It happens so often. A business gets excited about the idea of blogging on their website. Post after post goes up, the bosses gush and everyone is excited. But the charm fizzles after a while, and a blog ends up totally inactive or as a catchall for sporadic self-promotional messages. Readers flee and the whole thing becomes, “Yeah, we tried it but it didn’t really work for us.”

As with any business initiative, successful blogging requires a plan. If executed properly, having a blog on your website offers many benefits to enhance your online presence. First, blogs provide current and relevant content to your site visitors. Trends in technology, new government or regulatory policies, discoveries for a new use of a product, etc. – anything that affects your industry is useful information to your readers.

Can I promote my business in my blog? Would you read a blog about Italian cooking if the blogger constantly plugged her own pizzeria? Probably not. Your readers won’t mind the occasional case study of how your business made a unique difference to a client – if it’s not a thinly-veiled sales pitch – but blogs are good opportunities to brand yourself as an expert – a resource and a business that is committed to excellence. No need to use obvious sales pitches. Your content and quality will speak for itself.

Second, blogs can help your SEO (search engine optimization). When you add and update content on your website, it helps improve the relevance and credibility of your site for search engines and users alike. When you regularly add information to your site that will attract new information seekers online, it shows the search engines that you are committed to enhancing the reader experience on your site. Ultimately, that’s what the search engines care most about and they reward the sites that do the best job of it – giving the reader the most relevant content possible.

Finally, blogs are a great way to encourage prospective customers to “opt-in” to receiving regular communication from you. Imagine establishing a positive reputation over time by providing valuable information to your blog subscribers. Your blog has ensured they will think of you when they are in the market for your product or service.

Happy blogging to you.

Erin Jones is a business development partner for MINDSCAPE at Hanon McKendry