Business Blogging: Why Blogs Fail to Deliver New Home Design Clients

 Why Blogs Fail - Blogging with a Business Intent

Business Blogging, Correctly Done Can Drive Traffic and Increase Leads

Business blogging can increase visitors to your website and attract new home design clients in your market if you take the time to do it right. However, blogs written without a business intent almost always fail. The competition today is fierce. The days of posting personal thoughts and watching your website's visitor stats grow quickly are long gone. It takes six months to a year to generate real results if you provide a mix of long and short-form content with valuable information, publish twice weekly, target a viable long tail keyword phrase, format your blogs for SEO and share them on social media channels to generate backlinks.

So, where are the problem areas that can cause your blogging efforts to come up short? There are four key reasons that blogs fail to get results; Unreasonable keyword expectations, emphasizing fluff over value, not seeing the big picture and giving up early.

Unreasonable Keyword Expectations

Getting your articles placed at the top of the Google search results page for keywords like “kitchen design” or bathroom remodel is unlikely. You're competing for these terms with media giants like Houzz, HGTV, This Old House, Redfin and Better Homes and Gardens, not to mention the thousands of bloggers seeking traffic, just like you. The way to compete is through the use of long-tail keywords and local SEO optimization.

Writing Fluff Blogs

Early bloggers found fame by bearing their soul and building an audience, and advertisers came calling. An industry was born. Semi-intimate blogs written in a diary format including lots of self-portraits, "us and we" statements, and affirming the feelings of the audience brought in the dollars.

The next step was embedding product recommendations into articles, running sidebar advertising and getting paid. It felt like a real business and played on insecurities under the guise of empowerment. OK, maybe that's a bit over the top, but the point I'm making is that today, a blog designed for your business, and an “old school” approach to blogging as a specific advertising technique used to drive traffic are entirely different animals. 

It's not about selling eyeballs to corporations it's about selling your services, costly services, to local clients. Targeting a client persona at the buying stage in the sales process requires a different approach than emulating feelings to sell click-throughs. Lately, "experts" selling consulting services to small businesses have been recommending personal, emotional relationship mirroring as a content marketing tactic. Here's the thing. You're running a home design business. Blog writing is a marketing tactic that should generate a return. If you're writing personal blogs two-three hours a day or paying a ghost writer a significant percentage of your marketing budget, it will take years to recoup what you've spent.

Blogging is Only Step One

Blog articles work to attract clients, but they're just one element of a bigger marketing picture. To maximize the effects of blogging, it should be used in conjunction with a lead capture tactic. An excellent blog article on its own is often a one and done tactic. Readers leave your website never to be seen again.

Including a call to action, downloadable advice guide, a landing page with a form and an ongoing drip email campaign are the next steps in the equation. These techniques work to drive traffic to your website and engage visitors to keep them on your site exploring, and coming back for more valuable information.

1. Your Blog Articles

Creating content that is relevant to your target personas can establish thought leadership and drive traffic. Every blog you write gives you additional benefits like a better Google ranking and increased visibility online.

Write articles that are specific to home design. For example, “The Latest Color Trends in Kitchen Design” or “Creating The Perfect Outdoor Kitchen.” Anything that is interesting to potential clients and is relevant to the products or services your business offers. Search engines index your content for relevance using specific keywords and having unique content will drive traffic to your website.

2. Keywords & Phrases

Keywords and long-tail keywords are words and phrases that a potential client would type into a search engine to find a business like yours. Examples include “home design,” “kitchen designer,” “interior design specialist” or “bathroom remodeling design.”

By incorporating these words or phrases into your website and blog content, Google will “see” them and index your site as relevant for these words and phrases. Depending on how long-tail keywords are used and how frequently they appear, when a user searches these keywords on Google, your business will place on the search result pages.

3. Landing Pages

A landing page is a lead generating tool. It is a page on your website, dedicated to a single topic. It includes a call to action designed to elicit the reader into giving you contact information in return for a premium item of value like an ebook or whitepaper.

4. Call-To-Action (CTA)

A CTA is a text block, image, graphic, or button that when clicked, brings your visitor to another page on your website like a landing page. CTAs like “Click Here To Learn More” direct users to additional information like a related blog post or separate landing page where your visitor can take action and give their contact information for a premium piece of content.

5. White Papers or Premium Content

A White Paper is a more extended form of content – typically 7 to 10 pages – that educates readers on a specific topic. Their design should reflect your brand and include photographs. A white paper should provide unbiased information and analysis. It should present both a problem and a solution, with the answer based on sound research.

Including these elements in your overall blogging and marketing strategy can increase the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts. These techniques engage visitors, keep them on your site, build brand loyalty and help to guide them through their buying process.

Premature Exit

Blogging takes months to generate a result. A dozen blogs a year won't do it. A dozen blogs written over a three month period and then stopping won't help you acquire clients either. The competition is too high. Keyword rich blog articles that are written and formatted to gain PageRank and are published twice weekly over years is how your firm's articles rise to the top of search engine results pages. So, to use a cliche, blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. If you need clients fast, online advertising can act like a hit of adrenaline, but it's not a replacement for good content on your website. Think of blogs like investing in your retirement account. The value compounds.

Educating Your Readers...

The object of your blog is to educate, inform or entertain your readers. An educational blog answers specific questions that readers may have when looking for your services online. These are topics where source material is readily available, and your expertise can help to educate readers and put your brand front and center. Let's look at an example.

Jane is researching online to learn all she can before spending her $150,000 budget on a kitchen and bathroom remodel for her vacation home on Cape Cod. She has an aesthetic style in mind – modern and simple – and she's looking for information on how to choose the best home design firm to meet her needs. Your blog articles and online portfolio can help her to answer these questions, make her comfortable with your firm and encourage her to hire you for the job.

Some titles, off the top of my head...

“Choosing The Best Kitchen Appliances To Meet Your Needs”

“Natural Stone vs. Quartz Countertops”

“Designing The Perfect Spa-Like Master Bathroom”

“Kitchen Color Trends For 2018 And Beyond”

The answers might be obvious to someone in the industry, but to a homeowner who might remodel their kitchen two or three times in the lifetime, they're educational. Educational blogs are what we do best. We use source and research material on the topics the NKBA, ASLA, NAHB and other industry trade groups. This allows us to offer blog articles at a lower cost and allows for frequent publishing.

Guest Blog Articles Are Not Always The Answer

Guest blogging is a technique that can help get you through times when you're too busy to post, or suffering from writer's block. It's a useful technique that gets you free relevant content and gives the guest blogger an opportunity to increase brand awareness. Unfortunately, guest blogs can sometimes be problematic.

A few years ago, Google decided that guest posting had become too “spammy.” As a result, guest blogging done solely for SEO purposes would be penalized. Guest blogging deemed “legitimate,” such as for exposure, branding and increased reach is ok.

Unfortunately, this became necessary as bloggers armed with a database of blog URLs, names and emails began using a form email generator to pitch guest posts to 1000's of sites offering them “high-quality 100% original content.” Right.

The bottom line, guest posts have a place in your blogging strategy. If you're looking to:

• get your brand in front of a targeted audience

• raise awareness of your company

• provide useful relevant content to a niche audience...

...then guest blogging is a viable option that can meet all three of these goals.

While you may have guest post requests flooding your email inbox, be careful. There are signs that the guest posts may be spam, such as:

• the email mentions your site's URL, but not the website or blog name

• the email is generic in tone and doesn't mention your blog or what it's about

• the email comes from someone with a common name, but when you research them on Google or LinkedIn, nothing comes up

• the email proposes a guest post that has nothing to do with home design or any related topic

The best recourse is to delete the emails, mark them as spam and block the sender. Guest posts can be beneficial if you carefully vet the request, or better still, invite experts in your industry to create guest content for your site. When it comes to home design, consider your suppliers, clients (case studies are a great way to drive traffic), industry leaders and guest bloggers whose work you admire.

Publishing a quality guest blog can further establish your credibility within your niche market and let you network with other like-minded bloggers. The key is to be extremely selective. Guest posts can be a great benefit to your readers, and that's what really matters!

Blogging is a great way to drive traffic to your website and generate high-quality leads provided you give it time to work. It's a vital element of any online content marketing strategy, but it is only one element of an effective plan. Creating unique, high-quality content including landing pages, optimized website content, actionable CTAs, premium content and inviting guest bloggers to contribute all work together to drive traffic and increase your brand's visibility with the customer's that matter most to your business.

Related Articles on Marketing

About Michael Conway

My firm, Means-of-Production, builds Squarespace websites, content marketing and creates advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our marketing tactics are designed to attract the right clients with exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition. Contact me for a free video review of your online marketing efforts.