>>10 minute read
Every business needs a blog. More often than not it’s a written blog, but it’s not limited to the written form. It could also be a vlog (video blog, like YouTube) or a podcast. But if you want your website to rank then you’re going to want a written blog whether it be original articles written by you or transposed from a recent vlog or podcast you published.
Despite being 2019, the number one question I come across on this topic is, “why do I need a blog?” But sometimes it’s a statement, like, “I don’t need a blog” or “writing articles isn’t going to increase the number of accounts I have”. There’s nothing wrong with the question. Questioning things from an open mind is how small businesses break free from the solo-preneur mindset, however, there is everything wrong with the other two statements.
So why does my landscaping business need a blog?
- Website content helps your site rank better
- Blogging establishes authority and expertise
- Writing blog posts develops your brand personality
- Finished articles provide promotional content for social media
- Blogs answer customer questions before they ask you (or someone else…)
- Quality blog content acts as a 24/7 sales rep for you
But at the end of the day, businesses that blog get 165% more leads than businesses that don’t.
To most, this much is obvious. But if you weren’t thinking of your blog as a ranking source, then you’re missing out on some big opportunities. Blogging is one of the best ways to ensure the growth of your website and capitalization on new keywords. There’s more than just keywords though.
We’re talking about adding backlink opportunities for other industry-specific sites to link to your articles. Not only does this provide referral traffic from that site to yours, but Google also sees that as a backlink which helps boost both your page and domain ranking signals in local search.
Imagine you wrote an awesome article on sod installation and how to properly maintain and water your sod. The article was informative, well-structured with proper headers and sections, and didn’t contain a sales pitch. SiteOne sees this and decides to link to your article from their corporate website on proper sod care.
Now, granted, some referral traffic isn’t going to be relevant to you. Some is. But guess who’s going to have an extra boost in ranking over the competition when someone types into Google, “sod installation contractor near me”…
Your blog may not even be read by your customers – that’s only half of the point. You want industry peers, suppliers, and manufactures reading your blog too. Onsite traffic signals like average time on site and backlinks are huge factors for ranking locally, even if those signals don’t come locally or from a customer.
Finally, having a structured blog where you have multiple articles your service pages can link out to defines and strengthens your website’s pillar content and cornerstone structure. This is how Google determines the validity, credibility, and strength of your website’s content and expertise on a subject when its bots routinely crawl your page. A website with a stronger pillar page structure is going to be more favorable in Google’s eyes as they assume it will give the user a better experience.
When I hire a plumber or electrician, they better know what the hell they’re talking about. Because sooner or later, I’m going to find out. Sure, I’ll probably just agree with everything you say because I’m not the expert, but when the results don’t match the sales pitch, they’re gonna have some ‘splainin’ to do.
Aside from reading online reviews (which about 90% of all people do), I’ll check out a company’s blog and see what kind of information they’re offering. If they don’t have one, I assume two things:
1) It’s a newer company and hasn’t taken the time to sit down and start something
2) They’re probably not the best candidate and have a lack of experience to feel confident in writing about their profession
The latter isn’t something I think right away. It’s not something that comes up until I go to a competitor’s website and they have a blog full of information. Think about it. Let’s say you were going to get a tattoo in a new city and you didn’t know any of the artists or businesses. So you do a search online and visit various websites because to some, getting a tattoo is a big deal. Not only are you worried about the quality and ability of the artist but you’re also looking for professional places that don’t seem like they’re going to be cutting corners during your session.
You go to one site and it’s pretty basic. It just lists the artists’ pictures and name, some examples they’ve done, their selection of piercings, and maybe photos of they’re lobby and beds (99% of this industry’s websites are like this). Then you find another location with good reviews. You click on their website and the first thing you notice is how much content it has.
It has information on:
- How to treat new tattoos and piercings
- What to do if you have certain skin conditions
- How tattoos can be removed or covered up
- A detailed outline of their processes, safety, and health checks
Along with tons of pictures of their past work.
At this point, it’s a no-brainer who to go with. The guys who look like they know what they’re doing when it comes to not only their craft but also running a business. The same is true for your landscaping business. The purpose of the example above was to be able to put you in the customer’s shoes and think like them on how people decide who to contact for their needs.
Take this lesson and apply it to your brand and website.
If you’ve read or seen any of Gary Vaynerchuck’s stuff, you’ll know his take on the importance of having a brand personality, something that buyers can identify you as. Blogging is a fantastic way to get this done (being active on social media is another way). Because at the end of the day, a customer’s decision can merely come down to what they think about your company before even contacting you.
Are you the experts in the industry? Do you give off a corporate vibe? Is your business personable and looking out for my best interest?
All of this can be found with how a brand presents itself online. If you have no long-form content, whether it be a podcast, video blogging series on YouTube (vlog), or written content on your own site (I still recommend this last one no matter what because of the added SEO value), then showing your customer and market who you are and the message you’re trying to convey becomes a much more difficult task.
Even in my posts and this one you’re reading right now, there is a clear personality to how it’s being written:
- I write in the 1st and 2nd person (makes it personable)
- I occasionally use slang and pop-culture references (makes it relatable)
- I avoid the sales pitch (makes it authentic)
- I always link to sources (makes it credible)
- My posts are detailed and easy to read (makes it valuable)
My goal is to have the best damn marketing blog (and website) landscaping and lawn care guys visit for advice, tips, strategies, and general industry information like how to find good employees (this blog post is coming, eventually).
What’s your brand personality? How are you developing it through blogging, vlogging, or podcasts?
A better question is, what do you think customers think of your band when all they have is your website?
Most business owners, by now, know that it’s important to be present on social media. But that’s not the only thing that’s important. It’s also necessary to be active. If you’re aware of this but haven’t decided to take action, it’s likely because you sit there and scratch your head, butt, or chin at night wondering what to post or share.
First off, you should understand how often you should post on the different platforms. Twitter, there’s no limit per day, Instagram is once per day, and try to limit Facebook to no more than 5 times per week. With platforms like Facebook, you want each post to have importance, which is probably why it can be so difficult to figure out what to post.
When you have articles and blog posts from your website that you can share to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you don’t have much thinking to do on how to word your post. Just share it. Of course, I always like to add a brief comment on the post that entices people to read it.
If you’re always providing valuable content to your customers on a consistent basis, then you’re also creating easy content for your social media presence. It’s a win-win.
But because I’m a nice guy, I’ll give you some more content ideas for your social media pages that aren’t blog related:
- Share a photo or video of you or your crew working on an install.
- Record yourself doing a DIY video. It could be anything from how to prep the ground for laying sod to how to spot different types of fungus and disease on grass and plants.
- Go to a site like timeanddate.com and mention a weird holiday. Create a post around that to get a laugh. Bonus points if you relate it to your job and industry. At the time of writing this, it was National Pizza Party day (May 17th). For something like this, buy your crew (or just you) a pizza and take a picture captioning it with “National Pizza Party day!”
- Post positive reviews you’ve received and mention how good it feels.
- Find a funny meme regarding lawn care or landscaping and share it along with a laughing emoji.
- Share a reputable article on the positive environmental effects of landscaping and lawn care.
It’s really easy. All you have to do is keep your eyes and ears open and you’ll have plenty of content to share. You can find all kinds of this content in Facebook groups from members sharing articles as well as the community forums on places like LawnSite.
I also recommend subscribing to landscaping magazines like Turf Magazine, Landscape Management, Green Industry Pros, etc. Not just because I also write for them (but mostly, yes…) but because you can find a lot of good material in there to spin into your own content ideas as well as share their articles on your social media.My Turf Magazine Articles
My profession is a little bit different than yours. We handle marketing for landscapers. You landscape for consumers. So for the purpose of this demonstration, put yourself in the shoes of your prospect by paying attention to how you would engage with me on Facebook.
You might send me a PM (Private Message for those of you not privy to Facebook) and ask me why I would choose WordPress over Wix to build a website. I would answer you as detailed as possible. Probably talk your ear off (or in this case write your eyeballs out). After that conversation, you wouldn’t even consider Wix. You’d have been armed with so much information that you would feel like an expert. And this entire time, I never pitched you.
By the way, if you do decide to undertake building the website yourself, do NOT use wordpress.com. The version of WordPress you want is downloaded from wordpress.org, but can typically be installed with one click through a hosting provider like BlueHost, HostGator, or WPEngine.
Now, when you are ready to build your site, who’s the first person you’re going to think of to help you get a professional one done? The person that helped you the most and didn’t expect anything from you.
That is what a blog is for. Answer questions as detailed as possible that you repeatedly get from customers. Don’t write posts about questions you think people are asking, pay attention to what your current customers are asking.
- Why does my yard have brown spots?
- How to fertilize my lawn
- What is the best kind of mower?
These are questions typical people ask. Let’s break them down real quick:
Q: Why does my yard have brown spots?
Analysis: This customer is annoyed. They want a healthy lawn but it’s being infested with brown spots. It could be a lot of things. It could be a dog, a fungus, grubs, and much more. Write a post about the plethora of things it could be and how to test for each one. You can write a second post about how to treat each one. Once they figure out what it is (thanks to your post), they’ll come back and figure out how to treat it on another article you wrote, “How to Treat Brown Patch Fungus”.
They’re going to learn how to do it anyways if they really want to. Why not have them learn it from you? Then when something is too big for them to take on or they need to bring in a professional, you’re the first person they think of.
Q: How to fertilize my lawn
Analysis: I love these ones because you can go into so much detail about a 4-step or 7-step treatment they can do on their own, talk about watering practices, when to fertilize and when to avoid it, using pet and child-friendly applications, how to test their soil, etc…
They’re going to figure it out anyways. But this is one of those things that requires a bit more work and discipline. Something a lot of people may want to leave up to the professionals. And even if they do decide to handle their own lawn, it could open the door for them to come to you about handling landscape or hardscape installations.
Q: What is the best kind of mower?
Analysis: These types of questions get overlooked because at first glance they don’t seem relevant. But they are. More than likely, this person is looking at buying a mower, but what they don’t know is that there are all different kinds of mowers. Ones built for sloped terrain, ones build for maximum area coverage, and mowers that are powered differently. Everyone has different goals when it comes to mower preferences so highlight that. Get them to question their property terrain, how many obstacles they have to deal with, the width of their backyard gate.
If they want to mow their own lawn, let them. That doesn’t mean they’re going to fertilize it or install their next retaining wall. *wink-wink*
BONUS: What if you were actually advocating for your favorite brand in the post but still weighing the pros and cons of all different kinds of mowers. Then you decided to follow my advice in the point above this and share it to your business’ Twitter account, tagging the manufacturer in it. The manufacturer sees it and decides to link to it in one of their posts or even retweets it.
Your blog post just gained some valuable link juice and ranking signals as a huge audience starts reading your post. Relevant or not (see Website Content that Helps Your Rank Better).
This is going to piggyback on everything I’ve said so far and will double as my closer. Your blog answers questions customers have 24/7. When you’re on the mower, in a tree, or showing the new guy how to weed eat the right way for the 5th time, your blog is being read and looked at by your customers whether you know it or not. And if not by your customers, then by other industry professionals like manufacturers, magazine editors, and industry peers (read Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck, seriously).
It provides your brand with a personality (if you use it and don’t write like a corporate lawyer with a stick up his ass) while showcasing your expertise on the subject and willingness to actually provide useful information don’t just share 3 or 4 paragraphs of crap and call it good. Be detailed. Write your posts as if you were talking to your mom or dad who really didn’t know the first thing about lawn care and just wants to learn from a friendly face.
And don’t be lazy about it. Add images and structure your content so it’s easy to read. Use proper headers, bullets, and lots of spacing. 2-3 sentences per paragraph.
Your blog is an accurate reflection of your work. If you don’t spend much time on it and it’s difficult to read and is short, then it looks like you cut corners and like to take the easy way out. If you do it right, long articles don’t seem very long. I’m on 2,887 words at the end of this sentence. Was that so bad?
Your blog will work for you constantly. Customers will earn your trust and gain confidence knowing that they are about to contact the professional in the area.
Blogging is a hot-topic that I want to spend a lot more time talking about. I plan to publish more articles on blogging on this site like:
- How to Find Blog Post Ideas
- How Blogging Helps Your Website Rank Higher
- How to Write a Blog Post
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