Congrats! You’ve got it all together. You have a small business up and running. You have a website that looks pretty sharp. You even have a blog, because every SEO company (including Strider) says you need to have a blog for some reason.
But you don’t seem to be getting much traction with that darn blog. “Why am I bothering?”, you might ask yourself. It seems like a tremendous waste of time.
And it is – but only because you aren’t quite doing all you can to make it work… to provide your blog with the opportunity to drive traffic to your website. Yes, that’s why every SEO company (including Strider) says you need a blog… a business blog.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why things seem like a waste of time with your blog, and how to resolve it so that your time blogging becomes what it supposed to do: bring traffic to your small business website to help create a larger customer base.
Believe it or not, simply tossing down a few words via the old computer onto a blog isn’t going to suddenly drive people to your website to read it. You have to make people want to read it.
How do you do that? We’re glad you asked. You need to provide relevant information to your target audience.
Your target audience are those consumers whom you have identified as your customer. If you operate a sporting goods shop catering only to baseball and hockey, your blogs need to reflect the needs of the baseball and hockey customer. Your customer might be the 55-year-old parent or guardian who purchases the equipment for their kids, so you have tried to tailor your blogs to them. Fine. But keep in mind that teenagers, tweens and younger are the ones that determine what products they actually want.
Do Millenials even read blogs anymore? Yes, some do. And some Boomers prefer video. Don’t miss out on opportunities to repurpose your content in different formats to deliver the right message.
Are your blogs too “adult”? Do you preach, rather than inform? Do you even write about goods or services within your industry? How do you speak to a younger audience?
No one is saying you have to write using their generational terms, but at the same time, you should be writing for the customer – whomever they are.
If you are a small business owner selling bridal gowns, you know who your audience is – usually a woman in their mid-20s to late 30s (though older brides, or second-time-around brides might be a good niche audience!). As the owner, does your blog reflect your customer’s tastes and language? Are you writing locally or globally? Benefits for both may depend on your target audience.
That’s what you need to determine, and then that’s what you need to write about in your blogs. No one is expecting you to be Bill Shakespeare, but you do need to create informative material that will make the reader want to come back to your blog again and again.
This means you have to know your industry and know your customer base. And when you write, keep the topic relevant to that. No one looking to purchase a road hockey goalie net wants to hear about how the country’s leader has committed another faux pas in a foreign land. Keep your blog topics relevant.
This focuses on how you are getting the news out to potential customers/readers that you have a blog that people might actually be interested in reading because it is informative, educational or heck, just downright funny – but relevant. How do people know you even have a blog or weekly blog articles?
There are a few ways to garner interest in your blog. Relevance of topic, of course. If people are searching for a topic on-line, they might come across your blog. Maybe. Maybe if they search through 20 pages on Google. People do that, right?
Well, to get your blog a higher ranking on Google’s search engine, you need to post often; post original content, and see No. 3 below… these are the inexpensive ways. You could pay to have your blog listed higher on searches, or featured on Facebook ads, but if your budget is limited this approach is best reserved for special content.
Have you shared your blog posts on Twitter? How about Facebook? LinkedIn? Snapchat? Instagram? Are you using any social media platform to get the word out that you have a blog? You need to. While it may indeed be a “pain” to have to work a social media account or two for your business, it can’t be ignored. (Strider has low-cost and free tools to help with this.)
We all know that people are more tuned in to their social media than they are to television, radio or print. You have to use the resources available to you – free ones – to inform readers (and would-be customers), that you have something interesting to tell them.
People talk about search engine optimization all the time, but do you really know what that means? Do you know how that relates to your blog and thus to future success with your small business? How do you optimize your content for search engines to find and list high on the search page?
We’re going to tell you.
SEO occurs for your website and blog when you formulate your writing in a way that search engines, such as Google, can best understand the themes, relevance, and authority of the content. When a search engine understands your writing (determined by a complex algorithm) and determines it is relevant to a user’s query, it moves higher up on the search pages.
To optimize your blog for SEO, there are a few things you should be aware of:
- Long-tail keywords. This can be something as simple as: “How to tape a hockey stick” or “How to clean a toaster.” The point is that people searching for information will often type in a complete sentence, and by using a long-tail keyword phrase, it will be understood by a search engine – meaning your target audience will find your blog.
- Keywords: Always add specific keywords in your blog, not just in the website or blog dashboard where the option to add keywords is. Search engines will look for such content in a blog. It might as well be your blog.
- Mobile-friendly. Your blog (and website) needs to be configured not only for standard computers, but also for various mobile devices. Have you ever used your phone to open up a web page and only half the page is visible forcing you to scroll right to see the other part of the page? It’s annoying, and readers will quickly become non-readers. You need to ensure your blog is mobile-friendly, and quick to load.
- Meta description. This is created by you to provide readers information as to what your blog is about. It is applied to every blog you write, and can utilize that long-tail keyword phrase mentioned above. Think of this as an ad appealing to the search engine user to click on your page.
- Add image alt text to images. Search engines look for images with “image alt text”. This is because search engines don’t see your image the way people do – but the alt text tells the image what it is, helping the search engine images page. Here’s what an alt text looks like:
<img class=”wt-blog__normal-image” src=”pitcher.jpg” alt=”baseball pitcher throwing a ball” title=”image tooltip”>.
So, instead of your image having a tag such as IMG047, it will provide a description such as “Youth hockey goalie equipment in our store.” To create the best alt text for images: describe the photo; omit “photo of…”; be specific in the image description; keep it under 125 characters (NOT words. A space counts as a character); use keywords. In the example above, you aren’t just describing “equipment”, you are describing “youth”, “hockey” and “goalie”. It is exactly what it is.
- Avoid similar topic tags. When describing your blog, there’s no need to use, for example: goalie, goaltender, hockey goalie, hockey goaltender. Pick the one that best suits what you are writing about. Search engines tend to penalize blogs and websites with repetitive topic tags.
- Simple URLs. The URL is the address of the blog. For example: https://striderseo.com/talents/seo/ – this tells you that the page describes the SEO talent (team) at Strider. For a blog, this URL data is taken from the blog headline/title. An example of this is: https://av8rblog.wordpress.com/2019/07/04/willss-aviation-card-85-coventry-ordnance-military-bipane/. While the URL seems long, this blog is about Wills’s aviation card No. 85, the Coventry Ordnance Military Biplane. There is no mistaking what this blog page is about by any search engine or human web searcher. If anyone is searching for information on this 100+-year-old collector’s card or airplane, a search engine will direct them to this blog.
- Link internally. When you provide URL links in your blog to other articles/blogs you have created, you are not only doing a service to your reader in providing them with more information, you are creating “hits”, that search engines see as something relevant and popular.
- Google Search Console. Believe it or not, most people aren’t aware of this free platform: Google Search Console. To quote Google: “Search Console tools and reports help you measure your site’s Search traffic and performance, fix issues, and make your site shine in Google Search results.” With it, you can see which queries bring users to your site. You can also analyze your site’s impressions, clicks, and position on Google Search.
- Keep it fresh. This applies to your content. Yes, you need to ensure your blog is not only up-to-date, but always contains relevant information. If content is old, remove it. Or, you can update it. No, not just by changing the publication date – though you can do that if the content is still relevant. Some posts will be relevant for a short time, like “Fall 2019 Wedding Trends”, where others might contain valuable “evergreen” content that doesn’t diminish quickly with time.
We know that some of these things may sound outlandish and even confusing. But that’s why the Strider team help local business across North America initiate and maintain marketing strategies that address the blogging topics noted above. Check out your site’s current performance, or contact us for a personalized recommendation.