I was featured in a recent roundup of business owners at CEO Blog Nation. We’d been asked how we use blogging to help our businesses and the variety of responses was intriguing. When I started my own business a number of years ago, I was told that blogging was good for SEO but I was never told why. As a result I launched a blog on my business website, wrote a couple of posts, and then quickly ran out of ideas. But just how can blogging help a business? There is no one correct answer to that question. Read on to find out more.
Blogging for Business not Blogging as Business
The use of blogging to help a business, and ‘blogging as a business’ are two different things. In the latter case the blog is the focus and everything revolves around growing traffic to the blog in order to increase its readership. As a business owner, however, the blog on my business website is a means to an end, not the end itself. As a result, driving traffic to my business blog, or indeed to my website as a whole, isn’t the ultimate goal.
It’s essential for my business website to have high visibility, rather than high traffic. But that high visibility is only of genuine significance in the local area which I service, which in my case is in Brisbane, Australia. In fact, in order for my business to succeed, I require little more than 200 unique visits each month, assuming these convert at a satisfactory rate into paying customers.
The comments of business owners in the roundup at CEO Blog Nation encapsulated an imaginative range of approaches. Several were using blog posts as a traffic funnel to their website. Some were using them as an educational resource, providing useful rather than promotional content. One was using her blog as a stepping-stone between social media and email. Another uses their business blog to address specific problems their customers might have, and to provide fresh insights into their industry.
I was particularly impressed by the response of a company called Milestone Localization who said that almost 90% of their organic traffic lands on blog pages. They were achieving this by doing extensive research on keyword difficulty and search volumes before writing their posts.
Blogging to Demonstrate Expertise
As far as the roundup at CEO Blog Nation goes, the following was my own response to the question.
“The posts are written with clients and potential clients in mind and are designed to showcase what I offer. They will often elaborate on services mentioned elsewhere on the site and demonstrate my ability to address the client’s issue. The spin-off is that Google wants to provide expert, authoritative and trustworthy (E-A-T) solutions to search queries. By regularly producing content that embodies these values, my business garners favour with Google and my website ranks better as a result. Providing expert content that scratches where people are itching is a win-win for all concerned.”
As well as blogging on my business website, I also write regular content for various business and technology sites around the web. The purpose of these posts is also to demonstrate my expertise in my field. Because the blog on my business website is subservient to my business, I’ve made the decision that it’s more beneficial for me to promote my website through quality content distributed around the web, than it is to promote my own blog. Having said that, some of the posts I have published elsewhere might also be suitable for readers of my own blog. The target audience for the blog on my business website is primarily current and potential clients.
The difficulty with publishing posts on one’s own blog after first publishing them elsewhere, is that it potentially creates issues with duplicate content. Such issues can have an impact on SEO, not because search engines penalise duplicate content as such, but because they can be confused about which version is the original.
It is possible to repost previously published material without causing issues with duplicate content. In order to do so, you could ensure that the page where the content is reposted is not indexed. However, a better approach is to use a canonical tag in the code of the reposted page to tell the search engines that the content was originally posted elsewhere, and to specify the URL of the master copy.
Unfortunately, in my case I’m unable to use either of these methods. My website is built using the popular website builder Wix and their blogging functionality doesn’t permit the use of canonical tags with individual blog posts. I’d imagine there might be more flexibility when using WordPress, which is a true blogging platform rather than a straightforward website builder.
Another way to overcome the duplicate content issue would be to try to ‘hide’ the blog posts in question from the search engines by use of the robots.txt file. This isn’t a satisfactory solution though, as any links to the blog post from elsewhere on the web (or internally from your website) will result in it being discovered and probably indexed.
In an ideal world, I would be able to index my unique posts, whilst leaving the previously published posts unindexed. In this way the unique posts would still have the potential to generate relevant local traffic.
What’s the Purpose of the Blog for Your Business?
It might seem counterintuitive and even ludicrous to not want certain blog posts to be found by search engines. After all, most of us want our blog posts to be read by as wide an audience as possible. However, this brings us back to the variety of different reasons for having a blog on a business website. If, as in the case of Milestone Localization, your blog is there to be the primary traffic funnel to your website, then clearly you would want all your posts to be indexed and to rank well on Google.
The other extreme would be where you don’t need to have any of your blog posts indexed or discovered because they are mainly there for consumption by existing clients. In the case of my own business blog, it isn’t primarily designed to be a traffic funnel to my site. Rather it’s a feature of the site which gives potential clients confidence that my business will be able to service their needs.
Business owners use blogging in all sorts of different ways. The roundup at CEO Blog Nation featured 25 entrepreneurs and it makes interesting reading. If you are a business owner, the most important thing is that you have a clear strategy for how blogging should help your business. Then design your posts accordingly, and review your outcomes regularly, to determine whether you’re achieving the results you desire.
This article was written by Norm McLaughlin, founder of Norm’s Computer Services, a local computer repair and IT support business in Brisbane, Australia.