Basics of blogging

If your business relies on a web presence, you may be considering a blog to build traffic to your site. Like other communication channels, blogging has its own rules, protocols and best practices.

Businesses, especially small ones, use blogs to build awareness and excitement, attract an audience of followers, leverage their expertise, boost engagement, communicate with loyal customers, and support multi-channel sales campaigns. Though they take work to establish and maintain, they’re extremely inexpensive and versatile.

What a blog is

  • Blog stands for Web log, originally a kind of running online journal
  • Today, the internet hosts an estimated 152 million blog posts
  • More than three quarters of internet users read blogs on a regular basis
  • Nearly two thirds of commercial blogs have content written by an outside writer

A variety of blog publishing resources and consulting services are available, at various price points, to help with writing, design, editing and the mechanics of content publishing. Choose one that matches your level of expertise and available bandwidth. If you’re planning to do your own writing and production, consider these basics:

  • A blog can establish your business as an authority on topics your readers find interesting. Educate them with one or more nuggets of useful information in each post.
  • Communicate professionally and consistently. Let your blog reflect your values by catching and fixing typos, bad grammar and cheap-looking graphics before publishing. Use a consistent look, feel and tone for all posts, so readers know where on the page to look for topics that interest them.
  • Establish measurable goals for your blog in advance; check performance against goals periodically.
  • Use appropriate search engine optimization (SEO) keywords in headlines and subheads. A keyword is a term proven to be commonly used when people search for businesses like yours.
  • Write meta-tags and descriptions for each post. Meta descriptions describe what your business or blog is about and are viewable in search results. Keep them to 130 to 150 characters.
  • Know your audience and write content that’s customized for it. Avoid being patronizing and assuming your readers know less than they do, and using industry jargon, assuming they know more than they do.
  • Write headlines that invite further investigation. The more people click on your post, the stronger your rankings will be. Search engine rankings are important because they help determine where a post appears in a search result.
  • Develop an editorial calendar and stick to it, so you’ll be assured of an ongoing flow of new content. If your product or service has a seasonal component, make that an element in your calendar.
  • Embed links to related posts within your site and on selected other sites. Invite complementary businesses to link to your blog to grow your contact base.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of letting readers post comments and reactions to your blog. Pro: when someone reacts favorably, it’s like an unsolicited testimonial visible to all readers. Con: people with a complaint can air their issues publicly before you have an opportunity to resolve the situation one-on-one. You may want to encourage readers to share opinions with you directly and privately; if you do, post your contact info prominently.

Whether you use professional services or do it all yourself, a blog can enhance your marketing efforts relatively inexpensively. But be prepared to invest some time and effort in maintaining the project on a consistent basis.

For more guidance on enhancing your marketing efforts—and your financial resources, contact the small business experts at Pango Financial: 1-855-WHY-PANGO (1-855-949-7264).