One thing I often say is that businesses need blogs if they want to compete in the modern digital marketplace. I speak it as fact, but what does it actually mean? Is it true, or is it just something I'm saying because I'm here promoting content marketing and blogging via freelance writers?
First of all, if you haven't seen the other post I published recently about SEO statistics, you might want to give it a look. I know some people are continually surprised by just how prominent the internet is in terms of business and how important it is that a business uses it today.
Now, I know by now that most of you are well aware of the importance of the internet. You probably wouldn't be here if you didn't have at least some idea. But, in case you weren't quite sure of the scope of its impact on business, peep this statistic:
That data comes from Oberlo.
Online shopping has a lot of advantages over in-person shopping. Shoppers can access a wider catalog of items, order customizations they can't in-store, and can shop from the safety and security of their own homes. For some, it's a matter of time and convenience. For some, it's a matter of access. For some, it's accessibility.
All of that is just about having an online store, though. How does blogging help?
Let's consider what a blog brings to the table.
A blog allows you to build a library of resources and news coverage, which anyone passing by can read and identify you as someone who knows what they're talking about. That's surprisingly important.
Pretend for a moment that you're walking down the street, and you come across two street vendors. They're both selling ice cream. Outwardly, they look identical. You really want ice cream, so you have to pick one of the two.
Which one are you more likely to try?
A blog is what provides all of that information to the casual patrons. Sure, some people will be fine ordering from the simpler vendor, but most people will go with the one they see exhibiting signs of authority and trust.
There's not necessarily anything wrong with the first vendor. But, you don't know who they are, you don't know what's in their ice cream, and you don't know if they're going to give you your change properly. Something as simple as one vendor providing an ingredients list makes you wonder. Why doesn't the other vendor do the same? Are they hiding something? Probably not – they might even get their ice cream from the same source – but it makes you wonder.
Now take this slightly tortured (but delicious) metaphor and apply it to websites. You want to buy a pair of shoes online. One website has a bunch of product pages, some pricing information, and not a whole lot else. The other has a blog that talks about the design of the shoes, the comfort they provide, what kinds of shoes are best for various purposes, and so on. Even if both sites are just selling Nike shoes they bought factory direct; you're going to trust one over the other.
Consider, now, how you find a website.
Today, if you're looking for a product to buy, chances are you're just going to go to Amazon and search for it.
What if, though, you have a problem you don't know how to solve? Well, you might go to Google and search for keywords that describe the problem, like the text of an error message, the description of a garden pest, or a need you have (like "how to get better sleep"). Google will then provide you with links to websites that have content that can answer your question.
You'll end up on websites you didn't know existed, with content that discusses the problem you're having and how to solve it. The solution might be an easy DIY action you can take, or it may be a discussion of a complex process, or it might be a link to a product you can buy to fix it. Whatever the case may be, you walk away more informed.
That content comes from blogs. Google knows how to give the links to those blogs to you because the blogs use keywords that are relevant to your search and have sites that are broadly relevant to the topic. They'll give you pest control articles from gardening blogs when you search for a garden issue.
They also build trust. You see this website discusses your issue, but what if it's a fluke and they aren't really that authoritative? Well, you can click through their blog and see other instances of content discussing other problems, including others you may have, and see what their solutions are. You can judge, based on your own experiences and knowledge, whether or not the site is authoritative.
Now, look at this from the perspective of the site. They created content covering a variety of garden issues. Whenever someone has one of those garden issues, they search for it, they find the site in the search results, and they click through. Over time, some of those people decide to go directly to their favorite gardening site for advice instead of searching Google. Many of them trust the advice on the gardening site enough that they purchase organic pesticides and gardening tools and plant-raising books from the gardening site's store.
Now think about the other ways you have to bring traffic to your website.
Blogging seems a whole lot easier, doesn't it?
I like to call blogging a bit of a numbers game. Every single blog post is an opportunity.
Every blog post has a chance to rank in the search results for queries related to its topic. How well it can rank depends on a ton of factors, like the quality of your site, the strength of the competition, your use of keywords, and a whole lot more. But, every single post is a chance.
Blogs exist at all stages of the sales funnel simultaneously.
At the top of the funnel, when you're trying to get people who have never heard of you to find you, blogs populate the search results and build brand awareness.
In the middle of the funnel, when you're trying to engage with visitors and get them to trust you, blogs build authority, showcase expertise, and foster trust.
At the bottom of the funnel, when you're trying to convince readers to make a purchase, blogs help convince those readers that the easiest way to solve their problem is something you sell and can use a call to action to get them to a product page.
All of it goes back to Google, SEO, and blogging. Every blog post is a chance to attract new users at the top of the funnel, convince them of your authority, and deliver them a call to action that convinces them to purchase.
Blogging, for those of you who have tried it, is pretty difficult.
It's very much a long-term strategy and can take years before it starts to bear fruit. There are, however, quite a few advantages to blogs.
At least, not really. Content can linger indefinitely, as long as you don't get rid of it. In fact, a majority of the top-ranking content online is 3+ years old. That's not to say that new content can't rank, just that content lingers.
Of course, standards change over time. You may need to fluff up old content, change up its formatting, make it longer, make it more detailed, or change the target audience. But, once your content is in a good place, you don't usually have to touch it for years.
Blog posts don't stand on their own. They're part of an entire ecosystem that is your website as a whole. You have internal links, recommended content, calls to action, navigation, breadcrumbs, the whole nine yards. Links that point to a blog post help bring up the whole site. People visiting one blog post have a reasonable chance to click through to others.
This is another example of how every blog post is an opportunity. If you throw one fishing line into the ocean, you have a minimal chance of catching a fish. If you throw in two, you have twice the chance to catch a fish. If you throw in a hundred, a thousand, you have way more chances to catch fish and make a business out of fishing.
Every blog post is focused on a narrow, specific issue. Sometimes that issue is a newbie's question about fertilizer, sometimes, it's an advanced discussion of different kinds of pesticides, and sometimes it's someone just wanting to see what a healthy plant looks like. All three of those kinds of users can benefit from seeing your site (and you can sell your products to them with the right framing), so producing content for each topic helps you reach those specific people.
Every blog post has a topic, but it also has a target audience. That target audience is critically important because it's a definition of who you're trying to reach and how you approach them.
Every business needs a blog, full stop. It's how you reach new people and how you engage with the people you reach. Without it, you're struggling in the ocean trying to catch fish with your hands. Not only are you going about it inefficiently, but others who have blogs are also trawling by and scooping up all the fish you might have caught.
If you believe it's time to start a blog, one of the best things you can do is hire a talented freelance blog writer. Luckily, I have plenty of advice to help you do that too.