Blogging has long been touted as a cornerstone of small business marketing. Advocates argue that a consistent and well-crafted blog can significantly impact a small business’s success.
This article aims to challenge the prevailing assumptions and shed light on the potential downsides before outlining where small business blogging can continue to deliver value.
Blogging – The Theory
There is a mass of information online promoting the benefits of blogging. To summarise those (alleged) benefits:
Attract website visitors: A blog provides an opportunity to create fresh and valuable content that attracts visitors to your website. Blog posts can continue to drive traffic and generate leads long after they are published.
Improved visibility: By optimising your blog posts for search engines, you can improve your websites search rankings, leading to increased online visibility and organic traffic.
Increased engagement: By responding to comments, answering questions, and encouraging discussions, you can build relationships with your customers.
Enhanced credibility: Sharing insights, tips, helpful information and case studies allows you to demonstrate your expertise and establish yourself as a trusted authority in your field.
Differentiation: Blogging allows you to stand out from your competitors.
Small Business Blogging – A Criticism
Sounds attractive doesn’t it? In the early days of blogging (back in the early 2010s) much of the above was true, but those days are long gone. Plus, blogging has always been a labour-intensive task.
If you run a small business and expect blogging to generate any meaningful increase in traffic to your website then I am afraid you will be disappointed. If you expect engagement on your posts, forget it. Even successful bloggers generate minimal interaction.
I recently read Lost and Founder by Rand Fishkin, an early (early 2010s) and now high-profile blogger. I cannot remember the exact numbers, but he said as his business grew he wrote something online five nights a week. It was not until he was beyond several hundred blog posts that he started to see a significant increase in traffic to his website.
But wait you say, what about X or Y, they managed it. Yes, it’s true, but I suggest they are outliers. Your business might be an exception, just like you might win the lottery.
Successful bloggers today have either been at it a long time, or had an existing profile before they started blogging. There is just too much content online, too much competition. Unless you happen to do something very niche.
Why You Should Blog?
So after attacking the traffic, increased profile in search and engagement myth, is there any point in blogging? Yes, there is, blogging does have value. The benefits are increased credibility, improved brand profile and differentiation from competitors.
This assumes you drive traffic to your small business website, but not via traditional search engine optimisation. That could be via referral (word of mouth), offline activity like networking or events, or via local SEO (particularly the Google My Business panel).
As an example, assume someone is referred to your business. They will check out your website before making contact. At this point, they are looking for something to prove you are credible and can do the job. Testimonials and reviews are helpful, but if your site includes content (blogs) that showcases your expertise, it will make your small business stand out. It is a differentiation factor.
Ideally, your blog content will not be dry but project some personality. It reinforces your brand, it is the human touch.
Unquestionably, small business blogging has its merits. However, a closer examination reveals that the value of blogging may not always live up to the hype. In a saturated digital landscape, standing out amidst the noise can be an uphill battle.
Small businesses face fierce competition from established industry players, influential bloggers, and content marketing agencies. Getting noticed and building a dedicated readership is no easy feat, even with well-crafted content.
This raises questions about whether the value of small business blogging is disproportionate to the resources invested. The trick is to focus on the credibility, customer retention and branding benefits of blogging rather than its (alleged) impact on driving website traffic.