you write, the more content that is indexed by Google. Rarely will your posts rank for general, high-traffic keywords such as “Consulting Advice.” However, you will rank for longer, more specific keywords such as “Social Media Strategies for Lawyers.” These “long tail” posts will draw a more targeted crowd — and they do add up. In addition, search engines will rank your website with higher authority if you consistently produce fresh content. The last thing Google wants to see is a site that hasn’t been updated in a year.
  3. A Two-Way Conversation – You need to nurture your leads. Blogs are a great way to open up communication, retain your web visitors, and instill trust. Your readers will interact with you through comments and it will give them a reason to return. The more they return, the more they remember you and look to you when they need services.
  4. Proven Expertise – A blog is a great way to establish your expertise within your niche. Books, white papers, and blogs are all ways to enhance credibility and push buyers over the edge. Because blogs are often one of the most frequented parts of a site, visitors will see your content and they will formulate perceptions based on your writing.