Should Small Businesses Even Have Blogs?


JoyHawkins

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It's extremely common for me to be talking to a prospect and they'll say something like this:

"So my previous SEO company used to post blogs for me every month, will you guys be doing that?"

My answer is usually no. There are some exceptions. For example, I blog a lot and it works really great as a strategy because users actually follow my blog and read my articles. However, how many dentists are going to have their patients actually want to read 20 articles a year on how to make their teeth healthier? Probably not too many.

Patrick Stox wrote an article on this recently and I couldn't agree more with his points: Everything Should Not Be A Blog Post: Start Using Silos

Siloing content is exactly how I approach content for SEO for the majority of my clients.
 

heckler

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I always say: Are you ready to generate (or pay for) content 3-4 months out and then continue that process for the foreseeable future?

Then we talk about informative pages that will actually be useful.
 
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Saw that too, and I definitely think that fits local better. Even aside from scalability issues when you've got a few clients in the same vertical, given the relative cost of generating good content, seems like it's either all in, or all out. If you aren't able to both come up with something good that's worth reading, and put in the time to promote it (both for backlink building, and to current customers) then all you're doing is padding your work to make yourself look better in the client's eyes, rather than actually delivering on something with results.

The Silo method makes a lot of sense though, since it doubles as a way to organize landing pages and internal link structure for second tier services, keywords, and outlying towns and cities... makes sense to me. Plus, it's been much easier in the past to work with the client on getting good content made when there's a map you're filling out, vs just getting the monthly blog post done.
 

HoosierBuff

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I think blogging is only important in a handful of cases and a waste of time for most.

Blogging doesn't hurt, but, I often see clients killing themselves to be the 110th person to write a blog post about "hot water heater maintenance" or "tips for winterizing xyz".

If you've got a good local angle, or some very shareable stuff, or if you like to write, then blog. . . otherwise, spend that money on something else.
 

Linda Buquet

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I should (and probably will) create a new thread for this Q, but since we are talking content...

For those of you that outsource content, how much does it cost to get a good article written?

Also is anyone focusing very much on video content? I know video is red hot, I just don't hear many people in local talking about it.
 

Tim Colling

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Thanks Joy. I have been leaning this way for a long time now. In my vertical, it still makes sense to publish occasional blog posts for things like celebrating company anniversaries, etc. Also for opinion pieces, which some of our clients do, albeit sparingly.
 

Tim Colling

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Linda Buquet said:
...For those of you that outsource content, how much does it cost to get a good article written?.. ...Also is anyone focusing very much on video content? I know video is red hot, I just don't hear many people in local talking about it.
I've had pretty good luck with a few sources. The cost depends upon the subject matter, the expertise of the writer, and also whether or not the writer does anything beyond mere writing, such as actually uploading and scheduling the piece, selecting one or more images for the piece, etc.

With that said, it usually costs me between $15 and $35 for between 700 and 900 words. I'll be curious to see what others have to say.

Video has been tough for me. My clients are typically small businesses and they are virtually always in some distant city, so I have to rely upon them to either do their own video capture or else hire some local videographer. So far, it's been very hard to get videos from my clients. I'd love to hear from others how they overcome this.
 

Laustin1878

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I've spent upwards of $40 for an article and to me, it didn't knock my socks off. I think you need to spend double that amount to get a piece that is worth discussing and even still, I don't know how successful you'll be with it. What I mean by that is that the intent for your article will not deliver, at least in my cases.

I've always had site structuring in my mind and remember silo's from many years ago. I just started working with a site where their nav was atrocious, so the first thing that needs to be addressed is exactly what this article is about. Perfect timing Joy.

Videos, have been very tough for budgetary reasons. It's very difficult to find a company to shoot video, edit, produce and turn over a good product that is reasonable. The lowest I've found was $600-$700 per video. That is steep, even after explaining the benefits.
 

Tim Colling

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I think we should separate these two spinoff topics (cost of outsourced content gen and video content) into different threads. If we don't they will end up muddying the waters on Joy's original point, re whether small businesses should blog anymore.
 

mborgelt

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I think another good point to take home from this article is logical content placement being a huge part of content strategy. A lot of our clients that come on with great content usually don't have it in the most accessible/logical place for users/search engines. Using the silos for relevant content is a great point but it's possible to have this sort of structure set up inside your blog roster but the benefits would not be so far reaching. I also think that it is entirely possible to have a strong silo and an active blog and use both to your advantage.

For SMBs, people on a lean budget or those who don't want to dedicate time to content generation this is clearly the way to go to avoid having a anemic, ineffective blog.

To answer Linda's questions, we do some outsourcing for our blogs and depending on the expertise it's usually about $40-$80 for a good blog of 300-500 words.

We just started our year-long video marketing test internally to see if we can create a scalable, affordable way to get our clients engaged there. So far it is very inexpensive for us and is generating traffic and moving us up as far as visibility goes. We aren't sure how to scale this to clients quite yet since we know the challenges that exist is getting feedback in this industry but I am sure we will come up with something by the end of the year.

Thanks for sharing, Joy!
 

Linda Buquet

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I think we should separate these two spinoff topics (cost of outsourced content gen and video content) into different threads. If we don't they will end up muddying the waters on Joy's original point, re whether small businesses should blog anymore.
Thanks Tim, you are right.

I'm working on some new video content solutions that are replicable and scalable.
So was just trying to get a feel, but should have started a new thread.
 

cdawg2610

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We offer blogging, but it's just a piece in the larger product offerings (mainly as small chunk of social media marketing campaigns) and only if it fits into the larger campaign calendar we've got going.
 

theitsage

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To most, blogging is a numbers game. I've found, to better my odds I would need a defined business purpose and the target audience for each blog post.

I'm going to use a recent post which has had decent success on my Mac repair website. The main purpose was to provide a how-to for something I don't provide as a service but I get calls/inquiries all the time. The target audience are people who got ransomware messages on their iOS devices while browsing the internet. The topic of the post was "how to remove iOS ransomware from iPhone and iPad".

Some may question the benefits for doing such a thing if it provides no monetary returns for a small local business. To me, the less calls/inquiries on services I don't provide, the more time I have to make money on services I do provide. The additional backlinks and shares are also helpful. On top of that, if local visitors found the blog post, they would bookmark my contact info for future needs (iOS device owners likely have a Mac).





Has my website gotten more traffic? Yes.

Does my business generate more revenue due to this? Not likely (in the short term).

What I gained immediately from this post are backlinks/shares and Youtube video view count.

For agency-client relationships, blogging is a hard sell due to high cost and little to no short-term ROI. I've found pitching the benefits of establishing the client's business as the authority voice in a particular industry has a good buying rate.
 
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I think this is a little misleading. There's a difference between suggesting a client have a blog and suggesting a client have a useful blog. If you've got a dental client and recommending they write about the "10 reasons to get a bi-annual checkup" then you're probably not being smart about your time. I like the silo approach, because it's a better way to organize themes, not necessarily because it's better for SEO.

Figure out what the burning questions are in your industry and work hard to answer them for people. If people want to know how to tell if they're grinding their teeth at night, make a great post outlining the symptoms and treatment options. Will it take more work? Sure, but the response will most likely be way better.

At the end of the day I take anything someone posts on SEW/SEL/SEJ or any other publication about what you should do in terms of internet marketing with a grain of salt. Everyone is experiencing different market pressures, different competition, and different needs even if they're technically in the same industry. I think before we think about internal linking and structure of the blog, you should probably have a list of questions you need to answer for your audience. Once you have that list, you can move on to the rest.

If you haven't seen this site yet it will blow your mind - AnswerThePublic.com: that free visual keyword research & content ideas tool

Forget targeting keywords to blog posts, target questions.
 

JoyHawkins

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I think another good thing to look at is if the client's default blog page gets any visits. This will help you see if the average user actually goes and visits the "blog" page. I remember when we redid our site years ago we wanted our blog feed to be on our homepage to make sure people actually saw the articles we wrote. I've seen some small business sites set up like this, but not many.

A lot of the ones I've seen look more like this small tree service business I work with that got about 100 visits in his low season one month and not a single person clicked on the "blog" in his menu.

Obviously barely anything with SEO is a rule for everyone but I tend to agree a lot with the author's statements in this article that generally blogs are a waste of time for small businesses (again, most, not all) and more content via siloing is the way to go!
 
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B2B clients generally need additional topical categorized content (silo) for which I get from a copywriter.

For my larger hospitality clients we look at both, topical categorized content (silo) as well as regular Blog content and there is a never ending list of ideas to work with. I have over the years built up my writers lists, but for a "general" seasonal blog article I pay around $80 for 700 words.
 
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I'm in the camp that blogs are mostly a waste of time for small businesses. In 9 out of 10 cases the blogs I see are:

1) Stale (updated increasingly sparingly or whenever their last SEO agency left. Sometimes they haven't been touched for a year or more).
2) Poorly disguised sales pitches (I can't imagine many people really want to know "How to find the best plumber in Dallas").

When blogs look like this, it definitely makes more sense to spend more time and energy expanding and improving the services and location pages.
 

mannyknowsit

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The ever changing environment of content. Do I strategically place the keywords in a blog or do we spam my service pages?

It depends on the target market and what services you offer...if you have a friendly neighborhood plumber that wants to have entertaining stories of being #1 in the number 2 business this could get some followers and shares in social channels. It also may turn off some potential clients.

If you have automotive repair, doctors and lawyers...description of services and not spam always works.

I agree with Martin, the blog is commitment to continue the story and in every case the blog never ends and who wants to read some impassionate keyword stuffing? Might as well switch the blog with your fan page feed...oops did I start another thread....
 

heckler

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I'm in the camp that blogs are mostly a waste of time for small businesses. In 9 out of 10 cases the blogs I see are:

1) Stale (updated increasingly sparingly or whenever their last SEO agency left. Sometimes they haven't been touched for a year or more).
2) Poorly disguised sales pitches (I can't imagine many people really want to know "How to find the best plumber in Dallas").

This has been my experience.

When blogs look like this, it definitely makes more sense to spend more time and energy expanding and improving the services and location pages.
They work in some industries more than others, computer/cellphone repair for example or others where frequent changes/updates are common #localSEO. BUT more often than not it's a 'whole thing' that few SMBs are going to waste any bandwidth on.

Maybe the tools for snaking your clogged toilet have changed, but the process and result is the same. Plus, people looking for 'how to' aren't searching Google, they're on Youtube.
 

MaryAnne G

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I agree that in most cases blogs are not a good use of resources for small / local businesses. Exceptions where I've seen it work are businesses who have ongoing interaction with clients - clubs, schools, sports facilities.. Posts about events, member accomplishments, contest winners, etc. can be ego bait for social shares and attract an occasional link. This is assuming there is a committment to regular posting - an abandoned blog is worse than no blog at all.

But I have no data on whether just posting on social media instead of the blog would have been equally effective at driving new business.

I also prefer evergreen informational content siloed in a static part of the site.
 

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