As a local business owner, you’ve probably heard along the way that blogging can help you increase your website traffic.
And you’ve also probably thought… GREAT! I could use some extra traffic to my site for free. I’ll be sure to start blogging right away!
But you might have gotten stuck there.
OR pushed blogging to the back-burner.
And I get it-- when I opened a brick-and-mortar indoor playground back in 2015 I told myself for YEARS that “as soon as I have time…” or “as soon as I have more help…” or “as soon as I get THIS project finished” I would start blogging.
But in reality-- I was just feeling lost. I understood the concept well enough.
If I can blog regularly, that will help with my Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and therefore I will rank higher on places like Google… and more people will find my business and more people will BUY!
The reasoning made sense in my head.
But the execution? I didn’t know WHERE to begin.
(...Time I don’t have much of to BEGIN with, mind you).
I was terrified of the unknown and paralyzed by the whole DOING part of the process.
So what I did was first complete a TON of research on all of the questions I listed above. I thought to myself, “If I’m going to do this… I’m going to do it RIGHT and at least make it worth my while”.
I likely spent HUNDREDS of hours doing this research, planning my topics, putting posts out there, and seeing what worked and what didn’t.
It was a time consuming process of trial-and-error.
However, after a year or so of consistently blogging regularly, I finally cracked the code and figured out which tactics were actually BOOSTING my bottom line.
And I have always kept in mind, something one of my business mentors, Stu McLaren, says regularly… “do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t”.
And you might have read that and thought.. “DUH, MICHELE”.
Why would I ever do more of what DOESN’T work. Seems like a no brainer!
But in practice, you would be surprised to know how few local business owners actually pay attention to which of their marketing strategies generates the highest return on their investment.
And without insight into the numbers… HOW could they possibly make an informed decision about what’s actually driving SALES into their business?
The answer is simply: they can’t.
Most business owners just blog or post onto social media with a “throwing spaghetti at the wall” mentality with the notion that they can just “see what sticks”.
And while that’s all well and good, when something DOES stick-- they may not know what caused that piece of content to resonate, which part made the difference and drove sales, and how they can potentially replicate that success.
Now, once I dove into these stats and the numbers I was BLOWN away.
Not only were some blog articles very clearly converting into sales, they were also helping to grow my social media audiences, my email list, and OTHER business assets that also convert into sales!
And now almost 4 years after publishing my first purposeful (key word, purposeful-- i.e., there was actually some strategy behind it)--
I have come up with a PROVEN checklist to help local business owners ENSURE their time spend blogging is well worth their while and actually sets them up for LONG TERM results, in the from of increased FREE traffic from search engines like google.
If you’re STILL not sold on blogging and what it can do for your business, or if you’re still convinced it shouldn’t be a TOP priority, keep reading.
If you DO know that blogging is something that you SHOULD be doing-- but want my proven process to ensure an ROI-- download my FREE local business blogging checklist here.
It will give you EVERY step from planning to writing to publishing to analytics-- because I know your time is precious.
OK-- still not sure blogging is right for your business? Let’s dive into SIX reasons you should make this a TOP priority in your marketing strategy.
All of the major search engines love fresh, relevant, and engaging content-- and blogging is one of the most straightforward and inexpensive methods for a business to accomplish this.
And as a local business, you have a much higher chance of ranking for your desired keywords. For example, if you google “children’s first birthday party in Buffalo New York”, there might be a few dozen relevant results. It does not take much effort to put your business on page ONE of these search results for this or a similar keyword.
If you were to search “first birthday decor ideas”, there might be THOUSANDS of results, and it may take you YEARS to reach page 1 of these results without any paid ads.
This is when you should use the fact that you’re local to your advantage. Chances are, most of your local competitors are not blogging regularly. And if they are, they are likely NOT doing so intentionally or with any strategy in mind.
With a little effort and by utilizing my free local business blogging checklist, you can easily begin ranking higher on google.
(MEANING: you can easily dominate them in the search results. Insert evil laugh here).
And here’s the best part-- people who are SEARCHING for your key words or phrases are highly qualified leads.
Meaning, if they are searching “children’s first birthday party in Buffalo New York”, they are doing so because they are READY to find a service provider and book.
Customers who find you on google are HOT leads and with my blogging checklist, you will easily be able to convert them into buyers or into leads for you to follow up with.
On the flip side, if you were to put out a TV ad, a radio ad, or a print ad-- even if the demographic consuming the ad is likely to be parents interested in parties, they may not be interested in booking a service provider in that moment, and they are therefore not likely to take an action let alone retain the information they hear or see.
Which brings me to my next point.
When you run an ad, like a Facebook ad, a radio ad, or a print ad-- your results dry up completely when your promotion is over or when you stop spending money.
Similarly, when you post on Instagram or Facebook, the shelf-life of that post (the length of time it will appear in the newsfeed of your followers) is very short. While hashtags and shares can help grow your audience, as soon as you stop posting… you stop seeing results.
And with the algorithms favoring ads more and more, social media is almost becoming a pay-to-play game. The last time Hootsuite released a report on the organic reach on Facebook (2021), organic reach was down to 5.2%.
This means that, if you have 1,000 followers, on average, only 52 of those people would even see any given post, let alone interact with it or take some sort of action, like visiting your website.
In fact. Facebook has been known to show posts with links included LESS, because it takes a user off the Facebook app (and we all know Facebook depends on keeping their users on the app as long as possible).
Search engines are different. Search engines are DESIGNED to get people exactly what they are looking for, as quickly as possible.
In the previous example I gave, if someone is searching for a child’s first birthday party venue in Buffalo, New York-- Google (or whichever search engine is being utilized) will look for the most relevant, up-to-date pages to send the searcher to.
Search engines are MADE to convert browsers into buyers. They are solution oriented.
One of the best features of blogging is that you can steadily drive NEW traffic to your website for YEARS after you publish a post.
While I do like to go into my old posts and make updates to keep the content fresh (in Google’s eyes!) and relevant (to my customers!), once the work is done and a post is published… you can expect long-term ROI from that post.
One of the first things I tell local business owners to do is to install Google Analytics into their websites (it’s free and easy!) and use Google My Business to keep track of their stats.
In my business, I monitor my traffic sources monthly and I am always pleased to see that some of my more popular posts are still ranking and still getting NEW eyes on my website 3-4 years after they were published!
Another local indoor playground owner recently posted, “what creative ways have you come up with to advertise your business?”, which obviously caught my attention.
Some answers were cheeky, such as “hire a plane to fly a banner across a park”. Some had the hustle mindset, such as “go to every doctor’s office and hand out bookmarks or business cards with your contact information”.
Some were a little old-school, such as “take out a print advertisement or a radio ad”. Some required a large up-front investment, such as ‘sponsor a child’s sports team or hand out tee-shirts”.
Now while all of these CAN translate into sales, most:
While blogging may seem like a huge time investment, it certainly requires much less time than handing out flyers or traveling to local businesses. And unlike most forms of advertising, it’s FREE and yields long-term results, as I mentioned, and as I will keep mentioning.
As long as you have a system in place and use my proven local business blogging checklist, you can even have a team member help you with publishing blogs during your slow hours, which would NORMALLY mean wasted payroll dollars for you. Not anymore!
If you are NOT taking advantage of the FREE traffic you could be getting from blogging, just make giving it a try your priority BEFORE investing ANY time or money in paid tactics.
You will be pleased with the results, I promise.
Many people focus on the benefits blogging can have in bringing NEW customers to their site. But a commonly overlooked benefit of blogging is that you can develop your content to help you continue to form a “know, like, and trust” relationship with those already familiar, and can help assert your business as the authority or the “go-to” in your industry locally.
For example, if you are an indoor playground owner and someone has signed up to be on your email list and you send them a blog you wrote about how you developed your play area and how you intentionally chose your equipment, it may entice them to come in and play.
If they then see you share a blog on Facebook about why people love your birthday parties, it may make them say, “WOW, I didn’t even know they offered parties, I’m going to take a look!’.
If, after they have a successful party, they see you blog about 5 ways your monthly memberships could save them time and money, it may help them make a decision to become a member!
Plus, if you utilize storytelling in your posts and make them fun, engaging, and valuable-- your customers will just feel BETTER about buying from you. They will feel a deeper connection to you, your business, and your team. They will be more likely to become customers, and will keep returning
When people feel a deep connection to a business, they like to share the business with their family and friends. However, many people hesitate because they do not want to come across as “sales-y” or “promotional”, even if they have nothing to gain financially by sharing your business information.
Blogs that are fun, engaging, and valuable are also highly SHAREABLE.
A member of your audience is much more likely to share a blog that their family and friends will find useful and will appreciate than they are to share your sales or booking page that their followers may find spam-y.
Giving your customers these nuggets to share will help them satisfy their innate desire to spread awareness for something they feel passionate about in a way that feels authentic to them and still leads to business growth for you.
Lastly, blogging can help bridge a gap your followers may be facing that has thus far prevented them from becoming your customers.
I encourage business owners to come up with a list of common objections, questions, or complaints their customers have, and use that as an opportunity to come back to them from a point of education.
For example, if you own a gymnastics studio and people commonly complain that your party prices are too high, you can create the following free blogs you can then point people with this objection to.
While I firmly believe that not every customer is right for every business, and that it is best to turn customers away whose values do not align with our own, blogging CAN help those who are on the fence make a more simple and informed decision about whether or not they do want to book with you or purchase from you.
Plus, this strategy of coming from a point of education will avoid you or your team members coming across as defensive when attempting to justify your price or policies. I am a big fan of offering a brief yet validating 1-2 line response to complaints or objections and then pointing the concerned customer to a place where they can learn more if they choose.
Now that you know WHY I am such a proponent of making blogging a TOP priority for local business owners, especially those strapped for time or cash, it’s time for you to get started!