It’s a question that I’ve seen come up a lot: When you’re blogging for SEO, who are you writing for? Should you be aiming your content at your colleagues in the industry, or are you blogging for your customers? Obviously, both are worthy approaches, but which gets the best results?
Over at GeoLocalSEO, Steve Hatcher recently offered a strong opinion for why SMBs should be blogging for their peers, not for their customers. Today I thought I’d bring the other side of the argument, because I do think it’s a worthy discussion.
That said, I respectfully disagree with Steve. For a small business owner, I think your blogging investment is far better spent producing content for your customers, not for your colleagues in the industry.
Why? Below are a few reasons.
Your customers are performing searches.
When we encourage small business owners to start blogging, we talk to them about keyword research. We offer them advice on how to find out what types of queries their customers are entering as a way to understand what they want, what they’re looking for, and what types of needs the business can fill. Once you know what your customers need and what they’re looking for, you can make yourself the answer to their problem. For example, if you know that 300 potential customers a month are searching for [product name battery life], you can create content that addresses that concern or problem. You make it so that when they’re looking for authoritative content, they find you. That’s not keyword stuffing. That’s solving a problem.
You need to build authority with customers, not colleagues.
We know that there are more businesses blogging today than there are businesses not blogging today. And one of the main reasons so many companies have made the leap is because they know with more competitors, more noise and a tougher fight for visibility, small businesses need to differentiate themselves by establishing an authoritative voice in their market. While people looking for a locksmith may not spend all day trolling blogs about locksmiths or hanging out in locksmith forums (those exist, right?), they are going to do their due diligence before hiring someone. When they get a recommendation from a friend or when Google shows them the nearest locksmiths in their area, you’d better believe that user is going to do their homework and check the company website, the blog, the Twitter account, etc. This happens. This is how we vet companies now. And by creating that authority via your blog, you put yourself in a better position to get that customer.
You want to start conversations with customers, not colleagues.
Steve makes a worthy point in his post when he says that the people who comment on his SEO blog are other SEO experts, not people looking for services. And that’s often the case in the world of SEO and Internet marketing, but when you venture away from this circle I’d argue that it changes.
- Do you know who comments on blogs related to cooking and recipes? People who are interested in cooking and possibly buying your cookbook.
- Do you know who comments on active lifestyle blogs? People who may be in the market for a new kayak or a six-person tent.
- Who comments on blogs about cars and automotive issues? People who love cars and often spend their weekends working on theirs.
Those of us in the marketing world live in a very incestuous bubble. But “normal people” do not.
Your customers are checking for your pulse, no one else.
The Web is changing customer buying behaviors. Today customers go online to research companies on their own before they ever attempt to contact them about their product or service. They’re looking for signs of a pulse when they do this–signs that you can give them what they need but also that your company is human and relatable. One of the great things SMBs have been able to do through their blogs is to tell their stories and show their human side to an audience that’s waiting for it. They’ve been able to talk about how they got started, share what drives their passion, and introduce their customers to people on their team. This has helped them find customers and differentiate themselves from everyone else in your industry. Your colleagues probably don’t care why you love what you do or what drives you to get up every day. Your customers absolutely do.
As a small business owner, there are many different approaches to blogging that you can take. You can blog for your customers, the people you’re trying to attract to your website. Or you can blog to your colleagues. In my opinion, your time is better spent appealing to the first group. They’re the people searching for you, evaluating you, and coming to your site (and the search result pages) looking for helping solving problems. Speak to them.
What about you? Who is your blog content aimed at?