Why Your Small Business Should Have a Blog

Running a business requires an incredible amount of stamina and drive. If you’re a small business with fewer than 10 employees it can be even harder to manage your business (employees, contractors, finances, client relationships, etc.). You have to continue doing the work that pays you and then you also need to allocate time to bring in new clients.

Often small business owners fall into one category or another. You are either very good at sales – bringing in new clients – but don’t love the actual project work. Or, you are exceptional on the project side of the business, but can’t stand to bring in clients or do the admin work that’s necessary to even get paid by the clients you have. However, if you stop finding new clients, you may wake up one day without any work. To keep the work and money flowing, it’s imperative that a small business focuses on sales and marketing.

While many marketing strategies are costly, time-consuming, and may not pay off for many months, a blog is something that can help a small business grow its client list.

Why Your Small Business Should Have a Blog

Before you start to resist this, just remember that you can outsource your blog to someone else. Also, not every post needs to be a 1,000-plus words of intellectual content. For now, we can focus on 8 reasons why your small business should have a blog.

1. It’s Affordable

Other than the time to write the blog and pay for a nice stock photo, blogging is really inexpensive. If you write your own blogs, they will maybe cost you a few hours of time.

2. It Will Improve SEO

You could pay Google to have your site at the top of the search rankings but studies show that people actually care more about organic listings that are top-ranked. If you want to rank higher, then a good way to do so is to increase the number of pages that are indexed by Google. Google will see that you are keeping your website up to date with relevant information.

3. Get People To Return To Your Site

When you look at your Google Analytics, you should pay attention to how many new and returning visitors you’ve had.

New visitors are great since that means that something about you, your product, or your service has caught their attention. But return visitors are even better. That means there’s something on your website that has given them a reason to return; a blog is usually that reason.

4. Establish Authority

Blogs establish and reinforce credibility and authority. You website might talk about how much of an authority you are, but a blog might describe a client relationship or how your service or product helped someone or solved a problem. Those stories demonstrate your expertise and authority in your niche.

5. Add Value

Blogs add value to the website experience. Visitors and your customers see this as a value-added – you can become a reliable source for interesting and helpful information.

6. Increase Visibility

A regular blog (at least two posts per month) can do a great job of increasing your visibility. If your target clients are looking for your products or services, your blog might be what leads them directly to you. The more content you create, the more content you will have to share around social media and include in upcoming newsletters.

7.  Establish a Genuine Connection

Good clients and business partners usually come about as a result of establishing a genuine connection between you. Your blog and website is the perfect place to set the tone for your brand identity and for you as the person they are going to eventually work with. Your blog is a great place to establish your voice and begin to make those genuine connections through your content.

8. More Conversion Opportunities

As you create more blog posts, the locations where there are calls to action increase exponentially and that translates to more lead-generating opportunities for your business.

Use Answer The Public for Small Business Marketing

Answer The Public’s tool is completely free and has become an integral part of my content strategy. We use it to determine the topics and questions surrounding the primary keywords that we want to rank for. We then try to answer as many of these questions as we can with our content. This way, when Google is looking at which websites have the best information regarding the topic, we’re not only more likely to rank, but we also are more likely to convert visitors because we answer the most important questions they have.

Answer The Public is extremely easy to use. Just go to http://answerthepublic.com/ and type a category or keyword and make sure you have the correct country selected.

 

 

How to Find Trending Ideas

Content marketing is only useful if you can first find trending ideas. Check out this useful list of sites, apps, and tools to help identify trending ideas:

Free Writing & Blogging Tools

I’ve recently compiled a list of free writing & blogging tools. Check out the list and let me know if I have missed any:

Tools for Improving Readability

If you create user-friendly content, you understand readability. If usability and user-interface is important, then readability should be a top priority.

When your content is readable, it’s easier to consume. If usability and UX is important, then readability should be a top priority. User-friendly content may even improve your search ranking.

Website readability is governed by two components – Writing Style and Typography.

Writing Style Tips for Improving Readability

  • Use section headings to split up long articles
  • Highlight important words and phrases by using bold and italics
  • Use bullet points to make lists easier to read
  • Avoid jargon; use simple words
  • Avoid the passive voice
  • Proof-read your work and use spell check to avoid glaring grammar mistakes

Typography Tips for Improving Readability

  • Choose a main content font that is easy to read on all devices
  • Make sure the font size is large enough
  • Use a dark color font on a light background
  • Don’t use dark backgrounds if you want people to read your content

Online Tools for Improving Readability

The Readability Test Tool

This online tool will check your writing under well-established readability formulas. E.g., the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease and the Automated Readability Index.The Readability Test Tool also furnishes statistics about your text. It shows you the number of complex words and average number of words per sentence in your work. Try to lower these two metrics when you’re editing for readability.

The Readability Test Tool

Grammark

Spelling errors and grammar mistakes make for hard, distracting reading. Grammark can help find grammar and spelling issues. It will also point out wordiness, vague language, and other problem areas.

Grammark

 

Hemingway Editor

This online editor helps you write clearly and concisely. The tool highlights complex sentences and phrases, the use of passive voice, and adverbs. Hemingway Editor gives you a dynamic readability grade as you write. It also displays information such the estimated reading time of your article. In the screenshot below, I pasted an article from the Washington Post. As you can see it scores very low on readability.

Hemingway Editor

Contrast Ratio

Design is a big part of readability and text legibility. Good foreground/background color contrast ratio is key to reading comfort. This is an open source tool for calculating the contrast ratio of two colors. It can help you choose good colors for a pleasant reading experience.

Contrast Ratio Easily calculate color contrast ratios. Passing WCAG was never this easy

 

How to Schedule Your WordPress Blog Posts

If you’re like me, you tend to write in spurts and starts. Not every day is a blogging day, but once I begin blogging I will usually commit a good percentage of the day towards those efforts. This quick tutorial will show you how to schedule your wordpress blog posts so that all four blog posts you create the same day are published on different days.

Why Schedule Your Blog Posts in WordPress?

Each website has a specific time or day for peak traffic. Now if you live in a different timezone than your readers, then it can be a problem. Imagine having your peak time as 3 a.m. Scheduling posts can be very handy for this.

The other situation is if you are going for a vacation, but you don’t want to abandon your blog.

If you schedule your WordPress blog posts, you don’t have to worry about either of these scenarios. This function allows you to stay ahead of yourself by finishing up articles in advance and have them ready. You can prepare for a busy week ahead of time and schedule articles to be published automatically.

How to Schedule Your WordPress Blog Post

Once you are done writing your blog post, before hitting publish, you need to look at the option right above the publish button that reads “Publish immediately”. Click on “Edit”. Set Date and Time and click Schedule.

Follow these easy steps and you can know schedule your WordPress blog posts.

What’s the Best Way to Optimize Blog Post Images for SEO?

If you have a blog, you probably encounter this question – What’s the best way to optimize blog post images for SEO – every time you create a post:

Should I add an image to my blog post?

The answer is yes. Images can grab a visitor’s attention and help you with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However you will need to follow several steps to make sure that your images are optimized for SEO so that your images relate to your blog post and help improve your search results ranking.

Preparing images for use in your blog post

Once you have found the right illustration, infographic, video, or image to use in your blog post, you need to consider the following factors:

Choose the right file name

Image SEO starts with the file name. Make sure that your file name isn’t the name generated by your camera. You want Google to know what the image is about. It’s simple: if your image is a sunrise in Washington, DC showing the Washington Monument, the file name shouldn’t be DSC4126.jpg, but washington-monument-dc-sunrise.jpg. The main keyword would be Washington Monument, as that is the main subject of the photo, that is why I added that at the beginning of the file name.

Scale for image SEO

Web page load times are an important user interface, and therefore SEO, aspect. The faster the site, the easier it is for Google and others to visit and index your page. Images can have a huge impact on loading times, especially when you load a huge image and display it really small, like using a 2500×1500 pixels image and showing it at 250×150 pixels size. The entire image will still have to be loaded. Scale the image to the size you want to show it. WordPress helps by providing the image in multiple sizes after upload. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the file size is optimized as well, that’s just the image size.

Reduce File Size

The next step in image SEO should be to make sure that scaled image is served in the smallest file size possible. There are a bunch of good tools for this. I recommend using JPEGMini for this. There’s a free option but the paid option is only $19.99 and works on both PCs and IOS devices. Download JPEGmini.

JPEGmini image file size reducer

Captions

People use captions when scanning an article. Next to headings, people tend to scan the image and include the caption as well in that scan. You don’t have to add a caption for every image. I recommend using captions only if the image needs one.

Alt Text and Title Text

The alt text is added to an image so there is descriptive text when the image can’t be displayed. The visually impaired, in particular, use screen readers that rely on the alt text to explain what an image is.

Conclusion: What’s the Best Way to Optimize Blog Post Images for SEO?

Image SEO is all about doing a bunch of different things right. Since Google is improving image recognition/capabilities every day, it makes a lot of sense to ensure your image and all its elements contribute to user experience as well as SEO.

Keep these things in mind whenever you create your next blog post and add an image to an article:

  • Use a relevant image that matches your content
  • Change your image file name so that it also matches your content
  • Make sure image dimension matches the image size as displayed
  • Use image file size reducing tools for faster loading
  • Add a caption so users can easily scan your page
  • Use image alt text, title text is optional
  • Don’t break the left reading line using an image
  • Use images in your XML sitemaps

Increase Search Traffic. Translate Your Blog Into Chinese.

Chances are high that when you write your blog posts you are writing them in English. What if I told you that you could increase your search traffic by translating your blog into Mandarin and Spanish as they are the two most popular languages in the world?

There are a variety of translation plugins that can help you do this. There is no perfect plugin, however. The best plugin is called Transposh.

If you decide to do this to increase your search traffic, here are some tips.

  1. Download the plugin directly from the website – http://transposh.org/download/ and install it yourself. This works better than the plugin you will get if you search for it in the plugin repository.
  2. Transposh offers 92 possible languages for translating your content. If you select them all at once, however, the plugin crashes, freezes your browser, and will not translate all of your blog’s posts and pages. For this reason, you should select a few languages (usually fewer than 5) at first and see how it goes.Languages Transposh ‹ Connect4 Consulting — WordPress
  3. Once you select a few languages, find the Settings tab and uncheck the option that says “This enables auto detection of language used by the user as defined in the ACCEPT_LANGUAGES they send. This will redirect the first page accessed in the session to the same page with the detected language.” The reason you have to uncheck that option is because the plugin automatically sends people to a translated version when it shouldn’t.
  4. Once you hit the Save Changes button, head over to Utilities tab, and click “translate all now.” If you have a big blog, it’s going to take hours. The plugin is a little buggy so if nothing happens the first time, select fewer languages and then repeat the steps.
  5. When you publish new posts and pages, you won’t have to repeat these steps as the plugin will do it automatically, but you will need to repeat the process for older posts.

Troubleshooting Transposh

Not everything works perfectly. Although all content, text links, sliders, and button text gets translated, the title tag and meta descriptions are not. For that reason Google Webmaster Tools will show duplicate tags and meta descriptions. The plugin also messes with the design a bit as you can see below.

transposh-design-conflict

Finally, the plugin doesn’t translate everything perfectly on the first go-around. Sometimes you have to run it a few times to get it to work correctly and even then, sometimes the translations are horrible. The upside here is that you will undoubtedly increase your search traffic. The downside is the quality of the translation.

 

Don’t Blog Unless You Use These Five Blogging Tools

Are you having a hard time coming up with ideas to blog about? I did at first and still do on occasion. Now there are all kinds of free tools to help you brainstorm about ideas and also see which topics are trending. Obviously it makes more sense for you to blog about trending topics in your niche since you want eyeballs – and lots of them – reading your blog. Don’t even think about blogging unless you use these five blogging tools.

Blogging Tool #1: Quick Sprout

To start, simply enter your URL or your competitor’s URL here. You’ll see a report that looks like this:

Quick Sprout Site Analysis Tool

When you click on the “social media tab,” you’ll see a table that shows all the pages on any given domain and sorts them by social shares. This is useful because if you want to see what blog posts are working well for your competition, just put in their URLs into the tool. The table will show you their popular posts.

By analyzing your competition with the Quick Sprout tool, you’ll gain insights into what is working for your competitors and the type of content you should be producing on your blog.

Blogging Tool #2: Buzzsumo

It isn’t easy to come up with topics to write about. Luckily, Buzzsumo helps with the task.

All you have to do is visit Buzzsumo and type in a keyword related to your industry. For this example, let’s use the phrase “content marketing.”

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo crawls the web for blog posts and indexes them all like Google. Buzzsumo then sorts the results by social shares and shows the posts with the highest share count at the top.

You will see what type of content has done well in the past. You can then come up with article ideas based on the list.

For example, one of the most shared titles was “An Internet Marketing Education in 16 Ebooks and 20 Emails. No Charge.” You could easily use this to write a blog post of your own and change the title to “Get Your MBA in Internet Marketing with these 16 Ebooks and 20 Emails.”

Blogging Tool #3: Open Site Explorer

Do you want more search traffic?

Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer is a useful tool because it sorts all the URLs within a domain by backlinks. And as you know, the more backlinks a website has, the more search traffic it will typically receive.

This helps you understand which of your blog posts are delivering the most backlinks. You should be writing more posts like those.

The tool also shows you the-most-linked-to posts on your competitors’ blogs. See what is working for them, and try to replicate that on your blog. When you do this, don’t copy your competitor. The goal is to one up them and create a better blog post. This way, you can email all the people that link to your competitor and ask them to also link to your post.

Blogging Tool #4: Emails

The best traffic source for practically any blog is email. You want to make sure you have all types of opt-ins on your blog to make it easy for people to add themselves to your mailing list.

Once you have a list, you can then email your subscribers through a service provider such as MailChimp, Aweber or Constant Contact.

As a general rule of thumb, you will want to notify your list of each blog post you release. But if you release more than three posts a week, you should consider a weekly blast to avoid flooding people’s inboxes and angering them.

Blogging Tool #5: Simply Measured

Simply Measured is a social media analytics platform and I like them because they have a handful of really cool, free social media analytics tools.

You can put in your social media handle in one of them, and the tool will tell you the best times for you to send a tweet or share a post on Facebook.

simplymeasured

Their reports will break down data such as:

  • Words and phrases your users want to see in social media posts.
  • Time of day they use these social media platforms. This way you know when to post.
  • Top users that follow you and the times when they log in.

The reason you want to use these tools is because you don’t want to tweet at 8 a.m. when all of your followers are on Twitter at 4 p.m.

Conclusions

Blogging doesn’t have to be hard. There are a ton of free blogging tools out there that can help you generate ideas and increase your readership.