Illustrated by Sarah Steenland
Let’s be honest … most approaches to search engine optimization (SEO) and social media, when executed by a business, are a little crappy. Spammy, even.
Me, me, me, buy, buy, buy, sign up, sign up, sign up, beta, beta, beta, crap, crap, crap.
There are a few startup gems out there, and we all know who they are, because people adore them: Wistia. Hubspot. Buffer. 37Signals. Moz.
Most often, these gems also have startup blogs. Non-crappy startup blogs, in fact, which makes SEO easy and social media a breeze.
So, let’s talk about why.
Why, Why, Why?
There’s a lot that goes into a startup. Get funded, lease an office, hire employees, freak out over paperwork, get stuff done, nap, eat, and so goes the cycle. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
With all the tasks to complete, it’s easy to forget about some that aren’t on the top of your mind. This is often the case with a startup blog, even though it’s one of the most important – if not the most important – part of your audience development strategy.
Does that statement sound surprising to you? If so, you probably just haven’t quite figured out a strategy that works. Brands like American Express have found ways to build a community around its blog and drive hundreds of thousands of visitors to its site that way, so why can’t you? Let’s be honest: Nobody liked American Express before Open Forum and Small Business Saturday. Now we’re all BFFs.
Fun, Fun, Fun!
And let’s talk about how fun it is to fix boring. Are you afraid the content of your blog has to be boring or too techy? Not so!
An app development company like MojoTech could potentially fall into the trap of a total jargonfest blog, but they know how to lighten it up. Instead of talking exclusively to the tech geeks who are more likely to get hired by Mojo than hire Mojo, they talk to their target audience: the person who’s shopping for a developer. And it’s written in anti-jargon so that anybody can digest it.
If your startup is new, a startup blog can prove to be more valuable than any any of your online marketing strategies combined.
That’s because a blog can be the epicenter of your online marketing strategy. It feeds two of your most crucial elements of online optimization: search and social.
Search, Search, Search
Consider the digital landscape. Search engines are used habitually and have been for years. According to comScore, almost 19 billion core searches are conducted every month. That’s hundreds of billions of searches each year – a pretty staggering thought. If your target audience is someone who accesses the internet (99.9% likely), then SEO has a 99.9% chance of working for you.
With a blog, you have the ability to optimize your website for keyword phrases that are endemic to your audience. If all you have is a homepage, a “How It Works” and a “Contact Us” page, you have three pages to optimize. That’s it. Done. If you have a blog, your options are limitless. Want to tackle a new keyword and get more search traffic? Just write a new blog post!
You’re a travel startup like AirBnB, so your target customers might be looking for the best cities to stay in Spain, or Italy, or Portugual. Why not blog about it? You’re the expert, and they’re looking!
Not to mention the added bonus of personalizing the customer experience. What kind of vibe do you want to give off when a potential customer, client, or user hits your website from search? In the likely case that they come in through a blog post, your tone is up to you. You’re not limited to the words of a copywriter that wrote your homepage copy three years ago.
But, do some research first. Google shares estimated traffic results for keywords. Any SEO, us included, can use this data, plus the Google search engine itself to determine the amount of competing websites for any keyword you wish to use. Once you have this data, you can do a little math. If your keywords have a lot of search traffic and a small amount of competing websites, you have a great opportunity to rank well with the keywords.
This is a process we obsess over at BuzzFarmers, because well-optimized blogs will bring new people to your website, even when you’re off the clock, and long after we’re gone.
Social, Social, Social
The second bonus (third? tenth? where are we now?) of having a blog is the ability to stand out as an industry leader. Have you ever been to a specialist, say a massage therapist? If the owner is also a massage therapist and it all costs the same, wouldn’t you prefer the owner to give you a massage? Basically, everyone wants the most out of their money, and if someone is going to purchase, follow, sign up for, or subscribe to something, they’re more likely to choose the product with the most authority. A blog gives you a voice of authority. Hoorah!
Next, a blog will provide you with great fodder for your other online activities. “Content marketing” is all the rage, but you can’t participate without content.
Whether it’s through social media or email, you’ll be able to promote your articles to whatever audience members you already have around the web. Sending more traffic to these articles and getting more likes and shares on these articles will ultimately help them gain more traction in search engines, so the ranking position may increase with the additional traffic they receive.
Furthermore, a startup blog helps a company determine who its target audience is and might lead to some new audiences that weren’t initially considered. The research aspect of blogging may lead to some of these insights even before the writing process begins. Seeing who interacts with your content directly on the blog or through social media and email may also be a defining factor to new, active audiences online.
Last but not least, a blog for a startup helps deliver a personal touch and makes your company likable. And, in today’s digital world, where customers can be from all over the globe, and the word of your company can go viral, it’s very important to be liked. Customers spend money on businesses they like and want to see succeed.
The wisdom you pass along, the photos you share, the smiling faces of your employees: There’s a lot that can be learned from a company’s blog that goes beyond contact information and address.
If you’re in the process of launching a startup, make sure a blog is part of your digital strategy. And, yeah, we’re saying it because that’s what we do for a living, but also because it works.