feature

You want traffic to your site. Blogging generates traffic for your site. Everybody understands the first part, but surprisingly few businesses grasp the second part.

It’s tempting to give in to the idea that the only way to generate sales is engaging in direct sales. Handling inventory, nurturing your email list, and calling to make potential customers will only go so far past a certain point. If you’re spending all your time trying to convert customers, then you’ll soon be neglecting reasons for customers to discover your business in the first place.

Blogging is a great way to build your audience and generate more traffic and sales for your business. You shouldn’t treat it as an unnecessary luxury. Even infrequent posts can help your business.

How?

Having more blog posts drives traffic to your site because it improves SEO; it lets you tell stories that convert visitors into customers; and it increases the chances of engagement, not just on social media but also on traditional media. You might increase the chances of being covered by a news site, which are usually seen as more credible sources of opinion. And besides, all that stuff you hear about content marketing? For most businesses, that means writing good blog posts.

If you need some inspiration, this post features examples of three small businesses that run excellent blogs. Stay with us as we explain how a blog helps your business, and to see the examples of stores that get it.

How Blogging Helps You Rank In Search Engines

If your audience is small, you might feel the temptation not to blog because you feel that no one will read it anyway. Don’t give in. Not blogging is one way to ensure that your small audience stays small.

Blogging, even when you’re not breaking new ground, helps your site in terms of SEO. This is especially true if you create content that people want to link to.

Why does it help? For the following reasons.

First, blogging means more pages for your site. More pages means more internal links pointing to your homepage.

Internal links are great, but links from other sites are much better. When an article of yours gets shared on social media and gets linked to on other sites, then your page rankings really improve. It's easier to generate links from interesting content than from your product pages. And the more links you can generate back to your site because of the content you create, the higher you'll climb in the search engines.

Keeping a regular blog also signals that your site is being updated. Search engines track these changes. Each new page is a sign that your site is active. Google rewards that by ranking your site more highly.

Blogging also gives you the opportunity to rank for more key phrases because it gives you a way to create content around the keywords you’re targeting. Any product page you link to in your blog post will also benefit if someone links to your post. It isn’t just the fact that someone searching for what you write about will have a better chance of coming to your site. You’ll also give yourself the opportunity to create strong internal links with rich anchor text that link to your product pages.

Want to see what how blogging can benefit SEO? Marcus Sheridan of River Pools and Spas wrote such a great piece of content that he ranked first on Google for a key phrase that's critical to his business. His blogging strategy was so effective that it got him interviewed by the New York Times as a success story. We'll let him explain the results himself: “Within about 24 hours of writing that article, it was No. 1 for every fiberglass-pool, cost-related phrase you could possibly type in. And because I have analytics, so far to this day, I’ve been able to track a minimum of $1.7 million in sales to that one article.”

Try it out yourself. Type in “fiberglass pool cost” and the River Pools and Spas post is in first place.

Sheridan built the River Pools and Spas blog with the simplest of tricks: answering the questions of his customers.

Nearly every time a customer called in to ask about his business, he wrote up a blog post about the question and the response.

For example, nobody in his industry wanted to disclose how much a pool would cost, even approximately. Sheridan told his visitors what they could be expecting given the features they want. It was complicated, but it’s exactly what people are looking for. Pretty soon the blog ranked #1 for every fiberglass pool search that’s related to their cost.

Through his blog, Sheridan has established himself as one of the best sources of information on fiberglass pools. It may be a small pond, but he’s a big fish there.

Blogs Are a Marketing Platform For Telling Your Story

The better reason to blog of course is so that you can build an audience of repeat buyers.

Tweets and Facebook updates only go so far when you’ve got something you want to say. Sometimes you need more than Pinterest to promote your products. And while video may be the best medium for telling a story, producing one is usually lots of work.

Just look at the anatomy of a blog. There’s a headline, to lead your readers to know what to expect. You have the space to tell a story. You can include lots of cool visuals. Whatever you tweet fits in a blog post; and you can post videos there too. It’s a very good medium for telling a story.

You want to be able to tell stories. Talking about your product’s great tech specs only get you so far; people respond emotionally to stories.

If you own a business and run a store, chances are you have an interesting story of your founding. Maybe your store started as a side gig that involved into something greater? Maybe you built your business after tapping into the needs of a community? Maybe you were inspired to build something after a trip abroad?

Besides featuring your story, you could be featuring your products. You are one of the worldwide experts on your products; you can describe how they’re made, where they’re from, and their special features. Bring out what’s interesting about them, and it’s more likely for your product to be sold.

So blog, and get bring more attention to your story and your products.

Take a look, for example, at the Helm Boots blog. It tells the stories of its brand, and also features lots of photos of its wonderful boots.

One cool thing about the Helm Boots blog is the willingness of the authors to write not only about the their own products, but the products of other people, like how much they enjoy wallets made by Barrett Alley.

And look at this post, created on Labor Day to celebrate Labor Day. Of course, in addition to good content, it’s a subtle reminder that their boots are all handmade.

Blogs Get You Noticed

When you’re writing good content that people want to read and share, you’ll rank more highly in search engines. Every link to your site, from social media, other blogs, and whatever else is a signal to Google that your site matters.

Face it: You can only promote your “About us” page so many times on Facebook, and it’s hard to craft more than a few tweets about each of your products. When you write blog posts, you’ll have more to tweet about, and more to share on Facebook. A blog post not only gives you more material for tweets, but also encourages other people to link to you as well. Someone who tweets your blog post almost certainly brings some visitors that you’ve never had before.

Blogging allows you to create content that demonstrates your expertise beyond unproven assertions. It also positions you as a more trusted authority relative to your competitors.

If you have a good piece of content, your post may attract attention from outside of your industry. These may include reporters and high-profile bloggers. Getting good press from media can be invaluable. Beardbrand is a company with over $120K in monthly sales; it really took off after coverage from the New York Times.

You never know who’s reading. Except of course, when you produce nothing for people to read. Then you know that that number is precisely 0.

For a final example of a blog that gets it, check out Pure Fix's blog.

The Pure Fix blog features photos of beautiful bikes in its Instagram feed, bike events around the world, and product descriptions of new bikes.

It’s also a source of advice about bike riding. You should always be trying to connect to your community and encourage engagement with your products.

Take a look at this post about the cool projects related to bikes that they’ve recently discovered on Kickstarter.

How to Come Up With Blog Post Ideas

You’re not a great writer, you say? You just can’t find the time to devote to blogging?

By this point you should realize that the latter is simply a mistake. Blogging is valuable. If you have the time to maintain multiple social media platforms, then you have the time to write a piece of content every week.

And don’t worry about not being a great writer. Your posts can be short. Think of blogging as the expansion of a tweet or a product description. Or you just want to link to interesting content you’ve found around the web. You can simply embed a video. None of these require a great deal of writing.

It doesn’t have to be something you do every day. Once a week is fine. Just make sure that you post regularly about interesting topics.

Here are a few suggestions for things that you can blog about:

  • The story of your founding: the history, the vision, and the growth
  • Your products: where it came from, how it’s made, and its special features
  • Tutorials for how to use your products
  • Announcements for a sale
  • Events you’re running or participating in
  • Advice on products, not just your own
  • Company updates
  • Developments in the industry
  • Something fun you found on the web. It could but doesn’t have to relate to your products.

Don’t feel limited. If you sell foodware, blog about your favorite recipes. If you sell funny t-shirts, link to jokes and cartoons you enjoyed this week. If you sell your own art, you can discuss your favorite paintings. These aren’t hard if you know your products really well.

Conclusion

So, blog. It helps get more customers and helps sell your products.

Consider that something you write will live on for posterity. Something you wrote last year could still be racking up hits. Though you may not have customers now, a post may get thousands of views over its lifetime. Who wouldn’t like to generate a sale based on something they did two years ago?

And what is our very favorite blog? We’ve saved from featuring it until the very end. Everyone at Shopify subscribes to it. And you can, too.


About The Author

Dan Wang is a Content Specialist at Shopify. Get more from Dan on Twitter.