How a blog can make a small business competitive

Blogsite is like a shop window for a small business

© jun.skywalker, Shop window, via Flickr

The main thing I tell a small business, especially a start-up one, is that you should have a blog rather than a website.

Because, believe it or not, a blog with added static pages becomes a website. It’s that easy.

And you have the added benefits of the blogging application behind it to give it a lot more clout to attract the search engines.

Let me explain why

A blog isn’t just an online diary any more. It is a sophisticated system to create an online presence that can attract a lot of visitors – if you use it in a business capacity and set up the right kind of applications to help you.

Forget all those personal bloggers, what I’m talking about is writing content to help promote your small business and gain the trust of potential customers.

Blogs use something called a Content Management System (CMS), which means with a username and password you can access your blog/website from any computer anywhere in the world.

Also blogs, especially those that use WordPress, have lots of free applications, called plugins, that you can add to your blog/website (let’s call it a blogsite to make it easier) to make it perform however you want.

You don’t need to be a techie

That’s the beauty of WordPress. Basically if you know how to use Word, you can use WordPress. (And no, they are not connected.)

There are two versions of WordPress. The first is hosted by WordPress itself, and is therefore free to use. The second is self-hosted; this means you have to buy a domain name and hosting account, but it means you have complete control over everything you do on it.

You can find out more about the different WordPresses here, so you can make up your own mind which one is best for you and your small business.

It’s very straight-forward to edit or add content to your WordPress blogsite; everything is very intuitive, or can easily be learned. Of course I do WordPress training, so can offer bespoke 1:1 help or in a group/workshop environment. Contact me to find out more.

And there are plenty of web-developers who work with WordPress if you need any really technical changes or add necessary facilities to your blogsite.

How do I make a blog business-like?

A very good question. It’s all about using digital marketing.

Now if this brings you out in hives, there’s no need to worry. Mostly this consists of making your small business blogsite attractive to both your visitors/customers and the search engines, such as Google.

Here’s some things you can do with a blogsite:

  • Create a separate homepage from your blog post listing page
  • Regularly write informational, beneficial and conversational blog posts with your visitors/readers to educate them about your small business
  • Have somewhere all your content is automatically archived with easy access
  • Collect interested visitors’ email details into a database list for future communications
  • Write content that is attractive to Google and other search engines, which is more likely to match your blogsite with a search request
  • Provide an opportunity for your visitors/readers to comment on your posts so you can get feedback
  • Show links to social media platforms where visitors can learn more about you and engage with you there, and encourage them back to your blogsite to read your blog posts
  • Provide a subscription service for your readers
  • Set up e-commerce pages to sell your products or services
  • Contain a membership section to deliver information and content to your special customers
  • Fully accessible via mobile phones, tablets and other handheld devices

Now that’s a lot of beneficial facilities.

How many you will use will depend on where your small business is at the moment, but it’s good to know that these, and possibly more, are available from your WordPress blogsite.

Why are business blogs better than websites?

Another good question. It’s all about constantly providing new content to keep the search engines happy.

And your visitors too. They will expect to be able to find new information easily and quickly, and websites that haven’t been updated recently will give a bad impression of your small business.

There are no restrictions to the number of pages you can create, the CMS automatically updates the navigation systems, and the design is uniform throughout the blogsite.

And adding new content, in the form of blog posts or new pages, has been made as simple as possible so that it can be accomplished on a regular basis.

It doesn’t have to be every day, but it has to be consistent. Create an editorial calendar and spread the workload across several authors. Set a regular posting day when new content can be published.

A blogsite will only continue to be better than a website as long as you keep adding new content. A neglected blog is no better than a static website, as the search engines won’t bother to index it and your visitors will go elsewhere.

How does a blogsite make a small business competitive?

It’s important to keep on top of how your small business is perceived by your potential customers. Having a slick and modern website that provides information easily and quickly, has plenty of new content to read, and regularly appears in search results, will certainly give a good impression.

Your blogsite, and certainly the blog part, can easily connect with social media, create engagement through comments, provide a focus for information or conversation, and make if possible for your customers to know, like and trust you.

You can use your blogsite to collect email addresses of potential customers, so you can communicate with them regularly via a newsletter. This is also part of getting them to know, like and trust you, and is an alternative to the ‘hard sell’ that puts so many customers off.

It isn’t difficult to optimise your blog posts and page content for the search engines. There are some simple tricks via valuable applications that can make this effortless and effective. Certainly if you’re doing this, and your competitors aren’t, your small business will have the advantage.

And having a clear, informative ‘online shop window’ for your small business that provides everything your potential customer needs to know, delivered in a welcoming and empathetic manner, will certainly set you up in good stead.

So how can you afford a fancy new WordPress blogsite?

You’ve probably guessed that creating your new small business blogsite isn’t going to be cheap.

I’ve just given you a lot of information you could put into practice, and really you ought not to cut corners on this. It’s worth investing in someone who knows what they’re doing, understands WordPress back to front, and has a real grasp of digital marketing, not just the what (technical bits), but the why and how as well.

A small business who sets up a fabulous blogsite bristling with the latest technology, but doesn’t know how to best use this to their advantage, or understands how to attract visitors and keep them entertained, informed and educated, will have spent a lot of money with no chance of a return.

It took me a long time to learn what I know. I made many mistakes and overcame many tribulations along the way on your behalf. But wouldn’t it be great if you were able to find out all that I know almost immediately rather than spread over a decade?

And remember there isn’t such a thing as a free lunch. This post has been inspired by Kabbage, which provides business loans that can be used for anything a small business needs to grow. You could use the loan to fund any expenses associated with running a blogsite, hiring a copywriter if you are unable to write your own content, or requesting WordPress training so that your staff continues the efficiency your new blogsite generates.

And now for the call to action

Every good post should have one of these! A call to action is one of the special features in a blog post that can help your small business thrive.

If you want to know more, contact me. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment box below. This is so I can provide public answers that benefit other readers as well.

And if you want to receive my newsletter, sign up, and learn about all the exciting things I am doing to help small businesses with their blogsites.

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Alice Elliott has been explaining blogging to beginner bloggers for almost two decades, specialising in using ordinary, everyday language to make the process as simple as possible so that anybody can understand.
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  • Vivek says:

    I liked your blog. I found you on topsy…:) Then I followed you on tweeter.. But I have a question Alice…. How much words we should write in our blog post to make it search engine friendly as well as user friendly ?

    • The least amount of words in a post to make it search engine friendly is 300, but really the longer the post the better. This gives the search engines more to index. But of course more words obviously dilutes the keyword impact, but this is no bad thing. If you use long tail keywords, which are better for search purposes, strategically placing them within readable text throughout a long post is better than cramming them into an unreadable short post.

  • Vivek says:

    This helped me Alice, thanks for your suggestion, I’ll try to elaborate my post with quality content..here is one other question ? As you have said.. long posts are better search engine friendly,but do long posts have some word limit which if exceeded would lower our seo ?

    • The only drawback of writing a very long post is that it might put off readers from reading it. As far as SEO is concerned, I don’t think there is an upper limit. Of course the more words there are, the more difficult it could be to keep adding the long tail keyword without it becoming too obvious. But as long as the saturation is about 1-2%, then that should be OK.

  • Vivek says:

    Thanks Alice for clearing my doubt about word limits….:) Now, I got your point.

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