If you pay attention to what local marketing companies around you are saying, you’ll probably hear one sage piece of advice – BLOG.

It’s not just a piece of advice pulled out of thin air. Google – the head honchos of the search world – are saying the same thing. Publishing great content on your website is the fastest and best way to rank higher in search engines.

But what do your buyers say?

I’m an outspoken advocate of listening to buyer behavior over appealing to the robots of the web. So when I read recently that 24% of Americans are listening to podcasts on the regular and 7% of Americans are using smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home to find information, it made me scratch my head and ask, “Is this whole blogging thing still worth it?”

The short answer is yes. The long answer about why is worth exploring. Because for as few regular readers as you might have, blogging still plays a role in business. Particularly local business.

But first, let’s take a look at why blogging got to be THE go to online marketing tactic.

What Sparked the Blogging Craze

Rewind about a decade and you’ll notice that most businesses had a website but few had a blog. Back then, the way businesses ranked online was through stuffing meta keywords onto their website and creating page, after page, after page, after page (after page, after page) of content optimized for a single location or keyword.

Case in point: When I worked for the startup software firm in Denmark about a decade ago, I wrote a page for antivirus software, antispyware software, anti-spam software, security software, anti-malware software… the list goes on and on. These pages were then shoved as links on the bottom of the main website not intended to be clicked on (and they rarely were) but more as a cue to the Google Gods that we should rank for these terms.

And that tactic worked… for awhile.

Fast-forward a few years and Google caught on, so businesses needed to find a new way to incorporate keywords onto their website. Enter: blogging.

Blogging was a great way to optimize a website AND stand out online. Few companies had blogs, so when a business did, they quickly became the go-to resource for information.

Case in point: Marcus Sheridan who got his start as a local pool builder. He was the only one in his town who had a blog and he wrote some really valuable stuff. It was that content that captured the attention of his local audience and dramatically skyrocketed his business – so much so that he ended up leaving that business and starting his own online sales business.

The Current Role of Blogging for Local Businesses

Today, blogging is a little different. It’s the norm rather than the exception. It’s expected rather than a delightful surprise when a visitor lands on a helpful post. If you don’t have a blog, you’re behind the times.

But, because it’s such an expectation these days among consumers, it’s also not anything wildly attractive. As I mentioned, people aren’t really reading blogs. They aren’t really consuming the information like they once were. So, is it really a necessity still? Is it worth all that effort?

In the “for blogging” corner, the answer is yes. It helps with SEO. It helps with proving your authority. It’s still valuable because it gives your business a VOICE.

In the “against blogging” corner, the answer is no. It’s a waste of time. It’s too commonplace. It isn’t unique and therefore, it’s not worth the investment.

So what does the market say? What do consumers want?

Local marketing companies will continue to tell you that you need a blog in spite of the data that tells you otherwise, and for good reason.

For local businesses, the goal has always been and continues to be, how do you get people to see you?

How do you show up online? How do you cut through the noise and get people to pay attention to you?

Blogging, when done strategically, still helps boost your SEO. In other words, it gets you seen. But it doesn’t rank your homepage at the top of search results. It ranks your blog posts at the top of search results, which is way, way more valuable. In other words, it gets people to pay attention to you.

When your blog posts rank on page one, you’re immediately answering a question instead of requiring your reader to dig, dig, dig to find the answer. You’re eliminating the objections up front before you ever even know the person is looking at you. You’re proving yourself before you ever have the conversation.

Although people might not be reading your blog posts on a regular basis, they are reading them.

They’re reading when they need an answer and because of SEO, you’re showing up providing that answer.

They’re reading when they need help solving a problem and because you’ve optimized your blog posts, you’re showing up to be the solution they need.

No, consumers don’t subscribe to and read blogs as often as we once did. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t reading. We aren’t looking. We aren’t still turning to Google (or Alexa, or Siri) for answers. We’re reaching out to the robots more than ever before. In fact, we’re knocking on the door to the age of artificial intelligence and blogging?

… Blogging is what’s going to get your business to show up when that door swings wide open.

Hint: It’s already cracked. Will your business be waiting with the answers your buyers seek on the other side? If you’re blogging, yes. If you’re not because no one’s subscribing anymore, you’re missing out. Big time.

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