It’s tough love time, folks. We’re about to hit you with the cold, hard facts about blogging, gathered from online local business influencers like Hubspot, BlogHer and ThinkCreative.

• Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information.
• 45% of marketers say blogging is the #1 most important piece of their content strategy.
• 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs.
• 92% of companies who blog multiple times per day have acquired a customer from their blog.

You may not have a fully staffed marketing team, and that’s OK. Consider this your blogging master class (without the lifetime of student loans to look forward to).

Local Business Blogging 101

If you already have a blog set up, you’re ahead of the curve. Sweet! You can skip to the next section to make sure your blog isn’t getting stale.

Otherwise, there’s a lot of good (and not-so-good) recommendations out there about the best ways to get going on a blog. We recommend heeding our no-frills advice.

1. Set that blog up. It doesn’t have to take hours.
2. Publish just enough to outshine your competition.
3. Write about what you know.
4. Get the right audience hooked.

Here’s how to get the steps above workin’ for ya.

Local Business Blogging 201

Having a blog and posting regularly is a great first step. But you know us – we want to make sure your blog stays fresh. Here’s how blogging gurus and even your closest competitors are taking local business blogging to the next level.

Likes, Social Shares and Followers > Comments

Interaction and engagement with your blog is key. That used to mean enabling comments on your blog and monitoring them frequently so you could respond. In recent years, marketers have seen a serious downward trend in the number of comments people are leaving on blog posts. At first, many were scared that meant their posts were no longer engaging or that blogging was dying off entirely. After a bit of research, that’s not at all the case. Instead, engagement is simply shifting from comments on individual posts to likes, social shares and followers (or even subscribers who are opting in to receive content from you regularly).

So how do you meet this culture shift head-on? Ensure your social media marketing strategy incorporates your blog posts. Use your social channels to share your posts regularly. Simply link to your post on Facebook and Twitter, and encourage sharing and commenting. Extra credit: Based on the blog platform you use, you should be including an image at the top of blog sites, and most social platforms will pull this image with the link into your social post. If this isn’t the case, make sure to pair an eye-catching image with the link to your blog post so you stand out in the News Feed.

Short-Form Videos > Highly Produced Ads/Commercials

Most local business bloggers don’t incorporate videos regularly into their blogs. It can seem like there are just too many hurdles – your business doesn’t lend itself to being filmed, or maybe video production seems way too time consuming or costly.

This year, we are seeing more and more short-form video clips on social media and company blogs. Why? Creating and sharing videos has gotten a heck of a lot more accessible. There are mobile apps that help people without any video production skill whip out videos all from their phone. Don’t let recipe-based food blogger videos dominate the online space. Post short videos to your blog regularly, and consider sharing this content live on Snapchat, Facebook or even Twitter.

Graphics and Infographics > Text

This should be pretty intuitive by now, but it’s critical we reiterate the importance of incorporating images into your local business blogging. In fact, blog articles with images get 94% more views on average than blog posts without images. How? Take your own, if you’ve got a pretty up-to-date camera or phone, or consider incorporating a stock image or two.

Regarding infographics, you don’t need graphic design skills to point to infographics that are already out there and relevant to your business. If you share someone else’s work, make sure to give them credit and point back to the source with a link. It may even help you make friends in your industry, and linking to well-known sources also contributes to your site’s SEO.

In-Depth Content > Fluff

Have you been whipping out 300- to 500-word articles? Every now and then, light, informative content can be a winner with your audience. A recent study shows, however, that the average word count of top-ranking content (in Google) has greatly increased to between 1,140 and 1,285 words. We’re not saying you need to write a novel for each blog post. But, consider taking the time to write one or two in-depth, really informative articles for your audience every now and then. Make it relevant, informative and exciting enough to keep your readers’ attention.

The Master Class

Blogging is one piece of a larger strategy aimed at getting your business found and chosen. Who owns that strategy at your business, and how’s it working? If you’re drawing a blank, you may need an assist. Let us help.