If you have been reading articles about how to launch your online marketing efforts, you have undoubtedly read about the importance of blogging. It is a ubiquitous subject, kind of like the exhortations to eat fruits and vegetables found on any nutrition site. But is blogging REALLY useful? Is there REALLY a good reason to spend the time, effort and frustration creating free content that people may or may not read?

Not only is blogging important to your marketing efforts, it is also incredibly useful as a business development tool. It turns out that the most important reader of your blog is you. Your blog can give you a unique opportunity to organize your thoughts and ideas into a manageable system that will not only interact well with search engines but will help you to succinctly communicate your unique service proposition to your clients and prospects.

It’s all about the keywords

By now most people have heard the term “keywords” in regards to blogging. For the uninitiated, a keyword is simply an informative word used in an information retrieval system to indicate the content of a document. It is blogging 101 to point out that using keywords is important to your blogging efforts. But what does that really mean?

There was a time in the earlier days of the Internet when keywords could be cheated. A web page could contain keywords in its HTML which would signal to web-crawlers that a page contained a certain type of information even if it did not. Over the last 18 years, Google and the other search engines have had their best minds creating algorithmic updates to their product that make it almost impossible to fool them with such trickery. This means that keywords have become a much more honest representation of the content your blog actually contains.

The heads and tails of keywords

When thinking about the keywords that make up your blog it is important to understand the difference between ‘head’ terms and ‘long-tail’ terms. When you think of the keywords that describe your business, chances are you are thinking of ‘head terms’. Words like “retirement”, “annuity”, or “401k” are head terms. They refer to big concepts that are heavily searched online. They are also very difficult to own from a search perspective because so many sites have content that refers to them. They also usually encompass several uses of a word or phrase, all clumped under one umbrella.

When planning out the content you want to cover in your blog it is natural to start with the head terms that are most germane to your business. However, if you stop there you will miss an important step of blog and business development.

Your unique value proposition

It is important for you to discover your unique value proposition; the points of your service offering that differentiate you from the rest of the pack. This differentiation can be reflected in the development of long tail keywords for your blog. These are keywords, though they are usually phrases of 3-5 words. They are often a development on the idea of a head term. For example, a long tail keyword under the category of retirement could be “planning for retirement for teachers”. A blog post written around this content will match up with a smaller number of searches, but the chances that the users who find your material will actually be looking for what you have to offer is greatly increased.

When planning your content for your blog, you should begin to explore the long tail keywords you feel accurately represent your service offering. Create content that explores these concepts and is designed to answer the questions that one of your ideal clients would have on that topic. This exercise will not only attract that person online, but it will help you to crystalize your offering in your own mind.