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by: Will Hanke
Blogging. People have been preaching it's benefits for some time now. And the reason articles about blogging - and in particular small business blogging - are so popular is because they are true. One of the best things that a local small business can do is start a blog.
As an SEO, getting your client to blog can be quite a chore, especially if they do not understand the benefits. The days of simply asking them to write a weekly article (or more) have passed from a nice-have to an important part of your overall SEO strategy. So it is very important that your client understand what they can gain from doing so.
Luckily, most local two-year and adult education colleges now offer at least a beginners class in blogging. They'll go over the basics and perhaps even help the students learn how to write a few inspired posts. These classes are usually pretty cheap, sometimes even free. If they're taught well, it may even be worth you paying the fee for your client to go. Assuming they'll go.
Once your client has had that 'ah-ha' moment about blogging, there may be no stopping them. And that's a good thing. Make sure you keep the creative juices going for them by helping them understand RSS and something like Google Reader. Help them sign up for other industry-related blogs that update often. These blogs can inspire new ideas for posts, and can also keep them up to date with the latest trends. Show them to watch for these trends, and write posts on them quickly, thus establishing them as subject matter experts.
And one of the best benefits of getting your clients to blog is that you'll start to see long-tail results increase. Since their creative juices are flowing, they'll use words and phrases that they would have never thought of telling you to put on the site, but may be the same phrases that people are searching for often.
You may also see an increase in rankings for their competition's phrases and business name simply because of the content increase your client is providing. (Heck, mention the competition's name if you can do so in a not-so-obvious way - you'll rank for it too).
Make sure somewhere on their home page you reference the blog. You can 'hide' the fact that it's a blog by calling it 'latest articles' or something of that sort. However, I've noticed that some tools that your client may stumble over (like Website Grader) may not recognize the blog simply because you don't use the anchor 'blog' on the home page. (By the way, I'm not all that excited about WG, but it seems more and more clients are using it - see GrayWolf's writeup for more).
Lastly, make sure you add an RSS icon to the home page for your client as well. You never know who may stumble across it, and it can take up only a small amount of real estate.
If your local small business clients aren't blogging, and you're paying someone to write articles, you're missing out. Get them into a class or sit and explain the business benefits to them. You'll be glad you did, and the results will be evident.