Blogging works. It helped me go from page 7 of Google to the top of page 1. It took effort but I didn’t spend a penny on advertising.
As well as creating content and writing websites for online tech businesses, I sometimes advise business owners on what they can do to boost their site’s ranking in Google and other search engines. There are plenty of ways to tackle Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), but this post focuses on just one method: blogging.
Reality check: blogging isn’t for everyone. It’s hard work. It takes time. It takes creativity (unless you’re happy with being boring – I’m not).
How I got started with blogging
I started blogging in late 2014, to coincide with a rebrand of my website. I’d been booked to speak at the SfEP conference and would be talking about the technologies that freelance editorial professionals could use to create their own website (see Setting up a website).
The idea of standing in front of a room of people and talking about platforms I hadn’t used myself made me feel like a fraud. So, in preparation for the session, I did my research and tried as many website platforms as I could. WordPress suited me best and so I decided to move my website to it.
Did you know?
For websites that use a Content Management System (CMS), almost 60% are powered by WordPress.
WordPress makes it easy to write and publish blog posts. I’d never written a blog before and I wasn’t quite sure what I’d write about, but as a writer I felt confident enough that I’d think of something. I’ve always liked sharing techie tips in a simple and clear way, so I thought this might be a good way to start. Check out my MicroMacTips series for examples of my snackable help content.
Did you know?
Sites with blogs get 55% more traffic than sites without blogs.
Why I stopped blogging
In early 2015, I became very busy with paid work and other volunteering tasks. Writing a regular blog wasn’t at the top of the agenda and so I slowed down my rate of production. I didn’t see an immediate return on investment and so didn’t worry too much that I was dialling down my activity on this front.
New clients were drying up, but I didn’t notice it because I was too busy working on existing projects and not thinking enough about the future.
A marketing secret that took ages for me to learn:
Even when you’re busy, don’t stop marketing.
Why I started blogging again
By the end of 2015, my busy period was easing off and I was ready to make more time to blog regularly. I’d just finished the relaunch of the SfEP website, and was becoming interested in ‘content marketing’. That means producing content focused on helping others, thereby building trust with the audience by being the voice of authority in your niche.
Before I got my blog going again, I decided to look myself up on Google. The results were terrible. For my preferred search term (‘technical writing services’), espirian.co.uk was listed halfway down page 7 of Google’s search results.
If you’re on page 7 of Google, you might as well not have a site
Seriously, who even clicks through to page 2, never mind page 7?
I knew I was better than page 7 – I just wasn’t giving Google any evidence of that.
After moaning about the unfairness of it all, I started planning posts to write and share on a regular basis. Since then, I’ve published 46 posts in 430 days. That means I’ve created a post every 9.3 days (about 39 posts per year). I’d like to do a lot more than that, but content creation takes time and that’s in short supply when you’re a one-man business.
Anyway, here’s the sweet pay-off: for my preferred search term, espirian.co.uk is now at the top of page one of Google.
Blog regularly = better search engine ranking
Out of sight is out of mind. It’s not as though Google will forget you, but, by not producing content, you’re giving your competition a free run at outranking you in search engine results.
It’s not just the search engines that matter: if people see you producing regular content, they’re more likely to remember you when they need your services. Or perhaps they’ll never need your services but they know someone who will.
Bonus win – blogging improves your powers of explanation
Like many others, I learn more about a subject when I start writing about it. I do some research and then write in clear and simple language without talking down to my readers. ‘Explaining how stuff works’ is the essence of my day job as a technical writer. Blogging is helping me get better at that. But whatever business you’re in, improving the way you explain how your products or services work is going to help you succeed.
Let’s wrap up
Without question, blogging has transformed my freelance writing business. It’s got me noticed and respected, and the effect on my search ranking has meant I’ve received more client enquiries than ever before. Yes, it’s a lot of effort, but it’s also great fun. The constant practice has improved my knowledge of my subject areas, and content creation is now a key part of my business model. If there’s one regular practice I could recommend to move your business forward, it would be to invest in creating a blog to help and educate your customers. This will build trust with your audience – and that’s the pathway to success.
So, what are you waiting for? What’s holding you back? Let me know by leaving a comment below, or catch up with me on Twitter. I’d love to hear from you.