Plus 4 free tools to make blog writing easier

To improve your chances of being found on Google, you need to write a blog. Yet most business owners I encounter on my travels are quite resistant to the idea. They can usually rationalise at a high level why they should, they acknowledge that they see other businesses blogging regularly so they must be getting something from it, and they sometimes have a sneaking admiration for a direct competitor who does.

Yet they’re still reluctant to give it a go themselves. Why?

The objections I usually get from otherwise incredibly switched on, enthusiastic and creative business people for not embracing the blogging habit fall broadly into these two categories:

• They don’t know what to write

• They don’t know how to write

There’s a third category around the perception that they use enough channels for selling already so blogging is just more the same, isn’t it? Well, no, but read on.

These barriers are easily overcome once you understand exactly what ongoing benefits blogging will bring, and especially when you realise that writing a blog is a golden opportunity to take your foot off the sales pedal for a while and just relax!

The long-term benefits of blogging

The benefits of regular business blogging start and end with that boring-but-important subject of SEO (search engine optimisation).

Google ranks website content on its E-A-T principle. E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, Trust. And to rank well on Google you need to nurture your brand by demonstrating E-A-T. Google needs to see regularly updated online content that not only shows off your credentials and expertise, but also provides useful and relevant content for your readers and website visitors.

You could argue that the whole of your website is designed to show off your credentials, but how often do you update your website with substantial new content? Because that’s another thing that Google looks for. Your website needs to be a living, breathing entity. Just publishing then sitting back to wait for the business to roll in isn’t enough. You have to continually revisit, revise, monitor and update your website so that search engines can see that you are a viable business.

Every time you update your website you are enhancing your visitor experience and keeping it on the search engine radar. A “static” website without updates of any kind may be viewed by search engines as a “dead” entity – with no life and nothing new to offer.

Now do you see where blogging comes in?

Business blogging is NOT about selling

One of the beauties of blogging is that you can switch off from being constantly in “sales mode”. In fact the less overt selling you do via a blog the better. A blog is your chance to educate and inform your readers. To shine as an expert in your industry, to share your passion, to demonstrate your brand voice and core brand values. And – most importantly – to build credibility and trust.

To give you an example, I’ve published nearly 50 blogs in the last 2 years, and while most of them have been sharing tips about SEO and copywriting, the ones that have generated the most clicks and most shares have been about my experiences networking, my love of lifelong learning, and my new life as a freelancer. So not directly related to any of my services, but all providing the opportunity for potential customers to get to know me better.

Where to get ideas for your blogs

Here are 4 quick and easy sources of ideas for your blogs:

1. Google alerts: Pick a topic, keyword, competitor or search term and Google will send you emails when it finds new results—such as web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, or scientific research. You can opt to get these as they happen, or once a day in a digest.

2. Run a regular keyword search: A daily trawl through the latest online content for your subject matter will not only keep you in the loop on any developments in your industry, it can also provide some surprising prompts and opportunities for you to comment on and share in a blog

3. Facebook: Facebook gives you the opportunity to bookmark any post that catches your eye as a “saved” post:

This is invaluable if – like me – you tend to scroll through your Facebook feed at odd times and not always at your desk, such as waiting for the kettle to boil, standing in a queue, or just idly browsing while watching TV. I often see posts from colleagues, friends and competitors that catch my eye as a good potential blog topic. Saving the link, post, video etc when I see it means I don’t need to rely on my memory later on and waste precious time trying to find the post again. And if you forget to revisit your saves never fear, Facebook will prompt you!

4. Answerthepublic.com: This is a fantastic free research tool that allows you to type in any keyword or phrase to get a list of all the current online searches for that topic. The information is provided in a diagram that looks like a wheel. Take this example – the keyword was “designer shoes” (a subject close to my heart!):

Just take a look at the answers – aren’t they perfect potential blog headlines? This tool is telling you exactly what people are currently typing into search engines, i.e. exactly what they want to know NOW. You can even download the data into an Excel file to play around with. If that doesn’t give you blog content ideas, then I give up!

How long should a business blog be?

OK here’s the bad news. I meet a lot of people who believe in the “less is more” principle when it comes to website content. Sadly this mindset is outdated. With blogging – and with web articles in general – more is more.

Remember the Google E-A-T principle? To establish your expertise, authority and trustworthiness, brevity is not your friend. You need to take as many words as it takes, so long as those words drip with your credibility (i.e. they aren’t “fluff”). Here are some facts and figures to back this up:

• Over 50% of bloggers who published articles over 2,000 words in length reported higher visibility, compared to only 10% of bloggers who wrote articles under 500 words (2018, Orbit Media)

• Longer, in-depth blogs can generate 10 times more leads than shorter content (Curata)

• The average blog post length has gone from 808 words in 2014 to 1,151 words in 2018 — an increase of over 42%. (2018, Orbit Media)

• Longer posts get shared more: Articles over 1,000 words consistently receive more social shares and links than shorter posts (2015, Moz)

This blog is around 1,400 words long – is it too long? It’s as long as I think it needs to be to get my message across and I’ve carefully avoided too much repetition and “fluff”.

How to get your blog noticed

Again, just publishing a blog then sitting back waiting for the website traffic won’t work (known as the “Publish and Pray” method). You need to tell people!

Share your blog via social media. Email it out to your contact base. Talk about it at business meetings and networking events. So long as the content is “evergreen” (i.e. not topical) keep on sharing at the right moment or whenever you see an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.

For example, in December 2017 I wrote a blog called My 10 Gifts to You This Christmas . And because the content is “evergreen” I share it in my social media channels every year at the right time.

Your blog is designed to drive traffic to your website and get you noticed on Google – but you need to put in the legwork!

One final tip I was given months ago that I love and that helps me be more productive when creating a business blog is this: Spend the first 30 minutes of every day working on your next blog. Whether that’s reading, researching, drafting or sourcing images. 30 minutes every day dedicated to your blog could mean a rich library of published content for your audience. And a lot of love from Google!

For more help and advice about business blogging, contact me or leave a comment below!