1. The proof of the pudding
“Show, don’t tell” is one of the oldest maxims in marketing. It’s one thing to tell customers that your powder will wash their whites whiter than white, but it’s quite another to show them a brilliant white t-shirt next to the grubby sample delivered by a competitor’s product.
Most pages on a business website are typically ‘tell’ pages. Product and service pages usually focus on listing the features and emphasising their benefits. While there is usually an element of ‘show’ to support this (via photos, graphics, icons and testimonial quotes for example), it is in blog articles (and their close relatives, the case studies) that this aspect really comes into its own.
So a law firm’s Probate & Wills page might tell visitors that its team is made up of experts who understand all aspects of probate. But their blog articles will show that expertise as they deep-dive into subjects as diverse as contested wills, intestacy, digital assets and Lasting Powers of Attorney.
Similarly, an organic food company’s website might tell visitors that the founders are passionate about biodiversity, health and the environment. But it will be their blog articles which will demonstrate the depth of that passion.
2. Can I help you?
Google has been described as a window into the soul. The theory goes that we are at our most honest when typing questions into a search engine. There’s no embarrassment, no ‘side’, no attempt to look good. Just a direct request for the information that we want.
Putting aside the many surveillance and privacy concerns this raises, it does illustrate the second business function of the blog article – the chance to directly answer customer questions.
So again, your law firm’s Wills & Probate page will probably be full of information about you – areas of expertise, the experience of your staff, perhaps even pricing. But will it answer, in detail, questions like: “Is video witnessing legal during lockdown”; “How much will my spouse receive under intestacy rules”; “When can I contest a will”; or even “Why do I need a will?”
Or for a marketing firm’s website: “Does my website need a blog?” 😉
The truth is that an increasingly small proportion of customers are likely to call or email to ask you these questions. Instead they are likely to start their search on the internet, looking for initial information from companies they feel really understand their issues and problems.
Not only that, but aside from giving customers the reassurance that you really do have the answers they need, these kinds of articles give you huge search engine advantage. That is because with every search, Google is looking for pages which match its customers’ questions to the best and most specific answers it can.
Which leads us on to…
3. Dear Al Gorithm…
The way search engines like Google and Bing generate their search results is a complex subject which has been covered by many millions of blog articles in its own right. But for the sake of this article, we know that there are several features of blogs that search engines definitely like: substantial, relevant and linked content.
(i) Substantial: Search engines love words! A good volume of words – such as a blog article for example – allows the search algorithm to see that the page holds real substance and value for the user.
(ii) Relevant: Of course the algorithm also wants that content to be as relevant to the user as possible. While product and service pages tend to cover quite broad topics, blog articles are typically much more focused on specific details, words and phrases.
(iii) Linked: Links in and out of web pages have been an important variable in the search algorithm ever since Google revolutionised search with their Page Rank system. The concepts of cornerstone content and clusters have taken this to new heights. It means in essence that search engines are now looking beyond individual pages to identify and reward ‘clusters’ – groups of pages written on closely related themes and all linking back to a strong pillar or cornerstone page. Blog articles are an unrivalled way of developing such clusters around your key themes.
4. A business of many parts
No matter how hard you try to structure your website and guide customers to the most relevant pages, there is often a tension between what you want to say on your main website pages and some of the searches you’re trying to target and customers you’re hoping to talk to.
There’s nothing nefarious or wrong about this. It’s perfectly possible, for example, to be both a leading global player and also offer niche services to a cluster of local companies. Even the smallest businesses can have more strings to their bow than the main website pages can adequately cover.
The blog is where you get to spread your wings and bring focus, attention and keyword targeting to these many aspects of your business.
5. We’re still here!
Last but by no means least, a blog helps keep your website active and alive.
Search engines and people alike are much more likely to engage with websites which carries fresh and up-to-date information.
So while pages on products and services, company history and contact details might not change for weeks or months on end, the regular publication of news, views and updates via the blog will reassure everyone that your business is not only up and running but as vibrant, dynamic and engaging as ever!