This is part one of a four-part series on blogging for businesses, which will explain the benefits of having a blog, things to consider when getting started, how to blog using your toolset, and additional tips and tricks for an effective blog for your business.

Blogs are all around us. If you're on social media, you probably come across them every day. According to Brandon Gaille, there are over 152 million blogs on the Internet today. That number continues to grow, with a new blog being created every half-second.

Now even companies are taking to the blogosphere to promote their business. You may wonder if their efforts are worth it, since there's already so much content out there. However, when you consider that businesses who own and regularly update a blog generate 4 times as many leads as those that do not, and that 21% of surveyed customers say they made a purchase decision based on what they read on a blog ... well, the evidence speaks for itself.

Here's 5 reasons why blogging can be beneficial for your business.

1. Blogging is good for SEO.

That's search engine optimization - which means how likely your business is to be found through search engines like Google. If your blog is published on your website (or if your blog links to your website), then you can use it as an opportunity for better search engine results.

How does this work? Google rates websites higher in their search results if they contain up-to-date, relevant content. Your website itself won't be updated regularly, but a blog is. Therefore, if your blog contains good information, relevant keywords, and is updated regularly, it should rank higher in Google. Which explains why businesses that blog at least 20 times a month generate 5 times more traffic than those that blog only 4 times a month.

2. Blogging is easy and a free way to increase awareness of your business.

Anyone can blog. If you have a website, then you may already be able to blog directly from there at no extra cost. (Most Cool Life CRM and CLS Suite clients have a blog tool). And even if you don't, there are many free blogging sites like Wordpress and Blogger which can host your blog. No knowledge of HTML or programing is required to have a professional-looking blog.

You may be thinking, "Well, I just don't have time to start blogging." It's true that blogging is a commitment, but it's not as time-consuming as you think. When it comes to blogging, it's better to have higher quality content posted occasionally than to have mediocre content posted everyday. This doesn't mean you should leave your blog unattended for months at a time, but it means that you don't have to worry about putting a lot of time into blogging, especially when you have a business to run.

And of course, your time spent blogging will pay off as you notice more people taking notice of your content, and consequently, your business.

3. Blogging gives you an opportunity to share your stories and/or expertise.

Whether you're a business owner or a professional in your industry (or both), you have unique insights and stories that you can share with your audience. Blogging gives you the platform to do that. With a blog, you can talk about current industry trends, share news, give advice, or tell personal stories to entertain or inspire your audience. Sharing expertise tells your audience that you know what you're talking about. If they're looking to do business with you, your blog can win them over.

Good blogs aren't all about business promotion though. If you wish to be successful, you'll need to remember to contribute to the conversation by offering something your audience finds valuable.

4. Blogging generates conversation.

Good blogs delve into topics people care about. They share opinions, ask questions, and promote feedback. When someone reads a good blog post, they're often moved to become a part of the conversation. This is what you want to encourage. Enable a comment section. Share your blog via your social media channels (both your personal and company accounts). Respond when people comment. This shows your audience that you're an active participant - you care what people have to think. By doing so, you may get insights about a direction take your business in or get better market research. And of course, when you show your audience that you're interested in what they think, it'll go a long way with establishing brand loyalty.

5. Blogging gives you something to share.

Lastly, blogging gives you an opportunity to share something of value. In this day and age, we have little tolerance with someone who is trying to sell us something. "Like this page!" "Buy this thing!" "Subscribe to this service!" We've heard this a million times - it's take, take, take. However, if you want to cut through the clutter of advertising and promotion, you need to be a giver, not a taker. Tell an interesting story, give advice, share experiences, and become a part of the conversation. This is what your audience members will respond to. And if they like your content, then they'll share it with friends, which means your name and message will reach even more people. This is the current state of marketing. It's about adding to the conversation in a meaningful way with content that people care about.

Are you convinced that blogging is right for your business, and want to get started? We'll be posting part two of our series, Getting Started With Your Blog, next week, so be sure to check back!

Liz DeMeo is a writer for Cool Life CRM, a CRM system and marketing tool provider. We provide cloud-based solutions which help companies better manage their clients, data, marketing, and sales. We also provide CLS Suite, a toolset tailored specifically for small business owners. Both of our toolsets come with a blogging tool which allows our clients to post their blogs directly on their website, with no knowledge of HTML required.