I would hazard a guess and say that – by now you have probably heard or read that your business website should include a blog.

On many occasions I would agree and say ‘Yes, blog away. Type away until your heart is content’. However, there are also occasions when my jaw drops in disbelief that someone thought that the time they have spent on their blog was a good way to spend their time. Because REALLY – it wasn’t.

I suppose the issue here is that people don’t understand the weight that a good blog carries. They just think, “****, its 2016 and I don’t have a blog. Wait, what’s a blog? Oh what the hell, I’ll tap away until something vaguely relevant comes out’.

If this is you – please just stop, because you are going to do more business more harm than good. Let me list the reasons why your business should be blogging, and why it should be a considered, articulated customer resource.

Why you should be doing it

(Bet that caught your attention didn’t it? – Lesson One, attract attention.) Creating a blog for your business can be worth its weight in gold, for a number of reasons.

A well written, insightful and educational blog can have a tremendous positive impact on your search engine rankings. If your blog offers something new to the reader, if it increases the user experience and encourages them to further interact with the website then a search engine is going to (proverbially) say, “What a great piece of content that guy/gal has put together – more people need this in their lives. Let’s get them up the rankings.”

What does that mean for your website? It means more organic traffic, it also helps convert that traffic into leads. If it helps, think of it that way – each blog is a new opportunity for lead generation.

Great content that teaches people something new also encourages them to share the blog post on various social media platforms, which in turn gains traction and further traffic. It also encourages them to link back to the post in any article, they themselves might write.

Your business will be seen as a brand of expertise, knowledge and perhaps most importantly – a brand that can be trusted. It establishes your authority

When I am looking at websites and I come across a blog that either doesn’t have a blog or one that is poorly written and poorly laid out, I just remove myself from the page.

And also tell everyone in earshot how terrible it was and that we should be “biz devvin’ “ them. People talk, don’t be known as the business with the terrible blog – it doesn’t bode well in this digital age because you come off looking outdated.

Aim to post a blog, at least once –if not twice a month. If I come across a site that hasn’t updated there blog in a more than 2 months – alarm bells start ringing.

What you should be doing

Your blog is not the place for you to be shouting about how great (you believe) your business is, it is about imparting your wisdom to the readers.

I once got told a pretty good trick when it comes to writing blog posts; think of all the questions that people have about your industry or offerings. Now you have your title and your subject.

If you are creating and publishing content with the sole aim of helping your customers and prospects, then you will soon to become a brand to be reckoned with. Transparency is key in the modern business world and your audience will love you for purposefully clearing up any confusion or misgivings.

Don’t write about irrelevant things, there is nothing more annoying. For instance, if you are a business that sells sheds, it baffles me that you suddenly have a ‘recipe of the month’.

UNLESS you have successfully created a lifestyle brand around the business- that takes real commitment – but seriously, kudos to you if you have achieved this.

Take a look at what is trending in your industry, is there an opportunity for you to explain it clearly to your audience? Can you provide an expert comment on the situation? Each piece that you write should hold value and be purposeful, so be critical or ask others for constructive feedback.

There are ways that you can monitor what is topical, and also keep on top of the subjects that your competitors are writing about.

Setting up Google Alerts for brand names or keywords will bring the stories right to your inbox, while tools like AH Refs will allow to monitor your competitors sites and the sites that are linking back to them. This way you can quickly gauge the topics that the audience is engaging with.

Related: The Complete Guide To Blogging (Tips on Content, Design, SEO and Social Promotion)

How you should be doing it

You shouldn’t be writing anything less than 500 words for starters and you shouldn’t be stuffing it with keywords.

Why? Because you will either look like a clueless idiot or someone who couldn’t be bothered. Ok, that may be a TAD harsh, but I am sick to the back teeth of reading about how blogs should be 300 words and should include the keywords that they should rank for OVER and OVER.

If your marketing agency/executive is feeding you this, get them to read this – or sack them. Whatev’s it’s your money. You should not be writing for a search engine, you should be writing for people, and as a society we are an inquisitive bunch!

The outdated tactics as discussed will have the average person saying….

300 words = Was that it?

Keywords = There’s that word again, don’t they use the ‘synonym’s’ option?

So to quote Pat Benatar, “Hit me with your best shot”.

I admit, it can be a fine line; you don’t write enough and the reader feels that they have learnt nothing from your post but you write too much and you lose their interest. This is why it’s incredibly important to take a holistic approach to the blog post and treat it as an entirely perfect creation.

Grammar and punctuation should be perfect, get at least one, if not two people to proof the work. Careful attention should also be paid to spacing and layout; if you have a particularly lengthy post then breaking it down into subsections (as seen here) makes it much more digestible.

I recently provided another PR agency with a quote from a client for a blog post that she was writing for one of her clients. When she sent me a link to the published piece I was gobsmacked. There were literally no words for the abomination that I was looking at. There were no paragraphs, and terrible punctuation that made it difficult to distinguish the quotes that had been used.

This doesn’t sound like much, but I was so embarrassed about this placement that I refused to even report it to the client. But I did rage about cowboy PR agencies for quite a while.

Include images where you can, if you can create your own – even better! They can add an extra dimension to a blog post, and even drive home a point even further.

Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than it process text, and it has been reported that 40% of people respond better to information depicted in an image. Use tools such as Canva and Photoshop to get creative.

To conclude

Blogs are an extremely effective way of marketing your business and its offerings. Great blogs will provide an ROI on the time you spent writing or the money that you spent paying someone else to write them.

Don’t be fooled by agency jargon; you know yourself when you read something that has had an impact on you, your knowledge or your interpretation of something. Write with clarity and purpose.

Or don’t bother writing at all.

This post was written by Amy Bull, a content Executive with Datify UK; Passionate about digital marketing done well. Not passionate about word limits and keyword stuffing.

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