Blogs; you may think they’re a casual way for people to document their experiences and adventures, but even that one-man fashion blog you check in on every now and again might be bringing in some big business. For brands whose customer base is a ready-made readership, starting a blog can be even more effective.
Why does your business need a blog?
Brand blogs shouldn’t be judged on their total comments alone, in fact, blogs serve an important role that is a bit more technical than its number of likes.
First and foremost, blogs give you the opportunity to get organic, keyword-rich content onto your site – this content is then trawled by Google, helping improve your ranking (where you list on Google pages) and ultimately drawing more people to your site if they happen to be searching an associated term. This means that you should aim on keeping your blogs updated so you can feed Googlebots plenty of new content and, most importantly, keep your posts relevant so that no matter which post a bot lands on, it gets a good idea of what you’re all about.
If you run an online business, it can be a great way to bring more traffic to your website.
Get people interested
Blogs play an important part in social media, too. The more social shares your blog gets, the more incoming links your website has, and the more your Google ranking improves. Always update your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with any blog activity so you can keep the readers coming in. This is also why you should be sure to tailor your blog activity to key events. Perhaps your next reader had no intention of buying a jumper from your store, but they were feeling festive for Christmas and were led there from your “Best Christmas Looks” blog.
So, your end goal, really, is for people to land on your blog and from there head onto your store and hopefully make a purchase. That’s why you may be surprised to find some brand blogs are very personable, written in a way that’s relatable and shareable and not unlike casual bloggers – that’s because their main role is to draw people in, not make a hard sale – that’s your product pages’ job.
Key ways to keep people coming to your blog include:
Posting things that are genuinely useful e.g. if you’re a business selling hair accessories, post a tutorial on how to use them in numerous different styles.
Posting things that are relevant – not only does this help feed Google relevant keywords, it also stops you potentially alienating readers. If you’re a friendly neighbourhood cake shop, for example, you should keep things like politics and social commentary off your blog.
Blog regularly so you can keep people interested, if your posts aren’t frequent or follow a reliable schedule, people will look elsewhere for content. Similarly, new readers may be instantly put off to see your latest post is several months old.
Guest posts can help you connect digitally with other businesses or influencers. Where bloggers post, their readership will follow, so consider having monthly guest posts where you can widen your brand’s reach.
Acknowledge local businesses on your own blog and enjoy the benefits of mutually marketing one another. Linking to each other’s promotion is a great way to make the most of combined readership.
Omnichannel tactics are great on blogs, when you can tie in fun updates on your bricks and mortar locations, news on your upcoming stock etc. Take Etsy’s blog, for example, where their updates can be anything from their latest popup to a run down on the latest design trends, and where you can buy corresponding pieces on their online store.
How to start a blog
Easy, some of the world’s best blog builders are also Square’s trusted partners. Wix and Weebly take all the hard work out of setting up a blog, with easy click-and-drag features and beautiful pre-made templates, so all you need to do is provide the content.
Best place to start a blog
You may be tempted to give your blog a sub-domain so you can manage it as an almost entirely separate venture, but for the most effective strategy, you should keep it on your shop domain, with an easy to remember link like www.yoursitename.com/blog which makes things easy for users, and for Google.
How do I know if my blog is working?
Your blog isn’t going to be successful right away, so be prepared for a few months of updating before your efforts really start to bear fruit. The best way to track your blog’s performance is with a Google Analytics account. Our partners over at Wix have a short and simple guide on how to get started. Once you’re set up you can get all the insight into your blog’s performance, including how many new visitors you get, which pages they exited on, which they remained on the longest and which pages have the highest bounce rates (i.e. the ones least able to keep visitors reading).
Optimising your site for search engines is very important - read our e-commerce SEO guide for some tips.
What if I don’t need a blog?
Blogging isn’t an easy undertaking; the most successful hobbyist bloggers who have hit the big time often have to make it their full-time job to maintain the level of quality they want to offer to their readers. We’re not saying devote your every working hour to your blog, but if you know you can’t spare the time (think a few hours a week to write and some time every day to see if it’s getting any engagement) then a blog may not be the best choice for you.
Even if you do have time to spare, if you don’t have suitable insight into your customer base then you may find you’re wasting your time. Blogs must offer something valuable to your customers and host fresh content that people will want to read, share and comment on, your every post should be relevant to your brand, so you are able to include keywords that will let Google know what your business is about, even from a single post.
Blogs can be powerful SEO tools, but they’re not the be all and end all of a successful online presence. If you think it’s enough for your business to have a lively Instagram account (here’s ours!) or a healthy following on Facebook and don’t think a blog is the right fit, that’s perfectly fine too!