Inbound Marketing

We’ve all heard them—the do’s and don’ts  of blogging. The ‘secrets’ that will take your personal or company blog to new heights of greatness or, if done poorly, valleys of ‘traffic despair’. And although much of what is taught as general rule in the public forum is good, small businesses must come to understand certain myths that surround this sometimes rewarding and other times frustrating animal we call content marketing and blogging.

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So let’s just get right to it. I wanted to take the time today to discuss what 2 years of blogging for various businesses has taught me and hopefully it will inspire some of you to possibly take your blog and company website to new heights in 2011. Here goes:

Top 5 Small Business Blogging Myths

1. Guest Posting is the Key to Success and a Larger Audience

Ahh yes, the lovely concept of ‘guest posting’. Let me just say here I’m a huge fan of guest posting. In certain applications, it’s awesome. But frankly, there are simply some industries where it’s not worth a rip.

As an example, in two weeks I’ll be guest posting on the extremely popular blog ‘Men with Pens’. Because the blog has a huge following of people that are passionate about writing and blogging, it’s the perfect fit, and will surely garner my site hundreds of visitors and many subscribers that otherwise would not have ever taken a trip over here to The Sales Lion.

But let’s switch gears for a second. Another blog I write teaches people the ends and outs of inground swimming pools. When I started blogging in the swimming pool industry 2 years ago, guess how many companies actually understood what true blogging/content marketing was? If you guess ZERO, you’re about right. Yeah, sure there were some decent websites out there, but none were based on Web 2.0 principles. In other words, I couldn’t have done a guest post if I wanted to, and if I had, it wouldn’t have been read by anyone nor garnered me any additional traffic.

So it really comes down to your niche. Chances are though, if it’s a blue collar niche you’re in there are likely very few successful content marketers (which is good :-) ).

2. SEO is Difficult to Achieve

Again, this depends on the niche. Most people want to simply blanket search engine optimization as a difficult strategy only accomplished through the strategic use of keywords and a mountain of anchor text links coming back to one’s site.

The reality is that most industries are still up for the taking when it comes to garnering web traffic through the search engines. Why? Because there just aren’t many smart content marketers out there that are speaking ‘consumer’ speak versus ‘nerd speak’.

Going back to my swimming pool blog, over the past 2 years I haven’t spent one second on guest posting, link building, or anything of that nature. What I have done though is write articles that answer specific consumer questions, exactly as the consumer would understand and read them. The strategy has paid some major dividends and is why it’s the #1 swimming pool blog in the world today.

3. Commenting on Other Blogs Is/Is Not Important

Notice how I said here ‘Is/Is not’ important. That’s because depending on who you talk to, commenting on other blogs is either a great traffic building strategy or a waste of time. Well ladies and gentlemen, again this one comes down to your niche and industry(notice a common theme?). For example, the self improvement/blogging/SEO industry is full of people that read various blogs. And because they are such avid blog readers, the more a writer can be seen in the public as ‘participating in the conversation’ the more chance they have of gaining fans and followers. In fact, the biggest mistake I made on this blog in its first six months was the fact that I did not understand this critical concept and rarely commented on other blogs.

But the reality is that I only did this based on what I’d learned in the swimming pool industry. When I started The Sales Lion I figured I’d garner enough traffic by giving readers great content that was keyword (SEO) related. But within a few months I realized that some industries are really dang competitive, whereas others are not. Although I could gain a huge following on my pool blog by simply producing great content; I had to learn twitter, networking, commenting, etc in order to make The Sales Lion a success.

4. RSS is Used by Everyone

I’m shocked at how many bloggers in the web/blogging/SEO industry do not have ‘Subscribe by Email’ buttons on their site. The reason for this is simple—Bloggers are suffering from the curse of knowledge and assuming that everyone knows what an RSS feeder is, which is nuts.

To give a better example of this, on my swimming pool blog 90% of the subscribers are through email, and only 10% are with RSS. Compare that to The Sales Lion where the exact opposite is true—80% RSS and about 20% email.

My point here is that consumers make an industry and niche what it is. With many older, non-technical folks in their 50s, the swimming pool industry will be mainly email subscription based for at least another 5-10 years until RSS crosses over to more ‘non-technical’ households.

5. Blogging is a Waste of Time for Location-Based Businesses

This one really gets me going. You see, there are some people that feel content marketing/blogging is a waste for a small business that has a finite area of coverage. To be completely frank, whoever makes such a statement is a total idiot and has no idea what they’re talking about.

My swimming pool company only builds pools in Virginia and Maryland, yet we write a blog that teaches the entire world about our product and industry. Because of this, many people have asked me in the past why I focus on getting all that traffic even though a large portion of the vistors are not in my area. There are many answers for this question, but the main two are this:

  • Blogs aren’t just about producing search engine traffic. They teach, build trust, and ultimately earn sales with existing customers and persons in your sales funnel.
  • Out of 500 visitors that come to my site, if only 30 are in my area but came to the site because of a search engine query stemming from my blog, it was more than worth it, as those 30 visitors never would have found me otherwise.

Although I could go on and on about this subject I’m sure you’ve picked up on the theme of this article. Every industry, and therefore every blog, is different. And because they are different, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to generating traffic and sales. The key is constant action, experimentation, and the ability to adjust as the times dictate.

So what are your thoughts? Are there any ‘myths’ or personal experiences you’d add to this list? As always, I appreciate your thoughts and comments. :-)

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