Why Blogging Matters
By Aaron Taylor
Ah, another new year! If you are like many of us, you've got big plans to change your life for the better. But if you haven't yet made any resolutions about your business, allow me to suggest one. Like most resolutions, it requires developing new habits, but it's less demanding than going to the gym every day or even cooking healthier. And it can have a powerful impact on your business.
I'm talking about blogging. According to research by Hubspot, B2B companies that blog once a week get more than twice as much web traffic as those that don't blog at all. Even better, they receive about three times as many inbound leads!
If your blog is smelling a little musty, this is a perfect time to air it out and give it some fresh attention. Plan out a few topics in advance so that you can hit the ground running each week. It's a tremendous help to know ahead of time what you will write about.
Clients are always asking us how often they should blog. To be honest, that really depends on what you can handle. But posting a 300- to 600-word article once a week is a reasonable goal for many people. That works out to just a couple of hours each week.
But suppose you simply can't commit to blogging every week. That's okay. Better to start slow and do something than put it off forever. In fact, Hubspot's research shows that B2B companies that blog only once or twice a month, still generate 70 percent more leads than companies that don't. That's a big return on a relatively small investment!
Now, once you develop the blogging habit — or enlist others in your firm to write additional material — you should consider increasing the frequency of your posts. Hubspot's data indicates that companies that increase blogging from once a week to 6-8 times per month almost double their leads again!
At Hinge, we blog about three times a week. And we see the results in the numbers. About 38 percent of our page views are blog posts. And about a third of the people who visit our site enter on a blog article. (If you include all the other types of free content that we produce, it comes to more than half.) In other words, many people who come to our website are searching for a term or issue that one of our blog posts addresses.
If you think blogging won't work in your industry, think again. Many of our professional services clients in a variety of industries have had similar results. You can too.
So what are you going to blog about? Believe me, nobody but your closest clients are going to be interested in your recent hires and staff party photos. If you want to see the types of results I cited above, you need a strategy. And you need to write on topics that prospective clients care about.
To attract qualified inbound leads, you need to know a little about search engine optimization. It doesn't require deep knowledge, so I'll give you a quick tutorial right now.
1. Find some good keywords. Learn to use a keyword research tool, such as Google's Keyword Tool (you'll need to set up a free AdWords account to get access). You can use it to brainstorm keyword phrases — terms people might search on that are relevant to your business. Start with your own list of relevant terms, then consult the tool for other ideas. In general, you want to pick words and phrases that have low or medium competition and relatively high search volume. In other words, terms that are easy to rank for but get a lot of searches.
2. Use only one keyword phrase per blog post. Incorporate your keyword phrase into critical areas of your blog post so that the search engines will understand what issue you are writing about. Ideally, you will use this keyword phrase in three places: 1) the page title (the text that shows up at that top of your browser window); 2) the blog post's headline; and 3) in the body of your blog post. Use it 3-4 times in the body, if possible. Just keep in mind that you are writing for people, too, so don't overdo it.
3. Link to older posts from newer ones when it makes sense. When you do so, incorporate the appropriate keyword phrase for the article you are linking to in the link text itself. Again, this helps search engines understand what your pages are all about.
4. Whenever practical, encourage people to link to your posts from other websites. Ask them to use the keyword phrase in their link text. This can be a tall order, I know, but keep your eyes open. If you know other people who blog in your space, it may be easier than you think. Even links from social media have some (though lesser) value. When you are ready to invest more heavily in content marketing, you may want to hire an SEO expert to take care of some or all of this link building for you. It can have a tremendous effect on your rankings, especially for more competitive terms.
5. Don't be afraid to write more than one post on any give keyword phrase. After all, it's okay to own more than one spot on the first page of Google's search results!
Just because you follow this formula doesn't guarantee that all of your blog posts will rank well in search engines. But chances are, over time at least some of them will, and these will begin to attract valuable traffic.
As you write, remember to keep your target reader in mind. It doesn't do any good if you write a masterpiece on a subject that your clients and prospects don't find relevant. The best kinds of content are educational pieces that help people solve their business problems. If they like what you write, they'll want to read more. And once people come to trust your expertise, they will be more likely to contact your firm when they are ready to buy services.
Don't Forget the Offer
So blogging is a great way to get interested and motivated people to your website. But you can do more to keep them engaged and turn them into leads. We always encourage our clients to include offers alongside their blog posts. These can be “soft” offers, such as links to other similar content on your site. (See the sidebar of this newsletter for some examples of soft offers.) Or they can be “hard” offers, such as a free consultation or a request for a proposal. Hard offers produce real human interaction between both parties.
If your soft offers are particularly valuable (for instance, a white paper or research study), we suggest you require visitors to fill out a simple registration form before they can access the goods. This is an important way to convert cold visitors into leads.
Why does blogging matter? Because in our increasingly connected world, buyers — even buyers of professional services — rely on web search and blogs to provide answers to everyday business problems. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to become a trusted source of the answers your clients and prospects so desperately want. Good luck!