The green stimulus bill may be a great way to find funding to get your business off the ground, but it’s not a long-term solution for surviving the economic downturn we’re currently in. For that, you green business really needs a blog to compete in a competitive online market and get the search engine results you’re looking for. On average, more than half of all of consumers start with search engines for their product research. Having great blog content that gets noticed by Google and Yahoo will give you a competitive edge, and is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools you can find, especially compared to print and television.
But just throwing up a blog won’t guarantee you the traffic you want – combining it with a green marketing strategy that includes search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing will garner you much higher rewards – more and better search results and links. Working with social media tools, you’ll be able to create highly sharable and appealing content that will generate even more web traffic, links, and user-created content through comments.
The Age of Inbound Marketing
Back in the “old” days when Web 1.0 was king, the 4 P’s of marketing were the standard: Produce, Price, Place, and Promotion. But much of that has changed with Web 2.0. In this new marketing era, inbound marketing is key, while outbound marketing is on the way out. Outbound marketing focuses on tools that interrupt customer’s attention through direct mail, television and radio ads, trade shows, and telemarketing. By contrast, inbound marketing relies on permission-based strategies that bring potential customers to you voluntarily. Word of mouth is the main mechanism at work, for which you require tools like search engine results, social media, blogs, RSS syndication, ebooks, trials, free tools, and public relations, all of which will promote community building, social bookmarking, social sharing, etc. The magic formula of inbound marketing is leveraging the triumvirate power of blogging, SEO and social media.
Not surprisingly, customers prefer inbound marketing, and as such, it is also more effective than outbound marketing. Not only that, but inbound marketing is much more sustainable and cost effective, requiring only small investments, most of which require your time and no more. And since your online content remains alive and well long after print and television ads have come and gone, your investment has a longer life as well.
Google + Blogs = Match Made in Heaven
Search engines like Google simply adore blogs, and so having a blog is a great way to gain some search engine optimization points while also providing great information about your green business. Unlike your website, a blog affords you the platform from which to constantly add new content to your site. And since Google eagerly eats up fresh content, indexing it as it goes, your blog will help to boost your search engine traffic from improved search results ranking. This is especially true of long tail keywords that you wouldn’t have otherwise used in your regular website content.
Another reason blogs are an outstanding tool for SEO purposes is that they give you the space and control to use as many keywords as is appropriate for your green business. If you’re making “organic soaps” or selling “geothermal systems” or writing about “green marketing” feel free to fill up your blog with relevant, targeted keywords to fit your green niche – and don’t forget to link back to your website! Blogs offer linking opportunities which are another favorite of search engines, so they’re a great way to create internal links and attract external links, too. Rankings depend largely on the number and quality of links, and your blog is a great opportunity to build this aspect of your green marketing strategy. In no time at all, customers will find your site and, provided they like your message, will click through to your website to find out more about your service and product offerings.
Solidify Customer Loyalty
Connecting with your clients on a personal level through your blog is another amazing benefit of this type of online marketing tool. Though your website content might be formal and professional, you can be a lot more personal and relaxed in a blog format, which can be a great way to gain customer loyalty.
Blogs even allow you to build relationships with your potential customers by starting conversations. Two-way communication is important for building trust with your clients and will ultimately lead to happy, satisfied customers that keep coming back. Plus, customers who are active online will help you advertise by sharing links, commenting on your blog, and selling others on your products and services.
As you may have already noted, blogging is one of the most cost-effective and simplest marketing strategies you can employ for your green business, making it a great place for recession-strapped green business owners to start. One of the best blogging software tools around is WordPress, offering you free, open source software. And with just one click (on most web hosts), you can add WordPress directly to your server which will allow you to incorporate it into your website. This is important since you want your fresh, keyword-rich posts to provide links back to your website (and vice versa) for a great SEO shot in the arm.
Once you’ve installed WordPress on your server, you can go about setting it up by choosing a theme that suits your green business. There are many ways to approach this. for instance, a free Business Turnkey theme for small business will allow you to choose to either to set up just a simple small business website theme, or a website plus a blog or just a blog. Many themes also allow you to publish blog content directly to your website’s homepage, which is a great way to feature this content. For more information on these options, check out the Marin landscape design & construction company demo using Business Turnkey.
Got Blog, Will… What?
Great, you’ve established your blog, chosen a WordPress theme to suit your green business, now what? If you’re struggling with what content to include on your blog, you’ll want to first and foremost focus on providing interesting content that people will want to share with their family and friends. Really, any information that relates to your business is great for your blog, but ideally you’ll want to include attention-grabbing items like commentary on the news, an announcement about new products you’re offering, a podcast, or a free ebook. Including FAQs and links to commonly used tools or forms also helps your direct your customers to your website easily and simply.
In general, you’ll want to always keep two very important concepts in mind when blogging:
- Incorporate keywords in every post. Use the Google Adwords keyword tool to find 3 closely related keywords that work well for your green business (research here is important!), and then use those keywords in the most important sections of each post – the title, headlines, ordered lists, bulleted lists, and so on.
- Write appealing, shareable blog posts. Boring content won’t get your clients talking about your green business. Juicy, interesting, valuable content, on the other hand, will have your customers chatting away and sharing the content with friends – doing the marketing work for you!
How to Know If Your Blog is Paying Off
Having a firm grasp on how your blog will benefit your business and tracking the results against your benchmarks is a great way to affirm your blogging efforts and keep you going. To measure your blog’s success, you’ll need to begin by checking participation by your clients – who is visiting your blog, how long are they staying, what are they reading, and what links are they clicking? Do they stick around for just one post, or are they signing up for subscriptions and returning day after day or week after week?
The second thing you’ll want to check is whether your visitors are talking about your content. In other words, is your target audience using the Internet to disseminate your content to others? Are they bookmarking your articles or sharing them through Facebook and Twitter? Do they leave comments on your blog or email you to start a conversation? By assessing how they’re interacting with your content and whether it is influencing their lives, you’ll have a great idea of what gets the most traffic and how to plan future content for great online results.
There are several really great free tools you can use to help with your blog evaluation, including Google Analytics, which will help you analyze your traffic, and Yahoo Site Explorer that will give you insight into backlinks to your blog or website. Additionally, you might want to try out Social Mention, which is another free tool that lets you assess social media traction your blog or website is getting online.
The moral of the story is that if you hope to survive this tough economy, a blog is one of the best ways you can do it. Not only does blogging help to drive clients to your website and your green business, strategically planned, SEO-friendly blog content will produce leads for your business you would have missed with traditional marketing tools. Though it takes time and a commitment to the process, blogging is a great, low-cost investment that will pay off considerably for your green business.
Image Via Flickr: woodleywonderworks