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Many use their blogs as a personal escape, but if you’re a small business, blogs can be extremely useful, too.
Blogs are great for getting to know your clients, their worries and interests, and for pulling in more business. But a poorly-executed blog will show you up and is as pointless as not having an online presence at all. Actually, it can cause more harm than good.
You don’t need a professional copywriter to bring your posts up to scratch: these tips will help make your blog the best it can possibly be.
Check Grammar And Punctuation
There’s a lot of bad English on the Internet and your grammar might be the difference between getting a new client, and being forgotten; no matter how great your business is, it’s all about the presentation.
Think of it as a client would. Who are you more likely to follow: the person who doesn’t understand apostrophes, commas and the conditional clause, or the one whose text has been polished and perfected, edited and added to?
It might help to get someone else to read any copy through before publishing – it’s likely they’ll spot any inconsistencies or anything that needs more clarification because they’re an outsider looking in.
And don’t think that just because it’s a blog and not your official website, the rules of English don’t matter. I know I wouldn’t read a blog that’s not well written, and I bet you wouldn’t either.
View Your Blog On Multiple Platforms
Your blog looks amazing on Chrome. Great. But research suggests that 63% of Americans use their smartphones to access the Internet and that 42% own tablets. Are you sure your blog looks like you want it to when users view it on their mobile devices?
Don’t panic: a lot of people forget to check this, and many are pleasantly surprised at how platforms such as WordPress have adapted their blog automatically. This is usually due to responsive themes which do exactly that: respond to the browser they’re viewed on and adjust themselves to look the best.
You can get responsive WordPress themes for free, or opt for paid themes if you’re looking for something more fancy. For more information, check out our guide to making your WordPress blog more mobile-friendly.
In most cases, you won’t have a problem. Nonetheless, it’s advisable to make sure things look good on mobile phones, just in case.
Keep Your Blog Updated
If you want Google to list your posts on Page 1 (or even 2), keeping it relevant is essential.
We won’t get into the ins-and-outs of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), but very briefly, search engines generally skim through blogs whenever they’re updated. More frequent updates means they’ll review your content more often, and if they judge it worthy, they’re more likely to list you higher in their page rankings. Just keep in mind that frequent updates doesn’t mean repeating yourself with the same content — that’s another thing Google doesn’t like.
When you’re writing regular posts, you might be announcing exciting company news in some of them. Don’t forget to update your actual website according to these posts – it’s frustrating for customers to see one thing announced on the blog, and then not find it on the actual company page.
Make A List Of Keywords
Once again, keywords factor into SEO, but it also keeps each post on track.
You don’t have to make a full plan for every post – it’s likely that this will put you off writing altogether – but if you have a topic in mind each time, write a brief list of keywords you want to get in. You can then use this as a prompt.
Okay, so how do you narrow down what words you need to get in your post? Most will probably come naturally, but you could easily pop onto Google and type in your topic. See what others have written. See what Google suggests.
Make a list and decide which ones are most important. Which ones are most relevant to your customers and which ones are most relevant to your post? Don’t throw every keyword you can find into a single article; it’ll feel jumbled with jargon, exactly like unhelpful business spiel. People don’t want to feel like they’re being sold something, even when they really are. Subtlety is key.
Have A Clear Purpose
This goes under the radar far too often. It’s so blindingly obvious, everyone forgets to consider one big thing…
What is the purpose of this blog?
Small businesses come in all shapes, and so do their blogs.
Take a look at your blog and think this through. What do you want readers to do? What do you want them to take from your site? Are you explicitly asking people to do this or not?
Softly, softly, catchee monkey, as the old saying goes. Don’t be too in-your-face by announcing exactly what you’re after. ‘Buy This’ isn’t nearly as persuasive as putting across the positive aspects of a product. Don’t be afraid of going after exactly what you want, but avoid being pushy.
If you’re an artist, you may just want to showcase your portfolio; if you’re in textiles, you could talk potential customers through your design and making processes; and if you’re a builder, you might display previous jobs well done. The hard sell is just that and people generally don’t take to that sort of thing. But if you work to gain their trust, prove to be reliable, ethical, dedicated, and affable, and teach them something, they’ll be more open to what you’re selling.
Translating readership into customers is surely the ultimate goal, but each post has to be focussed. Decide if you’re trying to inform, advertise products and services, or present work you’re really proud of. It’s important you stick to this as it means each post will be on-point, short and simple; besides which, any forays could make another post further down the line!
You might also want to get more contacts or followers on social media. Perhaps you just want to make someone like what you do without any sales pitch. If you just want to educate or inform, that’s more than fine. That’s admirable. But if you’d like something further, what are you doing to achieve that?
Small Business Benefits From Blogging
There are big benefits from having a blog instead of a static website: it shows you’re approachable and friendly. A regular website can appear stuffy and run-of-the-mill. A blog allows your individual voice and attitude shine through. Aside from that, they’re easy to update, which, as explained above, aids SEO. It’s win-win.
We’ve previously covered some more blog writing tips, but we’d also like to hear from you. What are your best blogging tips for business?
Image Credits: Stuart Chalmers Via Flickr