When I started blogging in 2006, posting news and views on the advertising and marketing industry in the Middle East, many thought I was crazy. To them, blogs were personal diaries posted online by socially awkward people who had no social life. Businesses having blogs was not even remotely considered.
Today, my blog CopywriterJournalist.com has a readership across 140 countries, has been cited by regional and international news organisations, and dominates the search engines, sometimes coming up even higher than the brands and businesses it covers. Yet, on the industry level, blogs seem to be the least understood and appreciated online tool by businesses in the region.
Globally, blogging is being adopted rapidly to build online business influence and take customer engagement to new heights. However, in the GCC and the Middle East, most businesses are still wondering why their websites have little traffic and traction –without paying attention to the power of sharing valuable content through blogs.
Here are ten reasons why businesses that want to shine online must invest time in a creating business blogs:
1. Positions your business as an authority: When you start elaborating on your industry issues through a blog, you and your business are also seen as an authority, a brand that is good at what it does and passionate enough to blog about it. The true soul of many leading brands and businesses comes through only when someone meets its founder or top brass and gets diluted when you look at their website. A blog gives an opportunity to ‘write like you speak’ and convey the expertise and passion of your business and its visionary leaders.
2. Strengthens credibility: Most websites are written in fluffy, self-praising style. But when you start blogging as a business, you have to be straightforward and down to earth. When a business has the courage to start talking human, it shows your credibility. People buy from brands they trust, and a corporate blog will help you build that trust.
3. Encourages transparency: Anyone can set up a good looking website, and most businesses do. But tall claims on a webpage mean nothing if not backed by substantiation of the claims. A blog by your business explaining who you are, what you do, on a regular basis, as well as acknowledging your challenges and sharing your trials and triumphs is a great way to indicate your transparency. Blogs are great tools for reputation management – and you own the domain of the conversation.
4. Opens the door for dialogue: Traditional websites are just static pages where the company talks and the reader, well, reads. The experience of most company websites is like being with someone who can’t stop talking about himself. A blog helps you correct that with its invitation to comment and respond back to the company. Sometimes, the most engaging conversation happens inside the comments section of a website – and casual passers-by are converted to customers.
5. Keeps your conversation up to date: How often would you update an ‘About Us’ or ‘Our Vision’ page on your corporate website? In many years. Most website pages have the same issue – as there is nothing new to say on those pages. But when you have a blog, it lets you share the latest from the company’s offers, products, events, achievement – without the need to alter the site structure or mess up the site code. Everything falls in place automatically in chronological sets of tags and categories. People don’t have to go to other sites to read what’s new about your business because they always catch it on your blog – which they could easily subscribe to via email alerts.
6. Gets indexed faster and better in search engines: Research proves that the top few results on the first page get most of the traffic in search engines, and therefore most of the leads and business too. But search engines have a soft corner for regularly updated content. Your website pages might not be updated day after day but your blog can be used this way. Blogging platforms like WordPress also ping (notify) search engines every time a new update is made, thus further boosting your chances of search engine love. The way blogging systems work, the titles of your blog posts can be used for coming up higher in search, even if you have a website that has cryptic and dynamically generated URLs. Blog posts about a company can many times beat its official website in SERPs for this reason.
7. Brings in targeted traffic: Traditional website pages like ‘About Us’, ‘Our Team’ do very little for bringing in your target prospects to your website and to your business. When you have a very complex CMS and backend, it makes even more difficult to customize pages for segmented audience. If you integrate a blog in your website, each of its posts can be written with targeted market segments in mind. You can drill down to specific issues with every blog post, discuss products and their variations, post by post, without upsetting your site structure and the ease of navigation. Each post when optimised for different segments will pull in a niche audience and you won’t have to serve everything to everybody but only what matters to them.
8. Makes you quotable: Journalists, bloggers, trendsetters who are professional and credible prefer to cite original but current sources. A blog by a business is considered both credible and current for linking back to. Blog posts are the new press release, minus the neutral voice of press report. You can post your readers in on the latest, even directly in the words of your company’s spokesperson, using your blog posts. And you can send out exclusive ‘releases’ written with a passionate voice, in the voice of your brand.
9. Easier to update, manage and moderate: Many web design companies will sell you in on very complex content management systems. It is not uncommon for web pages to require FTPs uploads of entire web pages just to edit a comma or full stop. Having a good blogging CMS does away with your dependency on programmers, developers or your web company when all you want to do is add a new page or picture. With a blog, updating a page, adding a new one, posting multimedia content or answering and moderating comments is as easy as shooting off an email. Faster updating and regular content means better conversations – and therefore – conversions.
10. Better integrated with social networks: Blogging and social networking are made for each other. It takes only a few minutes to connect your blog to your company’s Facebook page or Twitter account. There are apps and plugins that will post your blog posts to your Facebook page and your Twitter profile. Blogs can even track and display people who have tweeted, bookmarked and shared your content online. It is easier, simpler and mostly free to integrate social networks to a common blogging platform – no designers or developers needed.
I know the headline promises to give you 10 reasons, but here’s an extra reason in case you like to read lists from the bottom up.
11. Blogs are sticky, traditional websites aren’t: How many times do you think a customer will visit your corporate site? Do people really care about visions statements and press release archives on a company website? Websites that integrate blogs can be sure to see lower bounce rates and higher engagement when they fully utilise blogging features like RSS feeds, related posts, comment subscriptions. Blogs give people a reason to keep coming back to your website, to engage and respond and ask and get answers directly from your business.
You can follow Farrukh Naeem on Twitter @farrukhnaeem.