The benefits of a decent business blog go far beyond the SEO perks of adding fresh content to a site, but do you know how to make the most of your business blog?

It’s pretty apparent to anyone that knows me that I’m a huge believer in the value of a blog. Not only do I blog frequently for my company and a number of other industry websites, but I encourage all our new starters to get involved and write for the SEOptimise blog.

For them, it’s great way to start to build a reputation and to join in the wider industry conversation. There are many more benefits and we’ve recently run a seminar on why businesses should be blogging, so I thought it would be useful to share this online:

Blogging Guide To Business

All in all, I’m a fan. Here’s why you should be too:

Why should you blog?

A blog is a way of sharing information, industry news and opinion. It fills your pages with naturally keyword rich content and encourages inbound links, which is SEO gold.

Provided it’s a useful blog, it offers value to visitors and encourages repeat visits. You build your industry reputation and strengthen your online brand.

It allows your company to develop an online personality. You stop just being a brand name and start being a collection of individuals – and it’s much easier for would-be clients to connect with people than with a firm.

A blog builds your corporate credibility – it shows how thoroughly you know your sector. Of course, that’s only if you’re writing decent copy.

I think one of the main benefits of a blog is that allows smaller companies to really box above their weight. Small enterprises can suddenly compete with major brands just by sharing some of their expertise through a blog.

Some advanced benefits of blogging

A simple, successful corporate blog will add real value to a website. However, if you have time and energy to develop one of the leading blogs within your sector, there are some really lucrative marketing benefits.

If you’re a leading industry commentator then you’ll be the person the press approach when they need opinions. It doesn’t matter how niche your sector; if it’s suddenly in the news then journalists will be looking for an expert to explain the issues to their readers and viewers. At the very least, you’re likely to attract the attention of specialist industry press.

An eloquent, informative blog will make you the obvious choice when reporters need an ‘expert’.

You may also be invited to offer articles and opinion to other blogs or online resources, all of which helps spread your brand name and build your reputation. I’ve even been interviewed by the BBC on the benefits of writing a blog.

The dangers of blogging

Corporate blogging is not without its hazards. If you don’t use some basic common sense then you could get your business in hot water.

Although there are many benefits to a company blog, if you do it badly you’d have been better off not doing it at all.

Don’t slander your competitors, don’t write glowing reviews of your own products or services, don’t fill your pages with typos, misspellings and grammatical errors.

These kinds of mistakes damage your brand, meaning your blog could actually end up causing you problems.

One final danger – there’s nothing worse than a blog that’s not been updated in three months. If you find you cannot commit the time, you’d be better off taking the blog down. Otherwise, it will give the impression that you simply cannot be bothered.

Engage in conversations

A blog is about more than writing articles and publishing them – it’s a starting point for conversations.

If people begin to discuss and debate your post, it’s important to get involved. A blog is a social platform, not a newspaper. The conversation has to go two ways and that’s not a chore – it’s another blogging benefit.

Having said that, sometimes it’s worth standing back – use your judgement. If other people are having a good discussion about your post, then comments from the blog’s author might stifle debate.

What kind of content should you create?

If you’re not used to writing, it can be difficult to know where to begin. It’s important to write short, accessible paragraphs and break up your comments with sub-headers and bullet points.

As a rule, lists of tips, ‘top tens’ and advice go down well. Articles that will obviously contain useful information will be shared.

Some people worry that their sector is simply to niche to justify a blog but actually, this can make a blog even more useful, because there’s likely to be very little online information elsewhere. True, if you’re writing a blog for a national house cleaning company, you’re probably never going to get an enormous audience.

However, you’re going to get a lot of attention from house proud people with high disposable incomes and very little spare time. Consider your target audience and write with them in mind.

Seek practical advice

Take a look at our blogging white paper (PDF link) for some tips on writing for the web and some practical advice on writing with search engines in mind.

I believe the most important thing to remember is that you’re writing for readers. There’s no point throwing useless, badly written articles onto your site just in the hopes it will help your SEO. To attract inbound links, to get people talking about your posts, to encourage people to tweet about your comments, you need valuable articles.