Perspective, please

RIGID SEO RULES DON'T ALWAYS WORK FOR SMALL BUSINESS BLOGGERS

Yesterday I had the pleasure of talking with 21 business owners who had gathered to learn more about blogging. They’re members of a new Meetup group focused on effective marketing for small businesses, and if you live and work in our area, I hope you’ll check them out. Great energy and ideas all around! 

We covered lots of ground: how to format blog pages and posts, grow readership and create a simple plan to keep content focused, fresh and relevant.

We talked quite a bit about SEO, too – and I let loose with a few opinions that may have surprised everyone.

MY REBEL MOMENT

Giving ample credit to Neil Patel and other amazing online marketers who, unlike me, have done real research about what works, I stated that if an SEO rule doesn’t feel right, bloggers should feel free to bend it a bit.

I felt a small wave of fear when I said this. Who am I to defy the Google gods? But I truly feel rigid standards don’t work if they violate our sense of who our readers are and what they want from us.

BROOKE'S PERFECT BLOG POST

I showed the group a draft blog post that local stationery designer Brooke Randazzo Eggert of r3mg creative studio is working on right now. Brooke’s writing comes straight from the heart, and her post tells the story of meeting a new client she’s sure will become a good friend.

Brooke and Danielle share a blazing passion for the Chicago Blackhawks, which is how Danielle found Brooke’s company. Brooke has been promoting Hawks-themed birthday invitations for some time on Etsy. Danielle’s son – whose middle name is Stanley, as in Lord Stanley of the Stanley Cup -- is turning 1 soon. Brooke’s invitations were EXACTLY what Danielle wanted.

Brooke is so warm, generous and enthusiastic in relating how she and Danielle met, how they came up with the right format and went on to design custom accessories for the party that you feel you’re in the room sipping coffee with them. 

You also realize that for your sports party – Bears, Cubs, Sox, Bulls, any team – you just GOTTA have custom invitations and favors by Brooke. 

Sounds like the perfect post, right?

WELL, MAYBE IT NEEDS EDITING

Only one problem. It’s 175 words, much shorter than the hefty 1,000+ words research shows is best for SEO and social sharing. What to do?

If I were coaching Brooke, I’ll probably encourage her to add content so her post at least hits the minimum word length Google likes to see in our web pages (300 words). If she includes details about the paper she chose, the way she wrote the invitation copy to enhance the theme and so on, she’ll probably have 500 words or more.

But would I advise her to puff it up to twice its size or add a completely different story about another project? No. I wouldn’t.

IT'S ABOUT RESPECT

Brooke is out to make friends here. And a good friend doesn’t yammer on once she’s told you a juicy story with just the right level of detail. She finishes up and watches to see how interested you are. (Hence the link Brooke plans to include so you can email her to request your own groovy-cool custom invitations.)

Small companies NEED friends. That’s how we create customers for life. We win them over when we establish trust early in the game. Brief stories mixed in with longer posts – maybe long-form pieces about bridal couples whose wedding invitations, photos and custom photo booth all came from r3mg – would likely be the best strategy.

When it comes to small business blogging, I think we need freedom to trust our instincts. So read all the research, respect Google’s guidelines, but think deeply about the nature of the business you’re in and the needs of your customers and prospects. Show them respect and the rest will follow.