Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
You’re sitting by the phone, wringing your hands nervously, glancing between the clock and the phone impatiently. Back and forth, back and forth until your neck feels like it’s about to snap.
You run through the checklist in your head: you have a company, a team, a sufficient website, all the basics...so where are the leads? Why aren’t they contacting you yet?
The phone remains silent.
Your inner dialogue grows louder: why isn’t this working? What did I do wrong? What is there left to try?
Well, my friend, there is one last hope: blogging.
Gone are the days where you buy the biggest billboard imaginable, where you repeat your company phone number three times on the radio or TV, where you shout out your best deal ever and the people come running. Now, it’s up to you to bring in the leads, to attract your audience, to prove yourself in their eyes. All of this can be achieved with content marketing, and more specifically, blogging.
What do we mean by content marketing, exactly?
Content marketing is a strategy in which you create and distribute content that is of value to your clearly defined audience in order to stir interest in your products or services. The simple version: provide value, draw in customers as a result.
There are many elements in a successful content marketing strategy, including active social media participation, email newsletters, and downloadable ebooks, but the best is simply maintaining an awesome blog.
This preference for blogs isn’t just a personal bias - it’s in the facts. Here are the top seven reasons why your website absolutely will benefit from having an awesome, advice-packed, and active blog.
1. It attracts people to your website for a longer duration.
Let’s think about this: if your website didn’t have a lot of readable, engaging sections, what reason would prospects have to hang around on your site anyway? Besides making a purchase, websites without blogs offer little on the engaging end, and users tend to drop off earlier rather than later.
Yes, people can read about who you are and what you do, but the blog truly shines in showing prospects how well you do what you do, know what you know, and how you can help them succeed.
The blog truly shines in showing prospects how well you do what you do, know what you know, and how you can help them succeed.
The lengthiness of articles will entice readers to stay on your website longer, potentially increasing their likelihood of further browsing the site - and even making a purchase - after already having committed some amount of time to the blog alone.
2. It establishes credibility and, consequently, trust.
If you blog regularly with a clear and consistent voice on topics that resonate with your ideal target audience, you’re helping yourself and those folks out. Your blog is your opportunity to show your prospects that yes, you do know what you’re talking about, and no, you’re not just here to take their money.
If your readers trust your advice, opinions, and more, chances are they’ll come back for seconds. People may even start to routinely expect your expertise on topics of their interest and therefore “tune in” to your blog regularly to get caught up on the latest news.
This goes back to reason #1: your regular readers will be spending more time on your website because they can’t get enough of your trusty take on the state of things, which makes them all the more likely to consider your company first on the list when shopping around because they already know and trust you.
3. It provides value for the reader, making your website more than a sales opportunity.
Think of the process as a gift exchange: you present your prospect with a little present, and in return, they grace you with their time, attention, and eventually, money.
Without sounding like a sleazy saleswoman, I’d like to emphasize the fact that schmoozing the prospect will elevate your likelihood of closing the deal, simply because the prospect will like you that much more for massaging their ego or proving yourself as valuable to their business goals.
Some forms of blog articles that are the most useful to your audience are topics in which you directly address an issue that a client has relayed, or easy-to-digest, easier-to-download guides or checklists that readers can easily apply to their own lives. If readers are coming to your blog at a loss and empty-handed, your job is to make sure they leave fulfilled, educated, and ideally, with some sort of applicable souvenir.
If readers are coming to your blog lost & empty-handed, make sure they leave fulfilled, educated, & with a souvenir.
4. Inbound leads are cheaper than outbound.
Inbound marketing, a term coined by Hubspot, is a technique in which you use content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) to draw prospects toward your products or services. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, is the traditional means of putting your product or service in front of prospects - whether they like it or not - to drive them to purchase.
The key difference? Besides inbound marketing being the better way to sell in this day and age, it’s also cheaper: according to Social Media Today, it’s roughly 60% cheaper to implement an inbound strategy than outbound.
This means that, while you expend time and brainpower maintaining an awesome blog, you save money on leads. So, if you weigh the cost of advertising and the amount of disenchanted consumers that may dismiss your ads as annoying, then contrast it with the effort needed to have a blog that consumers eagerly welcome because of the actionable value it has for them, the answer should be clear.
Blogging about useful stuff will draw in the right people while setting a great first impression from the get-go.
Blogging about useful stuff will draw in the right people while setting a great first impression from the get-go.
5. It boosts your SERP ranking.
Where your website lands in the search engine results page (SERP) makes a huge difference in organic traffic. Think about it - when you search for something on Google, how many of the results do you actually click on? How many pages on Google to you sort through to find what you’re looking for?
Chitika Insights found that less than 2% of traffic clicks on the 11th results on Google, and even less on the rest. This means that it’s in your best interest to do everything you can to organically boost your SERP ranking as much as possible, and a blog is a great starting point.
Google “likes” some things and “hates” others, and your website’s SERP is essentially a result of how well you abide by Google’s preferences. The most important elements of content marketing that Google rewards with a SERP boost is the quality of your content and how well you optimize it.
The top elements of content marketing that Google rewards are the quality of your content and how well you optimize it.
In the dark ages of blogging and SERP, blasting out a lot of crummy content - as much as possible, actually - was all it took. Google saw that your site was very active and therefore deemed it a good website. As Google’s algorithm matures and becomes increasingly more complex, standards have elevated. Now, with endless heaps of content to comb through out there, Google rewards quality over quantity: the more long, descriptive, and well-written articles you can crank out, the better.
It only makes sense, then, that content marketing by means of writing quality blog articles will boost your SERP ranking and help potential customers to find you more easily. But writing excellently is not enough - reason #6 will explain how to optimize your blog to increase your chances of being found organically.
6. It’s the perfect opportunity for keyword usage and SEO.
So you have some keywords that resonate with your brand and know that you need to saturate your website text with them to rank for those search terms. Great.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the work doesn’t stop there.
A blog needs to be optimized for search engines, meaning that Google and others need to be able to read it, understand it, and label it correctly in order to organize the oodles of content on the internet effectively. This means that your content management system (CMS) that your website it built on needs to be utilized in such a way that you, the marketing team, and anyone else who is a non-developer in your company can plug in all the important elements to increase SEO.
We recommend Drupal as your CMS for a number of reasons, but ultimately, it’s up to your developer to set up all the correct fields to be filled out for the context needed on Google’s end.
Once that’s settled, it’s up to you to do the optimizing: create a clever, catchy, but informative title that includes the keywords related to the topic, write a concise yet descriptive Google meta description of the article, and then make sure that your blog title translates into a sufficiently informative and keyword-rich meta title.
If someone searches the topic you wrote about and sees in your company’s result: your article’s title and location in your website, your website’s URL, and a clear description that confirms the article is relevant, you have struck gold. Plus, the reader will know exactly where they’ll end up after clicking, which inclines them to click that specific link over another.
Although Google is distancing slowly from factoring keywords into its algorithm, these are still important as they still hold some small value in SERP ranking and provide a better user experience. They also will increase the chance of your content organically appearing in the top results due to high relevance with the searched keywords.
The better you can answer a frequently searched question in the same or similar wording as the question, the better your ranking will be for that topic.
Now, don’t just pepper in keywords wherever you want - they have to be relevant and natural-sounding. The reader will sense clunkiness in the writing when awkward keywords disrupt the flow, and he may leave. Don’t let that happen: only use them where they fit, but still ensure that there are some keywords in your article title and body.
7. It gives you quality, original content for sharing socially.
A huge part of content marketing is sharing content - but don’t be that guy who shares clickbait-y or low-quality content that isn’t useful at all, just to have something to share. Not only will this break a major rule of content marketing (providing value), it will also harm your reputation and put your company at risk of being considered spammy and cheap.
That being said, it’s imperative that you include social media in your content marketing strategy, but posting on social media requires that you have something of quality to share in the first place. While it’s easier to do the bare minimum of content marketing and share articles from other sources online instantly and for free, it’s just not the same as when the article comes from you.
It’s imperative that you include social media in your content marketing strategy.
Enter blogging: when you write quality content on your website’s blog, you simply turn to your social sites, create a catchy post with the article link, hit share, and voila! Now your social presence is buffed up with awesome articles written exclusively - and originally - by your brand.
Do yourself a favor: start a blog, write awesome stuff, have excellent content to share online as a result, and reap the benefits of acquiring quality leads as a product of your effort.