Blogging and Local Business

Citysquares’ Ben Saren pointed me to a John Battelle piece in which he discusses the hypothetical benefits of blogging by local businesses, specifically a hardware store in his neighborhood:

Corbet’s is a well-loved local institution, but if your first view of the place is through search, you have to work way too hard to find that out. Second, it’s clear that no one at Corbet’s has given the web a second thought, because Corbet’s doesn’t have a website, and clearly no one has joined the nascent conversation that has sprung up around the store (in the first seven links, there are four unsolicited and positive reviews. It’d be great if someone from Corbet’s joined the party and said “thanks for caring!”). And third, there’s a tremendous opportunity to be had by joining that conversation, in the process branding Corbet’s as quite possibly one of the most beloved local businesses in all of Marin.

He says that blogging would benefit the business by:

  • Creating a self-controlled Internet presence
  • Help with SEO 
  • Help shape first impressions of the business 
In a recent Opus Research survey of more than 1,000 US small businesses blogging was mentioned by almost 20% of respondents as one of the marketing methods they’re currently using. This number strikes me as high and probably is “aspirational,” but it’s clearly a strategy — as Battelle recommends — that should be exploited by more SMBs. 
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8 Responses to “Blogging and Local Business”

  1. Malcolm Lewis Says:

    Baby steps. The hardware store should start with a website before worrying too much about blogs. A website would deliver all three of the business benefits listed above. What’s the latest % of SMBs who still don’t have a website?

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Survey data shows roughly 53%. This is one datapoint, but we’re probably at about 50% of the addressable SMB marketing having some sort of website or online presences.

    Agree re the baby steps.

  3. earlpearl Says:

    Nice reference, Greg….and nifty article. Wow, a hardware store has an enormous number of potential topics to blog on. It sells a myriad of items that are seasonal. It’s staff is constantly advising customers on items and usage.

    It would probably need someone’s help in writing. Wow, I wonder if local’s might contribute, possibly for getting discounts. Someone or preferably a couple of people have to write.

    I’m blogging for a business or 2 or 3 w/far less potential local interest than that which can be created by a hardware store. Its not just that rich with topics. Its a long haul effort to grab awareness. While doing it I’m reaching out to potential audiences, trying to build awareness a bit at a time.

    We’ve seen little results so far, but we’ve just started the effort. Many bloggers suggest that it takes time to build readership.

    In any case that is a business that merits a site and merits blogging. How easy to do with a wordpress site. Someone should go for it for that business.

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    Blogging is tough because you have to commit to it for its own sake and not purely as a marketing strategy. But, as you suggest, smart businesses will see it as an extension of the service they provide to their customers.

    And to Malcolm’s point about websites — this blog doubles as my website :)

  5. Julian Says:

    Good insight in this article. I agree with the “baby step” of creating a website first, but SEO is just as important. The new era of Web 2.0 dictates that the internet is not the “field of dreams” – if you build it, they will come. That absolutely does NOT apply – a website with no SEO is a website that is almost completely worthless. Build a cheap website – anyone can learn the basics of HTML and javascript and create a passable website in a week. Then the real fun of SEO starts – and blogging is a great way to build SEO.

  6. MiriamEllis Says:

    Fun article! I can think of 10 local topics Corbet’s could blog about that would be highly relevant to their neighbors…starting with the incredibly bad quality of water around their corner of the world. They could explain the problems with both city and well water in the region and then provide the products to fix those problems…if they wanted to.

    And the list goes on.

    Miriam

  7. Chris Silver Smith Says:

    Quite a few companies have built their corporate websites on a WordPress platform, so that could actually serve dual purposes.

    WordPress makes a great format for a company’s site because it’s got some built-in optimization advantages — Google loves blogs.

    Locally-oriented blogs make for a great strategy for a business, IMHO. Though, earlpearl is right — most companies would really need a writer to make it work.

  8. Axealis Says:

    Nice posting :) thank you for your information

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