Is blogging really necessary for my practice or small business?
You may have heard about SEO for acupuncture spas and clinics, overnight spas, or vacation rentals when you first opened your practice or opened your guest house or rental property, especially if it was between 2008 and 2013.
If you haven’t read my first blog about SEO, go ahead and read it now.
You may also be vaguely familiar with terms like keywords, backlinks, and meta descriptions.
Maybe you even thought about paying someone to magically “fix” your SEO or “make” your page skyrocket to the top of Google rankings.
In the past, some of this may have been true. To make it all even more confusing, many got their start when simply doing a few PPC Google ads got them to a top of a competitive market. And some of them are now giving outdated advice.
So you never really got around to it because it all sounded like just too much.
I’ve been working with clients who are now playing in very intensely competitive markets: The acupuncture industry in CA, and the tourism industry in Central Dalmatia, Croatia.
What makes practices and guest houses/rentals successful is something called content marketing, in the way that online coaches have been preaching about for years.
This means that you can no longer put up a website with just a brief description of what you do with a few specific keywords, put your phone number at the top, link to a booking or consultation, or maybe even buy a few backlinks or do a PPC Google ad, and call it a day.
I’ve seen this done in (and also done this kind of work for) certain industries, like plumbing and construction. Since these businesses are generally more or less commodities, playing the keyword ranking game and getting backlinks was enough for Joe’s plumbing service in Anytown, NE, to be seen in the first page of Google listings for a particular search.
This is basically using Google as nothing more than glorified Yellow pages, which is fine if you are say, a cab company.
As a matter of fact, this IS how it was done about 5-10 years ago.
This no longer works well for highly personalized experiences like acupuncture or the hospitality and tourism industries.
Update: Things change fast in SEO. The “tricks and hacks” we learned even in 2018 and probably into 2019 may not work anymore. Yikes!
I think this is a HUGE advantage, not a drag..and I’ll tell you why in a moment.
The truth is, nobody wants to look at a boring website that doesn’t have good info or tell them how or why they can benefit from a service.
It’s also true that focusing mainly on SEO.. yep, you heard that right, isn’t a great strategy anymore either.
A blog that sounds like it’s written more for a Google bot than a regular person is not only annoying, but is now being penalized by Google.
Don’t write for a machine. Write for real people.
People want to interact with real people, find helpful information, and feel as if they found a person, place, or service that really “resonates” with them. They are seeking a a good vibe, and a site with a lot of good, relevant information, which is organized in a clean, uncluttered way.
What’s one of the bests way to do this? Blogging.
1. You don’t want to clutter up your homepage with too much information. This is confusing to a reader. Readers want to know briefly what your business is about, and what makes YOU or your place unique. This is why clean, elegant sites are so popular.
Your potential patient, guest, or customer will use the blog to dive a little deeper on something more specific. Almost everyone knows what a blog is and what it’s used for nowadays, and if they are intrigued, they will go there to find more info.
Note: Having a blog page with a search function or “latest or relevant posts” on your website will greatly increase the odds that those that navigate to your home page first, will check out your blog,
It also helps to “see at a glance” that your site is a wealth of information, or even “binge-worthy.”
2. If your business is online with a global audience, you obviously can’t rely on Joe the plumber’s technique. People simply don’t type “How I can live my best life” or “Business coach” into a Google search. They “stumble” upon blogs or ask specific questions to solve a specific problem, like healing back pain or places to stay on the Croatian Coast.
What questions and what problems is YOUR ideal client looking to solve with a Google search?
So even if SEO/organic Google searches aren’t the way you are going to be found, blogging may still help guide your ideal clients to you by using keywords that strike a chord with them.. and have them coming back for more.
For example, if your focus is on working with gifted and creative people…(which is still a pretty broad focus) you can really niche this down further via blogging and sharing info about the unique challenges your ideal client has, and how to solve THEIR specific problems, which you will define in your blogs.
Blogging also integrates beautifully with social media, which is probably going to be your primary method of attracting an audience and generating leads if you deliver services only online to a global market.
3. You will be a resource they will come back to again and again by providing honestly helpful information on a regular basis. For example, you could blog about how you treat shoulder pain, or the best wine tastings in Trogir. You can then optimize each blog with keywords that people will be searching for.
What’s cool is that next time when they are looking for information about how you treat back pain or about cycling in Dalmatia, they are likely to come back to your site because now they perceive you as an expert in sports medicine acupuncture or a specific kind of travel in Dalmatia.
If you impressed them this first time, why would they go elsewhere, or to a “flimsy” site that only has a phone number and says basically the same thing as everyone else’s?
4. Here’s the reason why you actually have an ADVANTAGE: Because you are not a cab company, an airline, a breakfast cereal, or just another plumber.
What you have, even in a saturated or competitive market, is something nobody else has or will ever have.
You get to express yourself.
I don’t know about you, but I think it kind of sucks to have to compete as a commodity. When you are a commodity, you are forced to focus on discount pricing or feel pressure to do what everyone else is doing. (Swimming pool? Community acupuncture? Big trends, but not right for everyone!)
Blogging is like someone handing you a mike and giving you a stage to tell your audience what you are really all about, without having to sound like a cheesy commercial.
Content marketing will do that for you. Really! I got my favorite patients that were a joy to work with, because of my blog and all the info I offered.
4. It will help you attract the right people for you, and yes, repel those you don’t want to work with. In other words, it will SAVE you time and energy in the long run.
But I was told that “nobody wants to read anything anymore, it’s too much work, so why should I write?”
I’m calling BS on this advice right now. If you want to attract patients who can’t be bothered to do a little research and be genuinely interested in being proactive about their health.. then don’t blog or offer any valuable content. Keep offering deeply discounted packages, and have fun with that.
If you want to attract guests who just want to get drunk and hang out at the beach all day and party at night, and who could care less about your city except for the nightclubs and a place to crash, by all means, just list on Booking.com and have fun with that, too.
Note: If you are MUCH better at video than with blogging.. go for it! Statistics show that more people watch videos than read blogs.. especially on mobile devices. But many are still a bit shy about videos, and blogging isnt’ going away any time soon.
For now, we’ll focus on blogging.
How to start blogging
1. If you don’t already have a WordPress website, I highly recommend it. Another reason I love WordPress so much is that blogging is built right in to the site from the start. (other platforms like Kajabi are a good choice for online businesses with more advanced needs, but I won’t get into that right now)
WordPress manages all your content easily.. including images, blog posts, and pages. All you need to do is add a post, a title, a description, and a featured image and you are basically set.
As you go, you will find optimal ways of formatting, using images, and refining SEO. Just start, and feel that sense of satisfaction when your library starts to build.
You are now on your way to becoming the go-to person in your industry!
Note: Finding a niche and defining your target audience is also key. If you are writing to the wrong audience, you will be writing for your own entertainment only. For example, if I’m writing about where to find good nighttime entertainment in Split, I need to focus on the exact person I want in my guest house or hostel: How old are they? What are their preferences and budget? This is just a start.
Do NOT try to “make sure that anyone and everyone” is going to be interested. When you do this, NOBODY will be interested, (meh) and you are now basically a commodity.
Those with online coaching businesses need to be even MORE specific about their audience.
I can help you define and refine if you are stuck. This is not uncommon when it comes to “putting yourself out there” and wanting to attract everyone, which is a mistake.
2. Don’t worry if you only have 2 blogs (or NO blogs!) right now, or allow it to overwhelm you. This is about consistent and inspired action. What’s the perfect number? In my opinion, 2-3 is ideal, and 1x per month is the minimum to build momentum and traffic to your site.
When you think of a blog idea, write it down. These ideas often come up in conversations, or at random moments.
You can also ask your patients or guests what their burning questions are and answer them.
3. Don’t just blog. Pair your efforts with metrics. You want to get into the habit of measuring how well the blog is performing via driving more traffic to your site or some other goal or metric, such as online bookings, opt-ins, viewings of your pricing page, how long visitors stick around on your site, how “trustworthy” your site is, insights about links.. and more.
With this, you will find a gold mine of info that will help direct you on what to blog about, how to optimize your blogs for SEO, or how to best integrate them with social media.
A good place to start is with Google analytics. You can even install a plugin on your WP site that will give you access to lots of juicy Google data, including which posts and pages are getting the most traffic. This will help you decide what to focus on in future blogs.
If you are stuck, I can help guide you.
For some, it may make MUCH more sense to hire someone who knows their business to do their blogging, posting, and analysis.
This is what I love to do for acupuncturists, functional medicine practitioners, and guest homes/hostels/B&B’s.
I offer free 30 min consultations and we can talk about if we are a good fit, if my writing style works for you, and other ways I can be of service.
Remember, the GOOD NEWS is that blogging isn’t dead. Not even close. It’s just a statement that makes for good clickbait.
High quality information is being rewarded by Google.. because clearly, this is what people WANT.
So think of it as fun, not a chore. Let it be a way to inspire you and your business, and get others jazzed about what your unique offering is. For more info about how to put your blog on autopilot and make it enjoyable, check out my blog about blogging.. specifically for acupuncturists!