Blogging for your business – It’s a numbers game

In Blogging for your business I shared that one of the reasons a business blog is a valuable business building tool is because you can quickly and easily publish content to the web.  The value of this ability is often lost upon those who don’t eat/breathe/sleep the web.

The Web Game is Just Another Numbers Game

Most “ordinary” business people think that a single web site with only three or four pages can effectively compete when it comes to the web.  What they frequently overlook is that many of the results returned on the first few pages of a search query are often web pages which are part of mega sites with hundreds – in some cases – thousands of pages.

Take for example – Wikipedia.  Do a search for specific information and chances are – a Wikipedia article will  be listed on the first few pages of the search.  According to Wikipedia – the official count for the number of articles which appear there numbers in the 750,000 range. Because these articles are very specific in scope – they often provide exactly the information a web visitor is seeking.

This is why I sometimes have been known to snarl and foam at the mouth when a blog owner who has written 5 blog posts over the past year complains to me that his or her blog is not “working” because it’s not appearing at the top of highly competitive searches.

Winning the web game is in part a numbers game.  Wikipedia has over three quarters of a million “articles” in there competing for a top spot when the search engines provide a list of links containing the information the web visitor has entered to search.   Most of those articles link liberally to other articles on the site.  Because the articles are frequently displayed on the first page of various searches – blog owners and webmasters liberally link to the articles as well.

Compare this “winning” web strategy with the typical “set it and forget it” static web site preferred by most business owners.  The business owner creates a web site and populates the three to ten pages with the content a copywriter created years ago for the company brochure.  The content was stale before it was published to the web – and it continues to languish in the deepest, darkest corners of the web.   It’s like buying 10 tickets for the lottery on the day you launched the website – and then not buying any more tickets yet expecting to win.

Winning the web game is a numbers game.  The business blog with 300 blog posts – created over the course of three years – stands a much better chance of coming up on what is known as a “long tail search”.  Long tail searches are words not searched upon frequently.  Often, these “long tail search” terms are often performed by people who are actively researching a purchasing decision.

For example, 1,000,000 people used the term “lower back pain” to search the web last month.  That’s a LOT of people searching for information on lower back pain.  However, while there are a lot of people searching for the term “lower back pain” there are relatively few who are searching for “lower back pain relief in Boca Raton, Fl.” If you’re a chiropractor – you want to be sure your business web presence is one that is seen by the person who types those words into a search engine looking for answers.

If you’re a chiropractor with a blog though – it’s easy to create a blog post on how chiropractic can help relieve lower back pain.  By the simple act of creating this informative blog post – you instantly create an “article” much like the 750,000 articles which are featured on Wikipedia.  This blog post joins your other blog posts – where you’ve written about how you’ve helped patients with severe lower back pain, chronic lower back pain, and even lower left back pain.  Before you know it, by simply blogging about the different conditions you see in your practice – you’ve created a robust library of helpful “articles” (a.k.a. blog posts) on various specific topics which your prospective patients might use to find information on the web.

Will you create such a robust repository overnight?  Of course not – but one of the best reasons to begin blogging for your business is over the course of time – you can create a robust online resource which will continue to provide a stream of prospective patients long after you’ve written the initial post.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  Start blogging today so tomorrow your blog posts have a chance of “showing up” when your prospective customers/clients go searching for answers on the web.

Blogs for Business – The Never Ending Story

In 1984 – the tale of a boy who steals a book called The Neverending Story” was brought to life on the movie screen.  In the movie, the book magically transports the boy to the fantasy world of Fantasia where a dark force called “The Nothing” threatens it’s existence.  In the end – the boy’s mere wishes banish the dark forces from not only Fantasia but also in the “real” world as well.

Two decades later – it takes more than mere wishes to banish the dark force of “The Nothing” from your business web presence.

A few years ago – I began introducing business owners to a new type of web presence for their business – a business blog.  These business blogs were great for businesses on so many levels.  Because of the flat site architecture imposed by the blog – the search engines have an easy time getting around inside the site to index the content.  Because content is easy to add – updating and adding new tasty “spider food” for the web bots is a snap.

Yet even though business blogs are great marketing tools for business owners,  I still recieve constant “push back” from business owners when it comes to launching a business blog.

A recent conversation gave me fresh insight as to the “why” behind the push back regarding business blogs.  This prospective client had a vision of her business web presence as a “finished” product.  She thought of her web site like a movie – a movie on VHS – with a definite beginning, middle and end.  She didn’t want the visitor to have the option available on DVD’s to “select a scene” – she wanted the visitor to read the opening page followed by the next page in the navigation menu, and so forth.

It’s nice to dream – and it’s nice to wish.  However, wishing and dreaming won’t change the way things REALLY work on the web.

The way it really works on the web is that every page of your web presence is a potential “entry” page.  If your web presence were to take the form of a house –  every room would have a door which leads outside but no windows.  Second story rooms would also have doors which lead outside – although in the words of ancient Saturday morning cartoons, “Watch that first step – it’s a loo loo.”  Those precarious second story rooms would be pages that are more than 1 click from any other page.  Internal links on your site are the interconnecting hallways which allow visitors to navigate your site without going “back” outside.

Admittedly – this doesn’t sound like an appealing physical structure for your business – but online this is “reality.”   Any attempts to block those doors to the outside and “funnel” visitors through the site according to your plan will only result in the dark force of “The Nothing” taking over your site.

The key to a healthy, wealth producing business website is to be constantly creating new rooms for visitors -and search engines alike – to explore.  If each page on your business website is a room – then your goal should be to set up a table in the center of that room – and provide cookies, finger sandwiches and a wide assortment of beverages you know your visitors will enjoy.

Which is why – blogs make such a GREAT foundation for your business web presence – especially if you’re a small business owner.  Your business blog allows you to create new rooms at will for your business home on the web.  If you discover a new customer base – you simply start creating new content on your business blog – creating new rooms filled with tasty morsels loved by humans and search spiders alike.

As for the client who wanted to create a static web presence with only one way in – think of what would happen in the “real” world if a room was devoid of light and the only way in or out was through an inner hallway.  As for the once tasty morsels on the tables in the various rooms – well, since those won’t be consumed by either search engine spiders or visitors – they won’t be tasty morsels for long.

Your blog for your business allows you the opportunity to easily create lots of compelling content for prospective clients/customers.  Admittedly – business blogging is like writing the Neverending Story – but the good news is that the more content you create – the more tables you set out for prospective customers/clients who visit your business blog  a.k.a. web site.

Your Business Blog is Good for Business

I’ve been saying for a long time that business blogging is by far the best investment of time/energy/resources you can make for your business.  Well’ now it’s official –  a recent study proves that your business blog is good for business.  Emarketing commerce reports:

Majority of Business Blog Traffic Comes From First-Time Visitors

Two-thirds of respondents to a survey conducted by Compendium Blogware found that more than 80 percent of all of their blog traffic was from first-time visitors.  For the survey, Compendium Blogware, a social media and search platform provider, gathered data from 266 companies about blogging traffic, visitor trends and Twitter usage. … First-time visitors come from two major sources, Compendium said: referring sites and search engines.

These results are hardly surprising.   Blogs – especially the WordPress variety – are extremely search engine friendly in their architecture.  Combine that with the fact that the act of blogging about your business tends to create content which is rich in the keywords your desired prospective customers/clients are using to find the very solutions you and your business offer.

However, the fact that your business blog can be found more easily by your ideal customers is just the tip of the iceberg.   Once those prospective customers/clients discover your business blog – the blog posts you’ve created over the months/years go to work establishing your authority.

So if blogging is indeed good for business – why aren’t more business owners blogging?

One of the most common objections I hear from business owners about blogging is that they don’t have time to blog.  Sometimes this objection is based upon the mistaken belief that to “blog” means to write incessantly – creating multiple blog posts each and every day.   However, it’s been my experience that most objections about perceived time poverty are instead a cover for the “real” objection to business blogging: not knowing what to write about.

In Unseen Business Killers, I offer a sure fire way to determine if  “I don’t have time to blog” is a reason or an excuse.

It’s easy to determine if “I don’t have time to blog” is an excuse or a reason.  If you really don’t have time to blog for your business, you can either

  • hire someone to blog for your business or
  • hire someone to assume some of your duties so you can find time to blog.

It’s just that simple.  You can usually find time to do what’s important – and blogging is important for your business.  It’s a great way to get found by prospective clients/customers – and it’s a great way to establish enough trust with them so they’ll take the next step and contact you.

The act of business blogging can be as simple as reworking emails you (or members of your staff)  have sent to both current and prospective clients/customers. As a matter of fact, sometimes the subject lines of those incoming emails make GREAT blog post titles.

Once you’ve got a great blog post title that gets your blog found by the search engines, then get to work creating relationships.  Once people find your business via the search engines, they then needed to form a relationship with the people behind your business.   Building a relationship is part of  the whole TRUST thing I go on about here.  Building trust is what social media does best.

THAT is why business blogging is so darned good for your business.  Not only can those blog posts act as bait to bring in first time visitors who are seeking the solutions your business provides – those same posts can also carry some of the “trust building” weight as well.  Prospective clients/customers find your blog – read your blog posts – and decide after reading a few dozen articles that – yeah – you really can help them achieve their Goals – quench their Desires – or solve their Problems.  In other words, not only can your blog posts act as bait – they can also start to work on establishing your connection to your prospective client/customer’s GDP.

No wonder business blogs are so good for business!

When social media isn’t enough…

social media marketingLong long ago, Liz Strauss wrote the immortal words – “Your blog is not your business”.  Recently – I had a conversation with a client who learned that lesson – the HARD way.

“Amy” [not her real name] was referred to my business a couple of years ago.  The story behind how she came to me is very common – at least in my practice.  Years earlier, she had paid BIG money to a web developer to create a web site for her brand new business.  Because she didn’t know a lot about this strange world known as “the internet” she assumed that her web site would cause people to line up to hire her to do work for their business.  When that didn’t happen – she began doing some homework.

When she began doing her homework she learned that the search engines drive most of the traffic on the internet.  So, she typed in some words she thought people would use to find her business.   Her web site – the one she paid BIG buck (five figures) to have developed – didn’t show up.  So she tried some other words and her site STILL didn’t show up – ANYWHERE.  She contacted her web developer and asked what was up – and he told her to be patient.  Things like that take time, he said.  She she was patient – she waited a couple of YEARS and still nothing.

She began talking to other people and eventually had a conversation with one of my clients.  She contacted me and asked me to take a look at her site.  Long story short- even though her page LOOKED great through a browser – it had been cobbled together in such a manner that it was anything but search engine friendly.  Even though the site “looked” fine through a browser – that’s not how the search engines see a web site.  They look at the code – and in this case, it was a real mess.

She told me she loved the site and didn’t want to change the way it looked.  (I later learned the web developer is a friend of her husband’s and I suspect she didn’t want to have a show down with him.)  I assured her we could accomplish her objective in a much more cost effective manner by launching a self hosted WordPress blog to work in concert with her web site.

Her problem: she wanted her web site to be found in Google.  The solution: we launched a self hosted WordPress blog to act as “bait”.  She could link liberally to her “traditional” web site using the blog  and when potential clients found her blog – she could send them to her site to “close” the sale.

When you go fishing – it’s not realistic to expect fish to jump into your boat.  So, you take fishing poles, hooks and various bait to catch the fish.  We were going to set up her blog to act as bait.  Of course, because there is no such thing as “marketing magic”, Amy had to learn how to USE her WordPress blog correctly.  Amy is one of the inspirations for my 8 Week Power Blog Launch product.  Her questions – combined with the questions asked by other clients – are the basis for the “curriculum” in the course.

Page One in Google

Recently, Amy contacted me.  Her blog articles had achieved her objective.  Her content is now appearing on the first page of Google’s results for her desired keyword – a fairly competitive keyword by the way.  However, if you think that the phone call was filled with rejoicing – it wasn’t.

Amy was disheartened and discouraged.  Even though she had achieved her objective of her blog content being found on Google’s first page – her business still wasn’t thriving.  As a matter of fact, she didn’t have a single client – and she had recently had to get a job to make ends meet.  She was ready to throw in the towel.

So, the first question I asked Amy was to describe her business model to me.  She launched into an exhaustive commentary on her marketing efforts.

“Amy, you’ve just listed the various marketing tactics you’re using to promote your business.  What is your business model?  How do you expect to make money from your business?”

“Well, people read my blog posts, go to my web site and then hire me.   I’m getting lots of traffic – but no one is contacting me to hire me.”

What followed was a distillation of my book, Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results In a nutshell – Amy’s business is engaged in making what is known as a Major Sale.  However, most of the “marketing tactics” Amy had been engaging in are only effective in marking Minor Sales.  Most of the sales/marketing advice you find (online and offline)  is geared towards  Minor Sale products, which is why Neil Rackham spent a small fortune and 12 years of his life defining and documenting the difference between Major Sales and Minor Sales.

When I first read Spin Selling – where Rackham documents his findings – I immediately recognized that many popular “marketing tactics” are geared towards making Minor Sales.  I’d been working with businesses on their advertising as an advertising account executive for over a decade when I first read the book – and it was truly an “aha” moment for me.  The Major/Minor Sale definition explained why marketing tactics – from radio remote broadcasts to midnight madness sales-  would work so well for one client, yet fail miserably for another.

Amy had been blogging with the goal of being found in the search engines.  She focused on creating creative blog post titles instead of creating relationships.  She didn’t recognize that once people found her via the search engines, they then needed to form a relationship with her so they could TRUST her.  See,  TRUST is an integral part of making the Major Sale – and social media is a GREAT way to build your business with social media– by establishing a relationship with potential clients and customers.

This  is why I cringe when I see an article which touts “the importance of search engine optimizing your Facebook profile” – or when I read someone touting Twitter or Facebook as the “quick easy way” to build your business.  Twitter, Facebook, and blogging are all tactics and nothing more.  Tactics are great when you’re on a mission to accomplish a pre-defined goal as part of a marketing strategy.  Tactics are exhausting when deployed using the “spray and pray” method of marketing.

When you read that “blogging” is dead – you’re probably reading the rant of someone who didn’t understand the difference between tactics and strategy.  A blog is a GREAT communication tool which – when used correctly.

Why Ask Why – a Tale of 3 Bloggers

social media marketing success“Why are you blogging?”

If you haven’t asked yourself this question lately, maybe you should.

Recently, I had back to back conversations in a single morning with three different types of bloggers and was struck by how different their individual blogging goals were.

While each fit a similar “demographic” profile and all three were business owners, their answers to the question, “Why are you blogging?” were all dramatically different.

The Conversationalist – blogging to build community and connection.

The first blogger’s journey into blogging began because she wanted to be able to easily update the content on her website.  Enter the WordPress self hosted blog as CMS (content management system).

However, as time has progressed, this client has been feeling “called” to begin blogging with building community in mind.  She wants to begin engaging in a meaningful conversation with prospective clients and visitors to her website.  Because we’re already using WordPress as the CMS for her site, this will be an easy transition.

Creating a community conversation blog means installing some plugins to encourage conversation (a.k.a. comments) – WordPress plug ins like:

It also means adding some “social media” plugins such as:

The change in direction also means setting up Feedburner for the “new” information sharing style web presence. (The easiest way to make sure all RSS feeds go through Feedburner, use the FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin.)

All of these plugins are designed to make conversation and community “easier” on a WordPress self hosted blog.

This client has begun regularly “blogging” about a new “life design” she’s implementing.  She’s started blogging regularly and making sure that her blog posts encourage others to join in on the conversation.

While it’s possible that this will blogging project will ultimately net her more clients – right now, the primary reason this client is blogging is because she really wants to connect with others and have them join her on this journey.

The Capitalist – blogging to achieve superior SERPS

The next client’s reason for blogging was entirely different.  When I asked this client the question – “Why are you blogging?” –  there was an uncomfortable silence as she considered her answer.

I “rescued” her by interjecting, “if you goal is to make the cash register ring – it’s OK! It just means there are some elements that you won’t want to embrace in your blog.”

The Capitalist knew that creating search engine friendly content is WAY easier when you build your web presence using a WordPress self hosted blog – and I think she was afraid that I would “condemn” her for not having “loftier” blogging goals.

In my book – a blogger who knows WHY he or she is blogging is already breathing rarefied air!!!

For the Capitalist, we skipped the plugins centered around “encouraging comments” but we’ll still be using the social media plugins because this client is very active on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  She’s constantly making connections – not only to sell product but also has the goal of making joint venture connections via these valuable social media tools.

In addition to the tools above, we’re also using Viper’s Video to easily embed the informational videos she is creating for YouTube within blog posts. Creating YouTube videos is a GREAT way to leave  what I call “breadcrumb trails” back to your blog.

Of course, this clients product offerings are available on the static pages of her blog.  It’s amazing how many people I talk with who think that for some reason, a blog page can’t contain links to purchase products and services.

While the appearance of the blog is important to the Conversationalist – it’s even more important for the Capitalist. I can’t count the number of times I’ve “upgraded”  the design elements on a small business web presence and seen the conversion rate climb radically just because the design went from “home grown” to “polished and professional”.

The first time I witnessed the “design effect” was when a client came to me with a site that got nice traffic but sales conversions were dismal.  A simple “face lift” increased the conversion rate over 400% in a single quarter.

Content is king – but professional design is also important – especially to the Capitalist who wants to engender enough trust with visitors to get them to hand over their dough.

The Clueless Chump – blogging as a quick easy way to fame and fortune.

The first two conversations were with existing clients.  These are women who own successful businesses which they want to take to the next level.  The morning ended with a prospective new client call.  During the course of the third conversation I discovered that this woman is looking for a way to make a six figure income with a minimal investment of time, money and effort.   She’s obviously been infected with the “blogs as easy money” virus – which should be more feared than any strain of flu.  For that reason, I’m dubbing her the Clueless Chump.

Ah, if only she had opened the conversation with a quick, concise statement which communicated the information above- how much easier my life would be.

Let me be clear, this isn’t a woman who wants to launch or promote an authentic small business.  She’s not interested in adding value – which is what a blog with affiliate links must do to be successful. There’s plenty of value to be provided by the blog that offers reviews of products or services.

This woman is also not interested in selling products or services.   She’s also not interested in connecting with others unless they’re willing to give her money without her doing anything to earn that money.

I’ve been burned by this type of “money for nothing” client enough in the past that I’m getting pretty good at spotting these early on and steering clear.

This third call was not a reader of my blog.  When the Capitalist asked me why I blog – my response was I use my blog to try to “weed out” the Clueless Chump calls.  In this case, this particular Clueless Chump has never read my blog and probably never will – she found me by referral.

It’s days like this when I learn first hand why it’s so hard to give “one size fits all” advice around the issues of social media marketing and blogging.   As social media marketing emerges, it’s becoming obvious that crafting a social media marketing strategy is the most important step of all.

That’s why you should ask yourself “why”.  Asking yourself “why” can give you a solid foundation upon which to build your blogging strategy.