Marketing and social media consultant and author Mark Schaefer is a big believer in blogging. For one thing, as you'll learn shortly, it saved him from sitting through another cold chicken lunch at the chamber of commerce. Yesterday we posted part one of an interview with Schaefer explaining why blogging might be the best social media move your business could make. Here in part two he offers tips for blogging your way up the search engine ladder.
Yahoo! SBA: Does blogging help businesses show up in search engines?
Schaefer: Search engine optimization: that’s the number one benefit of blogging. It’s an evolving and complicated topic, but for many businesses today, customers are beginning their search for your business and your products on Google. It’s essential that you show up in the top three search terms.
How do you do that?
One way to begin to tip the Google search algorithms in your favor is to create very helpful, useful content that your customers will love. If your customers are coming to your site, commenting on your content, sharing your content, and if you’re being helpful and providing original content, Google will notice that and reward you in search rankings. It takes time, commitment, and consistency to achieve that, but it does work. It’s by far the most effective and also cost-effective way to have an impact on your business.
But small business owners are too busy to blog! Should they hire someone to blog for them?
That could be an alternative, but blogging is not as difficult as many people think. My new book, Born to Blog, teaches people step by step how to blog effectively. There are tons of tips and tricks to come up with ideas, engage your customers, and do it without killing yourself in the time that it takes.
A good blog post is about 500 words. In analog terms, that’s one page, double-spaced type. And a good blog post is helpful in that it answers the customer’s question. Can a business owner write one 500-word essay every other week that answers a customer’s question? That doesn’t seem too hard.
Every other week is frequent enough to have an impact?
Every two weeks is a good place to start. If you could work your way up to once a week that would be even better, but if you could just start out with a goal to commit to putting something new out there every other week, you’re blogging.
And that frequency will impact your appearance in search?
It depends how active your competition is whether that impacts search. If you’re the only one in your space creating original content, that would be enough. Many small businesses aren’t creating content. Creating original content on a blog is a lot more powerful than simply doing a Tweet or a Facebook post because Google isn’t even going to see those. Your tweets are going to be a lot better if they refer back to original content you created on your blog. That’s why I think blogging is really the heart of this.
There are three primary sources of what I call rich content: blogging, podcasts, and video. For small businesses, blogging is the easiest and most accessible and likely to give you the best results.
Writing 500 words would be painful for some small business owners I know. Could a photo and a short caption make a good blog post?
Yes, it would be a wonderful blog to take a picture and tell the story behind it. For an interior designer, for instance, a photo of a room with a caption telling “this is why we chose this furniture or this color.” Or for a landscaper, post a photo and tell the story behind the landscape art. “Look at this problem we solved!” That would be a fantastic blog.
It’s also very easy to embed videos in a blog and today the cost and time to create effective videos is dramatically reduced. You can do it on a smart phone. I use a $150 camera I got at Best Buy. I do one take, I don’t do any editing. I’m a small business owner too!
You also say social media is “networking on steroids.”
When I started my business, social media and blogging were just starting to take off. So I was limited to face-to-face networking, going to local business meetings and chamber of commerce events. You’ve got to go and pay for the meeting and sit there and eat some cold piece of chicken and everybody’s trying to sell you something and then you drive home. Once my blog took off the first thing I did was stop going to those stupid meetings!
I’ve been able to connect with people all over the world. New customers, new opportunities to provide communication, and connections every day that I couldn’t do with personal live networking. I can do it any time of day, in my pajamas, and I don’t have to eat a cold chicken lunch.
See part one of our interview with Mark Schaefer here: "The first social media move you should make."
Find more of Schaefer's great social media marketing advice at the Schaefer Marketing Solutions website.