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Blogging is a Green Business Survival Skill

Don't count on Obama's stimulus plan to help your green business survive the economic downturn. With a tough economy and increased online competition, your green business needs a blog to be competitive.

Blogging is the least expensive way to market, as it is just a fraction of the cost of television or print advertising, and most importantly, in can drive lasting traffic, if done correctly.

Blogs are most effective when combined with search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing. Ensuring your blog is SEO-friendly will give you more traffic, more links and better search results.

Making your content appealing and shareable through social media, will generate more traffic, encourage even more links, and give you additional user generated content through commenting.

Blogs + SEO + Social Media = Inbound Marketing Axis of Good

In the Web 1.0 days, marketing was focused on the 4 P's: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. In the Web 2.0 era, marketing can now be classified into inbound and outbound.

Inbound marketing is permission-based marketing and involves attracting customers to you through word-of-mouth marketing, community building, social sharing, social bookmarking, etc. Primary tools of inbound marketing includes blogs, social media, search engines, RSS syndication, free tools, trials, ebooks and public relations. Conversely, outbound marketing is an interruption in your customers’ lives and can include anything from trade shows, direct mail, email, telemarketing, television and radio ads.

Inbound marketing is not only more effective than outbound marketing, it is less expensive and more sustainable. Many inbound media campaigns only require you to invest your time. Inbound marketing also has a longer term return on investment. Years after that magazine is sent to the recycling bin, your wildly popular, resource-rich blog posts will live on the Internet and attract visitors.

Google Loves Blogs

One of the biggest benefits to having a blog is the opportunity for search engine optimization. Google, and other search engines, love blogs! Blogs generally mean content will be updated on a continual basis -- more often than a website may be updated. The more you update your blog, the more Google will crawl and index it, and the more search engine traffic you will get, especially for long-tail keyword content that you didn't have the real estate for in your website.

Since you have complete control over your blog’s content, you can include as many of your targeted keywords as is appropriate. Whether you are writing about green furniture or green marketing, you can fill your blog with the keywords that are important to your business and relevant for your niche. If a potential customer finds your blog in a search query and likes what you have to say, that person is likely to click over to your website and investigate your products and services.

Which brings us to another great SEO benefit -- blogs provide additional linking opportunities. Search engines like links and you can use your blog as a great way to create more internal links to your website, as well as attract external links from other sites. As you know, the more links your site has, the better it will rank.

Next Page; Blogging 101

Make a Better Customer Connection

Blogs are a way for your green business to connect with potential customers on a personal level. You can write more informally on a blog than on your website, which may be attractive to certain target audiences. Your business can begin building relationships with customers, instead of just throwing information at them and hoping it sticks.

Your blog will start a conversation with potential customers. The more your audience learns about your company, the more they will trust you and the more likely they will eventually become loyal customers. This community of potential customers will comment on your blog, share links to their favorite posts and even introduce people to you and your products.

Blogging 101

If you have never blogged before and want to get started, the good news is, business blogging is the easiest, least expensive marketing strategy, one that will hardly ding a recession-strapped budget.

Launching your blog is simple when you use WordPress. WordPress software is open source, which means it is free. Many web hosts allow you to install WordPress directly onto your server with just one mouse click. It is important to put your blog software on your server and incorporate your blog into your website, this way your fresh, keyword-rich posts give your website an SEO boost.

After the software is downloaded, you can choose from a number of WordPress themes. You can select a small business website theme or a blog theme, or one that incorporates both. For example, the free Green Stimulus theme for green business allows you to select whether you want a website option or a website and a blog. It will even allow you to publish your blog posts to your website’s home page. Here's a demo of a San Francisco multimedia agency using Green Stimulus.




Next Page:I Have a Blog, So Now What?

I Have a Blog, So Now What?

You started a blog, decided on your theme and everything is set up on your server. Now comes the big question -- what should your posts cover? Ideally, you should provide information that visitors will find interesting and want to share. This can be anything from a podcast or commentary on a news story to an announcement about a new product or changes in your company. Anything that you can relate to your business is great content for a blog post! You can even post Frequently Asked Questions or commonly downloaded forms to make it easier for your customers to get what they need.

Two important things to remember when blogging:

  1. Always incorporate your search keywords. It's a good idea to know what search keywords people using when they are researching your product in search engines. Use the Google Adwords keyword tool to get ideas. Then make sure your keywords appear in important places in your blog content -- the title, headlines, bulleted and ordered lists, etc. Optimize your blog content for no more than 3 closely related keywords, for example, "
  2. Publish juicy, shareable content. Sure you can fill your blog with SEO friendly content, but if it is uninteresting, you won't get that much traction -- visitors will bounce, people won't link to you. Make your content enticing, valuable, and worth sharing. Controversial blog posts tend to drive great online conversations. Insightful industry analysis, snarky news commentary, useful whitepaper downloads and humorous infographics also do well in social media.

How to Know If Your Blog is Paying Off

There are a couple of ways to measure your blog’s success. Start by assessing participation. Look at how the outside world is visiting your blog -- are they staying around to read or are they clicking away after only one post? How many subscriptions do you have? How many people are visiting your blog each day, each week, each month, etc?

Next, look at the conversations you are having. Think about how your blog is impacting your target audience and the Internet as a whole. Are people bookmarking your blog posts? Do they share your content on their social networks? Are they commenting on your blog or trying to start conversations about your content? Each of these questions will help you understand how influential your blog is and allow you to decide if your strategy is working or if you need to make a change.

Some useful tools to use to track your blogs success are Google Analytics, a free analytics program and Yahoo Site Explorer for tracking backlinks to your blog or website. Social Mention is a useful free tool to monitor your social media traction.

Blogging is a great way to drive customers to your green business. If you can launch your blog correctly, make it SEO-friendly, post strategically and properly measure your impact, you will start seeing your blog posts turn into potential leads. Blogging takes a lot of time and effort, but it will be time well spent.

Lorna Li is an online marketer who works at a CRM company by day and works on her green marketing blog at night. She writes about green marketing, social enterprise, social media and personal branding.

Image CC licensed by Flickr users tillwe and Mike Licht,

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