Business, especially the marketing world, is changing. Marketing is becoming a content-based practice designed to meet customers on their terms with content they want and need, when they want it. The content hub is a business blog. Businesses that blog attract more website visitors and generate more leads. But the benefits go beyond visitors and leads.
First up, what kinds of numbers are we talking about?
By the numbers:
Nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes. (HubSpot) (Click to tweet!)
Businesses that blog have 55% more website visitors. (HubSpot) (Click to tweet!)
B2C businesses that blog get 88% more leads/month than those who don't. (HubSpot) (Click to tweet!)
B2B businesses that blog get 67% more leads/month than those who don't. (HubSpot) (Click to tweet!)
If those numbers aren't reason enough for you to start blogging, consider these three hidden benefits you may be overlooking.
Search Engine Optimization
It's really very simple: the more blog posts you publish, the more indexed website pages you create for search engines to display in their results. Research by HubSpot has shown that business that blog 16 to 20 times per month get more than twice as much traffic as those that blog fewer than four times per month. (Click to tweet!)
In addition to sheer volume of pages, a blog is a perfect place to continue to build in the keywords your audience may be searching, particularly non-brand keywords that can bring new traffic to your site.
Let's say you recently opened a new Korean restaurant named Soul of Seoul. It's unlikely users are going to search those words when they are looking for a place to eat. So focus on non-brand keywords associated with what you have to offer such as kimchi, guksu, Korean cuisine and the name of your community. Use your blogging to improve SEO in these three ways:
Optimize your posts by incorporating industry keywords into your titles, which are typically also the page name for that page on your blog and carry greater weight with the search engines. It is easy to tell what industry the company Bell Performance serves just by reading the titles of its blog posts.
If there is a certain keyword you haven't blogged about yet, do it! Craft a blog around that topic and keyword. Bell Performance did a good job of this, too, with a post built entirely around one long-tail keyword: marine fuel additives for commercial use. (What's a long-tail keyword? We'll show you that next.)
Don't think of keywords as a single word. You will have more success targeting specific, long-tail keywords than a more generic term that pops up one millions of sites across the web. For example: "Shoes" generated 96 million results.
"neutral cushioned running shoes" narrows the search to 410,000;
and "neutral cushioned running shoes for marathon" brings it down to 244,000 results.
Still a lot, but you have a better chance being found with that long-tail combination than just "shoes."
A well-written business blog also establishes you as a leader in your industry, providing insights and useful information, which earn you the trust of your readers. That kind of thought leadership gives businesses that blog an advantage. In a HubSpot survey, 71 percent of blog readers say the blogs influence their purchasing decisions. (Click to tweet!) Use your business blog to stay top-of-mind with potential customers by providing useful information.
The key here is that your blog needs to be informative and helpful, not filled with production promotion. Write posts that solve your customers' problems in practical, non-product focused ways. You can also use your blog as a platform to showcase your expertise in your industry, creating a distinction between your brand and the competition.
Recruiting and staffing company Yoh uses their blog to provide useful information to their readers. They address issues such as specific hiring situations, strategies for planning future hiring needs, and "how-to's" for improving recruiting. They establish their authority in the industry with updates on trending technology, and they offer content not just for human resource managers, but also for workers seeking opportunities.
Call-to-action placement opportunities
The third benefit of a blog that you may not have considered is that it serves as your content hub and a perfect place to add calls-to-action (CTAs) in order to generate leads. Some very well-written blogs fail to take full advantage of these opportunities.
Case in point, this blog from Varolii:
The blog is well-written, and the company has additional content to offer, but Varolii fails to connect the two, beyond one small webinar offer in the last paragraph. They could have done much more.
Properly placed calls-to-action on your blog can retain readers, drive deeper engagement with your website and your content and move leads further down the sales funnel. The CTAs might offer a free guide, an invitation to a webinar, a subscription to your blog or a free trial of your service.
There are three primary places you can incorporate calls-to-action in your blog:
Sidebar: Create ads for your top-performing offers and add them to the blog sidebar.
Within the post: Add a direct call-to-action in the post with a related offer.
Contextual: Hyperlink specific words within the text of the blog to landing pages for related offers to provide a seamless connection and offer several opportunities within the text.
EnergyCAP, Inc. does a great job offering a variety of calls-to-action around its blog. On the side bar is an offer for a free ebook on finding utility bill savings. Directly below the blog post is an offer for a webinar on alternatives to hand-keying bills, with the same offer highlighted in the context of the blog post. The two offers target different target audiences, but both take advantage of the blog's opportunity to pull readers further down the sales funnel.
Now that you know three less obvious business blogging benefits you and your company can reap from a your blog, it's time to get started. Learn more about finding content for your blog, optimizing your blog posts for SEO, promoting and measuring your blog in our free Introduction to Business Blogging ebook.
If you are already blogging for your business, what other unexpected benefits have you encountered? Let us know!