If you haven’t started business blogging yet, then it’s probably on your to-do list. After all, the benefits of business blogging have been written about extensively:
- fresh content that you control
- articles that build your authority and reputation with potential and existing customers
- fresh content for search engines to index and rank
- ways to give your customers deeper information and value
- content for social media
- content that will keep traffic on your website for longer and encourage them to explore deeper into your site, creating positive search rankings
Despite knowing these benefits, you may be uncertain about where to start. To help you get to grips with what you need to do, when and why, we’ve put together our 10 top tips for successful business blogging.
1. Create a business blogging strategy
Before you start business blogging, it’s important to identify why you want to blog and what goals you hope to achieve. It could well be that your overarching aims cross several of the benefits above – you may want to bring more visitors to your website, increase the time they spend on your site, raise your profile on social media, build your reputation and boost your mailing list.
Think about how you plan to use your blog to achieve these things.
- Who is your audience?
- What will your tone of voice be?
- What main topics will your blog cover?
- How often do you realistically want to publish fresh content?
- How will your business blog stand out from competitors’ blogs?
This is the time to decide how often you want to publish a new article and when. In our experience, consistency and quality are more important than quantity. If you say you’re going to publish a new blog on a certain day, just make sure that you keep your word as your customers will begin to know when to look out for fresh content from you.
2. Research what interests and engages your customers
For your business blog to be as successful as possible, it needs to grab attention and get readers engaged with the content. To do this, it’s important to research what interests your customers.
You could start by looking as some of your most engaged followers on social media.
- What things have you posted that have attracted the biggest reactions?
- What topics do your customers seem really passionate about?
- Are there specific Facebook groups or pages that your followers have in common?
- What do your followers also pin about on Pinterest?
- What Tweets do they write or retweet?
3. Set up a swipe file of ideas
A swipe file is something many writers and designers use to keep copies of articles or designs that they’ve seen and loved – not to copy them, of course, but as inspiration. You might want to create a notebook in a programme like Evernote or OneNote where you can save hyperlinks to articles that you find interesting or that spark ideas for your own articles.
4. Create an editorial calendar
Your blog is most likely to be successful when you write it consistently on the same day each week, fortnight or month. Some people find it works well to set a day aside to write a batch of blogs in one go, and schedule them in advance, while others prefer to write one blog a week – only you know what you can manage or what you can afford to outsource to a copywriter, if you don’t have time to write your own blogs.
To save last minute panics about what topic to blog about, you may find it helpful to create an editorial calendar where you map out the topics for your next 10-12 blogs, or even your blog topics for the next year.
This is a great way of keeping the big picture stuff in view, so you can feature tie-in topics with each blog article on social media or theme your newsletters, for example.
5. Write a blog
Once you’ve decided what to blog about, it’s time to get your blog written. We always find it helpful to have a rough structure in mind, then write each new article around that. Think about how people tend to read – although they’ll read your main heading, only two out of ten people will read your entire blog, so how can you present the information in a way that’s easy to skim read? Try headings, sub headings, copy in bold, bullet points, images, and internal links to relevant information on your website.
If you have a couple of days to spare before your blog needs to go live, put it aside for at least 24 hours.
6. Proofread, proofread, proofread
Many businesses have the view that blogs are all about volume rather than content, and even that they’re in some way disposable. This is the wrong approach. In reality, once a blog is published, it has the potential to be found and read for years to come. It is essential, therefore, that every blog article reflects your professionalism and is written to a high standard. Yes, you can be conversational in your tone, but you still need to check your spelling and grammar.
Try leaving each new article to percolate for 24 hours before proofreading it with fresh eyes – it’s amazing what you can see after a good night’s sleep.
7. Choose your images
Although it isn’t essential to feature an image with each blog article, we would recommend it for several reasons. We’ve all heard the saying that a ‘picture is worth a thousand words’ and in many ways, it’s true. With website visitors being likely to skim your content for the top level information – at least initially – a well-chosen image can help you to get the message of your blog across at a glance.
An image can also help to break up your copy and add interest to the page, plus a well-written alt tag is a good way of tagging your focus keyword for SEO purposes.
As a word of caution, it’s important to make sure that you have the right to use an image on your blog rather than copying an image you like from a website and using it without permission – with the latter approach, you could find yourself in breach of copyright. In our next blog, we’ll be looking in more detail at where you can legitimately source free images for your business blog but, for now, try websites like www.pixabay.com or www.morguefile.com for images that have been released free of copyrights under the Creative Commons CC0.
8. SEO considerations
As one of the reasons to business blog centres around improving your presence on the major search engines, it’s important to pay attention to the search engine optimisation of your blog.
- Try to write with a focus keyword or phrase in mind, or at least a central topic – you don’t have to slavishly fill your copy with keywords as Google is smart enough to understand words that mean the same or are associated with a topic. If you stay on topic, you will probably find that your keywords appear naturally.
- Try to make sure that your focus keyword appears in your main heading and that the heading has an H1 tag.
- Use subheadings to break up the copy and make sure these have H2/H3 tags, etc. Ideally, at least one of these subheadings will include your focus keyword.
- Highlight key points in bold or italics to help make the copy easy to skim, or use bullet points like these.
- Make sure any images have relevant alt tags – if possible, make sure that at least one image’s alt tag contains your focus keyword.
- Write an SEO/meta title for your blog – keep this to 55-60 characters maximum and try to incorporate your focus keyword.
- Write an engaging meta description to entice searchers to click through and read your article. Use emotive language and make sure your focus keyword appears in there somewhere.
- You may also want to make sure that your focus keyword or phrase appears as near to the beginning of paragraph one of your article as possible, but only if it makes sense to put it there and will still read well.
Once your blog is live, the next step is to make sure that people know where to find it. Although Google and the main search engines will regularly search your website for new content, you could use your Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) to tell Google to index your site immediately.
We would also recommend sharing a link to your blog on your social media pages. Post about it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, and add it to a board on Pinterest that features links to all of your blogs. You could try pulling out snippets from your blog to promote it in different ways.
In addition, you could feature your articles in your newsletter to customers or share it within LinkedIn and Facebook groups.
If you have a WordPress website, there are some fantastic plugins to help you promote your blogs. You could try using Flare to add social sharing buttons to each article, Evergreen Post Tweeter to post about past and current blogs on Twitter, or Inline Tweet Sharer to make it easy for readers to tweet soundbites from your blogs.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, our advice is to measure the performance of each new business blog.
- How many people does it bring to your website?
- How did they find the article? On Google, on Facebook, on Twitter or somewhere else altogether?
- How long did they spend on your website reading the article?
- Did they go elsewhere on your site afterwards or bounce away after reading the article?
- Did people contact you after reading your blogs?
- How many people shared your content using the social share buttons?
- How many people commented on your blog, either on your website or on social media?
Google Analytics has a wealth of information, as do the various social media platforms. By using the free data at your disposal, you can begin to build up a far more detailed picture about what your customers want from your blog and the big issues that matter to them.
Have you started business blogging yet? How often do you blog? Has it impacted on the traffic that comes into your website? I’d love to hear your experiences.
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