Anecdotally, bloggers and business owners have long pointed to more enquiries, improved visibility and growing reputation as signs that blogging was good for their businesses.
Logically too, creating lots of new content gives search engines — and people — more to find and can help fuel social media conversations.
That's all well and good, but if you’re going to approach blogging as a business investment, a few cold hard facts wouldn’t go astray either.
Enter online marketing company HubSpot. They decided to carry out some research into the effects of blogging on their clients’ websites.
They sampled a little over 1500 companies — roughly half of them blogged for business and the other half didn’t.
The results were striking. The businesses who blogged had 55% more traffic, nearly double the number of inbound links and over 400% more pages indexed by Google.
Of course, there may be a little bit of a chicken and egg debate here.
Businesses who blog are arguably more likely to participate in other forms of social media too, which may impact some of the findings.
That aside, blogging clearly has some tangible benefits: more indexed pages means more chances to be found in search engine results, more inbound links improves search engine performance and more traffic means more opportunities to convert browsers into buyers.
There are plenty of other reasons to blog for business — from customer service to building a brand personality — but on this very practical level at least the numbers seem to back up what good business bloggers have known for some time.
So how can you grab some of this blogging goodness? Well, here's a simple seven point plan:
1. Decide why you're going to blog. If it's to please the search engines, you'll need to be SEO-savvy.
If you're hoping to build relationships with customers and clients, you might aim for a lighter, more personal tone.
2. Give your blog a focus. Generalists have a harder time attracting attention so try carving out a niche or taking a particular angle on your industry.
3. Make a list of the top 10-15 blogs relevant to your industry focus and read them regularly. What are they writing about and how do they approach their blogs?
4. Leave useful comments on those blogs.
5. When you’re comfortable with the social media space, start creating your own content.
A safe bet is to give your take on industry trends and advice and tips for customers and clients. Set a schedule, posting 2+ times a week.
6. Start distributing that content through your social media accounts.
7. Review after six months.
You could make it a lot more complicated and spend a lot of time planning, debating and over-thinking the process.
You could. But provided you focus on producing regular, useful content you won't go too far wrong.