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How to blog (for small businesses)

By Momoko Price

Has anyone noticed how, despite a ton of hype about Google Penguin & Panda ‘changing the SEO landscape,’ blogging and marketing tips for small businesses really haven’t changed all that much?

Small business blogging tips: Then vs. Now

A few years ago, ‘how to blog’ articles went something like this:

“SEO is critical for getting your page seen on the Web today. Here are some tips you can use to get the traffic you want …”

  1. Think of some keywords related to your business
  2. Verify your keywords using a keyword tool
  3. Create / write your content
  4. Add keywords and metatags to your content
  5. Publish.
Today, ‘how to blog’ articles say some variation of:

“These days, SEO is only part of the equation when it comes to creating shareable / viral / high-traffic content that will accelerate growth for your business and drive revenue. The key to online marketing today is creating awesome, engaging, high-value content that matters to your customers. Here are 5 Tips to Help You Create Incredible Content:”

  1. Think of some keywords
  2. Verify your keywords using a keyword tool
  3. Create / write some awesome content your customers will love
  4. Add keywords to your content
  5. Share on as many social channels as you can manage without losing your sanity.
Apparently the content marketing game has changed, but content marketing tips for small businesses still sound pretty much the same (with the exception of appending some variation of ‘oh and remember to make your content awesome and valuable.’)

So how do you create awesome, valuable content on a limited budget?

Great blog posts come from your customers, not you

Here’s probably the most common-sense, cost-effective content marketing strategy for small businesses that I can think of:
Create content that solves a problem (or answers a question) that your customers are actually talking about.
So many startups and small businesses are perpetually at a loss when it comes to brainstorming topics to write about for their blogs, when in fact, the hands-down best topics are literally spilling out of their customers' mouths, 24/7.

Your customers have problems they need to solve, and they’re talking about them online ALL THE TIME. They talk about them everywhere: in LinkedIn groups, on Quora, on Twitter, in Amazon reviews, in blog comment threads, and through their Google search queries.

Instead of sitting around trying to brainstorm ‘cool topics’ to write about for your business blog — and then invariably being discouraged because it’s not nearly as ‘cool’ as the high-budget campaign some Silicon Valley superstar put out last week —spend time brainstorming places where your customers are talking online instead. Then spend 30 minutes every morning listening. Not promoting yourself, not spamming people; just listening to what your customers are saying.

Before you know it, you’ll invariably hear someone complaining about something that you feel really passionate about, that you know you can help them with, that you realize so many people in your industry — customers and competitors — are getting dead-wrong.

That is the topic of your next ‘high-value’ business blog article. And the next one. And the next one.

Got it? Good. Now, go find those keywords and get writing!

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