Many small business owners start a blog as a marketing tool, but still underestimate the benefits it offers their company. Indeed, some owners only focus on their blog as a publicity tool and wonder why their business is not growing as much as they expected.

Let’s look at four of the most important, often unexpected benefits that a company blog provides.

1. Search Engine Optimization

The search engines love sites that update frequently with new content. Consequently, running a business blog with regular posts helps improve your site’s search engine rankings.

Given that it is easier to update a blog than it is to adjust a static website, you’re also getting better rankings in return for less effort.

Even better, if you allow a group of staff members to publish articles, rather than relying on a single person, you can generate fresh content much quicker.

2. Build Relationships

Used properly, blogging allows you to build a relationship with your readers, rather than just working as a glorified press release system.

The interactive nature of blogging encourages comments and feedback from visitors, which you can use to your advantage.

Don’t just post sales pitches!

Building relationships is a multi-step process, which starts with posting content that your readers will respond to, so that they visit often to take part in the debate. This encourages them to subscribe to your blog.

Once they’re subscribed, people are often more willing to provide extra personal information, give feedback, and be included on mailing lists.

This generates valuable information for your business providing insight into what your customers think about your company.

It can also generate new ideas for products and services. Basically, your blog can act as a free market research tool.

3. Build a Reputation

By providing quality content relevant to your field, you can build a reputation as an expert.

Over time, your customers and blog visitors will begin to consider you the go-to person for their issues. This gives your business an important benefit over the competition.

Reputation is an incredible competitive advantage, especially for small businesses that must stand against established companies in their industry.

A reputation as an authority generates word of mouth references – and every good businessman knows that word of mouth is the holy grail of advertising.

The price of reputation is twofold. First, you must make sure that your blog posts contain only useful information to demonstrate your knowledge, with a creative bent to attract readers. Second, it takes time to build a good reputation, so plan for the long haul.

4. In-depth reviews

Blogging can also be useful when it comes to providing in-depth reviews of your products and services.

This is very useful for educating customers about what you offer, explaining how to use your products and services, and offering tips and tricks. But you can also use your blog to respond to customer comments and complaints. Show them that you listen to their issues and take action to improve.

This is really an extension of the most common purpose of a business blog, which is as a marketing outlet.

Given that blogs also allow you to upload photos and videos, you can provide useful, interesting, responsive content at the same time as pre-selling your products and services. This can help dramatically improve conversion rates.

Blogging is more than just a way to announce company news, new products and special deals. It can also help position your site better on the search engines, build a community of loyal customers and even reach out to educate your visitors.

The important thing is to plan your blogging strategy as you do every other marketing option, and make sure that you only publish high-quality content that is useful to your target audience.