When blogging for business, unfortunately a lot of business owners start off on the wrong foot. Like with Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets, businesses often approach blogging as something they must do because other businesses are doing it and they don’t want to miss out on the benefits… but often they don’t realize what the benefits truly are, and why they should be blogging, or more importantly, if they should be blogging at all.

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To help you decide if blogging-for-business is for you, I’ve outlined the three most common ways that businesses use blogging to their advantage.

Business Blogging Role #1: The Well-Oiled, Optimized Content Machine

If you view comments and interactions with blog readers as a pleasant optional side effect rather than a necessity, this option may be for you. Blogs are great for businesses because they can be incredibly powerful as far as Search Engine Optimization is concerned.

Regularly updating a blog with content that’s focused on your long tail keywords notifies search engines that your content is relevant and regularly updated, both great for rankings. In addition, creating regularly updated content allows for both internal linking opportunities as well as linking to outside, authoritative sources, boosting your search engine integrity all the more. Bring on the traffic!

Business Blogging Role #2: The Temple of Thought Leadership

If you’d love to improve your search engine rankings, but you’d love to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and build a loyal and growing following of partners and customers even more, this approach may be a fit.

A word to the wise when blogging for thought leadership: this goal is not truly achieved without some serious effort.

When using a blog as a content repository, you can outsource the writing to anyone you wish. The quality of your articles doesn’t necessarily have to be top notch. You don’t have to worry about attending to the blog much more than updating it regularly.

When establishing you or your company as a thought leader, however, the following things become extremely important:

  • Passion: If you do not personally enjoy writing or feel passionate about writing on your blog, you must pick a writer or writers who are excellent writers, engaging with readers, and evangelistic for your company and the industry you’re in.
  • Regular updates: Most blogs suffer the tragic fate of dying after a few months. Alternatively, many companies think updating a blog once every month or two is plenty to really help. It’s not. To be a true thought leader, this means regular, relevant, well-written updates.
  • Networking: You have to reach out to your readers. Show them you care and prove why you should be listened to and respected as an authority figure in your niche. This means staying on top of comments that come in, possibly networking in other venues like Twitter or Facebook, and making yourself accessible and transparent so your readers will develop trust in you.

In addition to these traits, you should still be writing with SEO in mind, as this can only help your blog reach the people you want to be reaching.

Business Blogging Role #3: Sales!

For business owners that sell directly from their websites, blogs can be an extremely lucrative form of marketing and a different piece of the sales cycle. Independent artists and musicians use blogs to share their latest work with their fans, often offering a promotion for blog readers or running giveaways that encourage their readers to share their work across multiple social media channels.

Larger retail companies may post updates about upcoming sales and trends in their industry that help guide customers to certain products or services they offer.

Independent thought leaders and entrepeneurs gather email addresses for their mailing lists for free content or drip campaign newsletters that help build trust and close a “soft sell” sales cycle.

This approach is more closely related to the thought leadership approach and requires the blogger(s) to give readers a more personal, accessible experience.

So which do you choose?

These are just three types of blogs that companies create. There are many that combine two of these options, or all three. Some are completely different and have employees blog freely about whatever their personal interests are. Some business use blogs as press releases. Others provide external news from their industry.

When deciding what works for you, it’s crucial to remember the following:

  • Every business is different: what works for company A may not work for company B, and it may have to do with anything from their industry, to their audience, or the talent and social media activity level their writers
  • Every business may not be suited for blogging: for businesses with an online customer base, blogging makes more sense than local independent contractors like plumbers and electricians
  • Blogging success comes from identifying clear goals and expectations: if you don’t know why you’re blogging, it’s hard to measure your level of success

As you plan your blogging ventures with these things in mind, it should help prevent your future blog from suffering the fate that so many young blogs fall prey to. Thanks for reading, and hopefully these tips will help you on your journey to successful business blogging!

Lesley DeSantis is a marketing associate and blogger for Measured SEM, a search engine marketing consulting firm offering a variety of services including SEO audits and guest blog posting services.