When we refer to blogging, we are really referring to the regular publishing of "rich content". This could include news relevant to your industry, informative articles or any other form of content that involves at least several hundred words. It is important that such content is written by a human being (rather than being automatically generated), is of a high-quality (that is, not obviously written for the sole purpose of producing a few hundred words) and is related to the main subject areas of your website. Poor quality content for the sake of having content can actually harm your website - Google does not like what it refers to as content that "fails to ensure a positive user experience and doesn't make your readers richer or wiser in any way", and can in fact impose search ranking penalties on websites with such content.
It is often particularly difficult to write extensive text on the main pages of your website, such as when describing the services you offer - when you may have written copy with the aim of selling effectively as apposed to informing. Having a blog, news or article section gives you an excuse to publish more in-depth material this is not necessarily aimed at selling, at least not immediately.
Here are the three key benefits of publishing "rich content":
Every page that you publish on your website gives you a fresh opportunity to rank in Google's results. More importantly, since every one of your blog entries or articles will be of a slightly different topic within your main subject area, each page will give you an opportunity to rank for a slightly different word or phrase. As an example, if your main competitors in the "dentistry" industry only have five pages detailing their services, but you also have several hundred articles about various dental problems and treatments, it is more likely that potential customers will find your website, even if it is by accident. And, as Google moves towards more "semantic" search, the more articles you publish with varying contexts and keywords around your core subject matter the more likely it is that you will increase the number of visits directly from search results. Publishing even just one blog entry per month will only take a few hours, and may mean that you double or triple the number of pages on your website within a year.
But the benefits for your website's SEO efforts don't end there. Every time you publish high quality content you also create a new opportunity for other websites to link to you, whether that be by visitors "Liking" or "Tweeting" your content, or other bloggers linking to your pages as source material or simply as being useful or interesting. The number and type of links from other websites to yours remains the most important factor in how highly your website ranks in search results.
There is also evidence that Google gives precedence to the "freshness" of content when returning search results for some topics, particularly for trending topics or recent news stories. Regularly publishing content keeps your website fresh and may mean that you gain a ranking advantage over similar, but older, content.
In today's world, when we find most services and professionals online, it is increasingly important to use your website to build trust with potential customers, and publishing high-quality content on your website helps to position you as an expert in your industry. According to a 2013 study by Social Media Today, 61% of US consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post. Taking the "dentistry" example from before, if you stumble upon a blog entry detailing your exact problem with statistics about each treatment method, you are going to feel quite confident contacting the dentist in question to arrange treatment. And when you contact that dental practice, their receptionist will have to spend less time telling you about the available treatments on offer since you have already educated yourself via their blog.
Regularly publishing high quality content also gives you a great excuse to stay in touch with existing customers and prospects. When you post links to your new content on your social networking accounts, send email notifications and have an RSS feed, your various contacts are reminded about your company without you having to actually trying to sell to them.
While regularly writing content for your website might fill you with dread, the only way to consistently write high quality articles is to remain knowledgeable of your industry's trends and news. Writing articles or news related to your industry will therefore ensure that you maintain your expertise and mean that the latest trends and statistics will be in your mind when you next talk to prospective clients.
There are many platforms available that are free and offer all the functionality you need (such as Wordpress and Blogger). While having a blog that is external to your existing website is better than not having a blog (especially when you are careful to link from your blog entries to relevant pages on your website), our opinion is that a blog should be seen as an integral part of your website, with the same design and navigation as the rest of your website. Internet users can be afflicted with a sub-conscious hesitancy when they feel that they will be going to a different website when they click on a link, and you want readers of your blog to be able to move seamlessly from a blog entry to your contact page, for example. Adding a blog section to an existing website is the more effective option, and can be relatively inexpensive.
If the advantages of writing a blog are not already clear, consider the fact that companies who blog just once per month generate 70% more leads than those who do not. If you really don't think you have the time to blog, or your time is too valuable, you should weigh the cost of outsourcing the writing of your blog against the potential gains of even just a few more business leads or sales per month.