THE BLOG
12/27/2013 04:30 pm ET | Updated Feb 23, 2014

Get Your Blog On! The Important Role Blogging Plays in Business Development

I love social media. I relate to it as a giant party or never-ending conference, in which I get to meet countless awesome people in my areas if interest. Through Twitter, I recently became acquainted with Mandy McEwan, the founder and CEO of Mod Girl Marketing. I love the fresh, smart, fun vibe of her company -- which offers everything from search engine optimization (SEO) to local marketing services to mobile website design.

McEwan more or less built her business through diligently posting blog content on various sites. Doing so helped establish her as a recognized expert in her field. A whopping 70 percent of her current and previous client base in fact was generated from one single blog post! With her first-hand experience with the benefits of blogging, I asked McEwan to share her thinking about the important role blogging plays in business development. Here is a recap of key points from our conversation:

Why is blogging important for business?
By sharing helpful advice through blog posts, McEwan says, you will position yourself as an expert and trustworthy go-to person in your field. In addition, she notes, blogging can help market your business, since blog posts can be shared across multiple social networks. If others find your blog post helpful, your post just might get a whole lot of eyeballs on it!

Blogging also boosts search engine optimization for your website, she says, as it offers repeat opportunities to utilize keywords on your site. Blog posts, she emphasizes, are frequently found on the first page of Google searches. "The more blog posts you have out there," she advises, "the more traffic is going to be generated and the more leads your business will receive."

Why is SEO important when blogging?
"Lots and lots of people go to a search engine and type in random things all day, every day," McEwan notes. "If you are already going to take the time to blog, why not take a little extra time to make sure your blog is actually seen in those search engines, when people are typing things in?" Not every blog post, she advises, needs to be designed just for SEO purposes, but they should still have the critical SEO elements in place, to help the post get noticed.

What are some SEO basics for business owners to keep in mind, when launching their blogs?
For starters, McEwan says, be sure to get a Wordpress blog or a Wordpress-based website. "It's the most SEO-friendly, user-friendly content management system out there," she says. Once you establish your Wordpress blog or website, she continues, be sure to install three things: Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and XML Sitemap(s). Next, when you develop blog content, be sure to write organic content, tailored for the reader, not Google. "Do not keyword stuff," she cautions.

In addition, McEwan advises taking the following five steps:

1. Write a compelling blog post title that strategically incorporates SEO, using one of your primary keyword phrases.

2. Make sure your permalinks are set to "yoursite.com/your-blog-post," not "yoursite.com/p=123," the latter of which may come up automatically. In the former case, you will get SEO traction, but in the latter case, you will not.

3. Write a meta description that similarly incorporates SEO through your keyword phrases.

4. Use compelling images and/or videos, entitled with even more keyword phrases.

5. Link to other pages of your website or blog. For example, if you are writing a blog post on blue widgets, and the previous week, you wrote a blog post on pink widgets, link to that pink widgets blog post.

Lastly, McEwan offers a couple of installation tips: For Wordpress, she advises, download the free Wordpress SEO Plugin by Yoast. "It's awesome," she says, "and makes life a lot easier when optimizing blogs, especially for beginners." For Google, she advises setting up Google authorship, "so that your pretty picture shows up in the search listings."

What are some guidelines for choosing blog post topics?
"Choose what people want to hear," McEwan advises. "Search for other blogs in your industry, and look for popular blog posts. This will give you a good idea of what your circle likes to talk about and read."

For SEO purposes, she notes, there are several helpful tools, such as the Google Keyword Planner tool, where one can track the amount of searches that given keyword phrases receive each month. "Just start typing in keywords related to your blog topics," McEwan says, "and see what pops up." Google Trends, she adds, "is also handy for seeing what is a hot topic at the moment. You can type in keywords related to your industry too."

What is cross-blogging, and how is it useful for business owners?
Cross blogging, McEwan explains, is where two blog owners collaborate. She offers the example of Blogger Joe, who has a blog about growing and cooking with kale, and Blogger Sam, who has a blog about vegetarian diet and recipes. "They get in touch with one another," McEwan says. "Bob tells Sam, 'I'd love to write a guest blog post for you, on my latest kale recipe,' and Sam replies, 'Awesome! I'd like to write a guest blog post for you, about the health benefits of leafy greens.'" As soon as these two individuals post on each others' blogs, McEwan says, "cross-blogging has taken place."

Through cross-blogging, McEwan continues, each blog owner gets to link back to his own blog, thus creating a solid back link -- which, she says, "is of course awesome for SEO purposes." Beyond the SEO realm, McEwan notes, each individual is getting his name out there, by gaining exposure on another blog with a similar focus -- one that most likely will share the blog post across their social networks. "So you are branding yourself as the expert and gaining a new following all at once," McEwan concludes.