Let’s face it – writing a blog can be hard. If you’re running a local business like a dentist office, hair salon, or a restaurant, what do you even write about? You might ask, do I even need to blog at all? Can’t you just post stuff on social media occasionally and call it a day?
Yes, you should be blogging. However, you probably don’t need to blog as much as you’ve been led to believe.
What do we hope to accomplish from blogging?
Your blog is one way to help prospective customers get to know you and get a feel for your personality. A past business partner of mine often says, “People do business with people they like,” and I think that’s very true.
What you talk about on your blog doesn’t have to be totally laser-focused on your products or services—it can be about what you and your people do besides that.
If you and your staff got involved in a community service project, blog about that. When you have a new hire, blog about that – show your proud, new employee’s shining face. When one of your employees quits to start their own business, share that. Thank them for their time with you and wish them well! When there’s a local event or a charity project you really believe in, talk about that and tell people to see you there.
This is all good content for showing your human side and building goodwill.
Of course, when your business does actually have news – for example, your restaurant adds a new special or entrée, your business is mentioned in the news, or you’ve moved your office – that’s all good stuff too.
When someone hears about your business from a friend, or finds you via a Google search, and they’re sniffing around your website, deciding whether or not to give you a try, this is when they might poke in and read a bit of your last couple of blog posts.
For most local businesses, your blog is not going to be a major source of search traffic. It’s difficult to come up with topics that get a fair bit of searches from local customers, and that are local in nature (so Google will favor pages from local businesses). Ranking nationally for a blog post on braces vs. Invisalign, or a lasagna recipe, or the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy is not only extremely difficult, but if you live in a city of one million people, 0.3% of the traffic coming to your page for a national search result like those are going to be from your town. They’re just not going to ever be your customer.
How often do I have to blog?
Too many SEO agencies seem to believe that “more is better,” and that every website needs an avalanche of “fresh content.” If your website covers the news, weather, stock prices, politics, or hockey scores, that all might be true. But for most businesses, if you’re going to blog every day, or even every week, you’re going to end up fabricating a lot of fluff that nobody cares about.
“Google cares less about the amount of new content you put out, and far more about the quality of that content, and whether anyone seems to care about it,” says technical SEO consultant Michael Cottam. “They’ve got their own ways to measure the quality, and they can tell if anyone cares by looking for links to that content, and social media posts that have a link to that page.”
In terms of how “fresh” the content is, Google actually has a term for that, called QDF, which stands for “Query Deserves Freshness.” For the hockey score or the weather – yes, those queries deserve freshness. For a website about your restaurant, your dental practice, your estate planning law firm—not so much.
Now, if your website hasn’t had a single new piece of content or an update in three years, Google might take that as a sign that you’re stagnant, or even out of business.
Set a reminder in your calendar for once or twice a month to think back about what’s happened recently, or what’s coming up, that might be worth mentioning on your blog.
Wait, I have to blog AND post on Facebook AND tweet AND…when am I supposed to run my business?
Okay, more good news for you, and it’s about a process. Don’t think about your social media channels as separate places, where you have to create unique content in each place.
You’ve got to do the writing (and source an image or two) once no matter what, so do that writing on your blog.
Then, share that blog post on Facebook. Tweet a link to it. Pin a photo from it to Pinterest or upload it to Instagram, if that’s appropriate for your business. And when you create those posts on social media, always include a link back to that blog post.
That way, if someone likes that post and comments on it, Google might be able to see that engagement and recognize that as a popularity signal for your business. And that has been shown to correlate with ranking in Google. It’s a lot tougher for Google to tell what people liked in the post if there’s nothing in the post but text and an image—there’s no clue that what was liked is tied to your business.
To sum things up, having a blog for your local business is important. Get started today!