You gotta have content. You gotta put it on your website somehow.
A blog is definitely one way to do to that. The best way? For a local business?
For a lot of local businesses blogging is either a time-suck or a money-suck. Look, I don’t care how well it’s written, nobody’s subscribing to a blog about gutters. They’re not going to eagerly and lovingly write comment on your house painting blog. They’re not going to devour post after post.
They want the information they want when they want it. Then they’re either going to call, we hope, or they’re going to go away.
You certainly want to give them the info they want, but you don’t want to lock yourself onto some sort of posting schedule to do it. Blogs have date stamps, usually, and that means you have to post regularly to make sure it doesn’t look abandoned. If there are no date stamps then a blog, as-usually-presented, just buries the information in ways that make it difficult for customers to find additional things they might want to read.
Blogs can really work against local businesses.
A Blog is Not a Content Strategy
A blog is a vehicle for delivering content.
Content strategy can also encompass what you put on your service pages. It can encompass whether or not you create videos to show to your customers.
Content is content. Your home page is full of content too.
A blog is just a format. It’s a format that works well when you have a great deal to say on a regular basis.
Good Reasons for Pursuing a Blog
A blog might be the right vehicle for you if you answer “yes” to any of the following questions.
Are my actual customers looking for my specific subject matter expertise and guidance on a regular basis?
If you’re in a business where there is a real need for thought leadership and subject matter expertise that your real customers are going to read, then blogs are worth considering.
Example: you’re an accountant. You serve SMBs and freelancers and independent contractors. There are a dozen and five little fiddly bits that all of these people need to get right. Figuring out how to set up certain things is labyrinthine to most other SMBs and you know you can help. You see them making certain mistakes all the time and you want to help.
Okay. You might have a basis for a blog here.
Does the industry landscape throw curveballs on a regular basis?
If your industry is constantly changing then a blog could be a great vehicle for you. Note, this is one reason a lot of local SEO people have blogs. Google changes stuff every 3 months at least. Staying on top of what the hell they’re doing now is a full time job. There’s a need to tell customers all about those changes and how to respond.
There are other businesses with similar needs. Immigration lawyer? Great. Immigration is insane. There’s some headache going on there every single day that you can weigh in on.
Accountant? Yeah. Tax codes change constantly too. You probably want to give your SMBs a heads up. The date stamped format of the blog will really come in handy here too.
Note: this doesn’t really work if you’re leaving some third party to write all your content for you without your input. Here’s a newsflash. Your freelance writer or SEO consultant or whomever else? They aren’t lawyers or accountants. They need you to at least jump on the phone with them and weigh in on what customers need to know.
Otherwise? They’re just Googling and guessing and the end result is your blog sounds like every other blog like it on the internet and guess what? Nobody cares. You don’t have a few minutes to call up your content creator and give them the juicy stuff? Don’t start a blog. Don’t tell them to start a blog. Just don’t.
Is your company involved in some sort of related community activism or cause that is more interesting then what you’re doing day-in, day-out?
Criminal lawyer who just wants to tell people, over and over again: get off social media and for god’s sake stop talking to the cops? Yeah. You can put that on your services pages. Don’t write 20 blog posts about it.
Criminal lawyer who is on the front lines of criminal justice reform? Yeah okay, now we’re interested. You can talk about the issues, the latest initiatives you’re involved in, what you and your firm is doing to make life better for others. You can talk about local wrongful conviction cases and analyze them with all of your expertise behind them.
You’ll probably have to write this content yourself and take pictures or whatever else, or prepare for a long phone conversation with your content producer every week. But this is a great reason to start and maintain a blog, as long as you’re doing enough in these spheres to make it worth anybody’s time. Aren’t doing enough to at least make a bi-weekly update? Skip it. You can put it all on a community involvement page instead.
Do you have some sort of fun take on what you do that has some sort of staying power?
Want to see the best lawyer on the Internet when it comes to SMB marketing? Check out Devin J. Stone, Esq. and Legal Eagle. Stone is an entertainment and business lawyer who also happens to run a course on how to crush law school.
His lawyer website won’t show you what he’s doing. It really doesn’t have to. Because he runs this really fun YouTube channel, also called Legal Eagle.
He makes all sorts of videos in response to all sorts of things. Like…bad laws on Reddit.
Very short videos in response to different developments:
And the videos that first attracted me, personally, to his channel in the first place…his “Movie or TV Show Gets Lawyered” series.
These are just fun. They’re interesting and they’re fun. All I wanted to know after four or five videos was who was this lawyer and was he someone I could hire. I didn’t even need a lawyer at the time. I just knew if I did need one maybe I wanted him.
If you can come up with your own fun, interesting take on things or are even just willing to talk current events or explain things in plain English in an engaging way then maybe putting up a channel like this and complimenting it with a blog that posts the video and the transcripts is a fine way to go.
Bad Reasons for Pursuing a Blog
You might want to avoid a blog if you can answer “yes” to any of these questions.
Do you think you should have a blog because all of your competitors seem to have blogs?
All your competitors have blogs, huh?
All your competitors might have lazy marketing consultants, too. Their strategy may be working so far just because nobody’s come along with anything better.
Don’t do things just because everybody else seems to be doing things. That’s an invitation to disaster.
Do you think you should have a blog because you’re not sure how else you’re going to keep fresh content flowing to your website?
Trust me, there are lots of other ways to get this done.
You can add three or four new questions and answers to your service pages or FAQs every month. You can add really meaty guides and posts, undated, to your learning center every month.
In short, you can make sure information lives on pages where it’s easy to find them, rather than on posts that people have to dig through.
Do you think you should have a blog just because it’s going to help you capture some juicy, juicy keywords?
Well, sure. Maybe. Long tail traffic is great. Is a blog the best way to get it?
If you’re creating content nobody cares about, though, just to get that traffic, then you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot.
People can tell when you’re doing something just to do it.
If you’re creating keyword focused posts that nobody reads then they’re useless to you even if they do achieve top ranking on some search term or another.
Remember, exact match keywords aren’t even really necessary anymore. Google can read synonyms just fine. Instead it’s about search intent and meeting that intent. Creating a page that matches that intent and delivering that page is far more important than churning out 10 or 12 blog posts that might hammer on that keyword.
My Favorite Blog Alternatives
Covered throughout this post, somewhat, but worth reiterating:
- You can catch a lot of long-tail keywords and serve your customers very well by always including a FAQ page on your website.
- You can create a learning center or resources page for your biggest, best, and most important guides, or when you want to get into a topic that takes more words than a blog post does.
- You can always add more Q&As to your service pages that target “Google Also Asked” questions, or questions from forums that real people are asking, making that page much, much more useful.
Best of all you add this content when it makes good sense to do so, rather than on some artificial schedule that has you casting about for something to write (or have written) for you this week, because Jesus Christ what else can you say about gutters, fences, or whatever else you’re selling?
No matter what you decide, you should be tying your content creation to your business goals. One of those goals should be creating a fantastic experience for your customers. If your blog doesn’t do that? Look for a different way to deliver the content…period.