The Power of Blogging, Part 3

The folks at Prompt Proofing, a copywriting, editing and proofreading service that also offers blogging services, finish off their 3-part guest post on the power of blogging:

We have talked about two major benefits of business blogging in Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series. We have discussed how a blog allows you to have your own voice on the world wide web, and how you have the opportunity to become known as an expert in your field through informative and interesting blog posts. Today we finish up with a major benefit of business blogging – this benefit is the main reason many businesses start a blog in the first place:

INCREASE TRAFFIC TO YOUR SITE

That’s right, that elusive Google ranking can start creeping up without the expense of an SEO consultant or a huge marketing campaign. It could be as simple as keeping a blog. How does that work?

There are several factors to improving your SEO rank, and here are a few:

  • Increase the number of quality ‘backlinks’ to your site (backlinks are other sites linking to your website)
  • Get your website indexed by Google and other major search engines (this means they will ‘spider’ or ‘crawl’ your website and log your individual web pages as results to potential searches in their search engine)
  • Refresh your content regularly – new content leads to an increase in indexing, which leads to an improvement in your SEO ranking as websites whose content never changes tend to get pushed down in relevance by search engines

How can blogging help? Well, congratulations if you thought that the last bulletpoint above is the most important benefit of blogging. If you have a professional, attractive-looking business website, it probably took you some time to put it together. You may have used a website copywriting service (which Prompt Proofing offers) to ensure your content was word-perfect, and that’s a great idea. But that means you don’t want to change it much once it is posted. Therefore, your content is not going to be regularly updated, meaning you will miss out on that crucial benefit to SEO ranking. The search engines will continue to push your website down the rankings until it barely even factors anymore.

Well, simply add a blog page to your site. Update it once a week or – at the very least – once a month, and bingo! Your website is suddenly being regularly refreshed with new content and will start to crawl its way back up the search engine rankings.

As for the first two bulletpoints above, the statistics below will help show how blogging helps out with these.

The statistics below are courtesy of Janet Meiners Thaeler, an SEO consultant who provided them in her article, Blogging: The Best SEO Tool for Small Businesses:

Bloggers see:

  • 55% more visitors to their websites (people will be finding your site who wouldn’t have before because they are looking for the information provided in your latest blog post – as discussed in Part 1)
  • 97% more links to their website (people will link back to your blog if they think it’s worth a read)
  • 434% more indexed pages (more blog posts means more pages for the search engines to crawl and index!)

You can’t fight statistics! Get blogging now to see a huge improvement in your business website’s performance.

The Power of Blogging, Part 2

Continuing their guest post series is Prompt Proofing, a copywriting, editing and proofreading service that also offers blogging services for business:

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the fact that a blog provides you with the unique opportunity of having your own voice, speaking directly to customers, Internet readers, other business owners and more. This week’s benefit elaborates on this. Not only does a blog provide you with a unique opportunity to show off your own style of communication and, therefore, business, but it also gives you a forum through which to educate your readers. Therefore, this week’s benefit of business blogging:

BECOME KNOWN AS AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD

If you are in business, chances are it is because you have specialized knowledge in one or more areas. For example, if you are in trades, then you have specialized knowledge in the area of plumbing, welding, bricklaying, electrics, etc. This is knowledge that John Doe walking down the street doesn’t have. If you’re an accountant, you know how to balance books and handle complex financial information. If you’re a lawyer, you know the letter of the law inside and out – or at least you know how to find it out! If you’re a hairstylist, you know what you’re doing with a pair of scissors close to a head of hair.

You get the point. You have something to offer; a niche (however small) to fill. That’s why you are in business. Use this knowledge and exhibit it in your blog and there’s a good chance you could become known as an expert in your field. So what, you ask? Well, here are just a few of the results that could come from being recognized for your specialized knowledge:

  1. Your blog could develop a following of people who want inspiration, information and education in a certain area.
  2. Through this following, your presence on social media is bound to increase as people spread the word and share your blog. This is the best form of advertising: FREE and reliable for the customer (people trust word-of-mouth referrals far more than any paid business advertisement).
  3. You could even become a consultant for a journalist. Journalists often have a ‘beat’ that they cover, meaning that they tend to focus on writing stories on one type of news, such as finance, travel, entertainment or sports. Generally, each journalist will have a list of experts they can consult for quotes and background information on issues they need to write about. Yet again, more advertising that is respected and FREE!

These benefits certainly help to outweigh the cons that many business owners fear – if I give away my secrets, how will I have a business anymore? Well, I promise that by giving some DIY tips to a home owner looking to do some renovations, you won’t be put out of business. If anything it will save you working on small, poorly-paying jobs, and will instead give you the promotion to land larger jobs where no one will attempt DIY, even if they have read your blog for advice! Just choose what you blog on carefully. For example, a hairstylist can blog about ideas for styling hair or updos, or can post photos of great colours or cuts that the reader can then take to her hairstylist to replicate. That doesn’t mean people will stop getting their hair cut professionally. An accountant can provide information on how to keep a personal budget and good tools to use to manage your personal finances. This doesn’t mean businesses will stop requiring accountants to balance their books throughout the fiscal year.

Blogs create a win-win situation for everyone, especially the small business owner. Take advantage of this!

The Power of Blogging, Part 1

This 3-part blog post series is provided by Pat Wootton of the copywriting, editing and proofreading company, Prompt Proofing, who offer blogging services:

No matter what your area of business, even if it is as seemingly localized and simplistic as a lawn-mowing service, you cannot ignore the power of the blog in today’s world of business.

True, the area of social media as a whole is vital but this has become such a daunting subject, deserving of several months of blog posts to even scratch its surface, that it is easier to focus on one area, and the blog is certainly one effective and very doable area in which businesses can market themselves at a low cost, reach a whole new demographic of customers and dictate their entire brand image.

Because even the blog is a huge area of interest and study, we will analyze its benefits to business over a series of blog posts, focusing on one core advantage each week.

This week, we have advantage #1, perhaps one of the most important benefits of all:

YOUR BLOG = YOUR VOICE

Yes, even if you aren’t writing it yourself!

Many businesses use a blogging service, and Prompt Proofing also manages blogs for its clients, writing and posting blog posts on a regular basis in order to keep up the company’s search engine presence and provide the blog’s readers with regular, informative news that is well written.

The fact of the matter is, with marketing and word-of-mouth whispers between current and potential customers, a blog is the one space in that vast web of the Internet that you can dominate and claim as your own, allowing you to exert some influence over how your business is perceived.

Readers much prefer reading a business’s blog to its marketing materials because, quite simply, they don’t feel as though you are trying to sell to them. Obviously you are, as there would be no point in putting your time and energy into a business blog if you didn’t eventually hope to gain some customers from it, but the fact is, you cannot maintain a sales pitch throughout every single blog post (or at least, you shouldn’t).

Blogs read more informally than marketing literature, and are there to provoke discussion and provide information rather than simply to persuade the reader to hand over their credit card. Prompt Proofing’s blog is a great example – we essentially charge people to improve their communication and writing, yet we constantly write blog posts advising you how to improve your own writing. That’s because we recognize that education and information are two key factors that bring people to peruse blogs and we don’t want to just sell our services to you. We want you to find something of interest to read on our site, and – because it is our passion – we desperately want to improve spelling and grammar everywhere!

Let’s go back to our example of ABC Lawn Mowers Ltd. Their blog posts could cover issues such as how to care for your garden or what model of lawn mower to buy. That’s right, they could be providing information about how to buy a machine that would mean their services would not be needed! Seem counter-intuitive? The fact is, you want to draw readers to your blog. You cannot be naive enough to assume that every reader will become a customer. The most important thing is to increase traffic because that will increase awareness of your business. Even if that reader buys the lawnmower and never uses their service, they may direct someone else to your site in future who doesn’t have time to mow their own lawn and just wants ABC Lawn Mowers Ltd. to do it for them.

This is a very simplistic example of how business is gained from a blog, but truthfully the ways in which blogs can lead to business growth are far more nuanced and plentiful than it is possible to outline here. The bottom line is: Blogs lead to business growth. End of story. So why aren’t you doing one?

If you don’t have time, dedicate a few hundred dollars from your marketing budget each month and pay a service to blog for you, once a week to start with, steadily increasing after that if you feel like it. The important thing is not to miss out on this low-cost and easy opportunity to have your voice heard!

Press Release Writing Tips – What is a Press Release

For the month of August we will be focusing on providing tips for writing effective and impactful press releases.

Each post will focus on one aspect of a press release, beginning with today’s post, in which we go back to the basics, and explain exactly what a press release is, and what differentiates it from other promotional materials, such as marketing copy or blog posts, and other newsworthy items such as articles or news stories.

Pat Wootton at Prompt Proofing covered this topic extensively in her blog post, What exactly is a press release?

Using some of her advice and some of our own, we have provided the following bullet points to keep in mind next time you’re sitting down to compose a press release for your company, product, service or website:

  • A press release is NOT an advert. It should steer clear of overly promotional statements such as “Buy now!” – if we receive press releases with statements such as these we will usually request that the customer rewrite the release, or it will be rejected for distribution.
  • However, a press release is also NOT a news piece. It is not written by an objective third party – it is written by you, the company owner (or perhaps employee, or marketing rep) and therefore it naturally does have a bias. There is no point in hiding this; it will appear deceitful. Rather, use a writing voice that shows that you are representing the company but just steer clear of making too many claims of greatness. Let the reader make up their own mind about your product or service by simply providing the facts. In this way, the fact that you have a bias will work for you rather than against you, because readers will understand that no one knows the facts about a product or service better than the company offering it!
  • The key to ensuring your release is not too promotional is to keep it informative. You want to offer details and information about your company’s products/services rather than push people into buying them. Through educating the reader, if your product or service is what they’re looking for, you will already have persuaded them to buy! But remember your audience too – one of the main purposes of a press release is to drive traffic to your site. Therefore, you’re not always writing to your direct customer, but rather just to spread the word about your company to gain awareness and improve your SEO. Therefore, selling should not be your main focus with a press release.
  • A press release is NOT an informative article, either. Those are published to article directories online and are usually a minimum of 400 words. They are in-depth studies of specific topics, rather than press releases. You want to keep press releases under 350 words, ideally. This keeps the reader’s attention and will also help you avoid any overage fees from distribution services with word limits.

Using these tips will help you get started on writing a great release while understanding, hopefully, what exactly a press release is. When you write a release in the proper format and tone, news sites are much more likely to pick up your release for publication.